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Effective Ways to Save Money on Clothes

Effective Ways to Save Money on Clothes

Introduction

Here at Save Money Retire, we understand the importance of saving money without compromising on style and quality. In this comprehensive guide, we will provide you with invaluable tips and strategies to help you save money on clothes without sacrificing your personal fashion preferences. Whether you’re a budget-conscious shopper or simply looking for practical ways to reduce your clothing expenses, we’ve got you covered.

1. Embrace Second-Hand Shopping

One effective way to save money on clothes is by embracing the world of second-hand shopping. Consider visiting thrift stores, consignment shops, and online platforms that offer pre-owned clothing. Not only can you find unique and vintage pieces, but you can also score significant discounts compared to buying new items. By giving clothes a second life, you contribute to sustainable fashion practices while saving money.

2. Take Advantage of Sales and Discounts

Keep an eye out for sales, promotions, and discounts offered by both physical and online stores. Sign up for newsletters and follow your favorite brands on social media to stay informed about upcoming sales events. Additionally, take advantage of seasonal sales and end-of-season clearances, which often offer substantial markdowns on clothing items.

3. Utilize Coupons and Promo Codes

Before making any clothing purchases, search for applicable coupons and promo codes. Many online retailers provide exclusive discount codes that can be applied during checkout. Websites like RetailMeNot and Honey are excellent resources for finding active coupon codes, helping you save money on your desired clothing items.

4. Join Rewards Programs

Consider joining rewards programs offered by your favorite clothing stores. These programs often provide members with exclusive discounts, early access to sales, and special offers. Accumulate points through your purchases and redeem them for future discounts or free items. Loyalty pays off, especially when it comes to saving money on clothes.

5. Learn Basic Clothing Repair Skills

Extend the lifespan of your clothing items by learning basic clothing repair skills. Instead of discarding garments with minor tears, loose buttons, or broken zippers, take the time to mend them yourself. Not only will this save you money on purchasing new clothes, but it will also give you a sense of accomplishment and self-sufficiency.

6. Host Clothing Swaps

Organize clothing swap events with friends, family, or colleagues to refresh your wardrobe without spending a dime. Invite participants to bring clothes they no longer wear and encourage everyone to exchange items. Clothing swaps provide a fun and eco-friendly way to discover new pieces while decluttering your closet.

7. Create a Capsule Wardrobe

Consider adopting a capsule wardrobe, which consists of a limited number of versatile clothing items that can be mixed and matched to create various outfits. By curating a capsule wardrobe, you can avoid impulse purchases and focus on building a collection of high-quality, timeless pieces that truly reflect your personal style. This approach encourages conscious shopping and reduces unnecessary spending.

8. Rent Special Occasion Outfits

Instead of buying expensive outfits for one-time events, explore clothing rental services. Renting formal wear or designer pieces can be a cost-effective alternative, allowing you to wear stylish and trendy clothing without the hefty price tag. Look for reputable rental platforms that offer a wide selection and affordable rates.

9. Take Care of Your Clothes

Properly caring for your clothes can significantly extend their lifespan, saving you money in the long run. Follow garment care instructions, wash items on appropriate settings, and store them correctly to prevent unnecessary wear and tear. By maintaining your clothes in good condition, you reduce the frequency of replacements, thus reducing your overall clothing expenses.

10. Consider DIY Projects

Unleash your creativity and embark on do-it-yourself (DIY) projects to give your clothes a unique twist. From simple alterations to upcycling old garments into new pieces, DIY projects offer endless possibilities for customization. Not only will you save money by transforming existing items, but you’ll also have one-of-a-kind clothing that reflects your personal style.

Conclusion

Saving money on clothes is achievable without compromising your fashion sense. By incorporating these effective strategies into your shopping routine, you can elevate your style while staying within your budget. Embrace second-hand shopping, take advantage of sales and discounts, utilize coupons, join rewards programs, and learn basic clothing repair skills. Host clothing swaps, create a capsule wardrobe, rent special occasion outfits, take care of your clothes, and explore DIY projects. Implement these tips and enjoy the satisfaction of a stylish wardrobe without breaking the bank.

How to save money at disneyland

Introduction

Welcome to our comprehensive guide on How to save money at Disneyland. At Save Money Retire, we believe that everyone should have the opportunity to create lifelong memories at the happiest place on Earth. In this article, we will provide you with expert tips, tricks, and insider knowledge to help you make the most of your Disneyland adventure without compromising on the enchantment. Let’s dive right in!

1. Planning Ahead for Savings

Planning your Disneyland trip in advance can save you both time and money. Here are some key strategies to consider:

a. Off-Peak Season Travel

Choosing to visit Disneyland during off-peak seasons, such as weekdays or non-holiday periods, can lead to significant savings. Not only will you benefit from lower ticket prices, but you’ll also experience shorter lines and a less crowded park.

b. Budget-Friendly Accommodations

When it comes to accommodations, consider staying at hotels or vacation rentals near Disneyland that offer competitive rates. Many properties provide free shuttle services to and from the park, saving you money on parking fees and transportation.

c. Discounted Tickets and Packages

Research different ticket options and packages available on Disneyland’s official website. Keep an eye out for special promotions, multi-day passes, or combo packages that include both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park. By purchasing tickets in advance, you can often secure better deals and skip the lines at the ticket booths.

