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How To Save Money On A Wedding

In the past few years, I have helped with four family weddings including my own. All of these events were done without spending a fortune and all were memorable events! Weddings don’t need to be extravagant and expensive to be great. It takes a lot of planning, a considerable amount of time and effort, and some easy ideas to save money. The following are some ideas we incorporated and may help you to plan and produce a fabulous wedding without breaking your budget!

How To Save Money On A Wedding

  • Plan your wedding in the “off season” from November to March. The prices are lower on everything and you won’t be competing with as many brides. Fall, winter, and spring weddings can be beautiful!
  • Get married on any day but Saturday! Most weddings are on this day.
  • Shorten your guest list and make your wedding an intimate affair with family and your closest friends. Choose your A-List.
  • Choose a venue that looks good naturally and won’t involve a lot of decorating. My wedding was held at a scenic overlook in a national forest. Some other ideas include a beach, a park, a campground, someone’s back yard by the pool, a golf course at sunset, and at a desert trailhead.
  • Another idea is to choose an unusual, non-traditional venue. For my daughter’s wedding, we all rented little cabins in Sedona and the owners provided the dinner and decorations for the reception in a building used for gatherings. She was married in the center green area of the cabins surrounded by the beautiful red rocks and forest of Sedona. One of my niece’s was married on the roof of a downtown San Francisco apartment building. Another niece was married at a brewery in the Tenderloin of San Francisco. Some other venues include a library, museum, a rose garden, the zoo, or botanical gardens, even on a dock by the bay or a lake.
  • It’s a good idea to have the ceremony and the reception at the same venue to save money and time on transporting your guests.
  • Hire a wedding planner! You may think this is an unnecessary cost but it actually saves you money. This person will have the experience and the connections to find you the best deals. Work with him or her to know your budget, areas where you plan to DYI, and your “must haves.”
  • Save on invitations by designing and printing them yourselves. There are lots of cool websites to assist you, and most include a free wedding website. Have your family or friends help you address the envelopes and print copies at a Kinko’s or FedEx office. Mail them yourself. Postcards are a cute and trendy way to save money on invitations, Save the Date notices, RSVPs and more. Save on menu costs by printing your own as well.
  • Work with your wedding planner to design an innovative seating chart for the reception dinner. One niece had a huge blackboard on the wall and street signs on the tables. You simply looked at the blackboard to see in which street you were to be seated. Since it was a San Francisco wedding, the street signs were Van Nuys, Lombard, Haight, etc.

Keep Wedding Costs Low

  • Keep the floral costs down by buying most of your flowers from Costco or Sam’s Club and make your own table arrangements in mason jars or bud vases. Place them along the tables with some greenery, fruit, and candles for an amazing look. Have a florist make your wedding bouquet and the bridesmaid’s bouquets simple; three large blooms with greenery and ribbon. Skip the boutonnieres for the guys and ask them to include a colorful pocket square instead.
  • To save money and still look beautiful, rent your wedding dress or shop at sample sales at bridal stores. You could also borrow a wedding dress from a sibling or friend or attend a few trunk sales for a bargain. The guys can also rent their tux or suit. Have your bridesmaids wear their favorite “little black dress” or choose their own dress according to your color scheme. My niece had everyone choose a color in the jewel tones and they looked fabulous!
  • Borrow the accessories or rent them. Your great aunt’s pearl necklace or your mom’s diamond earrings would look perfect.
  • Hire a photographer for 8-10 hours instead of the whole day. You can also hire the photographer’s associates who use the same style but charge less money. Always ask for the digital negatives so you can print your own photos. Ask guests to air drop or send you the casual pics they take. Sometimes those turn out to be the best.
  • Stick to beer and wine at the reception to save money or serve a limited menu of cocktails. Include a champagne toast if you want. Ask a friend to be a bartender to save costs.
  • Serve non-traditional desserts rather than a wedding cake. One niece had brownies and chocolate chip cookies from a local bakery. The other niece ordered a delicious ice cream cake from Dairy Queen and it was the hit of the evening! My daughter ordered an expensive cake that looked gorgeous but was dry and tasteless. I ordered my cake from my local grocery store bakery (white cake with chocolate mousse filling and whipped cream icing) that we jazzed up with fresh flowers and it was incredibly delicious and moist. When it comes to the dessert, be creative and frugal.
  • Keep the wedding favors simple and fun. For one of the weddings, I made truffles and my sister and I wrapped them individually in small cellophane bags and tied them up with a bow. We placed them at each setting at the reception table. Another idea is to wrap up mini wine or hot sauce bottles with a raffia bow and place them at the table settings.
  • Think simple but great for the reception dinner. Buffet or family style meals are really popular and less expensive. For my wedding dinner, I ordered food from my favorite Mexican restaurant and they delivered it and set up a buffet for my guests. The food was simple but really delicious. You might want to order from your favorite Asian, Indian, Vegan, Mexican or Italian restaurant and ask them to deliver and set up like I did. I provided the buffet table and dinnerware.

