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10 Ways to Make Music Lessons More Affordable

Do your kids want to take music lessons, but you’re struggling to find extra room in the budget? Don’t miss these great budget-friendly tips to make music lessons more affordable!

affordable music lessons

Guest post from Lora of Lessonface:

Musical training teaches children much more than just music. Music teaches discipline, creativity, and motivation. It enriches lives, boosts brain function and memory, provides an outlet for self-expression, and strengthens relationships with families and friends.

All of those wonderful benefits can sometimes come with a hefty price tag, though. From purchasing instruments to monthly lessons, it can be easy for your music budget to get out of hand very quickly.

But it doesn’t have to be that way! Don’t let the potential costs of music training put your children’s musical dreams on hold.

Here are 10 simple ways you can cut costs without having to sacrifice great instruction or good quality instruments.

1. Focus on one instrument.

If you have a large family, there’s a good chance everyone wants to learn a different instrument. That means purchasing a different instrument and different books for every child. You will also spend more time and money driving to lessons for every music teacher.

Having everyone start out on one instrument will not only save you money, but it could also help your children’s musical ability in the long run.

The piano is a great place to start and allows children to focus on music basics before learning more advanced instruments.

Unlike other instruments, you don’t have to buy different sized pianos to accommodate every child. Purchasing one single piano or keyboard can work for small beginners as well as full-grown teenagers. Plus, students who have a basic knowledge of the piano generally progress much faster when they learn an instrument with a steeper learning curve, like violin or cello.

2. Double up on lessons.

Having multiple children learning the same instrument means you may be able to have two lessons for the price of one. If children are relatively close in age and around the same musical level, sharing a lesson works well.

Not all teachers will allow lesson times to be shared, but it’s worth asking. Sharing instruction can sometimes cut your lesson costs in half.

little kid hands playing piano

3. Take longer lessons.

Many teachers charge less per minute for hour lessons as opposed to thirty or forty-five-minute lessons. It’s a way to encourage students to take longer lessons.

While signing up for the longer lesson may be more costly at first, you’re saving money by paying less per minute. Think of it as buying in bulk.

Consider taking an hour lesson every other week as opposed to a thirty-minute lesson every week. You will be able to cover more information since you’ll spend less time unpacking, tuning, etc.

Or, see if your teacher will give you a reduced rate if you have multiple children taking lessons.

4. Create a group class.

If you can assemble a group of students who all want to learn the same instrument, you may be able to create a group class. Ask your teacher if they would be willing to teach a group of students.

Music teachers all have different policies when it comes to group classes, but if you already have a handful of students ready to learn, teachers will generally work something out with you.

Splitting a teacher’s hourly rate between four or five other students can greatly reduce your overall costs.

5. Research youth orchestras, bands, and group lessons in your area.

Many music schools offer large beginner classes. Instruction will not be as personalized as private lessons, but group classes can be an ideal way to learn the basic principles of your instrument.

You may have to pay for the whole semester upfront, but once you split the cost between all the lessons, you’ll find these courses can save you a lot of money.

6. Consider online lessons.

Traditional in-person lessons can mean extra costs and extra stress.

With today’s technology, online lessons offer the same quality instruction as in-person lessons without all the time wasted driving, sitting, and waiting while your child takes the lesson.

With online lessons you also have a bigger selection of teachers, allowing you to shop around for the best price.

7. Rent to own.

Purchasing an instrument can be the biggest upfront expense that deters many families from pursuing music. However, most music stores offer options that make owning an instrument more affordable.

Ask about renting to own or payment plans. Not all music stores advertise these options so doing some research can really help you save.

Little Girl Playing Guitar

8. Buy used instruments.

Consider buying a used instrument or an instrument with blemishes.

But before you pick up that violin at the thrift store or agree to purchase your neighbor’s used trumpet, ask a music teacher for their opinion on the instrument you are thinking about buying. Buying any used instrument might seem like a great way to save money, but you can end up spending more than the instrument is worth on repairs or replacement parts.

