Living Richly on a Budget http://www.livingrichlyonabudget.com Mon, 28 Jul 2014 05:27:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 How to Turn an Old Cell Phone into a Working Phone http://www.livingrichlyonabudget.com/turn-old-cell-phone-working-phone http://www.livingrichlyonabudget.com/turn-old-cell-phone-working-phone#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 05:23:39 +0000 http://www.livingrichlyonabudget.com/?p=14821 Do you have old, deactivated cell phones lying around? What can you do with them besides sell them? How about turning them into a working phone and texting options, for no cost? This could be your new “landline” phone. My husband has been doing this for years. He found an app called Talkatone, that will turn […] Read more...

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Do you have old, deactivated cell phones lying around? What can you do with them besides sell them?

How about turning them into a working phone and texting options, for no cost? This could be your new “landline” phone.

My husband has been doing this for years. He found an app called Talkatone, that will turn your old Android, iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad into a working phone. And they even give you a free, local phone number!

turn old cell phone into working phone

Here’s what you get:

  • Free phone number
  • Free texting
  • Free incoming calls
  • Up to 20 minutes of outbound calls, free. Add 60 minutes for $.99.

What’s the catch?

  • You need to be on WIFI for this to work. This is a VOIP (Voice Over IP) service.
  • There are Ads. You can pay a small fee to remove them.
  • Voice quality is not the greatest.

Scenarios to use this for:

Replace your landline. Of course, there are some situations when it’s great to have a landline, like in an emergency situation. It’s great to not have to search for a cell phone when you have to make an emergency call quickly. Landlines are attached to a cord so there always in the same spot and are easy to access.

Business line. This is a great option for an inexpensive business line. Check the voice quality first.

Traveling overseas. If you’re traveling overseas, assuming you have a Talkatone U.S. number, call or text any U.S. number free over WIFI (within your 20 free credits for outbound calls). Avoid the roaming and international call fees.

What do you use for your phone service? Do you use Talkatone or another service?

Photo Credit: Gonzalo Baeza H via Flickr

 

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Get These Gorgeous New Printables – Free! http://www.livingrichlyonabudget.com/get-gorgeous-new-printables-free http://www.livingrichlyonabudget.com/get-gorgeous-new-printables-free#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 17:07:29 +0000 http://www.livingrichlyonabudget.com/?p=14795 Over the past few weeks, I have been working hard on some things. First, this site got a new face lift (a good one). Most of the ads have been removed and coupons are gone. I hope you don’t miss them. Next, I have brand new, gorgeous printables for you! Get 2 Free Gifts when […] Read more...

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Over the past few weeks, I have been working hard on some things. First, this site got a new face lift (a good one).

Most of the ads have been removed and coupons are gone. I hope you don’t miss them. Next, I have brand new, gorgeous printables for you!

Get 2 Free Gifts when you subscribe to my weekly email newsletter. Unsubscribe at anytime.

Here’s what you’ll get:

1. Monthly Guide to Grocery Sales

Know every month, ahead of time what will be on sale. This guide includes fresh fruit and vegetables that will be in season so you can plan out your meals. With or without coupons, you’ll save on your groceries with this guide.

Grocery Sales Thumbnail 2

2. Weekly Menu Planner

Is planning your meals getting boring and monotonous? Have more fun with meal planning with this beautiful planner.

It has more space to fill in your meals. Whether you want to plan breakfast, lunch, and dinner or just dinner, this planner will work for you.

Menu Planner Thumbnail

Subscribe for my free printables:

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25 Things Worth Buying at Dollar Tree http://www.livingrichlyonabudget.com/25-things-worth-buying-at-dollar-tree http://www.livingrichlyonabudget.com/25-things-worth-buying-at-dollar-tree#comments Tue, 15 Jul 2014 00:03:15 +0000 http://www.livingrichlyonabudget.com/?p=14730 Dollar Tree is a fun place to shop. You can get a lot for not much money. If you go at the right time, you can score awesome deals. For instance, late January and early February is a good time to get those kid’s Valentine’s Day cards. Go a few days before Valentine’s Day and they’ll be sold out. And August […] Read more...

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Dollar Tree is a fun place to shop. You can get a lot for not much money.

If you go at the right time, you can score awesome deals. For instance, late January and early February is a good time to get those kid’s Valentine’s Day cards.

Go a few days before Valentine’s Day and they’ll be sold out. And August is the prime time to stock up on back-to-school supplies and calendars.

For seasonal items, the key is to go weeks before the new season or before a holiday to find the best selection. The only thing that I don’t buy here is food but that’s my personal preference.

things worth buying dollar tree

25 Things Worth Buying at Dollar Tree

1. Cards

At Dollar Tree, cards are 2 for $1. You can beat that price anywhere! These cards are the same brands and quality that you’d find in a card store or drugstore.

2. Balloons

Mylar balloons, the ones that last for weeks, are totally worth buying here. Any other place will charge $2 or more for a balloon.

3. Gift Bags

We always go to Dollar Tree for their wide assortment of gift bags. They cost $5 – $10 elsewhere so we don’t even think about going anywhere else.

4. Calendars (available in August)

When I found calendars at Dollar Tree, I felt like I scored big time! I used to spend $10 – $20 on a calendar. Now I just pay a $1!

Plus, they have the month-to-month planning calendars that usually cost $4 or more at the office supply store.

