Category Archives: How To Guides

Create a Winning Action Plan to Reduce Your Financial Stress

If we were to conduct an informal poll on the street today and ask people what they are most stressed about, money would be one of the most common responses. It is easy to assume that financial stress exists only for low income families or those dealing with some sort of unusual crisis, but the truth is that everyone, rich or not, deals with financial stress on a regular basis. In fact, many people literally become ill because of their money worries.

A 2015 study by the American Psychological Association revealed that money is the leading cause of stress among adults under age 49. Respondents reported losing sleep over their worries, experiencing elevated blood pressure, and the compulsion to check their account balances, among other side effects.

I can attest to the cold fact that financial stress is scary, even crippling. I’ve experienced a wide gamut of money-related worries myself, including health concerns, job loss, and student loan debt. Each time, the burdens I experienced impacted my ability to function normally.

When we experience financial stress, the psychological weight of our worries not only impacts our abilities to perform usual day to day functions; it also makes it much more difficult to form and act on a plan to wipe out the cause of the financial stress.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed or burdened by your financial situation, whether it involves job loss, enormous debt, feeling stuck in your job, or lack of a long-term game plan for your money, your situation is not hopeless. Set aside a block of time, grab a pad of paper, and follow the steps below to create an action plan to crush your financial stress.

Money is the leading cause of stress in the world today. You can reduce your financial stress by creating a winning action plan today! This guide is a quick read and the steps described take only minutes to complete.

Where to Start? Write Down the Causes of Your Financial Stress

When you are stressed about money, it can sometimes be difficult to pinpoint the exact causes. You may be dealing with immediate, time sensitive stress, like debt collectors and their annoying phone calls or late payment notices in the mail. You may be overwhelmed by long-term tasks that you’ve been putting off for years, such as getting life insurance, forming a will and trust, or refinancing your mortgage.

The best way to start to eliminate your financial stress is to do a brain dump. Grab a pad of paper and create a specific numbered list of everything money-related which is currently causing you to experience stress.

It can include things like regular bills, insurance matters, car registrations, taxes, mortgage refinancing, life insurance needs, scheduling medical appointments, and grocery shopping. It may also include far-off future events to plan for, such as weddings, college, retirement goals, long-term care plans, estate plans, and more.

When you create this list, remember: nothing is off limits! If it involves money and it is bothering you, write it down!

Related Reading:

Scan Your List for Quick Wins

Once you’ve finished your list, scan through it several times to look for quick wins, i.e. items that you can tackle right away to reduce your stress. For example, if you have a stack of unpaid bills sitting on your desk, pay them right away and set-up auto pay with your bank to avoid future stress.

From here on out, make it a habit to take care of future quick win items as soon as they arise. The following guidelines should help:

  • When bills arrive in the mail, pay them right away.
  • Handle all mail items only once. When you open it, decide right away what action is necessary based on the nature of the mail, i.e. pay the bill, file the document for later use, or shred it.
  • Schedule reminders in your calendar or mobile device for any time-sensitive financial events.

Rank Remaining Items

Now that your list of items causing financial stress is smaller, it is time to rank remaining items according to their priority. The most effective way to do so is by ranking items according to their urgency and overall importance.

To rank the remaining items by urgency, or time sensitivity, use a scale of 1-5. Rank items which are not time sensitive as a “1” and urgent items as a “5.”

Next, rank your items according to their overall importance in terms of financial weight. This extra step will serve as added protection to make sure that expensive and potentially costly items don’t slip through the cracks (i.e. missing a mortgage payment, failure to pay your federal tax obligations, etc.).

At this stage, it is easier to rate and sort the remaining sources of financial stress according to the four quadrants below.

Transferring the items on your list to the chart above will provide a visual action plan and reduce your financial stress because you will be able to clearly see what action is needed. Start by addressing the Urgent/Important quadrant, then Urgent/Not Important, followed by Not Urgent/Important and Not Urgent/Not Important.

The Best Way to Reduce Financial Stress

The method described above is not a magic bullet to prevent financial stress, but it does represent a simple and effective plan to reduce it in a manner of minutes.

No matter what obstacles your present situation has placed in your way, the presence of an action plan can provide the hope that you need to channel your emotions into action. Grab a pad of paper and pen and create your plan today!


How do you cope with financial stress?

Money is the leading cause of stress in the world today. You can reduce your financial stress by creating a winning action plan today!

The Best Resources to Refinance Debt and Pay It Off Faster

Millions of people feel stuck in debt. You might be one of them. The weight of payments could be crushing your motivation and hope. You might be wondering how you’ll ever pay off your debts, if you should refinance debt, and where to start sorting through your financial mess.

A recent NerdWallet study revealed that the average American household with any debt owes over $136,000 in debt including mortgages. The consequences of such high debt levels range from minor inconvenience to financial devastation. High interest rates, long terms, hidden fees, and cumbersome payments and have led countless people to a fork in the road: refinance debt to gain some breathing room or pay it off early.

I know exactly how awful the weight of debt can feel. My wife and I were drowning in over $17,000 of student loan debt as recently as 2016. We were two of the lucky ones; we were able to trim our budget and lifestyle, take a few steps to increase our income, and pay off this debt in only 54 days.

Related Reading: How We Paid Off $17,000+ in Just 54 Days

But this isn’t reality for everyone. Your circumstances might not allow you to pay off debt so quickly. You could be in debt so deeply that even paying minimum payments or interest payments is stressful or very difficult. Perhaps you’re already on a bare bones, beans and rice budget and still find yourself struggling.

Maybe you’re reading this because you know that the chance to refinance debt could be your last hope.

Should You Even Bother to Refinance Debt?

If you're in debt, the choice to refinance debt could be the spark to start paying it off quickly. Check out these helpful resources and crush your debt! We'll show you how to refinance student loans, use personal loans responsibly to refinance debt, review your options to refinance your mortgage before rates go up, and much more! If you're looking to stop wasting money on high interest payments to lenders, you need to read this article!Whether you have a car loan, mortgage with a high interest rate, home equity loan, or student loan debt, it may be possible to refinance debt and save thousands of dollars in the process. Unless you’re able to pay off your debts very quickly, you at least owe it to yourself and your family to see if you can save money by refinancing.

Please understand that refinancing debt is not a cure for the problem. When you refinance debt, you still have to pay it back. It’s addressing the symptoms, not the cause.

However, if you can pay back your debt on more favorable terms by refinancing, that’s a huge victory. It could reduce your monthly payments and free up money in your budget to pay down your debt much faster.

The decision to refinance debt shouldn’t be entered into on a whim, but when done correctly, it has the potential to change your life forever.

Imagine a life with no debt and no obligations. Imagine sending the money that you currently pay to creditors directly into investments and watching your money grow each year.

How great would it be to never have to work again because your investments are generating enough income to support all of your family’s needs?

The sad truth is that you’ll never know what that feels like if you continue to be stuck in debt. If you’re ready to get serious about paying off your debt and want to pursue refinancing to kick start the process, read on.

How to Refinance Debt and Jump Start the Payoff Process

Start by collecting your free credit report and credit score. You need to know this information when the time comes to apply with companies to refinance debt. Many companies list their credit score requirements for those looking to refinance debt, so you’ll want to know your information before applying. Also, you want to be sure that there are no inaccuracies on your report.

You can get your free credit report and score in a matter of seconds when you sign-up with Credit Sesame. It is 100% free. They won’t ask you for your credit card information, and their service is secure thanks to advanced encryption technology.

The best part about Credit Sesame is that their report will help you examine the big picture of your debts and determine which ones are worth refinancing and which ones aren’t. Also, you’ll be armed with accurate knowledge of your situation, which will put you in the best position possible to negotiate with lenders.

Sign-up for Credit Sesame for FREE here.

Most debt freedom experts recommend that you collect a credit report and score from multiple services simply to compare the two for accuracy. Another great resource for grabbing your score for FREE is MyFreeScoreNow.com. If you’re looking to save money on an auto-loan refinance, they are a great place to start.

On the other hand, if you’re dealing with high amounts of credit card debt, MyFico may be able to help you kill two birds with one stone. Their Ultimate 3B Report pulls your scores and reports from all three major bureaus and will even help you analyze low interest credit card offers to reduce your rates and perform balance transfers.

You can learn more about MyFico's services here.

Next Steps

Now that you’re armed with your credit report and scores, you’re ready to get down to reviewing your options to refinance debt and speed up the repayment process.

Mortgage

At the time this article is published, mortgage rates remain low but are on the rise. According a recent CNBC article, mortgage refinance applications have been on the rise in recent weeks due to a projected increase in interest rates.  If you still haven’t taken advantage of these historically low rates, now is the time to apply and consider your options. You could save thousands of dollars over the life of your mortgage.

