Category Archives: LIFE AND MONEY

All things to help you with life and money – real estate, buying and selling, cars, insurance, life insurance, lifestyle, debt, student loans, credit cards, mortgages, and more!

Buying More Stuff Won’t Make You Happy

Do more. Work harder. Jump higher. Go faster. Phrases like these illustrate just how obsessed with increase our culture has become. Holiday spending, Black Friday/Cyber Monday, and overall consumption in general prove that we are a culture primarily focused on material possessions. If you’ve bought into the hype and spend your time and money striving to accumulate more and more, you need to know the truth: Buying more stuff won’t make you happy.

I’ll be the first to admit that happiness is one of the greatest mysterious of life. It comes and goes seemingly as it pleases, often without any obvious reason. And when it inevitably goes, human nature leads me to medicate the pain with stuff. But I’ll also be quick to admit that my human nature has led me down the wrong path many times in life, so it probably shouldn’t be trusted.

In a culture obsessed with increase, everyone wants more and thinks it will make them happier. But the truth is buying more stuff won't make you happy. Real happiness and contentment is deeper and lasting. When it comes down to it, each of us has a choice to make: will we live a life focused on accumulating more possessions with the goal of increasing our happiness, or will we learn to find authentic happiness in other places?

Take a moment and think back on some of the birthday gifts you desperately wanted as a kid. I’m talking about the gifts that you truly thought would change your life forever, like a new bike, video game system, or special toy.

Do you still have that item today? I didn’t think so.

Logically, it follows that your happiness wasn’t really dependent on that one special thing after all.

So why do we buy more and more even though stuff won’t us happy?

The short answer: we’re looking for the quick fix of adrenaline that buying things provides.

The long answer: we don’t understand the true nature of what makes us happy.

When you buy that new car, trendy pair of imported shoes, or new house, it is often for the wrong reasons: making a statement, impressing others, trying to fill an emotional void, or suppressing other feelings.

On the other hand, if you’ve planned ahead, spent within your budget and means, and truly value the items you’ve purchased, then that is a wise purchase. The difference lies in self-understanding and developing an accurate picture of what you value most.

Why Buying More Stuff Won’t Make You Happy

The bottom line is that more often than not buying more stuff won’t make you happy. Check out the following reasons to see for yourself why this is true.

More stuff leads to more responsibility

Sometimes my wife and I like to walk our dogs along a trail near some of the largest homes in our neighborhood. It usually leads to a discussion about what it must be like to live in such a large home.

Not everyone will share our viewpoint, but it is undeniable that living in a larger home and having more possessions leads to more responsibility. Psychology shows us that people thrive when their responsibilities provide them with purpose in life, but the opposite is true when too many responsibilities make people overwhelmed.

Buying more stuff can lead to debt

Have you ever heard someone say, “I’m so happy to be drowning in so much credit card and student loan debt! At least I’ve got this sweet pair of Jimmy Choos!”?

No? I haven’t either.

The truth is that many people buy stuff they can’t afford to buy and end up deep in debt. Once the adrenaline rush of that new purchases feds, stress and regret move in quickly.

I like to think that it’s not a coincidence that debt and regret rhyme so nicely.

You are not your possessions

My wife and I watch Friends re-runs now and then, and one of my favorite show moments involves a conversation between Monica and Roger, a psychiatrist. After a long conversation, Roger leaves Monica and Ross, who are sitting at the table eating cookies.

“Mon, um, easy on those cookies, okay? Remember they’ re just food. They’re not love,” Roger says.

We laugh, but the same can be said of the stuff we buy. Remember, they’re just things.

They’re not happiness.

And they certainly don’t define you in any way.

Your stuff won’t make you happy because happiness is deeper.

Your stuff is costly

While a lot of items we buy are expensive, that’s not what I mean by the heading above. Your stuff is truly costing you in more ways than you realize.

For example, if you bought a boat and financed the purchase, the cost goes beyond just the principle and interest payments you make each month. Your time spent earning money to make the payments, missed opportunities to do other things because you have a boat that needs to be used every weekend, and lost time and money to maintenance and repairs are additional costs.

Stuff ties us down

The above example of the boat also illustrates another way stuff won’t make you happy: it leads to obligations and limitations on your life.

I’ve watched friends and family buy campers, motor homes, recreational vehicles, bigger houses, new cars, and yes, boats, only to see the initial euphoria replaced by the sinking feeling of a boat anchor firmly resting at the bottom of a lake.

Put simply, if you buy the wrong stuff, your still will have you.

Emotions change

It is true even for the most-stoic of people – emotions change.

All. The. Time.