2. Dining on a Budget

Disneyland offers a variety of dining options that cater to different budgets. Here’s how you can enjoy delicious meals without overspending:

a. Bring Your Own Snacks and Water

To avoid the temptation of expensive snacks and drinks inside the park, pack your own. Granola bars, fruit, and refillable water bottles are lightweight, convenient, and can help you save a significant amount of money throughout your visit.

b. Quick-Service Restaurants

Opt for quick-service restaurants, which offer a wide range of affordable meal options. From hearty burgers to tasty salads, you’ll find plenty of delicious and budget-friendly choices that will keep you energized during your Disney adventure.

c. Share Meals

Disneyland portions are often generous, making it possible to share meals between family members or friends. Splitting a meal not only reduces costs but also allows you to try a wider variety of dishes.

3. Maximizing the Magic: Attractions and Entertainment

Disneyland is renowned for its immersive attractions and captivating entertainment. Here are some insider tips for making the most of your visit:

a. FastPass and MaxPass

Utilize Disneyland’s FastPass system or MaxPass feature to minimize wait times for popular rides. These services allow you to reserve a time slot for specific attractions, ensuring that you spend less time in lines and more time enjoying the magic.

b. Character Dining Experiences

Consider booking a character dining experience for a memorable interaction with your favorite Disney characters. These experiences often include a delicious meal and provide excellent photo opportunities without the need for long queues.

c. Parades and Shows

Catch the spectacular parades and shows that take place throughout the day. Arrive early to secure a good viewing spot and make sure to check the park’s schedule for the latest showtimes.

Conclusion

Experiencing the wonders of Disneyland on a budget is indeed possible with the right strategies and planning. By following our expert tips, you can make the most of your trip without compromising on the magic. Remember, Disneyland is all about creating lifelong memories, and with a little extra effort, you can ensure that those memories are truly unforgettable. Start planning your dream Disneyland adventure today! Read more of our posts if you want to learn other ways to save money and retire early.

How to Save Money on a Road Trip

How to Save Money on a Road Trip

Welcome to our comprehensive guide on how to save money on a road trip! If you’re planning an exciting adventure on the open road, we understand the importance of maximizing your budget. In this article, we’ll share expert tips and strategies to help you save money without compromising on the joy and thrill of your journey.

Planning Ahead

Choose an Efficient Vehicle

Selecting the right vehicle for your road trip can make a significant difference in terms of fuel efficiency and overall cost. Consider factors such as gas mileage, maintenance costs, and reliability. Opting for a fuel-efficient car or even a hybrid vehicle can help you save money on fuel expenses.

Plot an Optimal Route

Planning your route in advance can help you avoid unnecessary detours, saving both time and money. Research the most efficient roads and highways, taking into account tolls, traffic conditions, and scenic alternatives. Utilize online mapping services to identify the most cost-effective and time-efficient route for your trip.

Pack Light and Smart

Packing efficiently is key to maximizing space and minimizing costs. Avoid overpacking by making a detailed list of essential items and focusing on versatile clothing options. Remember to bring necessary road trip essentials such as a first aid kit, snacks, water, and a spare tire. Packing your own food and drinks can significantly cut down on expenses along the way.

Saving on Accommodation

Consider Camping or RVing

One of the most cost-effective ways to stay overnight during a road trip is by camping or using a recreational vehicle (RV). Research campsites along your route or consider renting an RV, which combines transportation and accommodation in one. Camping and RVing not only save money but also allow you to experience the great outdoors up close.

Look for Affordable Lodging Options

If camping isn’t your preference, there are still plenty of affordable lodging options available. Look for budget-friendly motels, hostels, or even vacation rentals. Use online booking platforms to compare prices, read reviews, and find the best deals. Additionally, consider staying slightly outside major cities where accommodations tend to be less expensive.

Take Advantage of Rewards Programs

If you frequently travel or plan to embark on more road trips in the future, signing up for loyalty programs offered by hotel chains or booking platforms can be highly beneficial. These programs often provide discounts, special offers, and even free nights based on your accumulated points.

Minimizing Fuel Costs

Drive Smart and Efficiently

Adopting fuel-efficient driving habits can help you save money on gas throughout your journey. Avoid aggressive acceleration and braking, maintain a steady speed, and use cruise control when appropriate. Removing excess weight from your vehicle, such as unnecessary items or rooftop cargo carriers, can also improve fuel efficiency.

Compare Fuel Prices

Take advantage of technology to find the most affordable fuel prices along your route. Numerous smartphone apps and websites provide real-time information on nearby gas stations and their prices. Planning fuel stops at locations with lower prices can lead to substantial savings over the course of your road trip.

Utilize Fuel Rewards Programs

Several gas stations offer loyalty or rewards programs that allow you to accumulate points or receive discounts on fuel purchases. Research and sign up for these programs before your trip to maximize savings. Additionally, some credit cards offer cashback or rewards specifically for fuel purchases.

Eating on a Budget

Pack Your Own Meals and Snacks

Instead of relying solely on restaurants and fast food chains, prepare and pack your own meals and snacks for the road. Stock up on non-perishable items such as granola bars, fresh fruits, sandwiches, and bottled water. This not only saves money but also allows you to maintain a healthier diet during your journey.

Explore Local Markets and Grocery Stores

When you do stop for groceries or provisions, consider visiting local markets or grocery stores. Not only will you find a wider variety of affordable options, but you’ll also have the opportunity to support local businesses. Experiment with local produce and delicacies to enhance your road trip experience.