5. Children’s Toothbrushes

My daughter chews through her toothbrushes pretty quickly, like every month. I love that I can get her toothbrushes 2 for $1.

6. Hair Accessories

Hair clips and hair ties tend to get lost around the house. The hair ties are the same quality as the ones at the drugstore. The hair clips might not be the same quality, but they still work for us.

7. Back to School Supplies

120 page, 3 subject notebooks and composition books are a great buy in August. Although Walmart may have a lower price during their back-to-school sale, they are 1 subject notebooks.

Notebooks at Dollar Tree are still cheaper than the drugstore.

8. Cleaning Supplies

Where else can you find brooms, buckets, bleach for $1?

dollar tree favorites

9. Storage Containers

Dollar Tree always has different kinds of storage containers in various colors.

10. Holiday Decorations

I love, love Dollar Tree for holiday decorations. I have found the cutest things for Christmas and Halloween.

11. Seasonal Items

In May, my daughter and I got sand toys, a bubble set, and kid’s sunglasses. They also had hoola hoops, flip flips, and pool noodles. I try to go early in the season to grab the best selection as they tend to sell out quickly.

12. Party Decorations

Dollar Tree has a huge party decoration aisle. You can find different themed napkins, paper plates, and invitations here.

13. Coloring Books

I always browse the selection of coloring books on my visits to Dollar Tree. Last time, they had Hello Kitty.

14. Teacher Supplies

I’m sure teachers know about Dollar Tree. But I had no idea that there were so many teaching items available. The alphabet and numbers set are great for teaching my daughter.

15. Overstock Books

On every visit, I make sure to check the books. One time I found the perfect hardcover book for my in-laws.

16. Mugs

There’s no reason to spend more than $1 on a mug.

17. Mailing supplies

Manila envelopes, padded envelopes, and mailing envelopes are worth buying at Dollar Tree.

18. Straws

My daughter goes through drinking straws pretty fast. And 180-ct for $1 is a good deal.

19. Stickers

This is the only place I go for stickers. I love the selection of characters as well.

20. Foam Boards

For art projects, you can find good sized foam core at Dollar Tree.

21. Kid’s Cold Packs

They have the cutest shaped cold compresses for kids.

22. Pregnancy Tests

These basic pregnancy tests work just as well as the more expensive electronic ones.

23. Gift Wrap

Dollar Tree has a great selection of gift wrap.

24. Microfiber Cleaning Cloths

These cleaning cloths work well for cleaning glasses or dusting monitors.

25. Stocking Stuffers

Lastly, Dollar Tree is THE place to go for stocking stuffers and small gift baskets.

What are your Dollar Tree favorites?

 

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10 Things You May Not Know About Me http://www.livingrichlyonabudget.com/10-thing-may-know http://www.livingrichlyonabudget.com/10-thing-may-know#comments Tue, 08 Jul 2014 02:29:08 +0000 http://www.livingrichlyonabudget.com/?p=14616 If you have been reading my blog for awhile, you’ve probably noticed some subtle changes. I am only posting once a week so that I have more time to work on other projects. Gone are the sponsored posts and promotional posts. This is not a coupon blog anymore. In its place, the focus will be on […] Read more...

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If you have been reading my blog for awhile, you’ve probably noticed some subtle changes.

I am only posting once a week so that I have more time to work on other projects.

Gone are the sponsored posts and promotional posts.

This is not a coupon blog anymore.

In its place, the focus will be on more meaningful, thoughtful posts that will help you save money, make money, and make the most of what you have.

Goodbye to the old blog and hello to the new. As I refocus, I want to reintroduce myself to you.
carrying ukulele

10 Things You May Not Know About Me

1. I’m a huge UFC fan. It’s probably the only sport I follow. I like the strategy and skill involved. With the inclusion of women now for title fights, it makes it more exciting to watch! I want to see a live fight one day.

2. I play guitar and ukulele. And, I got to meet my guitar and ukulele idols – Lisa Loeb and Jake Shimabukuro, respectively. Wow!

3. I need to sleep at least 9 hours a day to feel well rested. I wish I could get away with less.

4. After my daughter was born, I developed multiple severe food allergies. And I had just moved to a new city. It was an isolating and difficult time because I was afraid to eat out or let someone else prepare my food. The good news is, I found a way to get better. Now I can eat everything again but I don’t feel the same way about food anymore. This experience inspired me to write 2 books – Eating Organic on a Budget and Eating Gluten-Free on a Budget. ukulele 5. For almost a year, I didn’t eat sugar, wheat, dairy, or fruit. It was part of the strict diet that helped me heal from food allergies.

6. My degree is in Radio and TV Broadcasting. And yes, it’s a real major.

7. I was a wedding videographer for 5 years.

8. I am gluten-free and dairy-free most of the time.

9. It annoys me when people complain about their situation but don’t do anything to improve it.

10. I am passionate about all things related to natural health and holistic healing. Acupuncture, chiropractic work, and nutrition response testing helped me overcome a lot.

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101 Free or Low Cost Things to Do with Your Kids This Summer http://www.livingrichlyonabudget.com/free-things-to-do-with-kids http://www.livingrichlyonabudget.com/free-things-to-do-with-kids#comments Sat, 28 Jun 2014 16:41:18 +0000 http://www.livingrichlyonabudget.com/?p=14280 Summer is here! Are you looking for free things to do with your kids? How will you keep them entertained? Before the days of the Internet, we did lots of low-tech activities. I certainly built a fort, had a scavenger hunt, and made home movies. Share these with your kids to build fun memories. Unplug and enjoy. Check out my […] Read more...