The quickest way to discover your refinancing options is to fill out a short form offered by GuidetoLenders.  After supplying your zip code and a few other basic pieces of information, you’ll receive a list of free, no obligation quotes. You can start the process here, or alternatively, you can use the calculator below.

Student Loans

According to Student Loan Hero, Americans owe over $1.4 trillion in student loan debt, spread out among about 44 million borrowers, and you may be one of them. Depending upon the year you graduated, your repayment rates may be between 3.4% and 8.25%.

Again, refinancing debt isn’t the magical solution to debt woes, but it can speed up your repayment process significantly. I consistently find that LendEDU offers the best look at refinancing options for people who are serious about saving money and getting out of debt as fast as possible. It takes about 90 seconds to fill out their quick form and receive quotes from up to 12 lenders, including Earnest, LendKey, and Citizens Bank.

Click here to check out your student loan refinancing options with LendEDU.

You should also check out direct offers from SoFi. If you qualify, you can receive a $100 welcome bonus when you complete your refinance. With current fixed rates as low as 3.375%, you could save thousands of dollars. Again, it only takes a few minutes to see if you qualify but you could save thousands of dollars.

Personal Loans

Finally, if you have miscellaneous debt from credit cards, auto loans, or other higher interest personal loans, it’s worth checking out available rates on personal loans from two companies I recommend. If you’re dealing with sky high interest rates, you really need to make this a priority.

Prosper is a peer-to-peer lender that may be able to help you depending on your unique circumstances. In the interest of full disclosure, they can be very helpful to some people and not so useful for others. However, it is free to check your rates and it will not impact your credit score, so you have literally nothing to lose by checking out your options.

Another similar option is available through Lending Club. With APRs as low as 5.99%, you could save hundreds or even thousands when you refinance high interest debt. Again, checking out your options is FREE and won’t affect your credit score.

Note: Lending Club even offers options for investors, too.

Final Steps

Whether or not you refinance debt on your journey toward debt freedom, know this: you can pay off your debts much faster than you think you can if you’re willing to plan ahead and sacrifice.  Refinancing your debts won’t solve your money problems, but it may be the spark you need to start the process of freeing yourself from debt forever.

Be sure to revisit the resources above, gather a few quotes to fully consider your options, and develop a plan of attack today. Life is too short to continue on as a slave to debt.


Have you refinanced debt in the past? Do you have any debt that you could refinance to speed up the repayment process and save money?

If you’ve experienced a refinance in the past, tell us about the experience!

If you're in debt, the choice to refinance debt could be the spark to start paying it off quickly. Check out these helpful resources and crush your debt! We'll show you how to refinance student loans, use personal loans responsibly to refinance debt, review your options to refinance your mortgage before rates go up, and much more! If you're looking to stop wasting money on high interest payments to lenders, you need to read this article!

If you're in debt, the choice to refinance debt could be the spark to start paying it off quickly. Check out these helpful resources and crush your debt! We'll show you how to refinance student loans, use personal loans responsibly to refinance debt, review your options to refinance your mortgage before rates go up, and much more! If you're looking to stop wasting money on high interest payments to lenders, you need to read this article!

Clever Kitchen Cleaning Hacks for Cheapskates and Clean Freaks

Have you noticed how well TV commercials, magazine advertisements, and internet ads hit your pain points? They never fail to remind me that laundry is a tedious chore, making dinner at home is stressful, and gosh darn it, I haven’t been on a vacation in a long time! Marketers are at their best when they remind us that kitchen cleaning is one of the worst tasks of all.

Of course, taking the pain and stress out of cleaning the kitchen is always a simple matter of finding just the right cleaning product, appliance, or accessory, right? At least that’s what they want us to think! I’ve been convinced to drink the kool-aid and buy several products in the past, and you probably have as well.

I was being strung along and duped time and time again, always thinking that the next product would finally make kitchen cleaning easier. One day I realized something: my grandma didn’t have access to any of this stuff when she was a newlywed homemaker in 1942, and her kitchen was always spotless. 

Maybe products had nothing to do with the key to taking the stress out of kitchen cleaning after all!

Advertisers want to you to believe the lie that kitchen cleaning requires costly products. Your inner clean freak will love these amazing and cheap hacks! We'll show you how to clean your counters, sink, refrigerator, microwave, pantry, and more using simple and basic products like vinegar, dish soap, ammonia, and salt. You'll save money, clean your kitchen, and protect your family from dangerous cleaners and chemicals at the same time.

Kitchen Cleaning Hacks to Simplify and Save

So I started researching simpler methods of kitchen cleaning by asking family members, reading articles, researching on Pinterest, and experimenting myself. In this post, I’m going to share with you the most clever kitchen cleaning hacks that I’ve discovered – I hope they will take the stress and monotony out of cleaning your kitchen and also help you ditch expensive products and save money.

A Simple All-Purpose Cleaner

Over the years we have tried all sorts of cleaners in the kitchen: Lysol, generic disinfectant wipes, orange-based cleaners, and the list goes on and on. I often felt like no matter what I did I could not rinse our counter top surfaces well enough to ensure that we weren’t ingesting chemicals. And I wasn’t a big fan of spending over $3 on most bottles.

Several of our family members shared their natural, inexpensive solution: an all-purpose cleaner made with water, dish soap, and vinegar. When combined these three ingredients are an excellent degreaser, adequate disinfectant, and very safe.

To create your own all-purpose cleaner, follow these steps:

  • purchase an empty spray bottle from your local Dollar Tree
  • Simply add two parts vinegar, one part liquid dish soap, and two parts water to your spray bottle, replace the nozzle, and shake vigorously
  • (optional) Some recipes recommend heating the vinegar first and omitting water, but we have found that the addition of water makes rinsing easier

This cleaner is not only useful for kitchen cleaning; it can be used to remove grime from shower days, clean dirty windows, and more.

Clean Your Stained White Ceramic Sink

When we moved into our home in 2013, our white ceramic kitchen sink had seen better days. Every time I cleaned the kitchen was a sobering reminder that our nearly-new kitchen hadn’t been maintained properly.

One day, we invited neighbors over for dinner, and they shared their simple trick for making their white ceramic sink look new using only water and bleach:

  • Run your hot water until it reaches its hottest temperature
  • Use your sink stopper to plug the drain
  • Add 1/2 cup bleach to the sink (Note: it is always a good idea to wear protective gloves/eye wear and open a window to provide adequate ventilation when using bleach)
  • Allow the water level to rise high enough to cover any spots that are discolored
  • Let the water sit for 1-2 hours, then scrub all sink surfaces
  • Rinse thoroughly with cool water

I use this simple trick once per month while tackling other kitchen cleaning chores to keep our sink looking new.

Freshen Up Your Smelly Garbage Disposal

kitchen cleaning hacks and orange peelsI love having a garbage disposal, but from time to time the smells radiating from our disposal become pretty unpleasant. Most of the time I can take care of the smell by plugging the disposal with the stopper, filling up the sink with warm soapy water, and running the disposal after unplugging the sink.

When this simple fix fails, we grind orange or lemon peels with cool water in the disposal. Even after forgetting to run the disposal for a day or two, orange and lemon peels neutralize odors quickly and easily.

Use Dryer Sheets to Remove Baked on Foods

My favorite meal growing up was my grandma’s meat loaf and scalloped potatoes. Even as an adult, I look forward to the days when my Mom breaks out the recipe. The only downside to this meal is the baked on residue that remains long after dinner is finished.

If you’ve spent hours and hours scrubbing similar baked on foods and suffered from dishpan hands, there’s a simple solution: fabric softener sheets, i.e. dryer sheets.

Simply fill the baked on pan or dish with a few drops of dish soap, the hottest water from your sink, and a dryer sheet; let it sit for a few hours or overnight and gently scrub the pan or dish in the morning, if necessary.

Make Your Stove Burners Shine Like New Without Scrubbing or Using Harsh Chemicals

Dealing with gross, greasy stove burners/grates is a nightmare. Over the years I’d tried just about everything until I stumbled upon a great solution from Vivienne at The V Spot back in 2012.

Simply place your burner grate in a large enough, durable plastic bag and add 1/4 cup ammonia. Seal the bag as tightly as possible so the fumes can work their magic and place the bag outside or in the garage (ammonia smells BAD!).

The next day, the fumes will have loosed or removed entirely all of the built up layers of food debris and grease. Wipe the grates clean with a damp sponge and you’re done!

Clean Your Coffee Pot With Salt

I worked at a movie theater during high school, and the coffee pot in the concession stand really took a beating. Cleaning the carafes was one of the jobs I hated most because the stains were very tough to get out – that is, until one of my supervisors taught me a simple trick.

You can clean your carafe simply and quickly by allowing it to return to room temperature, adding a mixture of salt (Morton salt works best) and ice cubs, and shaking vigorously. Just be sure to rinse and wash your carafe with warm soapy water to avoid running salt through your coffee maker.