If you are interested in buying a used instrument, your teacher will usually be able to connect you with websites, stores, or other students selling good quality, used instruments.

9. Avoid cheap instruments.

While some instruments on online megastores seem like unbeatable deals, these instruments are often of such poor quality that they are completely unplayable.

They can lead to wasted money, wasted time, and wasted motivation.

Shop at local music stores or ask your teacher what they recommend for cheap, beginner instruments. Purchasing a decent instrument may cost a little more upfront, but you will reap many benefits, be able to learn more, and save money in the long run.

10. Encourage regular practicing.

To get the most out of your lesson time, make sure that your child practices regularly.

One of the biggest wastes of money (when it comes to music) is being unprepared for lessons. The more prepared a student is, the more the teacher can teach them—which means more bang for your buck!

Students who make consistent progress are less likely to complain about practicing or want to stop playing after a few months.

Anytime a child starts a new instrument, they are generally very motivated to practice and enjoy playing. Take advantage of this precious time! Encourage children to practice as much as they can. The more progress a student makes early on, the more likely they are to stick with it and enjoy all the rewards that musical training can offer.

Bonus Tip: If you are unsure about all the unknown costs learning a musical instrument might entail, ask a music teacher!

Even if you aren’t currently taking lessons, music teachers are more than happy to talk to you about all the potential costs. They can also give you detailed information about purchasing the best (and cheapest) beginner instruments and accessories.

The lessons a child learns playing a musical instrument can help them for the rest of their lives. Studies consistently show that music helps brain development, motor skills, language, literacy, social, emotional, and intellectual abilities.

Don’t let the potential costs of learning music keep your child from experiencing all of the wonderful benefits music has to offer. Start learning music today!

Lora Gallman has been teaching violin lessons for 15 years. When not playing violin, she enjoys spending time with anything that has wings—including birds, chickens, and airplanes. She holds a Master’s Degree in Music Education and currently teaches online violin lessons at Lessonface.

7 Sneaky Money Traps at the Grocery Store

Don’t fall for these supermarket tricks that are designed to make you spend more money than you originally intended to when you walk into a grocery store!

{If you’re trying to cut your grocery budget, be sure to check out these 10 Easy Ways to Cut Your Grocery Bill By $50.}

supermarket tricks at the grocery store

Trying to save money on groceries?

If you know what you’re looking for, you can grab great deals at the grocery store. But it’s also easy to fall for popular supermarket tricks that are designed to make you spend more money than you originally intended to.

Next time you’re at the store, be on the lookout for these money traps!

7 Supermarket Tricks You Shouldn’t Fall For

1. Pre-cut and pre-portioned produce items — Grocery stores often cut, portion out, and pre-package produce items ahead of time. Pre-diced onions and peppers can be convenient and save time. But it’s often 2-3 times higher in price than it would be to buy the whole produce and prepare it yourself.

2. Impulse buys at the front of the store — Be careful about products that are placed strategically at the front of the store when you first walk in and at the checkout line. These are purposely placed there to make you impulse buy. Make a list ahead of time and stick to it.

3. Sales that aren’t actually a good deal — This is one of the oldest supermarket tricks in the book. It’s important to have a “buy-now” item price list for yourself. For example, I don’t typically buy cereal unless it’s under $2 per box. If you wait just a little bit longer, it will often go lower in price — especially when combined with a coupon.

4. Gift card deals — Many stores run deals where if you buy at least X amount of participating products, you’ll get a $5 gift card back to use next time. There are two things to consider with this kind of promotion:

  • Do you really need that many of that item? Will you actually use that many and is it a stock-up price that makes it worth buying right now? Many times you’ll end up buying extra items just to hit the amount you need for a gift card. And that $5 gift card is not always worth buying those extra items.
  • These deals are typically set up to where you can’t buy just over the minimum amount required for a gift card. For example, it might be that you have to buy $20 worth of items, but the items are priced at $4.99 each. If you buy 4 items, you’re only at $19.96. So you’d have to buy 5 of them to get the deal, making your total $25.95 just to get a $5 gift card back.

