2019 Entertainment Book $8 PLUS Free Shipping (Reg $35!)

It’s that time of year! Entertainment Books are currently on sale for just $8 on Entertainment.com! Just use the coupon code FLASH at checkout.

These are normally $35 and there is still plenty of time left in 2019 to more than earn back your $8 investment.

FYI, you need to choose the BOOK membership option to get the $8 book.

Thanks Passionate Penny Pincher

Apple Camp Open for Registration NOW! – Free Camp (Spots are Limited!)

Looking for something fun, hands on and interactive for the kids to do this summer. Apple Camp is currently open for registration right now!

Apple Camp is completely free and my kids LOVE it!

Kids ages 8–12 will explore their creativity through fun, hands-on projects across four tracks ranging from coding to art & design.

Head on over here to sign up. Spots are limited and the classes fill up fast!

Costco Members: 3-Visit Universal Studios Hollywood Ticket Just $139.99! *HOT*

 

If you are planning a trip to Universal Studios Hollywood AND you are a Costco Member, you can grab a Universal Studios Hollywood 3-Visit Ticket for just $139.99.

Limit of 6 tickets per member. Blackout dates and restrictions do apply.

Features:

  • 3 Visits
  • Valid 12 months from selected first visit date
  • Advanced registration required for each visit
  • Register multiple visits at once, or one visit at a time
  • Universal City, California

Thanks Hip 2 Save

2019 FREE Admission to National Parks Dates (Next Free Date 4/20/19! )

Each year, National Parks offer FREE admission on certain days .

Here are the dates for 2019:

– Jan. 21st: Martin Luther King Jr Birthday
– April 20th: 1st day of National Park Week
– Aug. 25th: National Park Service Birthday
– Sept. 28th: National Public Lands Day
– November 11th: Veterans Day

Also, remember that 4th graders get free entrance to National Parks for themselves and their families all year long!

**Fine Print: Fee waiver includes: entrance fees, commercial tour fees, and transportation entrance fees. Other fees such as reservation, camping, tours, concession and fees collected by third parties are not included unless stated otherwise.

 

Free LEGO May Tantive Model Minibuild – Register Today!

CLICK HERE to register now for May’s monthly mini model build! Event dates available are on May 3-6, 2019.

Quantities are limited to approximately 120 per store per night and time reservations are on a first come first serve basis, so be sure to sign up as soon as possible.

One free set per child (max 4 children per household). Ages 6-14 only.

 

Free Build & Grow Event at Lowe’s – Chalkboard Planter (Just in Time For Mother’s Day!)

 

Lowe’s next Build & Grow Event will be held on May 11, 2019 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m..

Hurry and sign up because spots are limited and fill up quickly.

In this Build & Grow Event, your children will be able to build a Chalkboard Planter.

Participating locations only.

 

8 Tips & Tricks To Decorate for the Holidays On A Budget

You want to have a well decorated home, but seasonal and holiday decorations can be really expensive! How do you create that festive atmosphere in your home year round when you are on a budget? Here are 8 tips & tricks to keep your home looking appropriately seasonal no matter what holiday comes next.

The Dollar Store – 

Did you know that dollar stores actually have pretty good holiday decor options? Sure, some of it is garbage, but honestly some of my most complimented holiday decor actually came from the Dollar Tree!

The trick is to get there fairly early when they first put out the holiday decor. The good stuff gets grabbed quickly!

Here are some cute displays for spring I saw at my local Dollar Tree the other day:

Hobby Lobby – 

Hobby Lobby ALWAYS has a 40% off coupon available! Just download their app and every time you go, you can use the 40% off one item at regular price coupon.

That said, Hobby Lobby puts their seasonal items on sale well before the holiday actually even happens. Their prices are generally pretty fair and reasonable and the quality is quite good!

Micheal’s – 

Michael’s is another one that almost always has a 30-40% off coupon in their app (in fact sometimes they even offer 50% off one regular item coupons!). They also will sometimes offer short periods of $x off $xx coupons as well. In some cases you can stack coupons as well.