WARNING: DO NOT DO THIS WITH A HOT OR WARM CARAFE, AS IT WILL SHATTER!

Reuse Old T-Shirts as Cleaning Rags

All T-shirts have a wearable shelf-life, but you can reuse them as kitchen cleaning rags when that time comes.

Effortlessly Clean Your Filthy Microwave

There are few chores I used to dislike as much as cleaning dirty, cooked-on microwave splatters.

Now, cleaning even the worst splatters is an easy two step process. First, microwave 1/2 cup of common vinegar in a microwave safe mug on high for 1-2 minutes and let sit for another minute. Second, wipe all of the interior surfaces of your microwave with a rag or paper towels. Repeat the process for large splatters, if necessary.

Use Dollar Store Bins to Organize Everything

If you’re looking to reduce the time and frustration of kitchen cleaning, getting organized is a simple and effective step that will pay off now and in the future. The quickest and cheapest way to improve your kitchen organization depends upon your ability to master the art of dollar store hacks.

We use dollar store storage bins in our pantry to catch loose items and organize pantry stables in similar groups. One bin holds coffee, tea, hot chocolate, and K cups, while it’s neighbor organizes snack foods like nuts, popcorn, granola bars, and small chocolates. Two other bins hold Italian food staples (like pasta and sauces) and miscellaneous baking supplies (food coloring, confectioners sugar, vanilla, chocolate chips, etc.).

In the past, our horrible organization made kitchen cleaning a time-consuming nightmare because we had to remove each item individually and replace it after cleaning out the pantry. Making use of inexpensive organization tools has cut that time in half!

Use Your Dishwasher Wisely

If you find kitchen cleaning to be boring, you haven’t likely read your dishwasher’s owner’s manual. It’s not likely to be riveting reading material, but loading your dishwasher according to manufacturers’ specifications is the number one way to ensure that it cleans your dishes effectively each and every time. 

Here are a few additional universal tips:

1. Ensure that dishes are arranged so dirty sides face the spray pattern of your dishwasher
2. Do not over-fill detergent
3. Make sure flatware does not “nest” together
4. Never stack items

Following these tips and loading your dishwasher based upon the manufacturers’ recommendations will ensure your dishwasher is efficient.

Use Reusable Microfiber Cloths

For some jobs, however, old t-shirts just won’t cut it. For the past few months we have been using washable microfiber cloths to lessen our paper towel costs. If you use an antibacterial microfiber you’ll greatly reduce the risks of cross-contamination that can occur when you use the same sponge to wash dishes, clean the sink, and wipe down counters and tables.

I was concerned that they would not hold up well over time, but washing the cloths hasn’t damaged them a bit. I also love that they hold up to 8 times their weight in water, which a paper towel definitely cannot do!

Baking Soda in the Refrigerator

My wife is extremely sensitive to smells, so when she opens our usually-clean refrigerator I often brace myself. Keeping an open box of baking soda in your refrigerator and freezer is a simple fix for even moderate odors.

Some people recommend replacing it every three months, as it loses its odor-absorbing ability after that time. I find that you may get away with more time if you do not over fill your refrigerator and properly sealed stored foods in air tight containers. Either way, it is a good idea to write the “opened” date on each new box of baking soda when swapping them out.

Make Your Stainless Steal Appliances Shimmer

Though I don’t have stainless steal appliances in my kitchen, I have to admit that they look incredible when they’re well-maintained. A friend recently shared the simple kitchen cleaning hack that she uses to keep her stainless steel refrigerator looking new.

Begin by cleaning the surface of your stainless steel appliance using gentle soap and water. Rinse and allow the surface to dry completely. Then apply a few small drops of olive oil to a soft cloth and work it into the surface by going with the grain. Finally, be sure to remove any excess oil with an additional clean cloth or paper towel. That’s it! Your appliance should look nearly new again.

Satisfy Your Inner Clean Freak

Kitchen cleaning will probably never be fun (unless you’re Danny Tanner), but it doesn’t have to be a miserable or expensive experience either! The tips above can take the time, stress, and expense out of maintaining a clean kitchen. Pick out a few to try and get started this week!


Try our kitchen cleaning hacks and let us know how they worked for you in the comments section below! If you have any other helpful tips, share them as well.

Advertisers want to you to believe the lie that kitchen cleaning requires costly products. Your inner clean freak will love these amazing and cheap hacks! We'll show you how to clean your counters, sink, refrigerator, microwave, pantry, and more using simple and basic products like vinegar, dish soap, ammonia, and salt. You'll save money, clean your kitchen, and protect your family from dangerous cleaners and chemicals at the same time.
Advertisers want to you to believe the lie that kitchen cleaning requires costly products. Your inner clean freak will love these amazing and cheap hacks! We'll show you how to clean your counters, sink, refrigerator, microwave, pantry, and more using simple and basic products like vinegar, dish soap, ammonia, and salt. You'll save money, clean your kitchen, and protect your family from dangerous cleaners and chemicals at the same time.

The Biggest Reason Why Budgets Fail and the Easy Solution

If you’re like most adults, you have a love-hate relationship with your budget. You love the hope and optimism your budget gives you at the start of the month, and you hate tallying up the numbers at the end of the month only to realize that you didn’t stick to your budget – again. It is a discouraging cycle, to say the least. And it causes many people to abandon budgeting once and for all and leaves them wondering why budgets fail.

The biggest reason why budgets fail isn’t just about numbers or behavior. Budgets don’t fail or succeed because you switched from Excel to paper-and-pencil. And they don’t fail because you missed a day recording purchases. The truth is that most budgets fail because you haven’t given yourself a good enough reason to follow it.

A budget is easy to create and very hard to stick to consistently. The real reason why budgets fail is so simple that it may surprise you. We'll show you how to create a budget that won't fail you - yes, a budget that you can actually stick to consistently - just by taking a few simple steps. You'll even gain access to a FREE, 10 page printable toolkit!

Examples of Why Budgets Fail So Easily

When many people set-up a budget for the first time, they follow a simple template or pattern their budget on an example they have seen. This practice makes sense, but it isn’t fail-proof.

Part of the reason why budgets fail is the fact that many people simply copy budget parameters without considering their own realistic circumstances. For example, if you use the popular app Every Dollar to create a budget, the app guides you to create your budget based upon the following recommended percentages:

These categories and recommended percentages are definitely a great starting point when building a budget, but blindly following them without considering the specifics of your situation can doom your budget to fail.

Blindly following percentages is just one reason why budgets fail
Click to see larger version (Source: EveryDollar)

For example, maybe you aren’t big on recreational activities. Or maybe you work from home and don’t own a vehicle. In those cases, blindly allocating 5-15% of your total budgeted spending to those categories wouldn’t make realistic sense or add any value to your life. Failing to give each dollar a specific purpose in this manner is one example of why budgets fail.

A second example of common budget failure is setting unrealistic goals. For example, if you’re currently spending an average of $900 per month on groceries for two people, aiming to cut this spending down to $450 in one month isn’t very realistic. It would be much more sensible and achievable to gradually reduce the budget to $450 over the course of 3-4 months.

Similarly, a third reason why budgets fail so often lies in creating a budget that is too restrictive. When you create a budget, think of it less as a drill sergeant trying to inflict misery and more like a coach who is encouraging you to win. It’s much easier to follow a person, or in this case, a budget plan, when you know that it is leading you to where you’re trying to go.

Prevent Budget Failure By Creating a Values-Based Budget

If budgets fail because they blindly follow templates, set unrealistic goals, and tend to be too restrictive, how to create a budget to help you Take Back Control of Your Life and Money becomes clearer:

A successful budget is one which combines recommended percentages with your realistic circumstances and is designed to help you achieve the financial goals that you value the most.

If you’re going to create a budget that will succeed, you have to start with a vision of what financial success looks like to you! The best way to create this vision is by identifying your values.

Why are values the key to a successful budget? Your values are what are most important to you. When you identify your values, you realize the important reasons why you decided to create a budget in the first place.

Simply put, a budget without values sets empty, meaningless targets. If you don’t understand and feel the significance of your budget goals, you will not stay motivated to stick to your budget once the initial excitement wears off.

This is similar to filling a jar with coins for no specific reason.

Put another way: Values are the driving force for meaningful goals. Show me a significant goal, and I will point out the values that underpin the goal. Values are the reason that Michael Jordan became the greatest basketball player of all-time after getting cut from his high school team. His love for Competition and Accomplishment gave him all the fuel and motivation to stick to his goals, work hard, and become the best.

Again, the reason why budgets fail is because we haven’t given ourselves a good enough reason to follow them. Identifying your values and linking them to your budget solves the problem!

Stop Your Budget From Failing and Start Winning With Money Today!

I strongly believe that the reason why budgets fail is they focus too much on “how” to manage money responsibly and not enough on “why” it matters. A values-based budget can help you fix the problem.