Entertainment and Activities

Embrace Free and Low-Cost Activities

Road trips are about experiencing the journey as much as reaching the destination. Look for free or low-cost activities along your route, such as scenic hikes, parks, museums with discounted admission, or local events. Engaging with the local culture and exploring natural wonders often provides unforgettable experiences without breaking the bank.

Research Discounts and Coupons

Before you embark on your road trip, conduct thorough research to identify discounts and coupons for attractions or activities along your route. Many websites and travel guides offer valuable savings opportunities. Take advantage of these offers to make the most of your budget while enjoying memorable experiences.

Conclusion

We hope you enjoy our post on How to Save Money on a Road Trip. With proper planning, smart choices, and a dash of adventure, you can enjoy a fantastic road trip while keeping your budget intact. By following the expert tips and strategies provided in this guide, you’ll be well-equipped to save money without compromising on the joy and excitement of your journey. Remember, the key is to plan ahead, make informed decisions, and embrace the many affordable and rewarding experiences the open road has to offer.

 

Saving Money on Hotels

Saving Money on HotelsAt SaveMoneyRetire.com, we understand the importance of finding the best deals and saving money when it comes to booking hotels. We recognize that travelers are constantly searching for ways to stretch their budgets without compromising on quality or comfort. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a comprehensive guide that will not only help you find affordable hotel options but also provide valuable tips to outrank other websites and secure a top position in Google search results.

1. Plan Ahead and Be Flexible

One of the key strategies for saving money on hotels is planning ahead and being flexible with your travel dates. By booking well in advance, you can often take advantage of early-bird discounts or promotional rates offered by hotels. Additionally, being flexible with your travel dates can open up opportunities to book during off-peak seasons when hotels tend to offer lower rates to attract guests.

2. Compare Prices and Utilize Online Booking Platforms

In the digital age, comparing prices and utilizing online booking platforms have become essential for savvy travelers. Take advantage of the numerous online platforms available, such as Expedia, Booking.com, or our own website, to compare prices from multiple hotels in your desired destination. These platforms often offer special deals and discounts exclusive to their users, helping you secure the best possible rates.

3. Consider Alternative Accommodation Options

Hotels aren’t the only accommodation option available. Consider exploring alternative choices such as vacation rentals, bed and breakfasts, or hostels. These options can often provide a unique and cost-effective experience while offering competitive pricing. By broadening your search, you may discover hidden gems that not only save you money but also provide a more authentic and personalized travel experience.

4. Loyalty Programs and Membership Discounts

Many hotels offer loyalty programs or membership discounts that can significantly reduce your hotel expenses. Before making a booking, check if the hotel chain you prefer has a loyalty program and sign up for it. Accumulating points through regular stays can lead to future discounts, complimentary upgrades, or even free nights. Additionally, certain organizations, such as AAA or AARP, offer exclusive membership discounts at select hotels, so make sure to explore these options if applicable.

5. Stay Outside the City Center

While staying in the heart of a city may seem convenient, it often comes with a higher price tag. Consider staying slightly outside the city center or in neighboring areas where hotel rates tend to be more affordable. Research the availability of public transportation or nearby attractions to ensure that the location is still convenient for your travel needs. This strategy can provide substantial savings while allowing you to explore different neighborhoods and experience local culture.

6. Negotiate and Communicate Directly with Hotels

Don’t be afraid to negotiate with hotels directly, especially when booking a large group or an extended stay. Many hotels are willing to offer discounted rates or additional perks to secure your reservation. Additionally, if you find a better deal through an online platform, reach out to the hotel directly and inquire if they can match or beat the price. Building a direct line of communication can often lead to more personalized service and potential savings.

7. Take Advantage of Package Deals

Consider bundling your hotel stay with other travel components, such as flights or car rentals, to take advantage of package deals. Many travel agencies or online platforms offer discounted rates when you book multiple services together. This approach not only streamlines your travel planning but can also result in substantial savings compared to booking each component separately.

8. Leverage User Reviews and Recommendations

Before finalizing your hotel choice, make sure to read user reviews and recommendations. Websites like TripAdvisor, Yelp, or our own review section can provide valuable insights from fellow travelers who have stayed at the hotels you’re considering. Pay attention to aspects such as cleanliness, service quality, and overall guest satisfaction. By leveraging user reviews, you can make an informed decision and avoid potential pitfalls.

9. Stay Updated on Promotions and Special Offers

Stay proactive and sign up for newsletters, follow hotels and booking platforms on social media, or set price alerts to stay informed about promotions and special offers. Hotels often run limited-time deals or flash sales, and by staying updated, you can be among the first to secure discounted rates. Being proactive in monitoring promotions can give you a competitive advantage in finding the best possible deals.

Conclusion

Saving money on hotels is a skill that can be honed with careful planning, research, and a proactive approach. By implementing the strategies outlined in this comprehensive guide, you’ll not only be able to find affordable hotel options. Remember, the key to success lies in planning ahead, comparing prices, utilizing alternative accommodation options, and leveraging loyalty programs and special offers. Get more money saving tips and Happy travels!

20 Super Easy Ways To Save Money

20 Super Easy Ways To Save Money
20 Super Easy Ways To Save Money

At SaveMoneyRetire.com, we understand the importance of financial stability and the desire to save money effectively. With our expertise in personal finance and a commitment to helping individuals achieve their financial goals, we present you with a comprehensive guide on “20 Brilliant and Easy Ways to Save Money.” By implementing these strategies into your daily life, you can pave the way to financial freedom and secure a brighter future.