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Summer is here! Are you looking for free things to do with your kids?

How will you keep them entertained? Before the days of the Internet, we did lots of low-tech activities.

I certainly built a fort, had a scavenger hunt, and made home movies. Share these with your kids to build fun memories.

Unplug and enjoy. Check out my list of free or cheap things to do with your kids to have fun.

101 things to do with your kids this summer

  1. Go to a museum or aquarium. Check your local library for free passes.
  2. Make a rubber band guitar.
  3. Build a fort.
  4. Bake cookies.
  5. Make popsicles.
  6. Play board games.
  7. Fly a kite.
  8. Make your own play kitchen.
  9. Write stories.
  10. Create your own newspaper or magazine.
  11. Make cartoon flipbooks.
  12. Have a picnic.
  13. Build sandcastles at the beach.
  14. Ride bikes.
  15. Have a scavenger hunt.
  16. Plant a garden.
  17. Make your own movie with your phone camera or video camera and edit on computer.
  18. Camp in the yard.
  19. Build the longest flying paper airplane.
  20. Make a sailboat out of a laundry basket.
  21. Make a comic book.
  22. Put together a scrapbook.
  23. Make homemade cards with rubber stamps.
  24. Visit the library and get free books from the Summer Reading Program.
  25. Check Groupon for deals on kid’s activities.
  26. Get a discounted family membership to a theme park, aquarium, or zoo with a Groupon.
  27. Have a dance party.
  28. Go to a park with a water play feature.
  29. Visit the pet store.
  30. Watch a movie on DVD and make popcorn.
  31. Build a cardboard castle.
  32. Visit friends or family.
  33. Play hide-and-seek.
  34. Attend a free workshop.
  35. Visit a construction site.
  36. Go bowling (kids bowl free).
  37. Visit a farm.
  38. Visit the zoo.
  39. Learn magic tricks.
  40. Make ice cream or frozen yogurt.
  41. Ride a train or bus.
  42. Write letters and mail them.
  43. Make a care package for a soldier.
  44. Make your own indoor ball pit.
  45. Make your own pizza.
  46. Brew ice tea.
  47. Play frisbee.
  48. Make s’mores.
  49. Pitch a tent in the living room and “camp” indoors.
  50. Go to story time or movie events at the library.
  51. Teach the kids to play chess.
  52. Finger paint.
  53. Catch bugs.
  54. Make your own playdough.
  55. Bake a cake or cupcakes and decorate.
  56. Build a volcano with clay, baking soda, and vinegar.
  57. Have a tea party.
  58. Feed the birds.
  59. Go fruit picking.
  60. Play card games.
  61. Make a Chinese rubber band rope and play Chinese jump rope.
  62. Play Jacob’s ladder with just a string.
  63. Make a paper fortune teller.
  64. Make a paper ninja star.
  65. Make an origami dollar ring.
  66. Make an origami dollar shirt.
  67. Play Jianzi or Chinese Hacky Sack.
  68. Make tissue paper flowers.
  69. Play the Asian bean bag toss game (Otedama), similar to jacks, and sew your own bean bags filled with rice.
  70. Create paper plate masks.
  71. Make paper dolls and clothes using these free printable templates.
  72. Play store with paper money printables.
  73. Make shadow box puppets (printables for Bambi with background).
  74. Pick flowers and make a necklace.
  75. Learn simple secret codes.
  76. Make paper boats and float them in water.
  77. Make your own ballerina tutu (no sewing needed).
  78. Play with stacking cups.
  79. Ripping magazines, great for toddlers.
  80. Play Mancala with an empty egg carton and beans.
  81. Make a sand castle out of cornmeal dough.
  82. Put together a sensory box.
  83. Make balloon animals.
  84. Make cardboard trains or cars.
  85. Make a cardboard play house.
  86. Make a cardboard pinball machine.
  87. Make a cardboard dollhouse.
  88. Make a cardboard aquarium.
  89. Make a cardboard pirate ship.
  90. Make a straw flute.
  91. Make a coffee can drum.
  92. Create your own sandbox.
  93. Use sidewalk chalk to draw a racetrack or hopscotch layout.
  94. Make a marble launch with a pool noodle.
  95. Make Star Wars light sabers out of pool noodles!
  96. Make Lincoln Logs out of toilet paper rolls.
  97. Play frisbee golf with laundry baskets.
  98. Make frisbees out of paper plates.
  99. Make a marble maze out of drinking straws and a shoebox lid.
  100. Have a spy training day.
  101. Make giant bubbles.

I’ve done more than half of these as a child. Which one is your favorite?

 

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20 Legitimate Ways to Make $100 in a Day http://www.livingrichlyonabudget.com/20-ways-make-100-day http://www.livingrichlyonabudget.com/20-ways-make-100-day#comments Mon, 23 Jun 2014 07:31:47 +0000 http://www.livingrichlyonabudget.com/?p=14659 If you had a way to make $100 in a day, would that help with bills? What about building an emergency, retirement, or college fund? Stay positive and open to different opportunities and you’ll find that it’s not hard to make extra money. You have the power to earn more money than you think. And you have […] Read more...

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If you had a way to make $100 in a day, would that help with bills?