If you’re ready to take the next step in fixing your budget problems by identifying your values, I’ve created a FREE printable resource to help you.

The MONEY VALUES TOOLKIT is designed to help you create a budget that is built on a foundation of your Values. It will help you

  • Discover your Purpose and Values
  • Review and improve your budget in light of your Values
  • Create Values-based goals to stay on track with your budget

This 10 page guide is a great value, and again, it is FREE. Simply use the form above to become a FinanceSuperhero subscriber and you’ll receive an e-mail with instructions to download your printable PDF toolkit.


What struggles keep you from sticking to your budget? In your opinion, what is the reason why budgets fail?

The Ultimate List of 123 Free Activities For a No-Spend Weekend

When it comes to saving money, the best trick in the book has always been to spend as little money as possible. Better yet, spending absolutely no money for a short period of time can help you keep some serious cash in you wallet. The only problem? This can be boring unless you know how to use free activities to your advantage.

Our goal is that the list below will help you to crush boredom once and for all and always have a list of free activities ready to reference. If you’re serious about saving money and still having fun, pin this post now so you can refer back to it whenever you’re looking for great, new no-spend things to do.

You want to have fun with your family, but it can be expensive! These 123 free activities will help you have many awesome no-spend weekends!

123 Free Activities to Save Money and Still Have Fun

In this post, we’re compiling the ultimate list of no-spend activities to help you save tons of money and still have fun at the same time. Most of the items on this list will appeal to people of all ages and backgrounds. The majority of our suggestions are great for families with kids young or old as well as teens, college students, and young professionals. See for yourself, and enjoy the Ultimate List of Free Activities!

  1. Take a Walk Around Your Neighborhood
  2. Redecorate/re-arrange Your Family Room
  3. Ride Bikes
  4. Visit a Museum
  5. Listen to New Music on Pandora
  6. Read a Book (Fun fact: the average millionaire reads at least two non-fiction books each month!)
  7. Binge Watch a Favorite Show on Netflix (You technically already pay for it!)
  8. Attend a Free Concert
  9. Bake Simple Desserts
  10. Play Video Games
  11. Watch a Classic Movie
  12. Go for a Hike
  13. Prepare Meals for the Week Ahead
  14. Go to the Beach
  15. Deep Clean a Room in Your House
  16. Check out New Shows on Hulu (You can get a FREE 30-day trial here!)
  17. Play at the Park
  18. Learn a New Card Game
  19. Go Window Shopping (Just leave your cash and cards at home!)
  20. Go for a Run/Jog
  21. Write a Short Story
  22. Call an Old Friend
  23. Clean Out Your Closet
  24. Take Online Surveys
  25. Look Through Photo Albums
  26. Play a Board Game
  27. Have a Garage Sale
  28. Draw or Color
  29. Visit a Forest Preserve
  30. Reorganize Your Pantry
  31. Have a Backyard Campout
  32. Go to the Library
  33. Read About a New Career
  34. Take a Free Class Online
  35. Play With Your Kids
  36. Walk Your Dog
  37. Invite Friends Over
  38. Start a Simple DIY Project
  39. Clean Your Refrigerator
  40. Go on a Picnic
  41. Build a Fire
  42. Enjoy Some Silence!
  43. Check Out Trending Videos on YouTube
  44. Do Yard Work
  45. Have an Indoor Campout
  46. Build a Fort With Your Kids
  47. Watch TV (You can get a FREE, no obligation trial for SlingTV and watch over 20 channels if you use this link – and you can cancel any time!)
  48. Clean Behind Large Appliances
  49. Organize Important Papers and Records
  50. Start a New Craft
  51. Call Your Parents
  52. Read a Magazine
  53. Browse Pinterest
  54. Make a To-Do List
  55. Plan a Vacation
  56. Organize Photos on Your Phone
  57. Touch Up Scratched and Scuffed Paint
  58. Clean Your Baseboards
  59. Look at Old Yearbooks
  60. Find New Blogs to Read
  61. Play a Musical Instrument
  62. Write a Poem
  63. Volunteer
  64. Search for Your Dream House on Zillow
  65. Clean the Basement
  66. Write a Letter to Your Future Self
  67. Play I Spy (This can be fun for adults, too!)
  68. Check Your Credit Score and Report
  69. Review Important Insurance Policies and Coverages
  70. Get a Mortgage Refinance Quote
  71. Build a Tower of Cards
  72. Play a Sport
  73. Build With Legos
  74. Watch Old Family Movies
  75. Look at Your Wedding Album
  76. Plan a Staycation
  77. Set-up an Automatic Savings Plan
  78. Organize Your Garage
  79. Research Your Family Tree (Use a free trial on Ancestry.com and cancel anytime!)
  80. Make a Vision Board
  81. Create a Family Budget
  82. Design a List of Long-Term and Short-Term Goals
  83. Take a Spiritual Gifts Test
  84. Make Up a New Recipe
  85. Prepare Freezer Meals
  86. Review Your Net Worth
  87. Host a Neighborhood Pot Luck
  88. Visit Open Houses
  89. Play Online Games
  90. Swap Out Pictures in Frames
  91. Organize Your Kitchen
  92. Clean Your Car
  93. Brainstorm Ideas to Start a Blog
  94. Research Grad School Programs
  95. Do Basic Strength Training
  96. Check out the Smithsonian Archives
  97. Play Dress Up With the Kids
  98. Make a Family Calendar Using Google Calendar
  99. Take Photos Using Instagram
  100. Play Charades
  101. Help a Friend in Need
  102. Play Two Truths and a Lie
  103. Make Homemade Playdough 
  104. Go Rollerblading
  105. Eat Free Samples at Costco or Sam’s Club
  106. Build a Marble Run Out of Cardboard
  107. Create an “I’m Bored Jar”
  108. Build an Obstacle Course
  109. Play Hide and Seek
  110. Make Slime (Here is a recipe that does not contain Borax)
  111. Play Games With SideWalk Chalk
  112. Cut Up Old T-shirts to Use as Cleaning Rags
  113. Clean Your Microwave Effortlessly (Just microwave 1/2 cup of vinegar for 1-2 minutes, let set for 2 minutes, and wipe clean)
  114. Sort Your Books and Sell Some
  115. Make Your Own Family Scavenger Hunt
  116. Build Your Own Musical Instruments
  117. Have a Wii Sports Family Tournament
  118. Have a Pillow Fight
  119. Build Your Own DIY Ball Maze Game (Using a cardboard box and toilet paper rolls)
  120. Hold a Family Olympics Competition
  121. Play Laundry Basket Skee-Ball
  122. Build a Maze
  123. Create Your Own Game


What are your go to free activities to save money? How do make a no-spend weekend fun?

25+ Best Items to Flip and Make Money (and Where to Find Them)

Over the years I have done many odd jobs to make money: lawn mowing, shoveling driveways, painting, consulting, tutoring, and teaching music lessons, among others. I got the side hustle bug from my Grandpa, who often worked three or more jobs at once. Grandpa had an incredible work ethic, but he was also always on the lookout for items to flip to score a profit.

Buying items to flip is a smart way to make $1,000+ every month. We'll show you 25+ items, where to buy them, and how to sell them.When I was just a boy, Grandpa and I drove around to flea markets, garage sales, and stores in search of items to flip to make money. Grandpa was a pro, and he successfully flipped many items, particularly dozens of utility trailers, for crazy profits. As the saying  goes, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” Grandpa knew that, and he was willing to comb through piles of junk in search of items with value or potential.

Related Posts on Making Money:

If you have a similar mentality or are willing to learn, there are many ways to find items to flip yourself and make hundreds or even thousands of dollars each month. In this post we’ll identify over 25 of the best items to flip, where to find them, and how to sell them. This isn’t just a side hustle you see on TV – real people are doing it right now in your area, and you can get started yourself if you follow the steps below.

Step One: Know What Items to Flip

The number one key to successfully flipping for profit is knowing what items are valuable. Whether you are searching, you need a clear vision of the items that will actually resell for a profit.

