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Category: Earning & Managing Money

10 Simple Ways to Cut Your Grocery Bill

Need some practical ideas to cut your grocery bill? Here’s a list of 10 simple ideas to shave money off your grocery budget.

Looking for more tips? Check out my post on 25 Ways to Save Money on Groceries and my $70 Grocery Budget posts.

10 Simple Ways to Cut Your Grocery Bill

Guest Post by MaryEllen from Centsible Savings

While picking up my milk for the week, I stopped to consider how many people might wonder why I was digging all the way to the back of the refrigerated section. Then I started thinking about how easy it is for anyone to reduce their grocery budget just by following a few simple guidelines.

I’m not talking about spending hours every week clipping coupons and scouring the sale papers for deals. These are simple strategies that everyone can use to help keep their food costs down:

1. Look toward the back of the refrigerated section for the latest-dated milk, cheese, meat and other perishables. It certainly won’t help you cut expenses if your food goes bad and you have to throw it out and buy more.

2. Buy whole milk and mix it with water. It will taste different at first, but you’ll get used to it after a while. If you can bring your taste buds to agree to mixing your milk half and half with water then you’re getting two gallons for the price of one! (Note: Keep in mind that if you have young children, watering down your milk will affect the nutrition of it.)

3. If you’re buying individual fruits (e.g. apples, oranges, etc.) by the pound, pick out the smallest ones. The total weight will be less, and therefore you won’t pay as much, but you won’t notice the difference when you’re eating your apple.

4. Shop early in the morning if at all possible. That is when you’ll find most of the marked down produce, meat, and bread. Even if you can’t shop in the morning, be sure to still keep an eye out for products that have been marked down.

5. Don’t buy too much produce at one time. Produce (especially if it has been shipped a long distance) will not last very long before it has to be thrown out. Try to buy only enough for about one week at a time.

6. If you find a good sale on something you normally buy that has an extended shelf-life or freezer life, stock up. Why wait until later and pay full price when you can buy several now at a much lower price?

7. Be creative and cook with what you have on hand. Make your weekly menus based on what is already in your pantry or freezer. Then you’ll just need to buy a few ingredients to fill in the gaps.

8. Make a list and stick to it when you shop. Unplanned “extras” add up very quickly.

9. Consider how badly you really need something. For example, it doesn’t really take any longer to make pancakes or biscuits from scratch than from a box mix. Yet those box mixes often quite a bit more than just buying the ingredients would cost. (Cooking from scratch is much better for your health, too!)

10. Use coupons. Like I mentioned earlier, I’m not talking about spending hours each week on clipping coupons and scoping out deals. But if something is on your list, you should at least check to see if there is a coupon out for it. A good place to check is the coupon database. You’ll be surprised at the difference fifty cents here and a dollar there can make!

What other tips or strategies for cutting your grocery bill would you add to this list?

(originally published in 2008)

Free 30-Day Trial of Qapital Budgeting App

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

If you need some extra motivation to save more, you might want to try the Qapital app!

Qapital Banking App

What is Qapital?

Need a motivational boost to save more or budget better for spending?

Try the Qapital app — an innovative and easy to use budgeting app that helps you set goals and save more!

With Qapital, you can set specific spending and savings goals to help you manage your finances more efficiently. There are lots of different options for creating “rules” and “goals” for savings, and it’s really customizable.

You can also set up various savings funds if you’re saving for a lot of different things at the same time: emergency fund, vacation, tuition, retirement, etc. It’s a pretty cool way to keep track of all the different savings goals you have.

In this way, Qapital helps automate savings for you in a really fun and exciting way!

Qapital Savings Funds

Want to try Qapital?

If you’re interested in trying Qapital, you can currently get a FREE 30-day trial. Here’s how:

  1. Go HERE to sign up.
  2. Click on the “get the app” button in the top right-hand corner of the page.
  3. Click on the “let’s go” button that pops up.
  4. Select a theme of your choice and click the “continue” button.
  5. Go through and choose what features of the app you’re most interested in. (You can choose one or all of them.)
  6. Enter your phone number for verification purposes and click “continue.”
  7. Enter the verification code that is sent to your phone number.
  8. Choose an email address and password for your account.
  9. Fill out your name.
  10. Choose a plan. (Your first 30 days will be free. This is the plan it will roll over to after your free 30 days is up, if you choose to continue using the app. There is no obligation to continue after the free trial!)
  11. Click on the “text me the link” button to download the app and log-in with your email address and password!