This is precisely why it is dangerous to allow your emotions to be dependent on the presence of physical items. Every time the initial rush of a new purchase wears off, you’ll be desperate to replace that feeling.

Too many possessions are not healthy

When you have too many possessions, you cannot possibly use them all. Even if you’re not a hoarder, keeping too many things around starts to affect their utilitarian value.

Many experts recommend getting rid of one or two items for every new item purchased. My wife and I follow this guideline when buying new clothing. We also clean out our closets a few times each year and purge clothes that we haven’t worn in over a year. This decision has made both laundry and planning our clothing choices much easier.

Focusing on possessions leads us to miss out on what is most important

At the end your life, do you think you’ll rest in your final moments and recall the experiences you had with your favorite possessions? Or will you cling to your loved ones, recall special memories with them, and cherish your relationships?

Personally, I don’t fear death, but I do fear reaching the finish line of life and realizing that I lived by the wrong values and priorities. Living a life that worships stuff is a sure-fire way to one day end up old, tired, and full of regret.

If you take away one thing from this article, it should be this: stuff won’t make you happy. 

Please don’t wait until your deathbed to discover that this is true.

What choice will you make?

When it comes down to it, each of us has a choice to make: will we live a life focused on accumulating more possessions with the goal of increasing our happiness, or will we learn to find authentic happiness in other places?

In a culture obsessed with increase, everyone wants more and thinks it will make them happier. But the truth is buying more stuff won't make you happy. Real happiness and contentment is deeper and lasting. When it comes down to it, each of us has a choice to make: will we live a life focused on accumulating more possessions with the goal of increasing our happiness, or will we learn to find authentic happiness in other places?

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.


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.

10 Must-Try Crock Pot Meals On a Budget

Few tools can compare to the money and time saving powers of the Crock Pot. In our household, we use our two Crock Pots several times per week, which saves us from expensive trips to Panera or calling for pizza. We have a steady rotation of Crock Pot meals that we love, and they’re even budget-friendly!

Our 10 Favorite Go-to Crock Pot Meals

In this post, we’re assembling a round-up of 10 of our favorite quick and cheap Crock Pot meals. Some of them are original recipes that my wife and I have created from scratch, and others are tried-and-true recipes created by others that we instantly loved.

Related Reading:

Few tools can top the money and time saving perks of the Crock Pot. Check out these 10 quick, cheap, and delicious Crock Pot meals that everyone will love, including recipes for spaghetti, chicken tacos, beef stew, BBQ meatballs, Cuban Pork, mac and cheese, beef tacos, chicken noodle soup, and chicken tortilla soup. The best part? These recipes are budget-friendly!1. Chicken Tacos

On extremely busy days, chicken tacos are our go-to meal because the ingredients list is very small and prep time is almost non-existent.  The tacos are ready to eat when we get home from work, they’re delicious, and clean-up is a breeze!



-2 pounds chicken breasts or tenderloins
-One jar of salsa (we prefer Simply Nature Organic Thick and Chunky Medium Salsa from Aldi)
-1/4 cup water


1. Place all ingredients in the Crock Pot.
2. Cook on Low setting for 8-10 hours.
3. When cooked, shred chicken using forks.
4. Serve on tortillas with desired ingredients (lettuce, cheese, sour cream, etc.).

2. Crock Pot Spaghetti


When I was young, my aunt made a great spaghetti recipe – sometimes with her Crock Pot, and sometimes on the stove. This recipe from Sarah at Life Should Cost Less is just as good and is very time and budget-friendly!

Here are my favorite aspects of the recipe:

Prep time is only 5 minutes if you’re using pre-browned ground beef
-The noodles cook in the Crock Pot
-Clean-up is a breeze
-You can change up the recipe and use a variety of noodles (bow ties, angel hair, farfalle, etc.)
-You can substitute your favorite sauce or even use homemade sauce

3. Chicken Tortilla Soup


To be 100% honest, I don’t love many soup recipes because they get pretty boring after eating them several days in a row. However, this awesome chicken tortilla soup recipe from Carla Smith never fails to keep my taste buds interested for days on end. It is a perfect mixture of bold, spicy flavors and hearty, satisfying textures.

Technically, this recipe doesn’t fall within the “Crock Pot meals” category. However, you can easily cook the chicken in advance and make the rest of the recipe using your Crock Pot.