There are always exceptions to every trend, as most experienced flippers will tell you, but in general, the following items tend to carry good resale value:

  • Antiques (all varieties) – People love old items, and nostalgia has a funny way of affecting an item’s value.
  • Tables and chairs made of real wood – You can find these at almost any thrift store or estate sale. They often need sanding and a new coat of finish to look brand-new, which makes your potential profit margins high.
  • Vintage lamps – Lamps can be hit or miss, but many vintage lamp styles are currently in style.
  • Upholstered chairs – I have seen many disgusting chairs get new life after a professional reupholstering. Older chairs with wooden legs were built to be reupholstered, not just thrown out when they experienced wear and tear. You can do it yourself or pay an upholsterer.
  • Record players
  • Jukeboxes – Many people are in the market for record players and jukeboxes which have been retrofitted with Bluetooth speakers. If you’re a competent DIY-er with a bit of creativity, you could make a big profit on this project.
  • Porcelain sinks and bathtubs (rare, but a good find if they are in good condition) -This job isn’t for the faint of heart, but reglazing clawfoot bathtubs can often be profitable. Here is a helpful guide.
  • Canvas paintings – Often old canvas paintings are worth very little, but once in a while you may find a good one!
  • Picture frames – Vintage picture frames are highly-sought after items. They tend to stay in families for generations, but sometimes they pop up.
  • Brand-name clothing with price tags still attached – This is a big potential money-maker! Be sure to inspect clothing very carefully, as most sellers will not honor returns or refunds.
  • Outdoor furniture
  • Old coffee mugs
  • Vintage kitchen tools, such as meat grinders, butcher tools, etc.
  • Vintage Pyrex and Tupperware containers
  • Original edition board games
  • Sports memorabilia
  • Legos
  • Light-up ceramic decorations – My parents still have a light-up ceramic Christmas tree that my aunt made for them when I was young. They have become very rare finds.
  • Vintage Mason jars – Concerns surrounding BPA and other chemicals have made Mason jars very popular.
  • Video game consoles (Atari, NES, SNES, etc.) and game cartridges – Many old-school video games are worth far more than the average person understands. If you are or were a gamer as a kid, this is your chance to put that knowledge to good use! You can often find games for as cheap as $1 and resell them for over $50 if you are smart. Read more here.
  • Vintage rugs
  • Most older items with “Made in the USA” tags or imprints
  • Vintage globes – You’ll be mostly limited to local reselling of globes, but it can still be quite profitable.
  • Records and record sleeves
  • Old cameras and camera lenses – I’m not a photographer, but I have heard that many older SLR lenses work well on newer camera models.

This list isn’t exhaustive, but it’s a great starting point for newer flippers. You can often resell many of the items without repairing or refurbishing them, while items in need of repair may not require too much effort or special skill.

I recommend keeping a fully-charged mobile device with you when looking for items so you can quickly check their value online using Google, Ebay, or other sites. This will help you determine the approximate value of an item you are considering purchasing and also quickly calculate potential profit after any necessary expenses to repair or sell the item.

Step Two: Where to Find Items to Flip

Once you know what items to flip for a profit, you can begin searching for new items to get started. Your own home is a great place to start, as you likely have many items sitting around in your basement, attic, or garage. If you’re in doubt about the value of a specific item, a quick Google search can usually give you a ballpark figure.

After searching your home, garage sales, estate sales, thrift stores like Salvation Army and Good Will, and discount wholesalers like Big Lots are good places to turn. At garage and estate sales in particular, flash cash to score the best deals on items to flip, and don’t be afraid to leverage “walk-away power” in your favor. People used to chase me and my Grandpa down the street as we drove off to give him the deal he wanted after he ended negotiations!

Step Three: How to Sell Your Finds

After you’ve purchased items and repaired/refurbished them (if necessary), it’s time to sell them. Thanks to the power of the internet, this task is much easier today than it was for Grandpa many decades ago.

Buying items to flip is a smart way to make $1,000+ every month. We'll show you 25+ items, where to buy them, and how to sell them.First, I recommend trying to sell your flipped items in the least expensive way possible to start. If you have many quality items ready to sell, have a garage sale. List them for sale on your personal Facebook page and post well-lit pictures. You can also find and join local garage sale and item swap Facebook groups in your area and request to join them. Many people try to use these groups to unload junk, so your quality finds will really stand out, especially if you take crystal clear pictures and provide vivid item descriptions.

Second, selling items on Craigslist is still a perfectly legitimate way to flip many items. Your exposure will definitely be higher than on Facebook groups, but the Craigslist interface is a bit old and clunky, in my opinion.

Third, Ebay and Etsy are other options for selling your items. Even if you’re not already familiar with them, listing items is easy.

Final Words

Some people may have personal and ethical reasons why they may not want to flip items for profits. I personally believe there are both honest and dishonest ways to find items to flip and make a profit. If you can resell items that provide value to others, help them save money, and also earn money for yourself at the same time, go for it! On the other hand, if you’re ruthlessly out to put your local thrift stores out of business, it’s probably time to reevaluate your approach.

Whether you’re looking for an interesting money making hobby or hoping to earn hundreds or even thousands of dollars each month, finding items to flip for a profit is a great opportunity. It requires patience and a discerning eye for diamonds in the rough, but you can make significant money if you build your business the right way.


Have you ever flipped items to make money? What items were your biggest money makers?

Buying items to flip is a smart way to make $1,000+ every month. We'll show you 25+ items, where to buy them, and how to sell them.
Buying items to flip is a smart way to make $1,000+ every month. We'll show you 25+ items, where to buy them, and how to sell them.

How to Live on One Income and Still Live the Good Life

The dual income family is quickly becoming the norm. According to one study, even as long ago as 2002, only 7 percent of U.S. households were single income families in which only the husband worked. In 2017, the demands of debt, car payments, and other money stress have made it even harder for families to live on one income.

The dual income family is now normal. But you can live on one income without poor quality of life. In fact, you can live the good life! Read how we lived on a single income while still having fun!Dual income households have some advantages over single income households, but I firmly believe the choice largely comes down to personal preference and individual circumstances. But the choice to live on one income doesn’t have to be as restricting or depressing as it may sound. It’s very possible to live well on a single income even if it is modest.

My wife and I are proof that it is possible to thrive, have fun, travel, and live on income all at the same time. Today, we both work multiple jobs – like Dave Ramsey says, Live Like No One Else So Later You Can Live AND Give Like No One Else – but our life was radically different in 2010.

Operation: Live on One Income

My wife, Meg, and I were married in July 2010. I had completed my first year as a music teacher and she was a college senior. I was laid off by my school district because of crippling budget cuts shortly before our wedding, so when our pastor said the whole “richer or poorer” line during our vows, it took every ounce of strength I had in me not to laugh out loud.

I spent the first month of our marriage collecting unemployment and interviewing for jobs without any luck. One week before school resumed a huge weight was lifted our shoulders when I was offered a return to my old job out of the blue.

Getting my job back was a major victory, but it still gave us one income stream. Some people in our lives doubted that we could live on one income, but to be honest, we were just thrilled to have an income! Still, we knew that life wasn’t going to be perfect or easy.

How We Did It

At times, living on one income was stressful and even depressing. I wasn’t bringing in fat stacks of cash as a second year teacher, so we had to be very intentional about how we spent and saved every dollar I earned. We also decided to focus on the big things in our budget and doing everything we could to keep them in check. We didn’t overlook the little things, either, but we knew that we could find more bang for our bucks by focusing on the big things.

First, we made a unique budget every month and pledged to stick to it. I tracked every single transaction every single day using Gazelle Budget so we could always have an accurate picture of our spending for the month. When all of the budgeted money had been spent for a category, we literally didn’t spend another cent. If it was crucial, we decreased the budget for another category to add more money to categories in need.

Related:

Second, we constantly looked for ways to save as much money as possible on groceries. This category was the second largest part of our part next to our rent, and we knew that keeping food spending under control would be important. We shopped mostly at Aldi and picked up sale items at a few other local stores. Leftovers became our go to meals a few nights per week, and we never went out for lunch. On average, we spent between $350 and $400 per month on groceries. Some months we really stepped up our game and spent as little as $250.

Recommended Reading:

Third, my wife and I found a place to rent for far less than the average rental price in the area. Before we got married, I spent at least five hours per week searching listings and making phone calls about available apartments and condos. My hard work paid off when we found a nice 3 bedroom, 1.1 bathroom condo for rent for 25% less than the area average. Avoiding corporate apartments saved us thousands of dollars over the four years we rented.

What We Didn’t Do

Now that we both work and own a home, I often think back to the days when we lived on one income. We were definitely frugal in many ways, but we could have cut back even more in many areas.

First, we paid for cable TV and DVR service with Comcast. It was one of the few luxuries we allowed ourselves, to be honest, and even though our cable and internet cost us around $90 per month at the time, it served as our main entertainment. We rarely went out to the movies, checked out concerts, or even went bowling.  So even though cable was expensive, it probably helped us avoid temptation to spend more money.

Related:

Second, we still ate our at restaurants once or twice per month. Looking back, I can’t really justify this spending. It would have been cheaper to cook at home, but we honestly cherished the few nights out each month. And most of our meals out were using discounts found on Groupon or Restaurant.com, which usually helped us eat out for under $20.

Related:

Third, we still stopped for an occasional trip to Starbucks each month. It’s obvious that drinking coffee is much cheaper when you do it home, but we did a good job of keeping coffee spending in check overall. Again, we knew that focusing on the big things would have a bigger impact on our budget so we didn’t sweat the occasional $4 latte.