What about building an emergency, retirement, or college fund?

Stay positive and open to different opportunities and you’ll find that it’s not hard to make extra money.

You have the power to earn more money than you think.

And you have inherent skills to get you there.

You have try different things to figure that out and know that you can do it.

It’s not impossible. It is possible!

Once you earn that first $100, the next $100 won’t be that hard, will it?

You’ll be shocked at how much these ordinary side jobs can earn real money. Here are 20 legitimate ways to make $100 in a day.

ways to earn 100 in day

SERVICES

1. Babysitting

Most people don’t think of babysitting as a viable way to earn money. Change the way you think about it and you can earn over $100 in a day.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, babysitters earn anywhere from $10 – $30 an hour. Two of my friends who work in childcare full-time, have babysat after hours or on weekends for the kids they take care of during the day at school or daycare. They have earned $30 an hour because the parents trust them over other babysitters, since their kids know them well.

If you decorate your house or apartment to look like a daycare, with lots of toys and child-friendly decor, and people know you are good with kids, you can charge $15-$20/hour. Babysit 2 kids for 3.5 hours and you will make over $100.

There is a real need for childcare. Even busy stay-at-home-moms need extra help.

Start with offering your services to friends on Facebook.

2. Pet Sitting

Pet owners treat their pets as their own kids. They need to find people they trust to take care of their pets when they are out of town.

If you love animals, this is for you. Check out sittercity.com.

3. House Cleaning

Believe it or not, cleaning houses can earn $100 a day. It’s not glamorous but it’s a service that people are willing to pay for.

When I was moving out of my apartment, I paid $250 for 2 people to clean our 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, kitchen, and living room.

They cleaned the blinds and windows too. And it took them 4 hours.

I gladly paid this because I didn’t have time to clean as I was still moving stuff out. If I did this myself, it would have taken me over 8 hours!

It’s a lot of hard work but anyone can do this – you included! All you need is cleaning products, rags, broom, and a vaccuum cleaner.

4. Photography

Photography is a popular hobby nowadays. If you already own the equipment and can shoot professional photos, you can earn extra income.

Do one portrait session for 2 hours and you will earn $100.

5. Painting Rooms

Know how to paint rooms? There is a need for this service, especially for landlords who are changing tenants and new homeowners.

Earn $100 – $200 per room and charge for the cost of the paint.

6. Gardening or Yard Work

Gardening and yard work are much needed services. Do 2 to 3 jobs in a day and you’ll earn your $100.

7. Graphic Design

Businesses need logos, brochures, flyers, and other materials designed. You can charge by the hour or a flat rate. See here for tips on how to price your work.

8. Website Design/Set up

Many small businesses need help with setting up a simple website. If you are a WordPress pro, then this could be an option for you.

9. Driver

Have you heard of Lyft and Uber? As a part-time driver, you can earn up to $35/hr. Within 3-4 hours, you will earn $100.

Check to see if it’s available in your area.

10. Hair and Makeup Services

Are you talented with creating hairstyles and applying makeup? In our area, hair and makeup services for weddings cost $125 – $500.

11. Return Past Purchases

A quick way to get $100 is to return something you recently purchased. As long as you have the receipt, the products still have tags and are new, and you’re within the return period, you’re golden! Return the items and use the money for your bills.

12. Bartending

Bartenders for weddings and special events earn $100 per gig. If you are good at making drinks and love parties, this is for you.

13. Home Repairs

If you can do home repairs, you can easily earn $100 in a few hours.

14. Garbage Removal

Do you have a truck? Earn money by hauling junk to the dumpster.

15. Tutoring

Professional tutors make anywhere from $30 – $50 an hour. In a few hours, with a few clients, you can make $100.

16. Rent Out a Room

If you live in popular cities like San Francisco or New York and live near top tourist attractions, it won’t be hard to rent out a spare room or house to tourists. Check for restrictions from your landlord (if you’re a renter).

Airbnb has made this very popular. Check out potential guests carefully as some have used these spaces for seedy purposes.

SELL STUFF

17. Garage Sale

Holding a garage sale is a quick way to not only earn extra cash but get rid of clutter.

18. Sell Old Cell Phones

Sell your old cell phones for cash at gazelle.com. They even take broken iPhones!

19. Resell Unused Gift Cards

Do you have gift cards that you know you’ll never use? Check to see how much they’re worth at cardpool.com.

Earn up to 92% of the value without having to mail the cards. It’s done electronically.

20. Sell Stuff on craigslist or eBay

Don’t forget the old tried and true way of selling things. Items that are rare and in demand will sell quicker and for more money.

Finally, use these as ideas and think about your skill set. What have you done to earn extra cash?

Photo Credit: 401k Calculator

 

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Free Stuff from the Summer Reading Program at the Library http://www.livingrichlyonabudget.com/summer-reading-program-library http://www.livingrichlyonabudget.com/summer-reading-program-library#comments Mon, 16 Jun 2014 19:15:28 +0000 http://www.livingrichlyonabudget.com/?p=14651 The Summer Reading Program at your local library has started and ends in August. Have you heard about it? On our last visit, while we were checking out our books and DVDs at the desk, the librarian asked us if we had heard of the Summer Reading Program. It sounded fun so we signed up. […] Read more...

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The Summer Reading Program at your local library has started and ends in August.

Have you heard about it?