4. Ground Beef Tacos



-2 pounds ground beef
-1/2 cup Ketchup (more or less to taste)
-3 tablespoons chili powder (more or less to taste)
-1 teaspon paprika (optional)
-1/2 teaspon Cayenne pepper (optional)


1. Crumble the uncooked ground beef in the Crock Pot
2. Cook on Low for 6-8 hours
3. Drain excess grease and return ground beef to Crock Pot
4. Add desired spices and Ketchup to the ground beef and mix thoroughly
5. Allow ground beef and sauce mixture to warm and thicken slightly (5-10 minutes)
6. Serve on tortillas with desired toppings (lettuce, cheese, sour cream, etc.)

5. Game Day BBQ Meatballs



-2.5 lb bag of frozen, fully-cooked meatballs (or substitute homemade meatballs to save more money!)
-1 jar of Heinz Chili Sauce
-1 jar of generic grape jelly
-(optional) 4 drops of Wright’s Hickory Liquid Smoke


1. Add all ingredients to Crock Pot and cook on low, stirring occasionally

Note: This recipe is a tried and true favorite and may already be a party staple in your family. The addition of liquid smoke adds a unique depth of flavor and adds new life to this classic recipe.

6. Ridiculously Easy Pulled Pork

My wife and I are huge barbecue fanatics, and few Crock Pot meals satisfy the urge for barbecue like this simple pulled pork recipe.



-1 whole pork loin
-1 cup brown sugar, tightly packed
-3 tablespoons chili powder
-1 tablespoon garlic powder
-1 cup water
-(optional) Barbecue sauce of choice
-(optional) 4 drops of Wright’s Hickory Liquid Smoke
Pretzel or ciabatta rolls


1. Place the pork loin in the Crock Pot with the fattiest side down
2. Mix the dry rub ingredients in a bowl and apply liberally to the top side of the pork loin
3. Add the water and liquid smoke to the Crock Pot, making sure to avoid rinsing the dry rub off the pork loin
4. Cook on low for 8-10 hours
5. Remove pork loin from the Crock Pot and shred using forks
6. Place shredded pork back in the Crock Pot and add your desired barbecue sauce (optional)
7. Allow sauce to warm and thicken, then serve on pretzel or ciabatta rolls

7. Boxcar Beef Stew


When my wife was younger she was obsessed with the children’s book series The Boxcar Children. Her mom created this simple Crock Pot meal to get her and her brother to eat their meat and vegetables!


-2 lbs beef stew meat
-4 large carrots, chopped
-1 onion, chopped
-4 celery stalks, chopped
-4 medium potatoes, pealed and cubed
-1 can tomato juice
-1 cup water


1. Add all ingredients to the Crock Pot
2. Cook on low for 8 hours

8. Set and Forget Mac and Cheese


I seriously wish all recipes could be this easy. This simple mac and cheese recipe from Pip and Ebby is as easy as it gets – and it is delicious!

Making this recipe is simple. Follow the link above, throw all of the specified ingredients in your Crock Pot on low, stir occasionally, and serve 2-3 hours later.

Tip: You can spruce this recipe up even more by adding grilled Andouille sausage and fresh cut scallions. 

9. Cuban Pork

Source: Amy at in collaboration with Smithfield

I had never eaten Cuban pork sandwiches until we attended my niece’s first birthday party. Now I fear I may be developing a new obsession.

This recipe from Amy at is very similar to the recipe my brother-in-law used and is every bit as good. I’m seriously drooling just looking at the picture to the right.

My favorite aspect of this and other similar Crock Pot meals is versatility. You can serve this on your favorite rolls, tortillas, or over a bed of lettuce and rice.

10. Chicken Noodle Soup

This is one of our go-to Crock Pot meals simply because it is fast, easy, and doesn’t make an overbearingly high number of servings. You’ll love this chicken noodle recipe on cold winter nights.



-1 lb cooked chicken breast, shredded
-5 cups water
-4 chicken bullion cubes
-1 teaspoon salt
-4 cups egg noodles
-1/3 cup celery, chopped
-1/3 cup carrots, chopped
-2 potatoes, peeled and cubed


1. Pre-cook chicken in oven, grill, or stove top; shred
2. Place all ingredients in Crock Pot
3. Cook on low for 8 hours, stirring occasionally

What are your favorite Crock Pot meals? Share your recipe below in the comments!

Few tools can top the money and time saving perks of the Crock Pot. Check out these 10 quick, cheap, and delicious Crock Pot meals that everyone will love, including recipes for spaghetti, chicken tacos, beef stew, BBQ meatballs, Cuban Pork, mac and cheese, beef tacos, chicken noodle soup, and chicken tortilla soup. The best part? These recipes are budget-friendly!

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 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.