You Can Live Well on One Income

If you gain anything from reading this article, I hope you see that it is possible to live on one income without accepting poor quality of life. My wife and I only lived on one income for a little less than a year, but we could have done it much longer. We didn’t suffer or go without necessities. We didn’t even pursue ways to make extra money!

Related:

21 Simple Ways to Make Extra Money Even If You’re Busy

Maybe living on one income is your choice, and maybe it’s not. It’s important to remember that more money isn’t always the answer to your problems. Dual income households have problems, too. How you will live comes down to personal preference and individual circumstances whether you have one income stream or several.


Do you live on one income? What tips and tricks help you to do so?

How to Cut the Cord, Save Money, and Still Watch TV

Confession time: I really like TV! I don’t watch much TV these days, but I have a few shows that I hate to miss. We still have cable and DVR service, mostly because it is one of the few luxuries we allow ourselves to enjoy in an otherwise strict budget. One of the most asked questions I hear is “How can I cut the cord but still watch all of my favorite shows and sports?”

Cable and satellite are expensive! We'll show you how to cut the cord and save money while still watching all your TV shows, movies, and sports - legally!Today, there are more options than ever before to say goodbye to cable or satellite, save money, and still watch most or all of your favorite shows and teams. You’re probably familiar with many of the options, but when it comes to saving money, you should always gather as much information as possible, weigh the pros and cons, and go with the solutions that work best for your family.

Side Note: Word has it that there are also plenty of illegal ways to watch your favorite shows and teams online. That’s called breaking the law, and it’s not a smart move – even if it helps you save money!

Check out the following ways to cut the cord and still watch your favorite TV legally and free up some serious cash in your budget!

Common and FREE Ways to Cut the Cord

Thanks to the wonders of the internet and bandwidth growth over the past decade, you can watch many of your favorite shows and even sporting events for FREE online. Here are some of my favorites:

WatchESPN 

According to their website, live and archived content on WatchESPN is available to anyone who subscribes to a participating TV or internet provider. You can stream events using their mobile app or webpage as soon as you have authenticated an account – this process only takes a few minutes. In many cases, you can stream the event to your TV using your Apple TV, Roku Streaming StickRoku ExpressRoku UltraPlayStation®4, Google Chromecast, or Amazon Fire TV.

CBSSports

Similar to WatchESPN, you can stream content through CBSSports after authenticating your participating provider. I recently watched NCAA tournament basketball games through the app with my brother-in-law and was impressed by the quality.

HD Antenna

In many areas you can access a surprising number of channels using a standard HD Antenna. The 1byone Amplified HDTV Antenna, along with other options, has a 50 mile range and excellent ratings. Most users can access most of the standard area networks in crystal clear HD – and it’s FREE.

The Next Step Up

If over-the-air network television and streaming sports networks available through your internet provider aren’t enough, subscription services are your next best bet.

Netflix

Netflix has become the leader in streaming TV content in many areas. An HD plan costs only $11.99 per month, and it allows you to stream HD and Ultra HD content on up to 4 screens, download select content to watch without an internet connection, and watch unlimited TV and movies. You can also get a FREE one month trial.

Netflix also has branched out in the last few years and has produced compelling original content (Making a Murderer, Stranger Things, Fuller House, and countless others). It is our favorite streaming service.

Hulu

Hulu is emerging as a strong competitor with other rivals. They offer two plans: the Limited Commercial Plan, which includes -shocker of shockers -limited commercial interruptions for $7.99 per month, and the No Commercials Plan for $11.99 per month. You can try both with their FREE one month trial.

If you prefer TV over movies, Hulu has a better selection than Netflix overall. They also offer quicker access to TV shows during a current season, while users have to wait a while for shows to hit Netflix.

Amazon 

Not to be outdone, Amazon also offers its own streaming service via Prime Video. Users can stream thousands of TV shows, movies, and original Amazon content for $8.99 per month.

On a related note, Amazon Prime members also receive the benefits of streaming music, FREE shipping on Amazon purchases, Kindle books, and photo storage. You can receive a FREE 30 day trial when you sign-up here.

More Advanced Options

Despite the affordability and convenience of the previously-listed services, many TV viewers still want more. This is the exact reason that many people are afraid to cut the cord!

SlingTV offers viewers access to popular cable/satellite channels without the hassle of contracts, hidden fees, and poor customer service – all without the high prices of cable or satellite.

Here’s how it works:

  • Users can stream SlingTV at home or on the go on their TV, computer, tablet, or mobile device.
  • Shows are available via live stream, and some shows are available on demand.
  • Users can customize their channel lineup to receive only the channels they want and need. The Sling Orange Plan is only $20 per month, while the Sling Blue Plan offers more channels for only $25 per month (see channel line-ups below).
  • Video replay is available
  • New customers can take advantage of current deals on devices
  • Extras and add-ons are available for premium sports networks, movie channels, and international content. Most add-on content starts at an additional $5 per month.

Cable and satellite are expensive! We'll show you how to cut the cord and save money while still watching all your TV shows, movies, and sports - legally!

Cable and satellite are expensive! We'll show you how to cut the cord and save money while still watching all your TV shows, movies, and sports - legally!

Currently, SlingTV does not offer any DVR-like functions, but there have been rumblings that a similar feature could be coming in the future. You can try SlingTV for FREE with a 7 day trial when you sign-up here.

Options for Displaced Sports Fans

When I first moved from Michigan to Chicagoland, I became an even greater die-hard fan of my Michigan teams. I used to go to great lengths to watch the Detroit Lions, Pistons, Tigers, and Red Wings, and it was expensive!

Cable and satellite are expensive! We'll show you how to cut the cord and save money while still watching all your TV shows, movies, and sports - legally!If you’re a fellow displaced fan and still want to watch your favorite team without spending hundreds of dollars on NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL packages, there is an affordable solution.

The Slingbox allows users to take their TV content in HD with them anywhere there is an internet connection. My parents live in Michigan and technically are the owners of the Slingbox that I use. I connect to the device on the Slingbox app and can stream live and recorded (via DVR) Lions, Pistons, Tigers, and Red Wings games (and anything else on TV in Michigan) directly to my TV through my Apple TV console. There is even an on-screen remote control that looks exactly like the one my parents have at their house!

The Slingbox 500, the highest-rated model, currently sells for  a retail price of $250, which means that the device pays for itself in one season when compared to the purchase of the NFL, NBA, MLB, or NHL packages. I have saved at least $1,000 over the past several years thanks to my Slingbox.

If you’re not a major sports fan, you can get by just fine without a Slingbox. If you are a sports nut like me, the Slingbox is HANDS DOWN the best way to watch your favorite out-of-town teams.

Useful Devices

One of the best parts about cutting the cord and still watching TV is quite literally that you don’t even need a TV to do it! You can watch content just fine on mobile devices, tablets, and computers.

If you’ve already invested in that stunning 70-inch LCD TV and don’t plan to part with it, there are plenty of affordable ways to stream content to your TV through the services mentioned above.

Here are a few of the most popular devices:

Depending on your circumstances, you could get by with just one of these devices; some users might not need one at all depending on their existing equipment.

You CAN Watch TV Without Spending a Fortune!

Cable and satellite costs have risen drastically over the years, but there are more options than ever before to cut the cord, save money, and still watch your favorite teams and shows. Free apps, streaming services like Hulu and SlingTV, and countless other devices have leveled the playing field for consumers.

If you’re looking to Take Back Control of Your Life and Money, the decision to cut the cord can help you accomplish both! Use this guide to check out and evaluate what solutions might work best for your family, take advantage of free trials, and start saving money today!


Have you cut the cord? What services and devices do you use? What other tips did we miss?

If you haven’t cut the cord yet, what is holding you back?

11 Fail-Proof Grocery Hacks to Save on Food

It’s a cold, hard fact: food is ridiculously expensive! The average household spends anywhere from 5-20% of its monthly budget at the grocery store. Why exactly is it so hard for most families to save on food?

Food is expensive! If poor habits have you spending too much money on food, there is hope. These 11 tips are easy and can help you cut your grocery spending and save on food each month.Like most life and money problems, poor habits are often to blame. You and I have great intentions to be the hero our spouses and kids deserve, but it can be hard to change and transform new practices into permanent habits. You may need to step back and re-evaluate your routines from time to time. Your grocery list is no exception.

The solutions to spending too much on groceries may surprise you. Extreme changes are rarely lasting – that’s why most diets fail – but smaller, manageable changes can make a huge difference. So skip fasting, fad diets, and eliminating occasional sweets from your grocery list and try the tips below instead. As you’ll see, you can save on food without suffering!

How to Save on Food – 11 Tips to Tame Your Out of Control Grocery Spending

If you’re struggling to save on food, find yourself staring at a full pantry yet have nothing to eat, and can’t figure out why there is always too much month left after your grocery money runs each out each month, read on. These 11 tips will help you save on food costs, eat better, and save time each month!

