5 Ways to Save Money Today

Everyone wants to save some money. My last post talked about 3 simple steps you can use to start budgeting. This post is here to take that a little further. Here are 5 ways that you can save/make some money today.

1. Bing Rewards

This app will give you money for using their search engine. The nice thing is that you can choose where you want the money to. You can choose from different restaurants, to clothing stores, even to Amazon. All you have to do is search 20 things on your phone or computer to rack up points. Once you have enough points you can convert them into actual money. You are going to search for stuff anyway, why not get paid for it?

2. Purchase Online

I really suggest in investing in Amazon Prime. With Prime you are able to receive free shipping by paying a yearly fee. This helps you to save on shipping costs through out the year. You can find almost anything available on Amazon and it is usually cheaper. Buying things online will save you in the long run.

3. Keep Track of Your Spending

I touched on this in my last post. It is really helpful to know where your money is coming and where your money is going. Look at your spending through your online baking. If your bank doesn’t offer online banking start keeping your receipts. I understand that they are a pain but once you know how much you are spending it may keep you from spending more than you need to.

4. Eat at Home

This was something I really struggled with when Cameron and I first got married. It seemed like we would spend less when we would go out to eat. When I would cook at home we would always have tons of food left over that I would end up throwing away. In my mind it made sense for us to go out to eat. Now looking at it there are much cheaper meals that I can make at home. PLUS it is a lot healthier too!

5. Plan Ahead

I am not a huge planner, if you read my tips for traveling it mentions us waiting until last minute to purchase our plane tickets. But planning ahead for big trips or big expenses will definitely save you in the long run. Through planning you will be able to find cheaper deals and it will give you more time to save up for what you want to do.

Following these steps will save you money down the road. It may not seem like much money right now but you will save in the end. Save now so you can spend later.

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Let’s Start a Budget

Before I got married I didn’t believe in budgeting. I was the type of person that would buy whatever I wanted as long as I had the money in my account. There was a point during my freshman year of college where I had $30 to my name. My parents found out and they were not too happy with me. They added money to my account, I got a stern talk, and I went on my way.

Once I got used to how college worked I found a job and made pretty good money for a college student. I would blow my paychecks on trivial things and then would basically starve until I got paid again. This pattern continued until a year ago where I realized that I needed to be smarter about money. Needless to say I learned the hard way.

You may think that it is ridiculously hard to start a budget but in all actuality it is not. I was super lazy but when it really boiled down to it I knew it was something that needed to happen. Here are some helpful tips to get you started.


1. Live Within Your Means

Do you really need that $90 skirt from J Crew? No? I didn’t think so. Don’t buy things that are not necessities. If you are really struggling with money make sure that everything you need to survive is paid for first. This means buy your groceries, make your car payment, pay rent…all these little things before you decide to blow $200 on a sound bar that you do not need.

This may sound like common sense but this is something that a lot of people struggle with. Do not spend money that you do not have. I understand that using your card to purchase it then paying it off later may be seem appealing, but trust me once you have racked up that $900 limit and it is time to pay the piper; you will cry.


2. Understand Your Cash Flow

Know how much your paychecks are. They are typically the same thing every week. Once you get a feel for how much you are going to have to spend it will make it a lot easier. You need to figure out where all of your money is going. Most online banks will give you a breakdown of everything you are spending. By looking at this you can see what you are spending the most on. This helpful tool can help you to see where you need to cut back and where you have more wiggle room to spend.

Only after you have figured this out will you be able to splurge. Even then there are cheaper ways to splurge. Shop smarter and use your money wiser.


3. Create an Emergency Fund

Cameron is all about this. Once you know how much you need to spend and where you need to spend it, you should have a little bit left over. Every once in a while it is great to “Treat Yo’Self” but for the most part you are going to want to set up an emergency fund. You can do this by pooling it into savings or creating a separate account for this money. Putting $10 each paycheck will add up quickly. It is as simple as staying in and not going to Taco Bell.

There is a reason I call this an emergency fund. You never know when your car may break down or have a medical emergency. That is why it is called the EMERGENCY FUND. This money is meant for emergencies not for random spending. Save yourself some money and prepare for the future.

These are some really simple steps that anyone can do. I know they may seem like common sense but it is always nice to be reminded. If you really want to start budgeting these are the easiest ways to get going. Start implementing these steps and it will get easier. I promise.

Easy Garlic Chicken Recipe

Tonight was one of those nights where I did not want to do anything. I just wanted to hang out and eat food. Problem is I hadn’t been grocery shopping in over a week due to traveling. I was trying to figure out what I could make with the ingredients I already had. I had found this recipe on Pinterest over a year ago and I decided to make it again with my little tweeks.

To make this you need:

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 2 T minced garlic
  • 4 T brown sugar
  • 1 T olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

This is honestly one of the easiest recipes to make ever! Start off by preheating the oven to 425 degrees. I have make this before at 450 and while it cooks faster it tends to dry it out too.

Once the oven temperature has been set sautee the garlic and the olive oil in a small sauce pan.