Note: It’s easy to cancel your account any time before the free trial is up! Just be sure to do so before your 30 days is up so that you don’t get charged! If you do choose to continue, they offer really inexpensive plans as low as $3 per month, though!

Go here to get started.

The Best Summer Jobs for Teens

Looking for ideas for summer jobs for teens? I’ve compiled some of my favorite ideas to help you get your creative wheels turning!

You might also be interested in 5 Work-at-Home Jobs for Beginners and Over 40 Different Income-Earning Ideas.

Summer Jobs for Teens

Summer Jobs for Teens

Recently, a follower asked me if I had any ideas for some good summer jobs for teens. I asked my Facebook followers for their suggestions and they did not disappoint.

You can read the entire post with over 200+ comments here. I’ve picked some of what I felt like were some of the best summer jobs for teens submitted.

Hopefully this list will at least give you some ideas if you’re looking for some great summer jobs for your teen (or jobs they can do year-round!)

1. Tutor

Of all the suggestions submitted, this one was the top one suggested! Michelle said: “Tutor!!! Summer us great time to offer reading tutoring. There are lesson plans out there and it is a great way to make $$$.”

Psst! Are you an adult who is interested in doing online tutoring? Check out the opportunity to teach online with VIPKID.

2. Teach Music Lessons

Andrea says: “My friend’s teenage daughter was an accomplished piano player by the time she was in high school and gave lessons as her ‘after school job’ to young kids/beginners. She taught my daughter for over a year. She did her lessons at the children’s homes and it was perfect – she didn’t have to have a ‘studio’ of her own and none of us parents had to worry about shuttling our kids somewhere for lessons!!”

By the way, this was something I did as a teen. I taught violin to a number of different students and it was such a good learning and growing experience for me! Oh and parents especially love if you’re willing to drive to their house and teach the lessons!

3. Pet Sit/Walk Dogs

Geri said: “My daughters both did pet sitting in their teens. They sat for everything from boa constrictors and hissing cockroaches to dogs and cats. They even took care of goats, chickens, cows, horses and other livestock. Not a skill set every teen has, but they grew up on our farm caring for our animals.”

If you love animals, you could also consider working for your local vet. Shannon said, “As a teen, I worked for my local vet clinic cleaning cages, walking dogs, washing laundry, mopping floors, etc. That turned into occasional and then part-time admin work plus assisting vets on house calls as I was just available and willing to learn. Got to interact with so many people and their pets!”

4. Referee Sports Games

This is one that we’re looking into having Kathrynne possibly do. Camille said: “My kids referee soccer. They could take the class once they turned 12. It’s been a great experience for all 3 of mine. They are responsible for submitting their availability online, accepting games, and communicating with their assignor.”

Andrea said: “My 14-year-old and 12-year-old referee soccer games! They don’t have time to earn as much as a regular job, but my 14-year-old bought himself his own computer after just a couple months of work last summer.”

Tracy also posted and said: “My 15-year-old has been doing this for 2 years. It is pretty decent income for that age. Having thick skin to ignore the fans helps.”

5. Babysit (& clean a little, too!)

Of course you knew this one had to be on the list! But take note of Melissa’s tip: “Babysitting will absolutely pay the most. If she interacts with the children, does the dishes and tidies up the house she’ll be in more demand and will earn more.”

And Celena said: “I have a hard time finding sitters who do more than the bare minimum. When I babysat in college, I always got massive tips and had people calling me all the time. I never understood why until I hired my first babysitter and came home after a late night out to a super messy house, dinner dishes still in the sink, and the sitter on the couch on her phone. Argh.”

I 100% agree! Go above and beyond and leave the house cleaner than you found it and you will likely have more jobs than you can take!

6. Wash Windows

Danna commented: “I’m a merit badge counselor for Boy Scouts in Entrepreneurship. I recently taught a merit badge clinic and one of the boys in the clinic runs a very successful business. He’s 14 and he washes windows. He started on his own house and his neighbors’ houses when he was 11. He advertises using referrals and NextDoor.com to keep jobs close to his home. At 14 he has 2 employees and makes about $400 a weekend that he works.”

7. Teach Classes

Have a skill you are good at or passionate about? Consider teaching a class for younger kids!

Hollie suggested this and said: “My daughter and her friend started a cooking class for kids ages 7-12. They did the class 3 times a week for 45 min to 1 hour. Kids could do a week or all 6 weeks. Each day was a different recipe/technique. All recipes were mom approved. They had a good turnout and really enjoyed themselves.”