1. Create a Plan – and Stick to It!

If you’ve ever found yourself grocery shopping without a list, you have probably experienced the pains of shopping for groceries without a plan. In my experience, this leads to

-wasting money buying ingredients you already have at home
-wasting time back-tracking throughout the store
-buying expensive prepared food items on impulse

Before grocery shopping, take stock of ingredients remaining in the refrigerator and pantry. If you have items that will soon perish, plan meals which will make use of them right away. From there, continue to make a list of the items you will need to cook your remaining meals – again, be sure to buy only what you need.

2. Buy Diverse and Purposeful Ingredients

I’m sure I can’t be the only one who has opened up the pantry to door to find 8 cans of diced tomatoes, a bag of croutons, olive oil, two boxes of saltine crackers, and a can of baked beans. Staring into a full pantry yet seeing nothing to eat is an awful feeling. You can save on food every week and curb hunger by making sure you keep diverse and purposeful items in your pantry at all times.

These go-to items may be different for your family, but they are consistent in our household. At any given time, our pantry and freezer contain:

-spaghetti/other red sauce
-white and brown rice
-various frozen vegetables
-frozen chicken tenderloins
-chicken broth
-farfalle noodles (or similar noodle)

At any time we are able to prepare 5-6 unique meals from these on-hand ingredients alone. These items have a long shelf life, and they are usually purchased on sale (see number 3). A diverse stash of in-stock ingredients helps eliminate costly last-minute trips for missing ingredients.

3. Buy In Bulk During Sales

The best way to keep diverse items on hand and save on food is by buying in bulk during sales. It’s important to avoid going overboard, but savings add up quickly during sales. For example, we have taken advantage of buy-one-get-one-free sales on frozen vegetables and purchased bulk family packs of meat to save money.

4. Use Ibotta to Save

If couponing is too time consuming and boring for you, thank your smart phone. Ibotta is a free money saving app that helps you save money on food, other groceries, new clothes, or ordering food.

Saving with Ibotta is simple. First, sign-up for free using my link - you'll receive a $10 welcome bonus just for signing up. Then download the app (available for Android and iOS) – you’ll need it later to scan your receipt. Next, find your go-to stores (click here for a list of 365 participating stores) in the app, link store loyalty accounts, unlock available rebates, and go shopping. When you’re finished, scan the bar codes of items featuring a rebate, snap a picture of your receipt, and submit. You’ll receive cash back into your Ibotta account within 48 hours.

Ibotta offers rebates on a wide range of products, including $2.00-$5.00 rebates on many varieties of beer/wine, toiletries, snack foods, and over the counter medicine, among other items. Again, Ibotta is FREE to use and you'll receive a $10 BONUS if you sign-up today.

4. Shop at Aldi

If you haven’t visited Aldi recently, you might be pleasantly surprised if you give it another chance. The growing grocer has expanded its offerings, including organic options, to help shoppers save money on food and live a healthier life.

Across the country, Aldi stores are being renovated and redesigned to compete with grocery giant Whole Foods. Aldi is currently investing $1.6 billion to remodel 1,300 of its 1,600 stores by 2020. Low prices and won’t be affected by these changes, the company insists.

5. Shop Locally For Meat

Balancing the desire to support local farmers with the need to save money on food can be difficult for families on a budget. Zaycon Fresh is aiming to change that one community at a time.

Zaycon Fresh provides high-quality, farm fresh meat directly from local farmers to your table – and their prices typically beat even Aldi and Wal-Mart! When you sign-up for FREE, Zaycon will leverage the buying power of several local families on your behalf and help you save money on food by purchasing items in bulk. They send daily e-mail alerts on local sales events, and when you place your order, they take care of the rest. When your order is ready, you bring your receipt to a designated pick-up location near your home and collect your fresh, inexpensive meat without even leaving your car.

Zaycon Fresh is currently available in 1,200 communities nationwide, and you can sign-up for FREE to save money on food today.

6. Ditch Family Style and Plate Portions For Family

Have you ever prepared enough food to last for two meals only to have hungry family members take seconds or thirds, leaving you with you no meal for the next day? This was my wife’s biggest complaint about my eating habits when we were still newly-weds.

You can save money on food and ensure meals are stretched further by plating meals yourself rather than allowing family members to serve themselves family style. Controlled portions will ensure that your kids don’t waste half of their dinner, and as a bonus, everyone will avoid overeating.

7. Shop the Perimeter of the Store

Ever notice that fresh produce, meat and dairy, and seafood are located on the edges of your favorite grocery store? Marketers don’t want you to know this, but most grocery stores are designed to funnel consumers toward the middle of the store and keep you there until your cart is full. If you shop the perimeter of your grocery store, you will avoid expensive processed and prepared foods and save money on food by filling your cart with nutritionally-dense food.

Ready-to-eat foods are convenient, but the cost is steep, both financially and nutritionally. Fresh foods will make your wallet and body happy.

8. Eat Breakfast for Dinner Once Per Week

Experts claim that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so why not have it twice? Eating breakfast for dinner is an easy way to save money on food simply because many breakfast foods are inexpensive.

For a few dollars per person, you can make pancakes, American fries, and eggs into a great dinner. Steel cut oats and breakfast sausage or bacon can also satisfy even the biggest appetites at a minimal cost.

9. Cut Empty Calories

Isn’t it ironic that some of the least nutritionally-dense foods are the most expensive? Soda, candy, and ice cream are the biggest culprits, and even though they are delicious, they may be killing your grocery budget. Cut your spending in half in this area and you’ll notice a big improvement.

10. Use $5 Meal Plan

If you’ve tried all of the previous tips without success, it may be time to get more help – that’s where $5 Meal Plan comes to the rescue. If you’re skeptical, try it for FREE for 14 days and see for yourself.

The $5 Meal Plan process is simple. Each Friday at 11 AM ET, you’ll receive a meal plan in your e-mail inbox. The meal plan includes a shopping list and a detailed menu complete with the following:

  • Five dinner entrees with sides – Each week they include one freezer friendly, one slow cooker, and one 20-minute meal.
  • One lunch and one breakfast, plus,
  • A random goodie each week – sometimes dessert, sometimes a beverage, and sometimes it’ll be a snack (sometimes more than one!)
  • Gluten-free options (upon request)

When you sign-up you’ll receive access to a private Facebook group to share recipes and tips with other subscribers.

If meal planning just isn’t working out, I recommend giving $5 Meal Plan a try. Again, you have nothing to lose when you sign-up for their FREE 14-day trial.

11. Use the Cash Envelope System

I know many people who make a plan, shop with their list, and overspend their grocery budget week after week. If you find yourself here, don’t lose hope – the cash envelope system may be the solution you need to save money on food!

Food is expensive! If poor habits have you spending too much money on food, there is hope. These 11 tips are easy and can help you cut your grocery spending and save on food each month.The cash envelope system is simple. Divide your monthly grocery budget by the number of weeks in the current month (or shopping trips you plan to take that month), place that amount of cash in an envelope prior to leaving for the store, and leave your debit and credit cards at home. You may only spend the cash you have in the envelope during your trip – and not a cent more!

This system is extreme and not for the faint of heart, and it will require discipline. It may cause embarrassment when you have to take a few items off the conveyor belt in order to stay under budget. But if you follow the system it is guaranteed to help you save on food simply because you cannot buy groceries with money you don’t have.

YOU CAN DO THIS!

It can be challenging to save on food, but you can do it if you follow the tips above. Extreme changes to your grocery habits will likely be short-lived, but the above tips are easy to implement and maintain over time. Print this list, implement a few suggestions, add in a few more, and your grocery budget will be in great shape in no time!

Don’t forget – check out Ibotta, Zaycon Fresh, and $5 Meal Plan!


What are your best tips to save money on food?

[arrow_forms id=’1792′]

How to Build A Paver Patio – A Comprehensive Step By Step DIY Guide

When my wife and I bought our current home in May 2013, we were ecstatic. The house was beautiful, even if the landscaping needed some help. We lived with the sad state of the yard for one season and gradually made improvements each month. I resurrected the lawn, tamed the overgrown shrubbery, and even planted a few rose bushes. This was fun, but my mind was on one grand idea from the start: I wanted to build a paver patio. 100% DIY. With my bare hands.

I did my research and learned the project could be very budget friendly if I selected quality, affordable materials and went with a basic design. The techniques seemed simple enough as well, even for someone who isn’t very handy – like me.

A Step-By-Step Guide to Build a Paver Patio

After months of planning, scheming at Menards and Home Depot, and buying several pallets of materials, I got started on my patio project on the first day of summer vacation. If a teacher like me – with modest DIY skills – can build his own paver patio in a matter of days, you can, too. Follow my step by step guide below to build a paver patio and begin enjoying your own backyard oasis this spring.