JoAnn’s – 

JoAnn’s is another great place to buy holiday decor. I find that their decor is a bit pricier than the two above though, so I always try to check the app to see if there are any coupons I can stack to get a great deal.

After Holiday Sales – 

If you can wait to decorate until next year, be sure to hit up the after holiday sales! Some stores start their after holiday sales on decor the day OF the holiday, but most start it the day after. The problem is that everybody else knows this little tip too.

So you’ll need to get there early and be prepared to make quick decisions!

One of my favorite places to nab after holiday decor sales is actually Walgreens! They drop to 70% and then pretty quickly to 90%.

This is also a great opportunity to make some of those bigger holiday decor purchases, such as Christmas trees.

DIY – 

I hesitate to recommend DIYing holiday decor as a budget saver, because we are all guilty of buying $40 worth of materials to create something that would have cost $20 outright and then never using those materials ever again.

However, check out my tutorial for making a fall wreath here. You can totally use that as a base to make a wreath for any season! It uses all very inexpensive materials and you will have a lot of pride knowing that you made that!

Pinterest is filled with great holiday DIY home decor tutorials!

Buy Generic “Season” items – 

Rather than buying Easter decorations, buy mainly “Spring” decorations and you can keep those up for 3 months! Rather than Christmas, focus on “Winter”.

When you purchase for a season instead of a holiday, it allows you to get a bit more use and enjoyment out of your decor. Which makes investing in good quality pieces a bit more reasonable!

Decorate with Consumables & Otherwise Functional Items

Don’t underestimate the beauty of a gorgeous bowl of lemons on the table to celebrate spring/summer. In the fall, a bowl of gorgeous bright red apples will really cheer up any household.

Fresh cut flowers from the garden, pinecones from the backyard placed in an attractive glass jar (check out these, you could change out the contents for every season!), you can even use a wax warmer or a gorgeous scented candle to provide an attractive piece of decor and to add to the overall seasonal ambiance of your home with an appropriate seasonal scent.

Thrift Stores & Garage Sales 

I have a good friend that changes her Christmas “theme” every 2 years. I mean, she donates EVERYTHING that isn’t actually a family heirloom and does a whole new decor theme every year. NONE of her decor ever looks like it has been used, and it all ends up in the local Goodwill for anyone to purchase at a major steal!

Be sure to check out thrift stores and garage sales for wonderful seasonal and holiday decor. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure! Some of my favorite Christmas decor items came from a local thrift store because I just so happened to walk in the day they set all of the Christmas decor out!

What are your tips for decorating for the holidays on a budget? 

 

Spring Cleaning Budget Tips – Give Your Budget A Spring Makeover!

Whether you are a budget beginner or you have been living on a budget for years, these simple spring cleaning tips for your budget can make a HUGE difference for your finances! Don’t let your family suffer because you didn’t use this opportunity to plan and maintain your budget for the upcoming spring/summer. Check out all these great budget tips, most are super simple and quick!

Happy Spring!

Whether it is still snowing in your neck of the woods or the flowers are blooming and the birds are chirping…it is now officially SPRING weather you like it or not (see what I did there? I can be very pun-ny ;) ).

This is a great time to sit down with your budget and give it a little makeover!

Don’t currently have a budget? Be sure to start here to learn how to create a budget.

Here are some tips for giving your budget a bit of a spring cleaning: 

Start Preparing for Summer Expenses: 

I don’t know about you, but our bills tend to go UP during the summer. For one, the kids are home more. Which means all of a sudden, they think they need 2nd breakfast every day and 35-36 snacks a day. As a result, we do try to accommodate for a slightly higher grocery bill during the summer.

In addition, if you live in a warm (or HOT) climate, like I do…you will see an increase in your electricity bill due to your air conditioner running 24/7. In some climates, your heating/cooling even each other out, but here in Texas we pay MUCH less to heat our homes than we do to cool them. This bill will double or triple sometimes in the heat of summer!