Here’s our list of 20 super easy ways to save money

1. Create a Budget and Stick to It

To kickstart your journey toward financial success, it’s crucial to establish a budget. Take the time to assess your income and expenses, including fixed costs like rent, utilities, and loan payments, as well as discretionary spending. Allocate a specific amount for each category and ensure you adhere to your budget religiously.

2. Automate Your Savings

Harness the power of automation by setting up automatic transfers from your checking account to a designated savings account. By doing so, you’ll consistently save a portion of your income without the need for manual intervention, helping you build a substantial nest egg effortlessly.

3. Track Your Expenses

Maintain a record of your daily expenses to gain a clear understanding of your spending habits. Utilize expense-tracking apps or create a spreadsheet to monitor your expenditures meticulously. This practice will enable you to identify areas where you can cut back and save more effectively.

4. Prioritize High-Interest Debt Repayment

If you carry outstanding balances on credit cards or loans with high interest rates, focus on paying off these debts first. Allocate more resources toward eliminating them to reduce the amount of interest paid over time, freeing up additional funds for savings.

5. Embrace the Power of Meal Planning

Plan your meals in advance and create a weekly grocery list accordingly. This approach will help you avoid impulsive purchases and reduce food waste. Consider batch cooking and meal prepping to save time and money while ensuring nutritious meals for you and your family.

6. Reduce Energy Consumption

Lower your energy bills by adopting energy-efficient habits. Turn off lights and unplug electronics when not in use, utilize natural light whenever possible, and set your thermostat to an optimal temperature. These small adjustments can lead to significant savings over time.

7. Cut the Cord on Cable TV

Consider canceling or downsizing your cable TV subscription and explore alternative streaming services. With a plethora of affordable options available, you can enjoy your favorite shows and movies while reducing your monthly expenses.

8. Use Public Transportation or Carpool

When possible, opt for public transportation or carpooling instead of relying solely on your vehicle. This approach not only saves money on fuel but also helps reduce traffic congestion and promotes a greener environment.

9. Take Advantage of Cashback and Rewards Programs

Explore cashback and rewards programs offered by credit card companies and retailers. By utilizing these programs strategically, you can earn valuable rewards, cashback, or discounts on your purchases, further maximizing your savings potential.

10. Evaluate Your Subscription Services

Review your subscription services regularly and determine if you’re fully utilizing them. Consider canceling any subscriptions that you no longer need or find alternatives that offer similar benefits at a lower cost.

11. Embrace the Sharing Economy

Leverage the sharing economy by renting or borrowing items instead of purchasing them outright. Platforms such as Airbnb, Uber, and local tool-sharing communities can provide cost-effective solutions while promoting resourcefulness.

12. DIY Instead of Outsourcing

Explore do-it-yourself (DIY) options for home repairs, maintenance, and other tasks whenever possible. By learning new skills and taking a hands-on approach, you can save significantly on labor costs.

13. Shop Smarter

When shopping for groceries or other necessities, compare prices, utilize coupons, and take advantage of sales and discounts. Consider bulk buying for non-perishable items to secure long-term savings.

14. Negotiate Bills and Contracts

Contact your service providers and negotiate better deals on your bills and contracts. This applies to utilities, internet, insurance, and more. Many companies are willing to offer competitive rates to retain their customers.

15. Opt for Generic Brands

In many cases, generic or store-brand products offer similar quality to their branded counterparts at a fraction of the price. Experiment with different generic brands and discover opportunities to save money without sacrificing quality.

16. Save on Entertainment

Explore free or low-cost entertainment options, such as visiting local parks, attending community events, or organizing game nights with friends and family. These activities provide enjoyable experiences without straining your wallet.

17. Emphasize Free Workouts

Instead of paying for expensive gym memberships, take advantage of free workout resources available online or engage in outdoor activities like running, hiking, or cycling. Staying active doesn’t have to come with a hefty price tag.

18. Refinance High-Interest Loans

If you have outstanding loans with high interest rates, research refinancing options to potentially secure lower interest rates and reduce your monthly payments. This tactic can save you a substantial amount over the life of the loan.

19. Seek Out Free Financial Education

Take advantage of free financial education resources online or through local workshops. Expanding your knowledge about personal finance will empower you to make informed decisions and optimize your savings strategies.

20. Practice Delayed Gratification

Train yourself to delay gratification by avoiding impulsive purchases. Take time to evaluate whether a purchase is truly necessary or if it aligns with your long-term goals. By curbing impulsive spending, you’ll save more and achieve financial milestones faster.

With these 20 Super Easy Ways To Save Money, you now have a powerful arsenal of strategies at your disposal. Implement them consistently, track your progress, and adapt as needed. By staying committed and mindful of your financial goals, you can navigate the path to financial freedom and build a brighter future for yourself and your loved ones.

Remember, at SaveMoneyRetire.com, we are here to support you every step of the way on your journey to financial success. Get in touch with our expert team for personalized advice tailored to your unique circumstances. Together, we can unlock the door to a prosperous future. If you like these 20 Super Easy Ways To Save Money, check out where you can put that savings here: Vanguard VTSAX

Vanguard’s VTSAX Index Fund

Vanguard's VTSAX

At SaveMoneyRetire.com, we understand the significance of selecting the right investment to achieve financial independence and retire early (FIRE). In this article, we present a comprehensive exploration of the Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund (VTSAX) and highlight the five compelling reasons why it stands as our top choice for FIRE investors. With a focus on long-term growth, diversification, low costs, and simplicity, VTSAX emerges as the best option to optimize your investment portfolio.

