May 6, 2014
by Sara
2 Comments

There’s Cash In Your Closet….

Beauty and a budget

This morning I woke up early with the intention of spring cleaning – but alas things I think of at night aren’t nearly as exciting the next morning, so I thought I’d write about it to encourage some inspiration. I live in a mid century atomic ranch – which I absolutely love since I’m obsessed with the style – but evidently closet space wasn’t a priority for the discerning 1950′s woman. If you’ve ever lived in one of these homes you know what I’m talking about….they put a 6 ft wide hole in the wall and call it closet space.

I keep telling myself its a good thing, makes me only keep the clothes I’ll actually wear (don’t have room for extra!), but throughout the year it also slowly becomes an atomic explosion and I hold my breath every time I open it, hoping nothing topples out on top of me. That’s why once a year I force myself to do a little spring cleaning. Start fresh. (And it gives me an excuse to buy more clothes).

Before I tell you how to find cash in your closet to buy those new clothes, you’ve got to know what you’re letting go of. So pile it up. Try on everything (yes, everything) and make 3 piles – KEEP, MAYBE, and PITCH. Obviously keep the KEEP pile, decide on your MAYBE’s (do they really fit? will you actually wear them? when did you wear them last? can they be tailored?), and follow the tips below for the PITCH pile.

1) Threadflip: This is buy far the most popular of all the fashion resale sites. They’ve got 2 options – you can either send the clothes to them (in a free shipping bag they send you) to sell and ship for you and you keep 60%, or you can list, sell, and ship them yourself and keep 80% of the profit. www.threadflip.com 

2) Poshmark: If you’re into the social media thing, this one might be for you. They’ve got an app and you can list, sell, and shop all from your phone. They take a flat fee for items under $15, and you keep 80% of profit from items over $15. www.poshmark.com 

3) Thredup: If you’ve got barely used items, this is a great place to sell them as they are pretty picky on what clothing they’ll sell. They’ve also got a children’s section if you’ve got a bunch of “worn once” outfits from your kids. They send you a free shipping bag, you pack up your clothes and send them in. They’ve even got a calculator so you have an idea of what to expect as far as pay – you’ll get paid in advance on most items which is a plus since you don’t have to wait for them to sell on the site to get your cash. www.thredup.com

4) Go off the grid. Not into the online thing? Most cities have consignment shops or resale stores. They might accept less of your stuff (since there’s a smaller audience), but you get the “in person” experience and still get the end result – cash in your pocket.

5) Swap it. Know a bunch of stylish ladies? Host a clothing swap party. Each attendee brings an agreed upon amount of clothing/accessories and for each piece you bring, you get to take a piece home. Make sure you have a good mix of sizes so everyone has at least two swap buddies. And make sure you set some rules and have a “browsing session” so everyone can see their options before the swapping begins.

6) Donate it. We all have those pieces that just need to go, so make sure you donate the ones that don’t make the cut in the above options.

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April 2, 2014
by Sara
1,347 Comments

Travel: Cruisin’ on a Budget

What a beautiful day in Nashville – I’ve got my windows open listening to the birds as I type in my office. I gotta say, I’ve been waiting eagerly for spring to arrive for many months. It just might be my favorite time of year – that smell of freshly bloomed flowers, the birth of lots of baby birds, squirrels and other cute yard critters, and great weather for hiking. It also happens to be a great time to travel – not only for the beauty but also for the bargains if you know where to look.

In my line of work I’m blessed to be able to travel all over the US and experience many cities. The month of March took me from a beautiful sunny day in NYC one week to a very snowy, cold Minnesota the next week (and just about everywhere in between!). Here are a few of my favorite shots from my recent travels. (Bargain tips after the jump!)

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While some areas (note: The Caribbean) are in their high season right now, the low season starts for those areas in just a few weeks and you can travel for up to half the price you’d pay in the high season. Another great option this season is a cruise. Here are 5 tips to getting the most bang for your buck if you’re thinking about cruising this season.

1) Travel in the shoulder season. For Caribbean cruises, the shoulder season is April. That means you’re coming out of the high season (and high prices!) but haven’t gotten quite into the low season (and higher temps!) so you can still get a really good deal and enjoy the mild temps while they last.

2) Head to Europe. The European shoulder season is April, May, and September, so look at cruises in those months to get the most bang for your buck if you’re heading on a European cruise.

3) Target “wave” season. So, we’ve already missed it for this year, but January through March is known as the “wave” season in the cruise world, so you can often find better deals if the high season is the only time you can travel.

4) Plan your own excursions. Cruise lines make a hefty profit by charging you a premium price for those shore excursions they advertise. Plan your own through a site/app like Viator to match up available tours with your itinerary.