If you know your children always participate in summer swim team, travel baseball/softball, etc during the summer, it’s time to start budgeting for those expenses. Don’t just think registration fees, also think about gear, clothing, possible hotel stays, etc.

Action Tip: Consider adding a “Summer Bill Increase Expense” line item to your budget. 

Set Aside Funds for Spring Cleaning: 

Ugh, who wants to spring clean? I know at least a few of you are excited about this. Not me, but a few of YOU are. First off, I have a great spring cleaning series right here on FFF. You can follow along and break your spring cleaning down into manageable chunks!

With spring cleaning will inevitably come some extra expenses:

Cleaning Supplies: Some dollar store supplies are amazing (READ: What To Buy/What Not To Buy at the Dollar Store)!

No need to spend a ton for pricey items when you can pay $1 for a huge bottle of awesome glass cleaner that works just as well! Also, consider using natural household items for cleaning. Plain white distilled vinegar mixed with water can clean mirrors, floors, windows, etc. (you can get the spray bottle at the dollar store)

If you SWEAR by a certain brand name (I am snobby about the toilet cleaner I like personally), check out Amazon’s Subscribe & Save! Read this post for more details on how to save BIG using Amazon’s Subscribe & Save. 

Other Supplies: You might also use this time to replace the batteries in your smoke detectors, swap out your AC filters, plant a vegetable garden in your backyard, etc. Set realistic spending goals because these little items can add up and create a large dent in your budget if you are not prepared!

Action Tip: Consider adding a Spring Cleaning line item to your budget

Begin Funding a Summer Fun/Entertainment/Vacation Sinking Fund: 

Planning on going on vacation this summer (Read: How To Travel On A Budget!) ?

Most likely at this point, you have already started saving if you are planning to go on a BIG vacation. However, maybe you want to do a few road trips? Or have a staycation and enjoy your city (I live in Houston and there is SO much to do here!). Either way, now is a great time to start a sinking fund to plan for all those extra hours you have to entertain your children and to fulfill all those summer bucket list expectations!

For more details on setting up a sinking fund, click here. 

Action Tip: Consider adding a “Summer Fun” line item to your budget

Audit Your Current Budget for Excess: 

This has nothing to do with spring other than some people view spring as a fresh start. Sit down and audit your budget to see if it is still working for you and your family!

I have a great post here for where to find excess or flaws in your budget.

Action Tip: Consider DELETING some line items from your budget if possible! 

Do a Closet Audit for Everyone In Your Family: 

If you have children, especially young children…you already know about this. Maybe you have already had your first warm weather day. You pulled out last year’s shorts and realized that your 7 year old probably shouldn’t wear those Daisy Dukes to school this year.

It’s time to get into the closets and see what fits, what doesn’t, what can be passed down or donated and what just needs to be trashed (or you can thank it for it’s service if that’s your jam? ).

Now, I am a HUGE fan of thrift, resale and consignment shopping. I find SUCH great deals on items for both of my children (and sometimes even for myself) at the thrift store! Often I find new with tags items at the local Goodwill! In fact, I think I brag about this so much that eventually I am going to have too much competition from local friends at my local stores.

Here is a post all about shopping at thrift stores if you want to learn how to get the most bang for your buck.

Action Tip: Consider adding a spring clothing line item to your budget

Finally, take a moment to smell the flowers, to plan an outdoor picnic and to just enjoy the moment. We are already in season #2 of this year and it is amazing how fast life passes us by. Don’t let financial woes keep you from the joy of life!

If you need more help creating a budget or learning to save, be sure to check through my frugal living posts here on FFF. You can live a joy filled life on a budget!

Resources For Those Affected By The Government Shutdown

Looking for resources for federal employees affected by the government shutdown? Here are a few resources to help those affected.  This article will hopefully help federal employees and their families navigate their lack of paycheck(s) during this time of uncertainty.

The Government has been shut down for 26 days as of today (1/16/19). 800,000 federal workers are either currently working without a paycheck, or unable to work at all (and obviously  not getting paid either).

Without pointing fingers or making things political…this just sucks.