5 Reasons Why You Should Invest In VTSAX

1. Broad Market Exposure

VTSAX provides investors with exposure to the entire U.S. stock market, delivering broad diversification across various sectors and industries. This comprehensive coverage minimizes the risk associated with individual stocks, allowing for greater stability in your investment portfolio. By holding shares in companies of all sizes, from small-cap to large-cap, VTSAX ensures participation in the growth potential of the overall market. This approach reduces the impact of any single company’s performance and positions investors to benefit from the collective success of the market as a whole.

2. Low Expenses and Fees With VTSAX

When it comes to investing, minimizing expenses is a crucial factor for long-term success. VTSAX boasts an expense ratio that is significantly lower than the industry average, making it an appealing choice for FIRE investors seeking to maximize returns. With expenses as low as 0.04%, VTSAX allows more of your hard-earned money to be invested in the market rather than being eroded by fees. This cost-efficiency is especially important over extended periods, as even seemingly small expense differentials can lead to substantial differences in overall returns.

3. Passive Management and Tax Efficiency

VTSAX follows a passive investment strategy, seeking to replicate the performance of its benchmark index, the CRSP US Total Market Index. This passive management approach means that the fund aims to mirror the index’s composition rather than engaging in active stock selection or market timing. By avoiding the need for frequent buying and selling, VTSAX minimizes turnover and capital gains distributions, resulting in potential tax advantages for investors. Additionally, this hands-off approach reduces management fees and allows investors to benefit from the long-term growth of the market.

4. Historical Performance and Long-Term Growth

Over its history, VTSAX has consistently demonstrated strong performance and long-term growth potential. While past performance doesn’t guarantee future results, examining historical data provides valuable insights. VTSAX’s performance reflects the upward trajectory of the U.S. stock market over time, presenting a compelling case for investors seeking sustained growth. By staying invested for the long haul, investors can harness the power of compounding returns and take advantage of the market’s upward trend.

 

5. Simplicity and Accessibility

One of the core strengths of VTSAX lies in its simplicity. The fund is easy to understand and doesn’t require intricate financial knowledge or expertise to invest in it effectively. This accessibility makes VTSAX an attractive choice for novice investors who are just starting their FIRE journey. Furthermore, VTSAX is readily available to individual investors, whether they choose to invest directly with Vanguard or through various brokerage platforms. This accessibility ensures that investors can easily include VTSAX in their investment portfolio, regardless of their preferred financial institution.
Here’s a video from one of our favorite investment blogs: https://jlcollinsnh.com/

Inexpensive Snack Ideas For Kids

Inexpensive Snack Ideas For Kids

Keep your little ones engaged and happy with these inexpensive snack ideas for kids. These activities require measurement, fractions, and problem solving skills.  Kids of all ages enjoy cooking and snack-making. I always start by having everyone wash their hands with soap and tie back long hair. To add more skill practice, involve your children in making a grocery list of needed ingredients and estimate the cost of them. All of the following snacks should be made with the help of a parent.

Inexpensive Snack Ideas For Kids

  1. Ants on a Log: Wash a bunch of celery and cut each stalk into thirds. Fill each “log” with peanut butter or cream cheese. Then, add the “ants” by placing raisins on the filled log. If your children don’t like raisins, you could substitute mini chocolate chips.

 

  1. City S’Mores: This snack is a fun modification of the famous campfire snack. You will need graham crackers, a can of chocolate frosting, and marshmallow cream. Break each cracker into halves and set on a plate. Spread one half with chocolate frosting and the other with marshmallow cream. Press the halves together and repeat the process until you have made enough S’mores for your family.

 

  1. Banana Buttons: You will need 1-3 bananas, peanut butter or cream cheese, almonds or other nuts, raisins, coconut, chocolate chips, or other “toppers” of your choice. Slice each banana into “buttons” and spread some peanut butter or cream cheese on top of each. Then, decorate your buttons with toppers that they like.

 

  1. Cookie Cutter Sandwiches: This is a fun lunch for kids to make. You will need large cookie cutters in a variety of fun shapes, bread, lunch meat, cheese, and condiments of your choice. First, cut the bread into shapes using the cutters- remember to cut two of every shape! Then, spread the bread with mayo, Miracle Whip, mustard, etc and add the meats and cheese. You can top the cute sandwiches with a black olive or some other decoration using toothpicks.

 

  1. Kid Mix: Get out your measuring cups and spoons for this fun treat. You will need small ziplock bags, cereal, nuts, M&Ms, raisins or craisins, goldfish crackers, and any other “trail mix” ingredients you like. You will also need a large bowl and spoon for mixing. The children have a lot of fun measuring the right amount of each ingredients to create the perfect snack mix. Then, they fill the bags with snack mix for tonight’s family movie or just for snacking. It’s a good idea to mark each bag with the family member’s name, especially if you customize the mix for some.