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When the garlic starts to brown you can then add in the brown sugar. The mixture will be very thick but the longer it is on the heat the more it will melt down. You may need to add more olive oil if it turns into a mound of moosh. It should look something like this.

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I know that doesn’t look very appetizing but wait till you have it on top on the chicken. It is to die for! It should only take around 2 minutes to get the right consistency.

Line a cookie sheet with tin foil. You are not going to want that mixture on your cookie sheet. It will be a pain to get off. Layer the mixture over top your chicken breast and then cook it for 18 minutes. Some of the mixture may burn while it spills over the pan but it is delicious!

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I served it with some Rice a Roni I found in the cupboard. I think it would be great with some salad or broccoli! What would you have done differently?

Vacation Budgets

Vacationing is not cheap, let me tell ya. We recently went to the Bay Area to visit my family and realized how expensive it is to travel. It is crazy how when you are younger and go on family vacations you don’t even think about how expensive things are. Dad is going to pay for it so it doesn’t really matter. But now that we are newlyweds we tend to be more cost conscious. Luckily we were able to stay with my parents and eat there but when we were out and about it can get pretty pricey.

Let’s talk about flights!

Flying may be the most expensive part of you trip. While we were looking for flights we shopped around everywhere. We looked through the travel booking websites like Orbitz and Travelocity. Sometimes you can get a great deal there but then we heard about the app, Sky Skanner.

This app is similar to Orbitz and Travelocity but I love it so much more. I am able to search for the different times of day and how much I would like to spend. All I have to do is choose what cities I will be flying out of and the dates I am planning on flying. The app shows all of your different flight options and it was around $70 cheaper every time we would look. The only issue I had was that it took me to another website to order and pay for my tickets. I was a little sketched out at first but it really worked out in the end. Our round trip from Salt Lake City to Oakland was around $267. It wasn’t the lease expensive flight in the world but when you wait to purchase your ticket until a month before you leave (like we did) it’s a pretty rocking price! Everywhere else we were looking had those flights listed over $300. So this was a FANTASTIC deal!

Now let’s talk food!

Food is another scary expense while traveling. Going to a big city like San Francisco means that you are going to have a TON of different choices to choose from. When you go to the big touristy spots you are probably going to spend some money on food. You are going to smell all the deliciousness and you won’t be able to control yourself. For instance we went to Pier 39 and nearly had a heart attack with all of the amazing food. But my major word of advice to you would be to share you food with each other. This is advice coming from a girl whose eyes are WAYYYY too big for her stomach, share your food. It is going to save you tons of money by sharing. Trust me if you eat the whole sundae at Ghirarelli’s you will be sick for the rest of the day. Share you food! Everyone will come out full and happy. Plus you will be able to get a whole lot more.

So what about parking?

Parking is a nightmare. Someone is going to try to charge you $50 to park in their lot for 3 hours. Trust me it is so not worth it. Before you go into a big city look into discounted parking lots. You can typically find lots that are free on weekends or one that is a little further away but is so much cheaper. There are a couple free lots everywhere, you just have to look for them.

I hope that these hints are helpful. Traveling is one of my favorite things to do. I love to go out and there and see new things. I love to go out even more when I know I won’t be spending buckets of money. What are some of your traveling tips?

Easy Chicken Salad Sandwiches

I have been begging for Cameron to make this for me for weeks now. It was a beautiful day and he decided to finally make it for me. It is simple and is perfect for a warm summer day.

You will need:

Croissants

2 chicken breasts

2 1/2 oz red onion

1 1/12 oz pickle or relish

1 1/2 celery

1 oz almonds

1 cup mayo

1/2 cup grapes

The first thing you will need to do is cook the chicken breast. Cut it into little cubes and cook it on the stove. Since this takes the longest it is best to start this while preparing everything else. I know that when Cameron usually makes this recipe he does not season the chicken at all but if you would like feel free. I helped to make it and I seasoned it with a little black pepper and garlic salt. Don’t add too much or it will be overpowering but just enough so it doesn’t taste like straight chicken.

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While you are cooking the chicken dice the onion, cut the celery, chop the almonds, and slice the grapes in half. I used the same cutting board for all of it because you will be combining them into the mixing bowl anyway. Once all of the has been made into smaller pieces you can throw it into the bowl and mix it all together.

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At this point you can now add the chicken to the mixture. The chicken should be slightly cool. And the nice thing is that all of these ingredients will help to cool the chicken once it is in the bowl too. Make sure to mix it all together. It actually looks really pretty. It is a great variety of colors.

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Once it is all mixed you can now mix in the mayonnaise. This is one of the most important parts to make the recipe the correct consistency. Too much will make it runny while too little will not give it the right flavor.

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Combine it all and you now have chicken salad.

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Split open some croissants and you are good to go. Since we were going for a picnic feel Cameron bought his favorite chips and drinks and it was perfect!