5. Buy One, Get One Free Sales — In many areas, these items will actually ring up 50% off instead of true buy one, get one free. The majority of people buy two items to get the “sale” price, but you can really just buy one item and get 50% off. So if you don’t need two, save the extra money and just buy one item at the discounted price! {Note: Some areas do ring up true BOGO, so be sure to read the fine print on the ad and know how your store rings up these sale items.}

6. End caps — Just like the impulse items at the checkout line, stores will put “sale” items on end caps to entice impulse buyers. A lot of times these really aren’t good deals. If you actually check out the prices on a different brand of the same item, it will be much cheaper.

7. Products grouped together — Another common trick that supermarkets use is to put related items next to each other. For example, high-priced cheese dip next to the discounted tortilla chips. Again, this encourages impulse buying. And if you check out the actual cheese dip section, you’ll probably find a better price.

Cut your grocery bill!

Want more tips on cutting your grocery budget?

If you’re looking for more ways to save money on your groceries, be sure to check out these posts:

And don’t forget to sign up for my FREE cheat sheet on 10 Easy Ways to Cut Your Grocery Bill By $50.

Do you know of any other supermarket tricks designed to make you spend more money? Let us know in the comments!

Glazed Cinnamon Scones Recipe

Looking for a really easy Cinnamon Scone recipe? These cinnamon scones are SO delicious and surprisingly simple to make! They’re a longtime family favorite!

Love cinnamon recipes? You might want to also check out these Easy Bread Machine Cinnamon Rolls or this Cinnamon Raisin Ice Cream Soaked French Toast!

Glazed Cinnamon Scones Recipe

We have been making this Cinnamon Scone Recipe for almost a decade and it’s a tried and true favorite at our house!

It’s perfect as a special weekend breakfast or to take to a brunch get-together. It’s way simpler than it looks and it easily impresses guests! Plus, it’s SO delicious. We also love making it for Christmas brunch each year!

Kathrynne mixing up batter on table

As you can see by this old photo of Kathrynne (look how tiny!!), we’ve been making these for a really, really long time at our house! 😉

I have fond memories of the older three helping me whip up a batch of these in the kitchen when they were younger. (And now they’re old enough to bake recipes themselves!)

flattening out scone dough on table

Just remember when making these that there’s no need to do it perfectly. In fact, I believe the beauty of homemade cinnamon scones is that each one has a little bit of personality!

slicing cinnamon scones dough

One hint is that if you roll out your dough on a greased baking sheet, you don’t have to mess with transferring it before baking! And you can slice your scones as big or small as you’d like — depending on the size scones you prefer.

putting cinnamon on top of scone dough

I like to use turbinado and cinnamon, but you’re welcome to use regular sugar or whatever kind of sugar you have on hand!

Pile of Cinnamon Scones on Cake StandCloseup of Cinnamon Scone in hand

These cinnamon scones are honestly some of the best scones I’ve ever tasted — flaky, soft, and beautifully delicious! I hope you love them as much as our family has over the years!

sliced cinnamon scones

Piled Cinnamon Scones with Rainbow Table Cloth

Looking for more recipes like this? Try one of these:

Let me know if you try this Cinnamon Scone Recipe and what you think of it! I’d love to hear!

Cut your grocery bill!

Psst! Want to cut your grocery budget? Go here and sign up (it’s free!) I’ll send you my 10 Easy Ways to Cut Your Grocery Bill By $50.


Free Summer Reading Programs 2020

If you’re looking for summer reading programs for kids, this is our comprehensive list of all the completely FREE programs!

{Looking for other fun summer deals? Kids can bowl for free and skate for free at many participating locations this summer!

free summer reading programs 2020

Believe it or not, it’s almost that time of year again — when school is out and summer reading programs abound. Yay! (Well, some of you might not be saying “yay!”, but we do because my kids LOVE them some summer reading programs!)