 

  1. Cheesy Tortilla Roll-Ups: This is another fun lunch that kids can make. You will need flour tortillas, string cheese, and salsa if desired. Unwrap a string cheese and roll it up inside a tortilla. Place it on a microwave safe plate and heat it for about 30-45 seconds or until the cheese melts. It’s a simple and nutritious lunch. You could make some guacamole to make it even more delicious. Peel 1-3 avocados and smash with a fork in a medium sized bowl. Add about a tablespoon of sour cream or mayo, a dash of garlic salt, a tablespoon of salsa, and salt and pepper to taste.

 

  1. Homemade Popsicles: If you have popsicle forms and sticks that great. If not, use ice trays or small bathroom paper cups and popsicle sticks. If you don’t have popsicle sticks, use round toothpicks. Fill the forms, cups, or ice trays with juice or Kool-Aid, place the stick or toothpick and set them in the freezer while you swim or play for a few hours. Then enjoy a cool summer treat that you made!

 

  1. Build Your Own Sundae: You will need vanilla ice cream, sprinkles, chocolate, caramel, and or strawberry syrup, crushed nuts, cherries, and whipped cream. Of course, you can also use fresh strawberries, gummy bears, and any other sundae ingredients you like. Each person begins by scooping vanilla ice cream into their bowl. Then they build their own sundae with all the toppings they like. A great follow-up activity is to write a “how to” essay on creating the perfect ice cream sundae.

 

  1. Smoothies: You will need a blender, milk, almond milk, or yogurt, and fresh or frozen fruit and/or veggies. A basic recipe calls for 1 cup milk (or yogurt of almond milk), ½ tsp. vanilla, 1 cup crushed ice, and 1 cup fruit or veggies. You can play with these ingredients to match your tastes. You can also add protein powder if you like. Start by adding the milk and vanilla to the blender. Then add bananas, pineapple, mango, strawberries, peaches, spinach, carrots, or any fruits and vegetables you like. Add the crushed ice at the end. Then, add more milk if it’s too thick and ice or fruit if it’s too thin. You could vary the recipe by adding a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

 

  1. Fruit Pizza: This is an amazing dessert to make for the whole family. You will need a roll of refrigerated sugar cookie dough, cream cheese, confectioner sugar, vanilla, and fruit slices such as strawberries, kiwi, blueberries, mango, and peaches. For the 4th of July just use strawberries and blueberries for an All-American treat. Begin by lightly greasing a round pizza pan. Then, divide the cookie dough into small chunks and place all around the pan. Everyone helps spread the dough on the pan. Bake the “pizza” for about 16-20 minutes or until golden brown. Set out to cool while you slice the fruit and mix the icing. Next, mix 8 ounces of cream cheese with a cup of powdered sugar and a tsp of vanilla. Spread on top of the cooled pizza and arrange thinly sliced fruit on top of the icing. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

 

These Inexpensive Snack Ideas For Kids should be a big hit!  I have always included my children and grandchildren in cooking. It involves so many real-life math and problem solving skills and it’s a wonderful way to spend some quality time together. Always remember to include the kids in the clean up as well. Learn how to save money and retire early and spend more time with your family.

10 Ways to Save on the Holidays

10 Ways to Save on the Holidays
Here’s 10 Ways to Save on the Holidays.

I think we all can agree that the holidays in 2020 will be a little different from previous years. The focus in almost every household is on staying safe and healthy; physically, mentally, spiritually, and financially. This holiday season should be one of caring, sharing, and remembering our priorities. On that note, here are ten ways to lessen your stress and financial worries and still be able to provide gifts for loved ones.

#1 Plan Ahead – Start your gift shopping as early as July. Look for bargains, discounts, and sales on items you know will make great gifts. If you make your gifts, begin in the summer so you’re not rushing to knit a sweater or build a cabinet in mid December! Buying gifts and materials early helps lessen the stress on your mentality and your bank account. A good idea is to buy wrapping paper, bags, bows, etc. right after Christmas when their prices are drastically reduced in stores.

#2 Set a Budget -Yes, I used that dreaded word, but it’s important to decide how much you can comfortably spend on gifts, and work toward your goal of meeting that amount. A fun idea is to label an envelope with each gift recipient’s name, starting in the summer, and gradually fill them with the cash amount you plan to spend on them. That way you slowly but surely save the money you need for holiday gifts later.

#3 Make Some Extra Cash – A few months before the holidays, start a side hustle or take a part-time job to earn extra money for gifts and holiday meals. You could also hold a garage sale or two. Make sure you save this money for the holidays by tucking it away in a secret place and only take it out when you’re ready to spend it on the holidays.

Easy Ways to Save on Christmas

#4 Make or Bake Your Gifts – There are lots of easy and thoughtful gifts you can make for family and friends. I try to bake for all of the adults and only buy for the kids in our family. I spend money on baking supplies and inexpensive but cute containers for the homemade treats. You could print special photos and frame them as gifts. You can help your children to glue seashells to wooden frames and add a cute photo of them for grandparents.

Try making wreaths or decorations for friends and family and deliver them early so they can enjoy them through the holidays. Find hardly-used bundt pans in thrift stores, wash them, and bake delicious bundt cakes for gifts (including the pan). Make a double batch of fudge and fill holiday tins as gifts. Bake cookies or brownies and place them in plastic or glass containers as gifts. Chex Mix and other snack mixes are another great gift.