On our last visit, while we were checking out our books and DVDs at the desk, the librarian asked us if we had heard of the Summer Reading Program.

It sounded fun so we signed up.

And upon signing up, I was surprised to learn that my daughter got to choose a FREE brand new book to take home from the Summer Reading Program cart, pictured below.

 

summer reading program library

There were books for toddlers to Teens like Diary of a Wimpy Kid. We found a book that was perfect for her – Good Night, Good Night, Construction Site.

It is a New York Times Best Seller, highly rated on Amazon, and is worth more than $10!

Sheesh, even I wanted to sign up just to get a FREE book! Imagine that, going to the library to borrow books and ending up with a FREE book to take home and keep.

The Summer Reading Program encourages kids to read on a regular basis. When we signed up, we got a sheet with shapes to fill out each time my daughter read for 20 minutes.

summer reading library

Of course, since she is just 3, I read to her. When she has done this 15 days, she can return to the library to claim a prize, a hand puppet.

When she reaches 30 days of reading, she can get pick out another free book and enter a raffle for several prize baskets and a $1,000 scholarship!

Each library is doing something different. Some even include adults in the Summer Reading Program and hold a weekly raffle for prizes.

Check out your local library for details.

 

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3 Meal Planning Apps That Will Make Life Easier http://www.livingrichlyonabudget.com/meal-planning-apps http://www.livingrichlyonabudget.com/meal-planning-apps#comments Mon, 09 Jun 2014 08:34:29 +0000 http://www.livingrichlyonabudget.com/?p=14623 If you’ve been reading frugal living blogs long enough, they all say the same thing about how to save money on groceries and meal planning. Check your pantry before you go shopping, use food before it spoils, plan your shopping trips, and use coupons. Be honest. Do you all of these things? Ok, Ok, I’m guilty. […] Read more...

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If you’ve been reading frugal living blogs long enough, they all say the same thing about how to save money on groceries and meal planning.

Check your pantry before you go shopping, use food before it spoils, plan your shopping trips, and use coupons.

Be honest. Do you all of these things?

Ok, Ok, I’m guilty. Please don’t judge.

I haven’t been meal planning like I’m supposed to.

I sometimes buy duplicates of what’s already in my pantry.

And many times, I run out of the house… (gasp) without coupons!

As a stay at home mom (with an active 3 year old) who also works at home, I find it challenging to stay on top of bills, chores, my work, and cooking with the limited spare time that I have, much less watch TV.

My focus is making sure that she is fed food that she is not allergic to and is healthy. And that’s a lot! I cook all of her meals because of her multiple food allergies.

That’s why I need the time that I’m devoting to meal planning to be super productive. I need something that works, will save me time, and will not overcrowd my already busy, mommy mind.

I only want to shop once a week too. And this plan needs to work with special diets like for gluten-free, dairy-free.

From the feedback I have received from email subscribers, you are looking for solutions as well. So I’ve chosen to list 3 resources so as not to overwhelm you.

The meal planning apps/sites have a small cost but you’ll recoup it with the money you’ll save by not wasting food and buying only what you’ll need. My hope is that you can use one of these resources to make meal planning easier to stick with.

3 Meal Planning Apps

1. Out of Milk (Web, Android, and iPhone)

http://www.outofmilk.com

Cost: Free

Manage your pantry.

Out of Milk is a free app that helps you take stock of what’s in your pantry and how much is left. This way you won’t buy the same thing twice! It also reminds you when something

Plan out your shopping trip.

Then there’s a shopping list feature that stores the price of each item and quantity you need. Before you head out to the grocery store, use this list to see how much your shopping total will be.

It’s really handy for staying within your grocery budget and planning out your trip. There’s also an option to keep track of whether or not you have a coupon for an item.

Find grocery deals in your area.

If that’s not enough, there’s a feature to see grocery deals with exact prices, according to the stores near you.

meal planning apps

2. Cook Smarts (Web)

http://www.cooksmarts.com

Cost: $6 – $8/mo. (Get $5 off first payment here.)

Cook Smarts is a meal planning service. Each week, you’ll receive a menu of recipes for healthy meals and the grocery list.

If you’re too overwhelmed, busy, and exhausted to think about menu planning, this site is for you. Cook Smarts is well organized with gorgeous photos of each recipe and cooking videos.

The planning work is done for you. All you have to do is shop for the ingredients and cook the recipes.

What I love is that each recipe has a gluten-free, vegetarian, and Paleo version to suit different dietary needs. Check out the free sample meal plan to see if it will work for you.

Best of all, it helps you to learn how to cook or expand your cooking repertoire. Please note that there are only 4 recipes per week.

Save $5 off on a monthly, quarterly, or annual subscription, when you use this referral link.

3. Plan to Eat (Web)

http://www.plantoeat.com

Cost: $4.95/mo.

Plan to Eat is also a meal planning site but what makes it special is that you can store recipes from the web and add it to the menu planner section. This is great for those who want full control of meal planning and want to try online recipes.

The menu planner looks like a calendar with a month’s view. Plan breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a snack by typing in the name of the meal or dragging the recipe you’ve already saved.

When you’re adding to the menu planner, you have the option to also add ingredients directly to your shopping list. You can also edit the serving size of the recipes.