Note: We recommend calling your local stores to verify that they’re participating in these programs this year. Due to COVID, there maybe be some temporary changes in these programs, depending on your region.

Free Summer Reading Programs 2020

Do your kids love to read, too? If so, this is our big list of all the FREE summer reading programs that are available nationally!

Amazon — Kids who read any eight books this summer can bring their list of books read to the nearest Amazon Retail Store to receive a Star Reader Certificate and their choice of a free book.

Audiobook Sync — SYNC will give away two complete audiobook downloads per week for teens 13+. Sign up to get notifications when the free audiobook downloads are available.

Barnes & Noble — Earn a free book through the Barnes & Noble Summer Reading Program for kids in grades 1-6.

  1. Read any eight books this summer and record them in your Summer Reading Journal (PDF download). Tell them which part of the book is your favorite, and why.
  2. Bring your completed journal to a Barnes & Noble store between July 1st and August 31st, 2020.
  3. Choose a FREE BOOK from the selection on the Reading Journal list at the store.

Books-A-Million — Read any four books from the Summer Reading Adventure section in-store or online, write about them in your summer reading adventure log book, and receive a free Dog Man logo baseball cap (while supplies last).

Chuck E. Cheese — Kids can fill out their Reading Rewards Calendar when they read every day for two weeks, and then trade it in for 10 FREE play points at your local Chuck E. Cheese location.

Half Price Books — Kids 14 or younger can read 15 minutes per day to reach a total of at least 300 minutes. After that, they can take their completed reading log to their local store to earn Bookworm Bucks to spend. (In addition, they have a summer reading program for teens.)

Lifeway Stores– Lifeway typically does a summer reading program where you can receive a free Bible for reading six books. It’s not live yet, but you can sign up to receive a notification when it goes live this year!

Scholastic — The Summer Read-A-Palooza is back again this year! Kids can enter their summer reading minutes online to unlock digital rewards as they complete weekly reading challenges and access book excerpts, videos, and other summer-exclusive content.

Showcase Cinemas — Bookworm Wednesdays entitles kids to free admission to a select children’s film when they present a book report at a participating Cinema de Lux, Showcase, or Multiplex Cinemas box office. Accompanying parents or guardians and children under six years of age receive free admission and do not need to submit a book report. They don’t have the movie schedule up yet, but you can bookmark the page and check back when it goes live for 2020.

TD Bank – Kids in grades Kindergarten through 5th can earn $10 from TD Bank when they read 10 books this summer. Simply print out the Summer Reading Form, write down the names of the books read on the form and then take the form to the nearest TD Bank. You will receive the $10 in a new or existing TD Simple Savings account. (Note: The form hasn’t been updated for 2020 yet, but this program typically returns every year and starts on June 1st.)

Local Libraries — Above all, don’t forget about your local library! Most of them offer fun summer reading programs with prizes and more.

Bonus: Don’t forget about the Pizza Hut Book-It Program that runs each school year!

Download our FREE Kid’s Summer Reading Printable Pack!

free kid's summer reading challenge printable pack

Looking for a fun way to encourage and motivate your kids to read more? Or need a creative way for your kids to keep track of all the books they read through summer reading programs this year?

Be sure to download our FREE Kid’s Summer Reading Printable Pack! It comes with a reading challenge, reading time tracker, and fill-in-the-blank summer reading list.

Do you know of any other Summer Reading Programs we should add to this list? Let us know in the comments!

Gretchen’s $95 Grocery Shopping Trip and Weekly Menu Plan for 5

I ended up being out of town some of last week and wasn’t able to do a grocery shopping trip for last week. So we basically were out of almost everything. Our meals were getting really creative by the end of the week. Because of this, I had quite a huge grocery list this week!

Aldi

4 dozen Eggs – $0.98 each

1 gallon Milk – $2.19 (I usually make our milk last longer by adding water to it once it gets down to half a gallon about mid-week.)