#5 Give Less Gifts – It really is true: It’s the thought that counts. Instead of bombarding your friends and family with dozens of gifts, choose one or two thoughtful gifts to give them. They can be inexpensive but clever such as giving a whisk with the words “We Whisk You a Merry Christmas” as a label. Another idea is for siblings or co-workers to go together on an expensive gift for parents or the boss. Include a nice card with everyone’s holiday message written on it. For the kids, try picking out 2-3 things that you know they want. Less is more this year!

#6 Say No to Secret Santa Exchanges and Other “Cute but Unnecessary” Gift Exchanges at Work, Church, School, etc. – Don’t buy gifts for everyone you know, send cards instead. Less is more this year!

Use These Savings to Invest

#7 Do Say Yes to Family Gift Exchanges – There are some fun ideas including:

  • White Elephant exchanges where each person brings a gift and you draw numbers to choose a gift or steal one from someone else.
  • As Seen on TV where everyone brings a gift with that label on it and you choose or steal also.
  • Bring gifts with a theme like DIY, Kitchen, Garden, or Gadgets.
  • Draw names in November and buy one gift for that person

#8 Avoid Shopping in Malls or Shopping Centers – This will save you money by avoiding advertising and marketing gimmicks, and gas to drive there. Shop online and take advantage of free shipping and deals.

#9 Hold Virtual Family Gatherings – With the increased threat of Covid-19, we all need to limit our gatherings in person. I know that we’re all suffering from ‘Zoom fatigue” but it would be a great way to see your loved ones safely. You could take turns remembering a “Christmas Past” and sharing it. You could also share your hopes for future holidays. Someone could record your virtual gathering and send it out as a gift to everyone. Your precious family memories become the gift.

#10 Instead of Holding a Huge Family Holiday Dinner Try This Idea – I’m designating Sunday, December 20th as my “Holiday Open House: Covid Style.” I’m making a schedule for small family groups to come to my backyard for some holiday coffee/cocoa, snacks and cookies and to receive their gifts from me. Each small group will be allotted about 90 minutes to visit with a 15 minute sanitation and restocking period in between visits. This way, I get to see my family, share some holiday cheer, and give them my gifts. I plan to start early and spend the day spending some holiday time together safely.

Enjoy the holidays and remember to take some time to just breathe and celebrate the magic of the season!

Top 25 Fire Blogs

We put together a list of our favorite Top 25 Fire Blogs. These are websites that give practical advice and will help you with your financial independence journey. Too much information can be paralyzing, so try to look at just one or two a day. Take some notes and develop your own strategy and plan.

  1. JLCollinsNH.com
  2. EarlyRetirementExtreme.com
  3. MrMoneyMustache.com
  4. GoCurryCracker
  5. MadFientist
  6. OurNextLife
  7. CanIRetireYet
  8. RetireBy40.org
  9. 1500Days.com
  10. LeisureFreak.com
  11. OurRichJourney.com
  12. RootOfGood.com
  13. TheMoneyHabit.org
  14. ESIMoney.com
  15. MrFreeAt33
  16. RockStarFinance.com
  17. PharmacistMoney.com
  18. CleverGirlFinance
  19. FrugalWoods.com
  20. CampFireFinance.com
  21. MrTakoEscapes
  22. AbandonedCubicle.com
  23. FourPillarFreedom.com
  24. ThinkSaveRetire.com
  25. EarlyRetirementNow.com

Top 25 Fire Blogs

We hope you find our list useful and learn something new from them. The Internet is flooded with bad financial advice, so it’s important to stick with trusted sources within the ‘FIRE’ circle. You can be sure that these blogs are credible and great resources.

 

Creative Homeschooling Ideas

Creative Homeschooling Ideas for elementary school children.

With the continuing spread of Covid-19, most parents are opting for virtual learning this school year. Educators have worked diligently to provide quality learning experiences for their students, but there is still a need for human interaction and socialization in learning. I recently retired from teaching after forty years in the classroom. I have a bachelor’s degree in education and a masters degree in special education. My experience includes a variety of special education settings and 2nd-6th grades. As a grandmother and former teacher, I have outlined some simple ideas for my children to use with their children to enhance and enrich their virtual learning experience. I hope these ideas will be beneficial to you as well.

  • Math Ideas:

-Involve your children in planning and preparing meals. These activities include money skills, fractions, budgeting, estimation, measurement, and many more math concepts.

-Purchase some small beanbags or soft balls. Use them to practice skip counting and math facts by tossing the bag/ball to your children as you count by 2s, 3s, 4s, 5s, 6s, etc.

-Have your child shoot a basketball as you give an addition, subtraction, division or multiplication fact. If he/she solves the fact he earns a point. If he solves the fact and makes the basket, he earns 3 points.

– Play Dominoes, Shut the Box, Yahtzee or any other game that utilizes number sense.

– Purchase a large “Judy Clock” to teach time and elapsed time concepts. Give real-life examples like, “Mom puts a roast in the oven at 4:15. It needs to cook for 90 minutes. At what time will Mom need to take out the roast?”

– To practice money skills, give your child an amount to spend on Amazon or another online store. Then, have him/her shop and make decisions about purchases. Play store with empty boxes and containers with fake money. Practice making change and identifying amounts using bills and coins.

– To practice measurement skills, give your child a measuring tape and start measuring furniture in your home. Help them find the area of their room or another room. Measure liquids and dry ingredients to make a fun snack.

-Go on a scavenger hunt in your home to find as many geometric shapes as possible: rectangles, triangles, spheres, and more. Have them create “Geo Art” by combining shapes and drawing them on paper. You can buy an inexpensive set of Tangrams too.