Step 1: Purchase Tools, Calculate Materials Needed, and Apply For a Permit (if required)

Good news – you won’t need too many tools to build a paver patio. Make a list of the following tools, check out your inventory in the garage, and buy the rest.

Tools List

  1. Garden spade
  2. Garden shovel
  3. Hose
  4. Mist nozzle
  5. Wheelbarrow
  6. Landscaping gloves
  7. Hand tamper
  8. Landscaping stakes
  9. Landscaping string
  10. Tape measure
  11. Level
  12. Rake
  13. Push broom
  14. Sharpie markers
  15. Marking paint (Rustoleum Marking Spray Paint or similar)
  16. Plate compactor (optional – rent locally)
  17. Safety goggles
  18. Landscaping fabric
  19. Landscaping nails
  20. Celebratory beverages of your choice (Summer Shandy worked for me)
  21. Rubber mallett

Materials

  1. Paver stones (*Note: I chose tumbled Belgian pavers for aesthetic reasons.)
  2. 1 inch PVC pipe, cut to length of widest walkway (Quantity will vary – minimum 2 recommended)
  3. Paver base
  4. Paver leveling sand
  5. Paver locking sand
  6. Paver sealant (optional, but highly recommended to preserve your hard work)
  7. Paver edging and/or paver edging stones
  8. 2”x4” wood joist (cut to appropriate length)

Materials Calculation

Full transparency – the materials calculation can be the most difficult part of building your paver patio. I fully recommended visiting your local Home Depot, Menards, Lowes, or other home improvement store to seek out their assistance. Provide a drawing/blueprint of your intended design, and they will be able to help you calculate the number of cubic yards of paver base and leveling sand you require. Calculating the number of paver stones needed will depend heavily on your design. I recommend purchasing an additional 10% over your minimum calculated needs to protect yourself from extra trips when pavers inevitably break or have color inconsistencies.

Guidance on Permits and Dealing with HOAs

A paver patio can transform a boring backyard into an outdoor oasis. Follow this step-by-step guide to build a paver patio in your backyard on any budget.If you live in a non-HOA neighborhood and have an understanding and easy-going local government, congratulations! The rest of us officially hate you, but you’re one lucky guy/gal. Youre ready to build a paver patio, so move on to Step 2!

For the rest of you: my best advice is to be patient. Your HOA and local building department will ask you to jump through hoop after hoop after hoop before they’ll give you a permit. Contact them well in advance of the date you plan to start your project, and play nice with them at every step of the way. You will get your permit if you follow the rules.

Step 2: Choose and Prepare the Area

When I decided to build a paver patio, I had a few possibilities for its location. In the end, I decided to build it adjacent to an existing concrete patio. This choice helped me determine the dimensions of the area which I needed to prepare. With my dimensions decided, I marked the area using a tape measure, landscaping stakes, and line marking spray paint.

PRO TIP: If the area you plan to build upon is currently covered with grass, use your lawn mower to cut the area as short as possible after measuring.

You will need to remove additional grass and soil beyond the eventual boarder of your patio, so be sure to include an additional 12-16” on all sides of the dimensions as you mark them.

Step 3: Remove Grass, Sod, and Soil

A paver patio can transform a boring backyard into an outdoor oasis. Follow this step-by-step guide to build a paver patio in your backyard on any budget.
Hero removing sod and cursing Mother Nature

With your measurements complete and construction area prepped, you are ready to remove the grass and soil. Depending upon your soil type, you may be able to complete this step using hand powered landscaping tools and lots of elbow grease. Using a sharpened garden spade, I recommend removing square foot sections of sod by outlining sections and lifting them individually into your wheel barrow – in my case I also used a trustworthy Red Flyer wagon.

PRO TIP: If you have unusually dry soil or, as in my case, find yourself dealing with rocky and dry clay, run a sprinkler for 30 minutes the evening prior to excavating the grass and soil. It will make it easier to loosen the sod.

With all of the grass/sod removed, you are ready to remove an adequate amount of soil. Depending upon your local building requirements, you may have to remove up to 12” of soil to allow for adequate space for paver base in the next step. Especially if you live in a cold climate, you will want to be sure to provide a base which more than adequately supports your patio.

As your soil allows, aim to remove soil in a manner consistent with the desired grade of your planned patio. Contrary to popular belief, it is usually best to design your patio with a very slight pitch angled away from the foundation of your home to ensure that water runs away from the foundation of your home – a level patio is only desirable in rare circumstances.

Step 4: Add Paver Base

If you purchased bags of paver base, move them into the now excavated area using your wheelbarrow. Dump the base in consistent, even layers throughout the entire area and rake the base to spread it evenly. Periodically pause and use your hand tamper to ensure that the paver base is tight and compact. You will also went to lightly wet the area as you tamp it.

I saved a significant amount of money by using a hand tamper rather than renting a plate compactor, but my forearms and biceps paid dearly for this decision. If you are using a hand tamper, I recommend tamping each square foot of your base approximately 100 times to ensure that your base is firm and secure. Need I remind you about the man who built his house on shifting sands?

PRO TIP: When your base is secure, measure, cut, and place your landscaping fabric over the top of the base. Secure it using landscaping nails. This step is optional, but it will greatly cut down on weed intrusion in the future.

Step 5: Add and Level Paver Sand

Place your pre-cut 1 inch PVC pipes on top of your firmly tamped paver base. Carefully pour leveling sand in between the PVC pipes and on all sides in two to three feet increments. Then place your 2”x4” on the PVC pipes and screed, or drag, the board across the pipes gently to level the paver sand. While you can access the area, gently lift out the PVC pipes, fill and level those voids with leveling sand, and replace the pipes along the path. Continue this process until the entire patio area is covered with paver leveling sand.

Step 6: Place the Paver Stones Individually

Prior to placing your paver stones, pick a corner or side to start in and very lightly mist the paver leveling sand. Begin laying the paver stones according to pattern you designed while being careful not to drag the stones across the leveling sand. Set adjacent paver stones to be snug against neighboring stones. I recommend gently tapping them into place using a rubber mallet.

A paver patio can transform a boring backyard into an outdoor oasis. Follow this step-by-step guide to build a paver patio in your backyard on any budget.If you’re looking to build a paver patio featuring an easy design, a basket weave or herringbone pattern is classic and timeless. These designs are also time-savers, as they don’t require any cutting. I went with a modified basket weave pattern (see picture to the right) to add character. Continue following your design pattern until all stones are in place while ensuring that you lightly sections of leveling sand before continuing. It is also very helpful to have another person hand you stones of varying colors while you complete this step.

When all of your paver stones are in place, step back and be sure that you did not make any errors with your pattern. When you’re ready to move on, add edging stones or other edging materials to ensure that your paver patio retains its shape. Secure them using landscaping nails.

Step 7: Finish the Job!

A paver patio can transform a boring backyard into an outdoor oasis. Follow this step-by-step guide to build a paver patio in your backyard on any budget.When all of your paver stones are in place and edging is completed, you are ready to secure the paver stones in place. Pour a fine layer of paver locking sand on top of your patio and use a push broom to fill all of the gaps between adjacent paver stones. When all of the gaps are filled, gently sweep away excess paver locking sand. Then spray a very, very light mist of water over the patio. The water will activate the paver locking sand and help your patio retains its form.

Repeat the procedure above again when the paver locking sand joints appear to be dry. You may need to perform this step several times until all the gaps are filled. If you’ve rented a plate compactor, gently run the compactor across the patio service. Make a single pass in each direction to uniformly compact the paver stones.

It’s time to bask in glory! Grab a beverage of your choice, pull up a chair, and celebrate. You just built a paver patio!

Step 8: Seal Your Paver Patio

This step is optional but highly recommended if you’ve taken the time to build a paver patio. Using a commercially-available concrete or paver stone sealant will add many years to the life of your paver patio. All products will come with slightly different instructions, and it is best to follow them precisely. I applied my sealant using an all-purpose roller and have since re-applied once each year. Nearly four years later, my paver patio still looks new!

A paver patio can transform a boring backyard into an outdoor oasis. Follow this step-by-step guide to build a paver patio in your backyard on any budget.
The finished paver patio in the FinanceSuperhero outdoor oasis

After you have finished this step, you will want to ornament the patio with soil, small annuals, mulch, and perennials (see above). This extra touch will complete the process of transforming your drab backyard into a new outdoor oasis!

A paver patio can transform a boring backyard into an outdoor oasis. Follow this step-by-step guide to build a paver patio in your backyard on any budget.

Get Started!

Now that you know how easy it is to build a paver patio – even if you have limited DIY skills – it’s time to start planning your project. With the right amount of patience, planning, and preparation, you can transform your boring backyard into an outdoor oasis!


Could your backyard use a face lift? What’s holding you back from building your own paver patio?