Which app or site do you use for meal planning?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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How to Create an Airtight Budget in 2 Easy Steps http://www.livingrichlyonabudget.com/how-to-create-an-airtight-budget-in-2-easy-steps http://www.livingrichlyonabudget.com/how-to-create-an-airtight-budget-in-2-easy-steps#comments Mon, 02 Jun 2014 15:00:59 +0000 http://www.livingrichlyonabudget.com/?p=4810 If you’ve ever created a budget and then failed to stick with it, you’re in good company. Plenty of people have struggled with budget creation. This will be true from now until the end of time. It’s difficult to pre-plan something as complex as finances and expect to stay on target consistently. One reason people […] Read more...

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If you’ve ever created a budget and then failed to stick with it, you’re in good company.

Plenty of people have struggled with budget creation.

This will be true from now until the end of time.

It’s difficult to pre-plan something as complex as finances and expect to stay on target consistently.

One reason people fail when creating budgets is that they have no idea how much they normally spend in a month.

We can take educated guesses, but if we’re off, our entire budget gets thrown. That becomes discouraging, and eventually leads to us abandoning it.

Thankfully, there is a way to get everything in order before you make your budget that will not only make it easier to create, but also help you adhere to it.

All it takes is two steps and one overarching theme.

create airtight budget

Step 1: Take Inventory

If you don’t know how much you spend every month, you will struggle to create a realistic budget. In the past it was much easier to remain in touch with monthly spending habits.

We had to write down balances in checkbooks, and we had physical stores of cash that slowly dwindled. Today, though, we deal mostly with virtual currency. That creates a degree of separation between us and our money, which makes it difficult to get a hold of our spending habits.

There are ways to combat this, though, and we can use modern technology to our advantage. If you have a smartphone, the solution is easy.

There are plenty of smartphone apps that make it easy to record your expenses. If you don’t want to spend money on an app — and no frugal person would if there were a reasonable and free alternative — you can just use a notepad app.

If you don’t have a smartphone, no big deal. You can just carry around a small notebook or use these personal finance worksheets. The idea remains the same however you choose to approach it.

Here’s the challenge: For one full month, write down every expenditure you make. If you buy a pack of gum from the convenience store, write it down.

Fueling up? Write it down. No matter how large or small the expense, no matter how expected or unexpected, write it down.

Do this for a full month, and you’ll have a good data set that you can work with.

Writing down your expenditures will accomplish two goals.

First, it will give you a basis for your budget. You’ll actually have hard data on how much money left your hands, so you’ll know what’s reasonable and what’s not.

Second, it will make you think twice about spending. When you buy something, you’ll know that you have to face the notebook.

That expense has to get recorded. It might make you re-think some purchases before you make them.

Step 2: Create The Budget

Only after you have an idea of how much you spend can you start to create your budget. If you’re reading Living Richly On A Budget, chances are you’re familiar with how to create a budget.

But here are just a few pointers that will come in handy when you create yours — the one you stick with.

  • Fixed and regular expenses first. There’s no reason to start with groceries or entertainment. Start with recurring expenses, such as mortgage/rent, cable, electricity, and other things you have to pay every month.
  • Pay yourself. This is quite an under-looked aspect of budgeting. There is no way to get out of the fixed expenses, so they go first. But after that, it’s important to pay yourself. Maybe you can’t pay yourself much at first, but make sure that you’re siphoning money into a savings account every month. That money will come in handy down the road.
  • Overbudget where possible. There are many regular, recurring costs that aren’t quite predictable. Transportation costs, for instance, will vary with the price of fuel and with your frequency of travel. It’s best to overshoot this by a little bit, just to be sure you don’t go over.
  • Create an emergency fund. This is tough, especially if your budget is tight. But it’s necessary to create an emergency fund for items you don’t count on your budget (because you can’t foresee them). If necessary, use the funds you’d normally pay yourself to build up an emergency fund, at least at first.

In addition to these tips, another important point is to remember that a budget is a fluid thing. That is, by necessity you will go over some months and fall under some months.

In the cases where you go over, it’s important to not get frustrated. It happens. Just focus on coming in under budget the next month.

If you go over, don’t rush to spend that cash. Put it in the emergency fund.

That way, if you go over the next month you’ll still even out during the two-month period. That gives you a clean slate heading into the third month.

With all of these tips and suggestions in place, we move onto the overarching theme of any budget creation:

Remain Flexible

Planning is great. It gives us a greater degree of control over our lives. Yet at the same time, adhering to a strict plan, without bending, can become counterproductive.

Circumstances change constantly, and we need to be ready for when that happens to us. When you create your budget, keep in mind that it is a living document, and that it might need to change as the month moves along.

Remaining flexible means not being married to the same budget every month. Over time things do change, and you might need money in one area and not in another.

The analogy I like to use is smart grid energy. Power companies use smart grids to deliver power where it’s needed, when it’s needed. To do this, they draw power away from areas that don’t need it at the time.

Your budget should adhere to that principle. If you find that you’re consistently over-budgeting your fuel costs, but your work clothes are starting to look shabby, move some of those fuel funds to clothing.

You can also draw from other funds, at least temporarily, if necessary. It all works on a smart grid, with your budget flowing from one point of need to the next.

For years I struggled to get a hold of my finances. It led to some tight situations and some scary possibilities. It wasn’t until I created a deeper connection with my spending habits that I was able to set a realistic budget — and then stick with it.

Following this two-step method and remembering to always remain flexible has turned around my financial life. I can’t imagine going back to the old ways.