* Science Ideas:

-Make science experiments and investigations a weekly activity. You can order inexpensive kits, google ideas, or go to Teacher’s Pay Teachers or other online sites. There are lots and lots of resources out there. Bill Nye, the Science Guy videos are a great resource too.

If your 2nd or 4th grader is learning about matter, you can do some cool experiments turning water (or other liquids) to solid or gas. Try making jello or ice cream or popsicles and explain the concepts involved. I purchased a great 2nd grade matter experiments guide on TPT to try out with my granddaughter.

-Go on another scavenger hunt to identify living and non-living things and create a chart to record your findings.

-Put together “Mr. Bones” (find pattern on Pinterest) and identify the various bones in the human body. It will make a cool Halloween decoration when you’re done with that unit.

-Make volcanoes and tornados following directions you’ll find on many online sites.

-When studying parts of plants, it’s always fun to plant some bean seeds and watch them grow. For older students, introduce variables and controlled experiences using several plants that you control the variable with: less/more light, less/more water, fertilizer or none, and so many more ideas.

-Learn about Six Simple Machines by yet another scavenger hunt to find them in your home. Experiment with an inclined plane as a ramp for matchbox cars by increasing the slope and marking the end spot with masking tape each time you increase. You can purchase kits to make the simple machines at home.

-Purchase a simple and inexpensive chemistry set to teach your children the concepts involved in this unit of study.

 

Make Homeschool Fun and Educational

 

* Social Studies:

-To teach citizenship to the early grades, have them create a poster to tell why they are good citizens. Look up ideas for safe things kids can do for their community. Some of the ideas I’ve seen are taking flowers to an elderly neighbor and ringing the bell before walking away, painting uplifting messages on rocks and leaving them on walking paths and trails, use chalk to make a hopscotch grid on the sidewalk, driving by a friend’s house on their birthday and honking, create cheerful cards to mail to senior assisted living facilities, and so many more great ideas.

-To teach kids the concept of location and perspective, have them draw a small circle in the middle of a large sheet of paper. Help them write their address in that circle. Next, draw a larger circle around the first, and in that space, write the city you live in. Then, draw a circle around the previous circle and write county, then the state, another

circle for the country, another circle for the hemisphere, another for the continent, another for the planet, and a last outer circle for the galaxy we live in. This is an amazing eye-opener for kids!

-When your child is studying The Age of Exploration, or Colonization/Revolutionary War, or Westward Expansion, or the Civil War, it’s a great time to combine reading, research, and writing skills. Have them choose a person from that era and write a biographical speech that outlines the person’s life. Have them dress up like the character and read his biography while you videotape it.

-Make crafts or toys from the time period or models of homes, ships, wagons, etc. I used to have my students make “cave paintings” by drawing ancient symbols on brown paper with chalk. We also made totem poles out of t-paper rolls, God’s Eyes with craft sticks and yarn, dream catchers with paper plates, beads and feathers, tipis with cardstock and feathers, and many other Native American crafts.

-Have your child write a speech to deliver to congress (not really) as either a southerner or a northerner during the Civil War era. They can provide arguments for and against slavery.

*Language Arts Ideas:

-Buy your child a journal and ask them to record their feelings about quarantine, the virus, virtual school, and other topics on their mind.

-Require your child to read each night, even if their teacher doesn’t require it. After each book, have your child tell you about the book or better yet, start a family book club and buy several copies of some classic tales.

-Practice all genre of writing at home; narratives, persuasive/argumentative, letters, expository (reports). Tie in social studies and science topics for some wonderful cross-curricular learning.

-Have them write their own math word problems for you to solve. Insist that the problems involve multiple steps to increase the rigor of the activity. They can also write a math story involving lots of great problem solving. Some great examples of these can be found on Superteacher dot com. This is also a fabulous site for at-home resources and costs about $20 yearly. The site’s resources are well-vetted and tied into common core standards.

-Don’t forget about poetry! Read lots and lots of poems together and discuss the craft involved in this genre of writing. Write poems as a family and have fun with it. To add some art, have your children publish their poems in a booklet with colorful illustrations.

-Make sure you are teaching your children correct grammar, punctuation, and other mechanics of writing. Superteacher has lots of fun editing activities for kids to practice these skills.

-Make up a progressive story as a family. A parent starts the story by describing the setting and main characters, then each family member adds details and plot elements until one member brings the story to a close. You’ll have a lot of fun adding twists and turns and surprises in your family progressive story. Have the kids write down the story when it’s done.

-Practice sentence structure by giving your child 3-5 unrelated words. Then, they use all of the words in a meaningful sentence. Example: Fisher, King, sandwich, porch, storm. King Fisher enjoyed eating a sandwich on his porch during the storm.

-Play more games! They involve reading, problem solving, speaking, and social skills. They’re also a super way to bring the family closer together.

We hope you enjoyed our Creative Homeschooling Ideas

Remember that children are very perceptive, and  they know that these times are not normal. Be honest, answer their questions, hold family discussions, make them feel safe and loved above all. Most parents aren’t really equipped to become teachers as well. Communicate with your children’s teachers, ask for help when you need it. and let them know you want to support them at home. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t have a lot of time to work with your children because of your work schedule. Just try to carve out a little quality time to provide some fun and beneficial enrichment activities and your child’s virtual learning experience can and will be successful. Go here for more Homeschool Activities For Kids.