5) Keep tabs on your tab. All that food and alcohol on board can add up. Make sure you know what’s included (and not included!) in your cruise rate and set a limit. If you dine buffet style, stock up while you’re there to avoid all those extra snack charges later. Take advantage of free drinks served at captain’s parties and other special events, and pack a bottle of wine before you board to enjoy in your cabin.

Happy travels!

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March 13, 2014
by Sara
1,108 Comments

Staying Healthy on a [Budget]

budget lifestyle blog

Ever wish there was a place you could ask medical questions without having that dreaded co-pay? I’ve sat in a waiting room for an hour, only to finally get in to see a doctor and have him tell me I just gotta “let it run its course”. Swipe your card, pay $30…..do not pass go, do not collect $200. Bam.

There’s a great new site I ran across called HealthTap (www.healthtap.com) that answers your questions for free. You’ll receive an answer by a doctor within a day or so. Great for those non-urgent questions you’ve got, and not only can it help you save money, it also keeps you away from all the other sneezing, wheezing folks in the waiting room. :)

 

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March 7, 2014
by Sara
1,459 Comments

Free App: FastCustomer

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You know the saying “time is money”, right? Well today’s tip is going to save you a lot time. If you are anything like me, then you hate waiting on hold forever when you are calling a customer service hotline. Well, wait no more! (I sound like an infomercial here, I know).

There’s a new app called FastCustomer, and it can connect you with over 3,000 companies and calls you back when a customer service agent is available. I’ve only used the app, but it seems like you can connect via their website as well. Pretty cool, huh? Now what will you do with all that free time?

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February 13, 2014
by Sara
2,123 Comments

The $80 Special Edition Keurig. (No Kidding.)

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My mother gave me a Keurig for Christmas, and I’ve found myself making hot tea almost every day with it. I imagined I’d use it every now again (I’m not a marathon coffee drinker), but I think I’m in love. If you weren’t one of the hundreds of thousands that probably got Keurigs for Christmas, today’s your lucky day. If you’re still reading, then I’m going to let you in on a little secret: how to get a $190 Special Edition Keurig for under 80 bucks. Yep, 80 bucks.

1) Visit Kohls.com and search for the Keurig K65 Brewer ($189.99 on sale for $149.99).

2) Enter JANMB20 at checkout to save $20 off $100.

3) Then, redeem this mail in rebate to drop the price down to $99.99.

4) With your order you’ll get free shipping, a 12-pack of K Cups, and $20 back in Kohl’s Cash.

That’s a $79.99 Keurig!

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January 30, 2014
by Sara
932 Comments

File Your Taxes [For Free]

It’s that dreaded time of year again – the season of finding where you stuffed all your bills, receipts, stubs, and other fun documents from the last year and add it all up to get right with the IRS. Yippee! (insert sarcastic tone). When I was young (note: ignorant), I paid someone around $100 a few times to file my taxes for me. And then I realized, why in the world am I doing that when I’m a smart, educated young lady and can file them for FREE on my own? Now, tax software has gotten much more user-friendly since then and its become a no-brainer to file your taxes for free. And hey, they say you should never stop learning, so don’t you think its time to learn what you’ve made, what you’ve spent, and how all this tax stuff works? Check that one off your bucket list, because now’s the time.

Details after this adorable palate cleanser, because no one likes to talk about taxes.

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Photo courtesy of popkitten.com

The details:

1) If your income is $58K or less, you can file for free through FreeFile on the IRS website. They’ve got lots of tax prep software companies to choose from, so you can’t go wrong there (my personal fav is H&R Block).

2) If your income is above $58K, there are still FreeFile options on the IRS website but they don’t include the fancy tax prep software. My suggestion is to visit H&R Block’s website where you can file a basic tax return through their software for free, no matter your income. Like I mentioned before, it’s the software I personally use and I love it. They guarantee their calculations are correct, that you’ll get the maximum refund, and they even offer audit support and free expert advice. (You can also file more complicated returns or get additional resources for a pretty minimal fee as well).

And no, they didn’t pay me to say any of this, I’ve just used their software for years with good results. I’m no tax expert, but I do know that I’m not excited about paying taxes…..so why should I pay someone to tell me I have to pay taxes?

Now let’s all go dream of puppies and kittens.

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January 11, 2014
by Sara
2,144 Comments

[Easy] Chicken Noodle Soup

Brrrr….it’s cold outside! We’ve gotten very little snow so far in Nashville this winter, but it sure has been extra cold (-10 wind chill this week, what?!). Makes me want to just bundle up by the fire with a warm bowl of soup. Speaking of, I recently told my husband I was going to make a pot of chicken noodle soup and his response was “Why? I like Campbell’s.” Is that a challenge? I think so.

I love making homemade soup, but I’ve found it hard to get my chicken stock just right for the perfect chicken noodle soup. Then I ran across Better Than Bouillon chicken base through a recommendation in Good Housekeeping and thought I’d give it a try. Way impressed – and its only around $3.50 for a jar that makes 9.5 quarts of broth (that’s 36¢ per quart!).