20 Budget-Friendly Whole30 Tips to Save Money

Starting Whole30 for the first or fiftieth time? It can be expensive! We'll show you 20 tips to eat Whole30 on a budget and save money at the same time!Do you ever feel frustrated by how expensive it is to eat a healthy diet? Are you waging a constant battle between your desires to eat well and also be frugal? My wife and I can sympathize. We have tried a number of different diets, and though each one was different, one thing seemed to remain consistent: eating healthy food and eliminating or reducing junk food was incredibly expensive! When we started the Whole30 program for the first time, I braced myself for a big hit to our budget. To my surprise, we were able to eat Whole30 and save money instead of spending more.

Whole30 is a powerful program capable of changing not only your relationship with food but also the relationship between food and money.Whether you’ve tried Whole30 many times or don’t even know what it is yet, I hope that the tips and tricks below will help you and your family try Whole30 without spending your whole paycheck on food.

What is Whole30?

If you are familiar with Whole30, please skip this section – otherwise, read on.

The Whole30 Program has been used by millions of people since 2009. Over the course of 30 days, participants eat only real food and follow only a few fairly common sense restrictions. The payoff? At the end of 30 days you’ll feel much better, and as you slowly reintegrate foods back into your diet, you can find your trigger foods. The Whole30 website describes the program well:

Eat moderate portions of meat, seafood, and eggs; lots of vegetables; some fruit; plenty of natural fats; and herbs, spices, and seasonings. Eat foods with very few ingredients, all pronounceable ingredients, or better yet, no ingredients listed at all because they’re whole and unprocessed.

Participants may NOT eat any of the following items:

  • Added sugar of any kind, real or artificial (honey, agave, Stevia, etc.)
  • Alcohol of any kind, even if used for cooking
  • Grains of any kind
  • Legumes (includes peanut butter)
  • Dairy products of any kind
  • Carrageenan, MSG, or sulfites
  • Imitation baked goods, sweets, or junk foods, even if they are made with 100% approved Whole30 ingredients (i.e. you can’t make pancakes or pizza with approved ingredients)

There are notable exceptions:

  • Natural fruit juice is allowed
  • The following legumes are allowed – Green beans, sugar snap peas, and snow peas
  • Salt (technically, most salt contains sugar, but this is allowed)

If you’ve never experienced Whole30, I get it – it sounds like the worst idea of all time. But if you’re willing to push yourself and make big changes, you can completely change your relationship with food and make major improvements to your health. I’m by no means a doctor or an expert on Whole30 – so take what I have to say at face value and with a grain of salt – but I have seen the program have a great impact on dozens of friends. It worked well for me and my wife, and we still follow many of the guiding principles of the program.

Put simply: Whole30 works.

Frugal Whole30 Tips and Tricks

If you’re ready to eat Whole30 and commit to 30 days of change – great! I’m confident the experience will teach you a lot. My hope is that the following tips and tricks will help you to eat Whole30 while still maintaining frugal habits. They helped us avoid raising our food budget, so I’m confident they can work for you, too.

1. Stay Out of Restaurants

Confession time: I love eating out, so staying out of restaurants was impossible for me. I was able to find Whole30 approved options at a few places, namely Chipotle, but staying out of restaurants and cooking at home is your best bet. You’ll save money and enjoy better meals.

2. Plan Meals At Least One Week in Advance

This principle applies to anyone trying to save money on groceries, so it definitely applies to Whole30 participants – if you don’t have a plan, plan to fail.

Plan all of your meals – breakfast, lunch, and dinner – one week at a time. Make a chart similar to this one and list everything you will need on your shopping list.

3. Buy Diverse Ingredients

This is also a universal meal planning principle. Maintaining stock of diverse, Whole30-approved ingredients will help you in a pinch if, for example, a meal is ruined or you don’t make it out for your next shopping trip. You’ll avoid an unexpected run to Chipotle.

4. Buy Meat in Bulk

Likewise, buying meat in bulk is a majorly frugal way to eat Whole30 without destroying your budget. This is a great time to put your Costco membership to good use.

Eat Whole30 on a budget and save moneyYou can also shop locally when buying meat in bulk and save a ton of money through a free program called Zaycon Fresh.

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 you 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.

5. Buy Frozen Vegetables

Frozen vegetables are a life saver on Whole30. You can often find buy one, get one free sales on many frozen vegetables at your local grocer. Keep a healthy stock of green beans (technically a legume, but Whole30 approved), carrots, broccoli, and other vegetables that can be used in a variety of meals or eaten as a snack.

6. Freeze Nuts

Credit goes to my friend Mrs. Picky Pincher for this tip. If you freeze your Whole30-approved nuts, they will stay fresh for much longer. Nuts are expensive, so don’t waste them!