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Favorite Coupon Websites

We were recently talking to a friend who told us how much money she saved at the grocery store. Cameron and I were floored. She brought up a whole bunch of different coupon websites that she used on a regular basis. I never really thought too much about couponing, I knew it was a great idea but I felt like I didn’t have the time to go through all of the ads that are put in our mailbox. Searching through all of them and then clipping out the ones that I would actually use is pretty time consuming. This is why I was so excited to learn about all of the different applications and websites that are available to help you save the most money.

Here are some of our favorites:

1. Retail Me Not

This is seriously my favorite website/app to use. You have the option of selecting your favorite stores and they will send you a notification when that shop is having a sale. It will also send you notifications about stores that they believe you might be interested in. You are also able to browse all of the coupons that they have available. This is seriously the best thing ever. This company has coupons for everything!

2. Coupon

Coupon.com is another great tool you can use. This website gives you specific coupons that you can use on items in the store. They also have an app that you can download. I love how easy it is to use. One thing I love about this site is that you have the option of looking for coupons that are available to use  in local stores. When I searched today it came up with a coupon to a local hair college. How cool is that? Also it is an incredibly easy name to remember.

3. Groupon

I know that almost everyone has heard of Groupon before but can we talk about how great it is for a minute? You can select different cities and different offers that you think would be great for you. I am all about shopping local and I love that Groupon gives you that option. Also, did you know that they have a store? You can actually buy items off of their website for low prices. All of the merchandise is great! They really know how to work with their market by having an online store.

These are our favorite places to find coupons that you can print off and take in. I feel like this is a lot less time consuming and gives you a chance to look at tons of other things. What other websites do you like to find coupons on? Let me know what you think!

Oven Baked French Fries

These are probably Cameron’s favorite thing that I make. These are super easy and they taste fantastic!

Ingredients:

  • 7 Potatoes
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Seasoned Salt

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Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Rinse the potatoes so all of the dirt will come off. After the potatoes have been rinsed cut them in half (long ways). Slice the potatoes thinly. This will help them to cook faster.

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Now that they have been sliced place the potatoes on the pan. If you don’t want the fries to stick to the pan you can take an extra precaution and grease the pan before you cook them. Drizzle olive oil over the fries. Spread the oil over all of them to make sure that they will cook properly. Once the fries have the oil on them you can sprinkle the season salt on them.

Place the fries on the top rack in the oven. Cook the fries for 15 minutes. Then check to see if they are ready to be flipped over. Once they are a little brown on that side you need to flip them over. Cook them for another 10 minutes and they should be perfect

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Let them cool for 5 minutes before eating. They will be very hot! Get a paper towel on place them on a plate. The paper towel will soak up all of the excess oil. Now you are ready to eat!

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ENJOY! These go great with the Mozzarella Stuffed Hamburgers!

Mozzarella Stuffed Hamburger

Today was a beautiful day so Cameron and I decided to make hamburgers. I am pretty lame when it comes to food, while Cameron is all about the flavor. He convinced me to try something new. So we decided to use the string cheese we had in the fridge to make something delicious.

To make these amazing burgers you need:

  • 4 lbs lean ground meat
  • 1/2 T black pepper
  • 1 T garlic powder
  • Finely chopped onion
  • Mozzarella Cheese (We used string cheese but you can use whatever you want)
  • Bacon
  • Lettuce
  • Green Pepper
  • Tomato

First you need to chop up half of an onion. I always use my Pampered Chef chopper for everything. Make sure it is finely chopped otherwise you are going to have a chunky burger.

Then you can mix the dry ingredients. Feel  free to add any other seasonings you would like. I think next time we may even add Italian Seasoning just to see how it turns out.

After you have the chopped onion and dry seasoning, put all of the beef into a large mixing bowl. It is going to be easier to mix everything together by hand rather than with a spoon or spatula.

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While Cameron was mixing this together I was making up some bacon and sauteing the green peppers. We originally anticipated grilling the burgers on the grill, but when we were about to start we realized that it was out of propane. Luckily we have a George Foreman Grill! We brought that bad boy out and it worked awesome!

Once we had the grill warming up we started shaping the patties. Each burger requires 2 patties. Our patties were a 1/4 inch thick but you can vary however you would like. Get the patties as round as you can and then put the cheese over the top on the original patty. After you have the cheese on the patty you can add the second patty over the top. The second patty should be able to fit over the top. If you are worried about the cheese falling out you can pinch the sides to completely close it. This will also help the two patties to stick together.

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The patties are going to be pretty heavy and they are going to be super thick. They will shrink once you start grilling them. At this point you are good to start grilling. The nice thing about the George Foreman is that you can cook both sides of the burger at once. With the Foreman our burgers were cooked in less than 5 minutes.

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See? It fits perfectly! Unfortunately we were only able to cook 1 burger at a time but we were able to get everything else ready while it was cooking.

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Now that you have all of your fixings done you are ready to make your burger. Since we are in Idaho we put fry sauce on everything. I don’t know about you guys but Cameron is obsessed with ranch and BBQ sauce. This burger has bacon, green peppers, lettuce, and tomato on it. SOOO GOOD!

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It is a fairly simple meal to make overall. It just takes a bit of time. Let me know what you all think of this recipe. What suggestions would you make?