Here’s my recipe – by the way, when my husband tasted it he said “You did it. You beat Campbell’s.” No offense Campbell’s, but I knew I would.

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Easy Chicken Noodle Soup

(makes 4-6 servings)

1.5 quarts of water
3 tbsp Better Than Bouillon
1 cup wide egg noodles (more if you like your soup thicker)
3/4 cup chopped baby corrots
1 lb chicken breast, cooked and shredded into small pieces
Dash of pepper
1 tsp parsley

Pour water into a large saucepan or small stock pot over high heat. Dissolve chicken base in water and add egg noodles. While that is heating, boil chicken breast in a separate pot and chop up baby carrots. Add carrots to the chicken base. When chicken is mostly cooked through, slice/shred into small pieces and add to the soup. Sprinkle pepper and parsley and stir. Cover and simmer over medium heat for 10-15 minutes.

 

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January 10, 2014
by Sara
1,039 Comments

Free App: Wrapp

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Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the past year (and if so, welcome back!), then you know how popular e-gifting as has become, especially on social media. You can purchase an e-gift card for almost anything these days. Today’s free app is called Wrapp – it’s an e-gifting app with an awesome twist….FREE e-gifts.

Yep, you read that right. The brands change from time to time, but you can link it to your Facebook account and send your friends free offers (and ask them to reciprocate). There’s even a birthday reminder so you look like the awesome friend when you remember AND send them a gift. Here are a few of my favorite free offers right now –

1) H&M: $6 gift card (I’ve personally used this one and its no hassle and totally legit!)

2) Rent the Runway: $25 gift card (to rent a dress for a special occasion)

3) Little Black Bag: $25 gift card (to buy that bag to go with the dress!)

Like I said, the offers change pretty often (although the H&M offer has been available for quite a while), so its a good app to keep check on. And from here on out if I send you an offer from Wrapp, I welcome the returned favor. :)

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December 28, 2013
by Sara
1,081 Comments

Emergency Cinnamon Rolls

I was seriously jonesing for some cinnamon rolls this morning, so I opened up the cabinets and just started throwing stuff together. Here’s the magic that happened (and the recipe after the photo!)

Beauty and a Budget, budget living blog

What you’ll need:

Can of refrigerated biscuit dough
Brown sugar
Regular sugar
Butter/Margarine
Cinnamon

Mix equal parts brown sugar, regular sugar, and butter/margarine in a bowl. Add in a couple teaspoons of cinnamon (to taste). Seriously, no rules here. Just make as much as you need as you go along, you can’t get this part wrong.

The steps are so easy, just follow the photo.
1. Start with a single biscuit.
2. Roll out dough.
3. Add butter/sugar/cinnamon mixture.
4. Spiral up.

Beauty and a Budget, budget living blog

Place in a lightly greased cupcake tin and bake at 350 degrees until they brown on the tops (about 10 min).

These are great without any icing, but if you want a sweet topper you can always whip up some confectioner’s sugar and water to make a glaze and drizzle.

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December 21, 2013
by Sara
2,111 Comments

Holiday Party [In Pictures]

I love the holidays – the Christmas songs, movies, strange elves that move mysteriously around the house…and the party planning. I think I like the planning part even more than the party itself. Here’s this year’s Christmas party in pictures – all for around $4 per person (including the favors!). Stay tuned for recipes after the photos.

Vintage serving pieces:

Beauty and a Budget, beautyandabudget.com

 

Food shots:

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Beautyandabudget.com

 

Nostalgic Favors:

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Christmas-themed Game:

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The Details:

Bacon-Wrapped Lil Smokies – compliments of The Frugal Girls. Find the (amazingly yummy!) recipe here.

 
Chocolate-Peanut Butter Bark – this one’s SO easy and ridiculously good. Just make sure you don’t have any leftover after your party or you’ll eat all of it. In one sitting. (I may or may not be speaking from experience).

1.5 cups chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
Honey Grahams

Line 13×9 inch pan with foil, allowing foil to hang over edges to create “handles”. Break honey grahams into 2 pieces and line entire bottom of pan, cutting/breaking as needed so entire pan is completely covered. Melt chocolate and peanut butter, stirring frequently. Pour over honey grahams, using spatula to cover completely. Melt white chocolate and drop spoonfuls on top. Cut through chocolate mixtures with a knife to make tiger-stripe effect. Refrigerate for 1 hour and use foil handles to remove from pan. Using a pizza cutter, cut into slices. Store in refrigerator.

 
Christmas Trivial Pursuit - Using a trivial pursuit board, simply change up the categories to Christmas themes like “A Christmas Story”, “What’s that song?”, “Name that Movie”, etc. I got my questions here. Super simple and it was a huge hit with guests.

 
Merry Christmas everyone!

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