For one of the niece’s wedding dinners, my sister and I bought Caesar Salad kits, coleslaw and fruit plates at Costco and cooked briskets in crockpots. We served BBQ sliders with coleslaw, salad and fruit. She’s the one who had the ice cream cake for dessert. The other niece, who had her wedding at the brewery, served family style salads, meats, and side dishes which everyone passed around. It was a great conversation topic and the food was excellent. You can also opt for appetizers and finger foods and skip the “sit down” dinner.

I read an article about a bride who contacted a local culinary school and arranged for the students to make and serve the food for her reception at an affordable cost. The students were excited to have real-life experience and the food was excellently prepared and served. The point is to think outside the box!

  • Hiring a band involves another huge wedding expense. Some alternatives are to hire a DJ and provide ideas for your play list, hire student musicians from a local community college or even a high school honors group.

Just remember: your wedding should be fun and memorable and definitely NOT the ruin of your finances. Just look for these and other ways to stay within your budget. Have fun and good luck!

12 Money Saving Tips

We compiled a list of 12 Money Saving Tips. It’s time to start taking action and start saving money. You can save money a lot quicker than you think and we’re going to show you how.


12 Money Saving Tips

  1. Do your own maintenance: landscaping, pool upkeep, house cleaning, washing your vehicle.
  2. Quit paying for cable and switch to a low cost streaming option.
  3.  Change light bulbs with LED lights.
  4. Seal air leaks within your house or apartment.
  5. Price check before you make major purchases. Most big stores will price match these days.
  6. Quit paying for a storage unit.
  7. Pay your bills online and quit paying for stamps & envelopes.
  8. Dry your clothes on a line or a shower rod.
  9. Lower water heater temperature.
  10. Use cold water settings during most laundry.
  11. Research big purchases (appliances, tech products, travel, etc.).
  12. Change air filters once per month so that air can flow efficiently. Use a filter that allows for major air flow.


Now you can have some starting steps with these 12 Money Saving Tips. We will show you how to use these savings to invest in your future. The more you save now, the less you will HAVE to work later.


Homeschool Activities For Kids

Homeschool Activities For Kids

 This summer, it’s more important than ever to engage our children in meaningful learning activities at home. As a teacher for more than forty years, I’ve seen the “summer slide” in my students’ skills and in my own children. I’m certainly not suggesting that parents continue the rigorous home schooling that they’ve been doing during the quarantine months but keeping our kids’ minds and bodies in shape until school starts again is important. I’ve put together some fun, interactive ways to keep the kids learning during the long, hot summer besides boring workbooks.

Writing Practice:

  • Buy each child a spiral notebook or composition book to be used as their summer journal. Then, ask them date each page and write an entry every day; even if it’s only a sentence or two. You could also give them a “prompt” or idea to write about.
  • Have your children write summary paragraphs giving the main points of a movie you watched, and outing you went on, or a game the family played. Summarizing skills are a component of critical thinking.
  • Encourage your children to write about the pandemic. They could write a fictional story that takes place during the Covid 19 outbreak. They could write an expository piece reflecting on their feelings, fears, worries, and experiences during this trying time. They could research the facts and write about it from a kid’s point of view.
  • Have the kids write letters (I’m talking snail mail here) to friends and relatives. Teach them how to properly address an envelope too.
  • White boards are a wonderful teaching tool to use at home. If you don’t have one, you can purchase one at Walmart or have one cut from shower board at Lowe’s or Home Depot. I like to give the kids 3-5 unrelated words and ask them to use them all in a sentence. For example: king, sandwich, village, and roller skates. “ The king was famous for eating a sandwich while he toured the village on roller skates.”

Reading Practice:

  • Family book clubs are always fun. Order multiple copies of a book through Amazon,, or Assign a chapter or two for independent reading before the next book club meeting. Have some fun snacks to serve at each meeting. When you meet as a club, discuss the characters, setting, plot, and other story elements of the chapter everyone previously read.
  • Book Celebrations are a great way to share a book that was recently read. Your child could choose from a menu of celebrations after finishing a good book such as : oral book chat with you, written book report telling about setting, main and secondary characters, plot, and resolution, designing a new book jacket including the “blurb” on the back cover summarizing the story, or a diorama depicting a favorite scene from the story. I used to pay my own children a dollar for reading and sharing a chapter book.
  • Cross-Age Reading buddies is a fabulous way for an older child to read to a younger one. The older child chooses a picture book, practices reading with expression and showing the pictures, and then reads aloud to a younger sibling or cousin. The older child builds reading confidence, and the younger one has a role model for reading fluency.
  • Another fun reading activity is the Progressive Story. One person starts the story off by introducing the setting. The next person adds the main characters, the next person lays in the plot, and so on. The story goes on and on until someone brings it to a dramatic ending. You will be amazed at the plot twists and turns a story can take when added to by family members!