The reality of the situation is that people are going to start hurting (if they aren’t already). Just today, I was at Walgreens and a woman asked how long it would take for her prescription. She commented that she was going to have to wait around for it because she lives two towns over and her husband works for the TSA so they need to spend as carefully as possible.

This woman was worried about gas money. The amount of gas money it would take to drive less than 4 miles back and forth. Most of of us take for granted 4 miles worth of gas. Even the penny pinchers among us probably don’t worry too much about 4 miles worth of gas.

Her fear is understandable though. At this point, nobody knows when the government will re-open. Nobody knows when things will go back to normal. Even AFTER the government opens, at this point..there will be delays.

I asked on my Facebook page, what can I do to help? Neither myself or my husband are federal employees, but I knew I wanted to help. The response was just to share helpful resources. I will do my best.

#1 Lean in to your community: 

Truthfully, I will not be able to provide you with ALL of the resources at your disposal. Some communities are bonding together and creating support for local federal workers. Local restaurants are providing free food. Our local baseball and softball leagues are delaying registration fees for the children of federal employees that want to play (oh, that makes me tear up).

Our communities are bonding together to help support those among us who are struggling, so first off…I encourage you to ask around your community and see where your fellow neighbors might be just waiting to see how they can help YOU.

Look on Nextdoor, Facebook and Twitter. I, personally, have been sharing every single local business offering support to furloughed workers on my own personal facebook timeline.

#2 Check what resources your department has for you: 

I did a quick check and found this great resource for the US Department of Transportation employees. The Letter to Creditors is awesome, take advantage of it and get in contact with your creditors ASAP. MOST are willing to work with furloughed employees.

Here is info for the GSA employees that are furloughed.

NASA has a huge PDF guide here. 

Honestly, if you are a furloughed employee, just check your departments website and they SHOULD have a resource available for you.

Some workers/states are eligible for unemployment. Some are not. You will need to check this out for yourself to verify. If you are, know that the process does take awhile, so don’t wait until you are in dire straits to apply.

#3 Talk to your bank/credit union

Some banks/credit unions are offering loans or covering pay for federal employees. I know JSC Federal Credit Union is offering 0% furlough loans for qualified members. See if your bank/credit union is offering anything similar.

#4 Start cutting your spending any way you can

Here on FFF I have tons of articles that can hopefully help you save money and help you deal with your new, limited budget:

Learn How to Use Coupons

How To Become A Better Cook – Learn To Cook Better At Home To Save More Money!

Reverse Meal Planning – How I Save A Ton On Groceries By Reverse Meal Planning!

My Favorite Money Saving Apps

10 Ways to Make Living On One Income Easier

How to Save Money Easily – 5 Simple Tips to Create Wiggle Room In Your Budget

The 5 Biggest Budgeting Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them!)

How and Why You Need to Create a Budget

4 Easy Ways to Coupon Without a Printer

5 Important Financial Tips for Beginners

10 Tips On How To Save On Your Car

How to Save Money on Utilities

10 Easy Ways to Build Up the Emergency Fund

How to Shop a Thrift Store

How to Build Up a Pantry for Less (From Scratch) in a New Home or Apartment

What to Buy/What Not to Buy at the Dollar Store

Strategic Shopping without Coupons! My Supermarket Shopping Trip

Find Out Why You SUCK At Saving Money!

Simple, Basic Ways to Cut Household Spending to “Find” Much Needed Cash

Five Disadvantages of Budgeting

Marriage and Finances – It’s All About Teamwork

#5 Reach out to your kids school, your church and the local food bank

In addition, reach out to your church and your local food bank for support. Let your children’s school know your situation. I know our school district has already proactively set up a donation center AND has agreed to allow kids meal accounts to go negative, let fees go unpaid, etc for the duration of the shutdown to alleviate financial stress due to school related expenses.

This feels so small. I don’t feel like this article is enough. If you know of more resources, please comment below and I will add to this list. If I have any misinformation on here, please kindly correct me. I just want to help and if I can give a bit of support from my tiny corner of the internet, then it is worth it.

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