This guest post was written by Joe Pawlikowski.

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30 Real Ways to Start a Small Business http://www.livingrichlyonabudget.com/30-ways-to-start-a-home-business http://www.livingrichlyonabudget.com/30-ways-to-start-a-home-business#comments Thu, 29 May 2014 15:00:33 +0000 http://www.livingrichlyonabudget.com/?p=13406 For many, it is a dream to start a small business. Being your own boss, having the freedom to try out new ideas and the possibility of earning more than a desk job are enticing. Although having a small business isn’t for everyone, it’s something to think about when you need to earn extra money […] Read more...

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For many, it is a dream to start a small business.

Being your own boss, having the freedom to try out new ideas and the possibility of earning more than a desk job are enticing.

Although having a small business isn’t for everyone, it’s something to think about when you need to earn extra money to pay bills or pay off debt.

Small businesses are inherently risky and may take time to earn a profit. With that in mind, keep your costs low in the start up stages and choose a business that doesn’t require a large investment in equipment or tools.

Most of these jobs don’t require special training and can be done part-time. This is a great way of testing out a small business to see if it is profitable. Then you can decide if it’s worth the risk to transition to full-time.

This is just a short summary of each kind of small business. Please do your own diligence when it comes to adhering to local laws, regulations, and certifications.

30 real ways to start a small business

1. Book Editor

As the self-publishing industry is growing for books and ebooks, there is a growing need for good editors. If you are have strong command of the English language/grammar, excellent attention to detail, and can make suggestions on how to make a book go smoothly from one chapter to the next, then consider this. Reach out to new authors or friends and family members who are writing books.

2. Business Consulting

Do you have a vast amount of business experience and solid business sense? You can help small businesses turn a profit and guide them on how to do it.

3. Catering Service

If your skills are in cooking, food presentation, and organization, have you thought about starting a catering business? There are so many events that hire a catering service, such as weddings, bar/bat mitvahs, baby/wedding showers, corporate events, and more.

Check for regulations in your area about whether or not you can use your own kitchen or need to rent a commercial kitchen. If you’re not ready to invest in linens, tables, and chairs, then you may opt to use the service of a party rental company.

4. Child Care

If you stay at home with your children, the most logical job could be babysitting another child. Start with reaching out to friends and family to see if they need babysitting help. Check out care.com, a website that matches babysitters/nannies with jobs.

Look into regulations, licenses and additional insurance if you plan on having a childcare business at your home.

5. Childproofing Expert

A childproofing expert surveys a home and makes suggestions on how to make it safer for children. They can also install the products for their clients or simply sell the safety equipment.

Childproofing experts have access to safety products not found in stores and can babyproof a house better and faster than parents. Complete childproofing services can cost $300 to $2,500, depending on the size of the home.

Check out the International Association for Child Safety for more info. Look into franchise opportunities too.

6. Cleaning Service

Many households are too busy to keep up with cleaning and require an outside cleaning service. In San Francisco, two house cleaners cost $200 – $280 for the initial cleaning, which could take 3 – 4 hours.

Companies and restaurants need cleaning help too. Focusing on businesses can mean a steady stream of regular, repeat clients.

7. Custom Baby Products

Custom baby products are especially popular now. Can you make diaper cakes, custom hats, personalized onesies, or party favors? This would be perfect for those with arts and crafts skills.

8. Customer Service

When a business needs someone to answer the phone outside of their regular hours because they can’t afford a 24/7 staff, they hire an answering service. With the technology available now, customer service agents can work from home. Other areas included in customer service besides phone are email and instant messaging.

9. DJ (Events)

Providing DJ services can be a full-time or part-time business. DJ’s are needed at weddings, special events, corporate events, and school dances. A professional appearance and demeanor, laptop or turntable, sound equipment, music, and a way to transport equipment are some of the things needed to become an event DJ. Some DJ’s are also MC’s as well so you have to be comfortable speaking to a crowd.

10. Dog Walker

Love dogs? Have you thought about becoming a professional dog walker? This could be a part-time or full-time gig depending on how many clients you get.

You don’t need a degree or a lot of equipment to start small business as a dog walker. You do need to have patience, love walking outside, and willingness to pick up after the dogs. Dog walkers can make $15 – $20 per half hour.

11. Doula 

A doula provides physical and emotional support to a mother before, during, and after birth, as well as keep the mother informed of different options and methods available during labor. You will need to have a flexible schedule as a doula is on-call around the time of their client’s due date. Look into certification at DONA International.

12. Event Planner

Is event planning your specialty? Event planners design and plan out the theme of events as well as coordinate the timing of activities at the event. You can focus your event planning business on weddings and special events, corporate events, fashion shows, and so on.

Can you adjust to last minute changes, work long hours on your feet, and work on nights and weekends? A degree isn’t required to become an event planner but getting certified from trade organizations like the Association of Bridal Consultants and Weddings Beautiful Worldwide or Meeting Professionals International is recommended.

13. Executive Coaching 

An executive coach helps corporate executives become better at their jobs, see themselves more clearly, use their strengths in the best way, and the best way to contribute to their organization’s success.

14. Executive Search/HeadHunter

An executive search consultant recruits candidates for senior and executive positions in organizations. You can specialize in certain industries too.

15. Florist

Do you love putting together flower arrangements and don’t mind working early in the morning? Then look into being a florist.