2 Half & Half – $1.55 each

2 bags Frozen Chicken Breasts – $5.59 each

2 box MooTubes – $1.55

1 bag Frozen Tilapia – $3.79

1 bag Frozen Strawberries – $1.89

1 bag Spinach – $1.19

1 bag Mini Cucumbers – $2.19

1 box Chewy Granola Bars – $1.15

2 cans Green Beans – $0.49 each

1 Grape Jelly – $1.29

2 pkg Strawberries – $0.99 each (I wanted to purchase more but a lot of the strawberries were either already moldy or looking old.)

1 can Refried Beans – $0.75

1 pkg Green Peppers – $1.99

1 bag Chocolate Chips – $1.69

1 Flour Tortillas – $1.25

1 pkg Pazazz Apples – $2.79

2 cans Tuna – $0.79 each

1 Unsweetened Applesauce – $1.95

1 can Black Beans – $0.48

3 boxes Mac & Cheese – $0.33 each

1 box Cheese Crackers – $1.49

1 bag Sugar – $1.57

1 pkg Cream Cheese – $0.79

1 canister Raisins – $2.89

1 box Graham Crackers – $0.99

1 bag Tortilla Chips – $0.89

1 lb Ground Turkey – $1.89

1.70 lbs Roma Tomatoes – $1.89

1 loaf Bread – $0.95

2 lbs Ground Beef – $1.89 each

Total: $68.14

Kroger

1 Green Leaf Lettuce – $1.49

4 boxes Mott’s Fruit Snacks – $0.99 each

1 box Kroger Peanut Butter Cereal – $1.49

2.36 lbs Bananas – $1.16

2.24 lbs Bananas – Marked down to $0.87

1 bag Kroger Potato Chips – $1.25

1 Kroger Ice Cream – $1.79

1 Mom’s Best Cereal – $3.29 (This is the ONLY cereal my two little boys will eat. They ask for it every single morning.)

1 bag Clementines – $3.99

4 bags Kroger Shredded Cheese – $1.88 each

1 bag Frozen Peas – $1

Total: $27.81

Total for both stores: $95.95

Menu Plan for This Week

Breakfasts

Cereal, Spinach Smoothies, Eggs, Oatmeal, Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Lunches

Mac & Cheese, Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwiches, Cheese/Crackers/Veggies, Apples & Peanut Butter/Hard Boiled Eggs, Tuna Salad Sandwiches, Leftovers

Dinners

Tossed Salad Bar with Chicken

Grilled Chicken and Tilapia, Biscuits, Fruit Salad

Baked Chicken Taquitos, Chips & Salsa, Steamed Peas

Spaghetti, Tossed Salad, Green Beans

Crepes, Strawberry Smoothies, Scrambled Eggs

Homemade Cheese Pizza, Breadsticks

Barbecue Meatballs, Homemade Bread, Steamed Broccoli

My Goals For This Week (easing back into real-life!)

After taking an entire month off from goal-setting while on maternity leave, I’m excited to ease back into it starting this week. (My maternity leave doesn’t officially end until the end of May, but I’m feeling good and we’re getting into a rhythm and groove here, so I decided I’d test drive the new routine I created for my week this week!)

This Week’s Goals

Personal Goals

1. Take 5 slow walks in our neighborhood. 

2. Finish reading Stay. Read 4 more chapters of Heartfelt Discipline. Read at least 10 chapters of The Librarian of Auschwitz.

Home/Family Goals

3. Read 3 chapters of The Boy on the Wooden Box aloud to the kids.

4. Complete 2 hours of foster care training.

5. Spend one-on-one time with each of the three older kids doing something they love doing.

Work/Blog Goals

6. Finish the second round of edit to my manuscript. Work on Afterword.

Word of the Year Goals

7. Have a family night and do an at-home Escape Game together.

What are YOUR goals for this week? Tell me in the comments! I’d love to hear and be able to cheer for you!