Math Practice:

  • Grocery planning and shopping can be a great real-life math lesson for your children. Help them plan a few days of meals and make a grocery list. Teach them to peruse your pantry for ingredients you already have to cut grocery costs. Clip coupons or look them up on your grocery site or app to find those bargains. Then discuss your budget and estimate the cost of the meals. Make adjustments as needed. Then, visit the grocery store (or order for delivery or pick up) and make your purchases.
  • Cooking with children is another great math adventure. Teach them to halve or double a recipe for practice in fractions. Teach them to measure ingredients too.
  • To keep those math facts sharp, incorporate some exercise with your facts drills. If you have small bean bags or soft balls of some kind, you can toss them to each other while “skip counting.” This means counting by 2s, by 3s, by 4s, and so on. Pretend it’s a hot potato to add some excitement to the game.
  • Make up some multi-step math problems of your own, using family names in them. For example: Dad gave Jessica, Robert, and Tom each five dollars to spend at the dollar store. Jessica spent $3.87, Robert spent $4.92, and Tom spent $7.86. How much did each child have left? How much did they spend altogether? Another example: If Mom puts a cake in the oven at 3:42 and it bakes for 35 minutes, at what time does she take the cake out of the oven?
  • Practice finding area and perimeter by measuring various rooms in your house. Remind your children that the formula for finding area is Width X Length= Area ( WxL=A) and perimeter is found by adding up all the sides. You could also find these dimensions of tables and tv screens.
  • Two boxed games for math are Shut the Box and Dominoes. Both are available on Amazon for less than $20. Shut the Box is a strategic numbers game where players take turns rolling the dice as many times as they can to shut as many numbers as possible. The object of the game is to get the lowest score. Both of these games
  • involve eye/hand coordination and number sense.



Social Studies/Geography/History:

  • Watch the history channel together and discuss the content. There are lots of great programs about American History, the wild west, colonization, and the wars throughout time.
  • Decide on a citizenship project for your children to launch. Some suggestions are donating food to a local food bank, donating clothing and toys to a charity store, and making cards for children in hospitals.
  • Try the “Where in the World is _____________ _____________?” activity. Start by drawing a small circle in the center of a large sheet of white paper. Have the child write his address in the circle. Next, draw a larger circle around the center circle and write the city where he/she lives in it. The next concentric circle contains the state, then another circle with the country, then the hemisphere, the continent, and then earth. It gives the children a sense of their global address.
  • Look up historical sites in your state and take a road trip to explore some of them. Have your children make a tourism poster for each site or each road trip that can be shared with their class next year or just to hang up in their bedrooms.


Science Investigations:

  • There are so many great science experiments that you can investigate at home with basic ingredients. Here are a few websites filled with easy experiments that you should definitely check out this summer!


Remember parents, any activity you do with your children this summer can turn into a fun learning experience. Just try to limit your children’s screen time, keep them moving, get out in the sunshine, read together, have them write about their experiences, and play games!

Save Money On Groceries

Here are some easy ways to Save Money On Groceries.

In this new normal, most people are looking for ways to spend less money. One of the best places to start is with your groceries. By implementing a few simple steps, you can save some serious money on groceries. Start by involving the whole family in a discussion about ways to save money on food costs in your home. If everyone is onboard and willing to put a little extra time and effort you will be surprised at your savings.

  • Agree to curb or at least limit outside purchases of coffee/tea drinks at specialty shops and snacks. Invest in quality insulated mugs and good coffee/tea so you can bring drinks from home. Do the same with snacks; stock up on everyone’s favorites and pack them to go. If your family eats a lot of fast food or delivered meals, cut that habit in half immediately!


  • Before you shop for groceries, inventory your pantry and shelves to determine what ingredients you already have on hand. Then, plan meals based on using things you have at home. It’s fun to involve the family in this step. Everyone can design a meal using mostly ingredients you already have on hand. You can also google meals with these “on hand” ingredients or peruse cookbooks for ideas. Planning meals is crucial.