Flower arrangements are needed for weddings, special events, business offices, and so on. If you want to do weddings and special events, network with other vendors such as photographers, wedding coordinators, and wedding venues.

You don’t need a special degree but if you can train with and assist an established florist, you will gain valuable experience and insider knowledge, such as where the best place to buy flowers at wholesale prices. Also, get a business license so you can buy at wholesale prices.

16. Food Business

This is different than a catering business. Cupcakes, lumpia, and gluten-free cakes are some ideas of food that you can sell to friends and family for special events and holidays.

If you sell to the public, at a farmer’s market, for instance, check to see if there are regulations in your area about using your home kitchen or if you need to rent a commercial kitchen.

17. Freelance Writer

There are so many options for a freelance writer. You can go into copyediting, article writing, ghost writing, blogging, and more.

18. Green Cleaning Service

A green cleaning service is much like a cleaning service except that you use green cleaning products. With a growing number of people sensitive to harsh cleaning agents, people are looking for alternatives, especially if they have children. Research your area to see if there is a demand for green cleaning services.

19. Hair/Makeup Services

A professional hair and makeup business can be done part-time on weekends. Decide whether or not you want to do hair and makeup or one or the other. When I worked in the wedding industry, the going rate in San Francisco ranged from $125 – $500 for both hair and makeup.

Can you do makeup on different skin colors? You can even specialize in doing makeup for Asians, if there is a demand for this in your area. Asian makeup takes a certain skill.

Hair and makeup services are needed for weddings, special events, TV studios, theaters, and fashion shows. Build up a portfolio by working on family and friends. Then network with others in the field.

20. iPad Trainer

Is this a real job? Yes, I have family members who have taken a class on how to use their iPad! Your target audience could Baby Boomers who are have basic computer knowledge and want to learn all the functions and features of the iPad and Apple platform.

You should know the iPad inside out, have lots of patience, and enjoy teaching others. Research where you can teach, such as a community learning center.

21. Life Coach

A life coach helps others bring a fresh perspective to life’s challenges, increased confidence, choose the right career, or better manage relationships. You don’t necessarily need special training but it may give you some structure and connect you with others in the field. Check out International Coach Federation for more info.

22. Meal Delivery

Many families are too busy to have dinner ready every night and need the services of a meal delivery service. The client makes the order with you and sets delivery time. You place the order with the restaurant, pick it up, and deliver it to your client.

Think about negotiating a discounted rate with the restaurant since you’ll be giving them repeat business. Then you can add that to your profit. Also, add a delivery fee.

Focus on which restaurants you want to work with, obviously, restaurants that don’t already have a delivery service of their own.

23. Music Teacher

Are you an accomplished musician? You could teach piano, guitar, drums, bass, flute, or any other instrument. Some music teachers teach at their home or rent a room at a music store. Private lessons range from $25-$50 per half hour.

24. Notary Public

There is a need for notarized documents. A notary public witnesses and authenticates documents. The average fee is $10 per page that needs authenticating.

The minimum requirement is to be 18 years or older and a high school diploma. In order to become a notary public, you’ll need to complete state required training, submit an application with a photo and fingerprints, pass an exam, order notary supplies, and file you bond and take an oath.

25. Party Rental

There are so many things you can rent out with a party rental business. Bouncy houses are popular for kid’s birthday parties and are charged at $90 per rental.

Or you can focus on wedding supplies which includes tables, chairs, tablecloth, plates, utensils, and so on. Chair cover rentals, with different options for colored sashes, is another popular rental business. Factor in the cleaning fee for chair covers in your costs.

Think about how you will transport items and whether or not you need a truck. And look into getting liability insurance.

Be mindful that there will be an initial investment in supplies and it will take time to earn your money back.

26. Pet Trainer

The most sought after pet trainer are dog trainers. But there are also specialists like people who train cats to go bathroom on the toilet! That is such a unique skill.

Volunteer at an animal shelter and sign up for pet training classes first.

27. Photography

The options for professional photographers are varied. You can specialize to baby portraits, family portraits, pet portraits, weddings, special events, corporate work, food, and fashion. You don’t necessarily need to go to school to become a professional photographer. However, you do need to hone your craft, be an expert at lighting, know your camera settings to adjust to any situation, and know how to edit photos.

There will be an initial investment in equipment. If you do weddings, you do have to deal with guests who have fancy cameras and block your shot and deal with restrictions at certain venues.

28. Professional Organizer

A professional organizer solves problems, maximizes space and increases functionality, and creates systems to organize files or financial information. Households and businesses need the services of a professional organizer.

29. Videographer

Videographers are needed for weddings, special events, corporate events, training videos, interviews, commercials, depositions, and so on. You’ll need to invest in video and audio equipment as well as the latest computer and software.

There is no degree required (although this is what I studied in college) but you’ll need to how to film, compose a shot, how to best capture sound, adjust to different lighting situations, and deal with different people.

30. Virtual Assistant

A virtual assistant can do a range of tasks from making travel arrangements and doing research to performing tasks for blog owners, such as blog commenting and answering emails. If you work for yourself, you’ll make twice as much or more than going through an agency.

Independent virtual assistants earn anywhere from $20 to $100 an hour. But if you go through an agency, you’ll only earn $10 – $12.50 an hour.

Bear in mind that you’ll be competing with overseas virtual assistants who are paid a much lower rate. Seek out clients who want a virtual assistant who lives in the U.S.

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