A Few Bonus Ideas

  • Sell things you get for free:My brother, last summer when he was 14, collected free things off of Facebook groups and Craigslist. He needed help from my mom to go collect the items, but when he got them home he cleaned them up and did his own yard sale/sold some things online. With the money he made, he was able to pay for a summer trip. He and my mom also like to do that by going to the thrift store. It’s amazing what you can find to resell. -Jaclyn”
  • Sell photos:Also, if she has access to a smart phone, she can take and upload her photos to an app called “foap.” People who want digital images (like for blogs or small businesses, etc.) can buy a license to use her photos she uploads. Foap splits the purchase 50/50 and generally each license is $10 so she’d earn $5 per license sold. If one photo sells 20 licenses, that’s $100 in her pocket. -Crystal”
  • Become a Lifeguard:My son got certified at the local YMCA and is a Life Guard. He is able to have a flexible schedule with school and the swim team. Works well for him. -Julie”

What other ideas for good summer jobs for teens would you add to this list?

Become a Postmates Driver to Earn Money!

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

Looking for ways to earn extra income on the side? Become a Postmates Driver!

{Psst! Looking for other ways to earn money? Check out our huge list of Over 40 Income Earning Ideas!}

Postmates Driver on Bicycle

What Is Postmates?

Postmates is a delivery company that originally started in 2011 in San Francisco.

Their goal is to be an on-demand delivery service for customers to locally order restaurant food, groceries, and more.

Customers simply order what they want through the Postmates mobile app and a Postmates delivery driver picks it up and delivers it to the customer.

Where is Postmates available?

Postmates encourages people to shop locally by partnering with local businesses.

Postmates is more popular in larger urban areas, such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami, Seattle, New York City, Atlanta, Denver, Chicago, Las Vegas, and more.

But they have expanded to include smaller areas, too! You might be surprised to find that this service is available where you live! (I just checked and saw all kinds of restaurants available for delivery in my area!)

Female Postmates Drive Picking Up Food

How Much Can You Earn as a Postmates Driver?

It’s really easy to earn with Postmates!

You get paid for the pickup, delivery, and wait time on each order. And you get to keep 100% of what you earn from each completed delivery.

You can easily earn up to $22-$25 per hour as a Postmates driver, and that’s not including the tips you earn on top of your delivery earnings!

The best part? Being a Postmates driver is really flexible and you can set your own hours.

How Do You Become a Postmates Driver?

If you’re interested in earning some extra cash with Postmates, it’s super simple to become a Postmates driver!

Just go HERE and scroll down to click on the “Get Started” button.

Complete the simple sign-up process. There are only a few basic requirements:

  • Be at least 18 years of age.
  • Pass a basic background check.
  • Have a driver’s license and have access to an insured vehicle (or bicycle, if you prefer).

Once your identity is verified, you’ll be sent a Postmates delivery bag to get started right away!

Go here to sign up!

Free Things To Do in Madison, Wisconsin

Looking for free things to do in Madison, Wisconsin? Here are some places our family visited and did on a recent road trip there.

Want more free and cheap road trip ideas? Check out my 14-day series on our East Coast Road Trip.

Free Things to Do In Madison, Wisconsin

An Impromptu Road Trip to 3 States

A few weeks ago, we took a sort of impromptu road trip to Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa. If you’ve been following along here, you know our family goal to visit all 50 states and 7 continents by the time Kathrynne is 18 (she’s currently 14 and before this trip, we had 16 states and 5 continents to go).

We only had 5 days to hit the 3 states, so we decided to just pick one city to focus on in each state. After looking at the map, we looked at routes, and we ended up picking Madison, WI, Minneapolis, MN, and Des Moines, IA.

We had such a fun time in Madison and Minneapolis that I wanted to devote an entire post to each city to share photos and some of free and cheap things we did in Madison, WI and Minneapolis, MN. (Note: It was pouring rain and cold the whole time we were in Iowa so we didn’t end up getting to do much there. We’ll have to go back!)

Free Things to Do In Madison, Wisconsin

Jesse and I had both been to Wisconsin before many years ago, but the kids had never been. And none of us had ever been to Madison.

I did what I often do when we visit a new area and asked on Facebook and Instagram for your best suggestions of free and frugal things to do. You all give the best recommendations! I went through all of them and picked the top places that were suggested over and over again.

And here’s what we ended up doing…

Olbrich Botanical Gardens

First off, we went to the Olbrich Botanical Gardens. Many of you had suggested this and you were so right.

The gardens were gorgeous! (It was also a completely beautiful day, which made the experience that much better!)