  • Embrace coupons and loyalty programs at local grocery stores. Check out the store flyers too. If you don’t belong to a wholesale store like Sam’s Club or Costco, you might want to consider it. Stock up on essential supplies like paper products, pet food, cleaning supplies, snacks, etc. and find a place to store them in your home or garage.


  • Always, always make a list before shopping. After you’ve inventoried foods on hand and planned your meals, make a list of needed ingredients. Then, when you shop, stick to that list!


How To Save Money On Groceries


  • Buy sale items in excess and store or freeze them. If you don’t have an extra refrigerator or freezer in your garage, buy one. Food items like ground beef, chicken, steaks, pork loins, and bacon are easily frozen for later use.


  • Don’t shop hungry! This leads to impulse buying of fatty and sugary snacks and straying from your list. Bring a granola bar from home if you are hungry.


  • Shop strategically: most stores arrange aisles so that essential items are on the perimeter and sugary and processed foods are in the center. Avoid going up and down every aisle and being distracted by unnecessary purchases. Again, stick to the list.


  • Cut out the use of processed and ready-made foods. Buy fresh ingredients and cook from scratch whenever possible. Resist purchasing packaged fruits and veggies that are already cut up.


  • Try implementing “Meatless Mondays” so that at least once a week your meals don’t include meat. Be creative with salads and vegetarian meals.


  • Buy store brands whenever possible. They are usually of the same quality and cost much less.


  • Cook larger meals and package half of them for leftovers later in the week or pop them in the freezer. Try cooking two large meals for two nights in a row. Then eat leftovers from meal #1 the third night and leftovers from meal #2 the fourth night. Another idea is to utilize leftovers in creative ways like soups and casseroles.

With a few changes in your habits, you can save a bundle of cash on your food costs. When you involve the family, it can be fun too!





Super Cooling Your House

Does super cooling your house work?

Let me tell you that super cooling your house absolutely works and can save you tons of money on your electric bill. Our neighbor first introduced us to the idea, shortly after moving into our new home. We went from paying around $400 per month in the summer, to $200 or less per month. Our yearly savings on our electric bill have been cut in half.


Here was our electric bill before super cooling:  July 9, 2013

supercooling home


Here was our electric bill after super cooling:  July 29, 2020


Super Cool Your House


That is a copy of my electric bill for the month of July, in 2020 with 2 A/C units. As you can see, super cooling will save you tons of cash and keep your house cool. You might need to keep a sweater and sweatpants on during the off-peak hours, but that’s much better than sweating bullets.

Our house is powered by two separate a/c units, so we were expecting to have a pretty massive bill in the summertime. Super Cooling has allowed us to save thousands of dollars, which can be invested wisely.


What is supercooling HVAC?

Super Cooling your house is when you turn down your A/C to 65 – 68 degrees during off peak hours, then shut them off during the on peak hours (3pm – 8pm). Your house will retain the cold air and the temperature will slowly rise. By having your air conditioning unit turned off during on-peak hours, you are going to save a ton of money.

Basically, you freeze the house during off peak hours and shut off your AC unit during the on-peak hours.


How do I pre cool my house?


  • Contact your electric company and get placed on an energy saving plan. Each company is different, but your local company should offer something similar. This is the most important aspect of super cooling.
  • Our energy saving plan is called the Saver Choice Max plan from APS. On Peak hours are from 3pm – 8pm (This is the time of the day when you want to consume as little power as possible).
  • Off Peak hours are from 8pm – 3pm, all day on the weekends, and all major US holidays.

The way to super cool your home is really quite easy. You crank down the air as low as you can stand it during the off peak hours and then shut down your a/c unit(s) while on peak.

  1. Turn your thermostat down to a low temp, around 65 – 70F at 6am.
  2. At 2:55pm, you will want to turn off your air conditioning unit and leave it off until 8:01pm.
  3. From 8:01pm to 6am, we run the temperature at 72 degrees.
  4. Weekends are off peak, so run the a/c at a comfortable temperature, ~72F.


By keeping your house so cool during the off peak hours, it will take several hours for the temperature to rise. The furniture, flooring, walls, all retain the cold and help keep temps low. By 8pm, our house is around 76 – 80F and we live in the hot Arizona sun. For us, this is a small price to pay for having our electric bill cut in half. This will be our third year using the super cooling method and we have saved thousands of dollars in the process.



  • You are not turning your A/C low enough for a long enough time
  • Your house is not correctly sealed. If you can spot areas where air is leaking out, you will need to get this sealed.
  • Opening the doors too much and letting hot air in
  • Cooking for long h0urs

These are some reasons why your home might not bet getting cool enough. Or your house is getting hot too quickly.