7. Shop at Aldi

I know it isn’t as cool or trendy as Whole Foods, but 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 and Whole30-approved options, to help shoppers save money on food and live a healthier life.

Aldi is currently investing $1.6 billion to remodel 1,300 of its 1,600 stores by 2020. Low prices won’t be affected by these changes, the company insists.

8. Plate Portions For Your 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? Apparently I do this to my wife all the time.

You can stretch Whole30 meals 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.

9. Eat Salads for Lunch

Eat Whole30 on a budget and save moneyI’m about as close to a carnivore as a person can get, but I started to look forward to my salad at lunch while on Whole30. If you add in a few pieces of grilled chicken, approved nuts, fruits, and even a few dates, you’ll have a satisfying and frugal lunch.

10. Carry a Water Bottle With You Everywhere

Did you know that people often confuse signs of thirst with signs of hunger? Especially while you are trying to eat Whole30, carry a water bottle everywhere. Staying hydrated will help you limit snacks between meals.

11. Eat Lots of Eggs

If you’re like me and don’t care for eggs, this won’t work for you. But my wife ate eggs nearly every day on Whole30. Per serving, eggs are one of the most economical breakfast foods, especially if you buy them in bulk.

12. Buy Whole Chickens

Buying a whole chicken is not as convenient as buying packaged chicken breasts or thighs, but it can save you a lot of money while you eat Whole30.

13. Cook with Olive Oil

Especially when you start to eat Whole30, your body will crave the fats you used to feed it. Olive oil is a healthy fat that also happens to be very budget friendly, so don’t be afraid to use it!

14. Use Spices to Achieve Bold Flavors

If you eat baked chicken, potatoes, and broccoli every day, you’re going to lose your mind. Experiment with new spices to add new twists to every day meals. A few changes here and there can help you create totally different meals to satisfy your food urges and keep you from running out to Chipotle.

Here are a few of our favorites:

15. Bake Your Own Plantain Chips

If you’re a fan of plantain chips, you probably know that they are often expensive at your local grocery store. We used plantain chips to add crunch to Mexican dishes like tacos and pork carnitas, but we didn’t make our own. Next time around we will follow this simple recipe (and omit the sugar).

16. Eat Larabars for Breakfast or Lunch

Not all Larabars are Whole30 approved – so be careful – but I grew to love having a Lemon Bar Larabar for breakfast or lunch most days. Amazon has great prices on Larabars, so set-up a price alert and wait for good deals.

Here is a helpful list of approved Larabars.

17. Don’t Buy Organic Everything

The Whole30 website suggests that organic is the best way to go while on the program, but I don’t believe it is worth blowing up your budget to buy everything organic. If the non-organic alternatives are significantly cheaper, take advantage of the opportunity as long as it doesn’t bother you.

18. Use a Crockpot

If you don’t have a Crockpot, getting one and using it is crucial to Whole30 survival. A Crockpot can make even inexpensive cuts of meat melt in your mouth like butter.

If you already have one, I recommend buying a second. We often used both of ours to cook multiple meals for the week on Sundays. I also highly recommend purchasing a model with a timer function – the few extra dollars are definitely worth it!

19. Use Clarified Ghee

If you’re missing dairy while you eat Whole30, ghee can help cure your urges. We used ghee available at Trader Joe’s a few times each week to help limit our cravings.

20. Chipotle is Your Last Resort

As I’ve hinted at above, Chipotle can be your life-saving line of defense if you’re in a pinch during Whole30. A salad bowl with pork carnitas is 100% Whole30-approved, delicious, and comes in under $10 – which is much less expensive than many other Whole30 options! Just be careful to avoid other meats, as they are cooked in oils which are not Whole30 compliant.

You CAN Eat Whole30 AND Stay on Budget!

Making a decision to take on the Whole30 Program doesn’t have to be a commitment to spend your whole paycheck on food. If you do it the right way, you can improve your health and save money on Whole30.

Whole30 is a powerful program capable of changing not only your relationship with food but also the relationship between food and money. Whether you’re about to try Whole30 for the first or fiftieth time,  I hope that the tips and tricks above will help you stay frugal at the same time. 

Have you tried the Whole30 Program? Did you enjoy it?

I’ve you’ve tried Whole30, did you spend more money on food? What tips and tricks helped you save money?

Starting Whole30 for the first or fiftieth time? It can be expensive! We'll show you 20 tips to eat Whole30 on a budget and save money at the same time!

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.


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.

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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.


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, which usually helped us eat out for under $20.


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!


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:


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.


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 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 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.


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.


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?

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