Admission to the outdoor gardens is completely FREE! There are 16 acres of gardens to walk through including:

  • A Thai Pavilion and Garden (This Thai Pavilion is the only one in the continental United States and the only one outside of Thailand surrounded by a garden.)
  • Rose Garden
  • Perennial Garden
  • Sunken Garden
  • Herb Garden

We loved the Rose Garden and the Herb Garden the best. They had a sundial in the Rose Garden that the kids had fun trying to read.

We also found a nest of baby birds! They seemed crazy hungry (aren’t baby birds always hungry, though??) and we waited awhile to see if the mama bird would come back.

We were afraid that she might dive bomb us if we got too close so we had someone watch out for her while I took a picture and video. 🙂

There is also an indoor Tropical Conservatory that costs $2 per person for admission. It is probably fantastic, but we were happy to just visit the free gardens!

Ian’s Pizza

I asked for restaurant recommendations and this Ian’s Pizza was one you all recommended over and over again. And you were again correct — it was delicious and had such a fun vibe!

Ian’s Pizza sells a variety of unique pizzas — by the slice. Or, you can order a full pizza and customize it.

We ordered a large pizza that was half Mac & Cheese (it was delicious!) and half Macadilla Killa. Plus, we ordered a side of 9 breadsticks. Our total was around $25 and this was more than enough to fill us all up (plus we took some leftovers back to the hotel!)

Excitement Outside the Capitol Building

We had parked close to the capitol building (parking was free on the weekends), so after a very late afternoon lunch, we went to explore the capitol. It’s free and open to the public, too.

We were detoured from visiting the capitol building by two ambulances and a lot of police cars with sirens blaring. They all pulled up up at a bus stop right outside the capitol building. We weren’t sure what happened, but it appeared maybe two guys had gotten into a fight and gotten hurt.

I’ve never seen something like that up so close and I felt a little weird just watching the whole thing, but it was also kind of fascinating to see it all go down, too.

(I don’t know that fascinating is the right word because these were people’s lives we are talking about. However, it felt like a scene from a movie or something! Gratefully, it appeared like both men were going to be okay and they both were conscious and breathing on their own when they were put on the ambulances and taken to the hospital.)

Wisconsin State Capitol Building

After that commotion outside the capitol, we finally made it inside. It was pretty incredible — as most capitol buildings seem to be! We had heard that there was a cool observation deck on the 6th floor so we went about figuring out how to get to that.

We walked up a bunch of stairs and tried multiple elevators (some only went to certain floors, etc.) I couldn’t believe they just let you explore like this!

We finally asked the security guard at the front desk how to get up to the top. It was then that we found out that they don’t let anyone up through the special elevator 30 minutes before closing! We had literally walked in the door 29 minutes before the building closes.

Oh well! At least we had quite a fun time trying to find it! 🙂

Henry Vilas Zoo

We then headed to the Henry Vilas Zoo — a FREE zoo in Madison, Wisconsin. I honestly couldn’t believe it.

It’s small and it was pretty crowded, but you can’t beat the price point of free! And it far exceeded my expectations of what a free zoo would be!

To my knowledge, I don’t ever recall actually seeing a real badger. So that was cool to see!

Our favorite exhibit, by far, was the Polar Bear exhibit. Not only cannot ever remember seeing a Polar Bear, this guy was in rare form and showing off for us!

Vilas Park

Right outside the zoo was the Vilas Park beach. It would be a fun place to take a picnic or to swim in. It was also free and open to the public.

We didn’t have bathing suits on, but Silas and Kathrynne still got into the water for a bit!

The Cheese Chalet

Many people had told me we couldn’t come to Wisconsin without getting cheese curds. So we stopped at The Cheese Chalet on the way out of Madison to pick some up.

They had so many different kinds of cheese!

I wasn’t sure of the best kind of cheese curds to get (I forgot to ask you all about that!), so I just played it safe and went with marbled!

Culver’s

I had no idea the “cult following” that Culver’s has until I asked where we should eat in Madison. I learned that there will be one answer and one answer only for that question: Culver’s!

We actually have a Culver’s in our area, but I think Jesse has only taken the kids one time and that was a few years ago. I thought it was just a typical fast food place, but I was actually pretty impressed with it!

We each got to pick one treat (mine was the flavor of the day with double whipped cream — yum!). Needless to say, I’m pretty sure we will be back to Culver’s soon!

What other suggestions do you have for free or cheap things to do in Madison, Wisconsin? Tell us in the comments!