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How to Throw a Starbucks Birthday Party on a Budget

This Starbucks birthday party is SUCH a cute and frugal idea for a teenage girl who loves all things Starbucks and coffee!

Guest post from Heidi

My daughter turned recently turned 14 and her most favorite thing in the world is to go to Starbucks — so I decided we could throw a fancy and frugal Starbucks birthday party for her and seven of her friends.

Here’s how I was able to throw a Starbucks birthday party on a budget…

What I Bought:

From Dollar Tree = $31

  • white goodie bags
  • tablecloth
  • 1 package balloons
  • 1 package green streamers
  • 1 package plates
  • 1 package napkins
  • 8 white mugs
  • Piñata fillers (candy, chapstick, face masks, nail polish, etc.)

Walmart: = $26

  • Cake pop sticks and candy melts
  • Piñata
  • Starbucks drinks for prizes

Aldi: = $5

  • Cake mix
  • White frosting
  • Popcorn

I also bought the Starbucks stickers I used on the goodie bags from StickerMule.com. They were running a special… 10 stickers for $1 shipped!

How We Partied:

I printed the “Frappy Birthday” banner off the internet at no cost, pasted it on construction paper, cut it out, and hung it up.

We hung green and white streamers, white balloons, and used all white and green paper products.

Each girl got to pre-order a Starbucks drink and it was waiting for them when they arrived to the party. The total for 8 drinks was $32, but I used 15,000 Kelloggs Family Rewards points to buy 2 Starbucks gift cards and that took off $10 — only $22 for the drinks!!

When I picked up my drinks, I asked for a few empty cups for the popcorn and the cake pops. Starbucks provided these at no charge.

At the party, each girl got to decorate their own coffee mug using paint pens and sharpie markers I already had.

We also played a “Who knows the birthday girl best?” game which I made and printed at home for no cost. The prize was a Starbucks drink purchased at Walmart.

Using old coffee beans I already had, I set up a “Guess How Many Coffee Beans Are in the Jar” game. The winner got a Starbucks drink from Walmart.

Total spent for this very fancy and VERY fun birthday: $85 before tax!!!

My daughter and her friends had so much fun and she said it was one of the best parties she’s ever had. All for well under $100 and 8 girls! There you have it — a Starbucks birthday party on a budget!

I am Heidi Evans. Mom to 6… 5 boys and 1 girl. Always looking for ways to save money!

How We Changed Our Financial Blueprint

Were poor money management habits passed down to you from another generation? This is SUCH an encouraging post!

Guest post from Hope of Under The Median:

Whether we realize it or not, the way we handle money is primarily a result of a template, set in childhood and reinforced by our parents. In other words, we tend to spend and save money much like our parents did.

This financial blueprint is a strong force in our lives, and if it’s not a fiscally strong one, it can take a moment of crisis to overcome it. This is my story.

My mother was widowed at the age of 42, with four children and no idea how much money was coming in or where it was all going. When I was 18, she told me tearfully one day that she and my father had never lived with a budget. He just made money every month and they paid the bills. There always seemed to be enough money. She was terrified!

Even though I watched her go through this experience, I didn’t live with a written budget (or any spending plan) until I was well into my 20’s. I worked with the only blueprint I had ever known — much like my parents, I just made money and hoped that there would be enough to go around.

Two moments of terror stand out in my mind.

The first, when I was 20. I had moved out of my mother’s home and was living with two roommates. One evening, my bank account dipped to just $25 and the ATM would not let me withdraw any money. My gas tank was nearly empty. I prayed every day on the way to work that week that I would make it there and back without the car dying. I got paid at 4pm, and by 4:15pm I was at the gas station!

The second incident occurred when I was 24. My husband and I had been married for just two months and our checkbook indicated an almost zero balance. My stomach plummeted into the pit of my stomach. My mind reeled as I realized we had spent nearly every penny of our wedding cash gifts in just a few weeks. If we didn’t make immediate changes, we would be in big trouble in a very short time.

That’s when the light went on!

I worked at a Christian radio station and a man named Larry Burkett had just begun a daily program called “Money Matters.” It was the first generation of live Christian money management call-in programs. I listened carefully and began to implement Larry Burkett’s suggestions.

Within weeks, I had plugged into some great authors and teachers. I read a lot of books. I figured out what ideas I could implement right away, and created a list of ideas to consider for the future. I learned to cook from scratch and how to track my expenses.

We focused on one or two areas at a time. When we had those areas streamlined and under control, we move on to another couple of areas.

Over the next thirty years, we rewrote our family’s financial blueprint.

We gained financial traction as we lived within our means. Although we made a salary which was significantly under the national median income, we paid off our first mortgage in five years. We brought up four sons in our tiny two bedroom bungalow, while saving money to pay cash for our second home.

I won’t tell you that it was easy… because it wasn’t!

At times the road seemed long. But, now I see my 20 and 22 year old sons living on a written budget, paying cash for automobiles, planning for the future, and sharing financial principles with their peers.

I realize that our change wasn’t just for us. It was also for them!

I’m Hope Ware, married to Larry since 1988. We’ve raised 4 amazing sons debt-free on an income which averaged under the national median. I blog over at Under the Median. In my spare time I teach in the high school department at our local homeschool co-op and I sing second soprano in a semi-professional ensemble.

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5 Tips to Save Time and Money on Groceries

Save money on groceries without sacrificing too much time! These tips are GOLD!

Guest post by Jenna from Particular Pantry

Need some quick and easy tips to help you save more money at the grocery store in 2019? Here are five of my favorites:

1. Plan Your Meals

It has been said time and time again, but meal planning really is the one of the best ways to save both time and money at the grocery store (here’s a great free printable meal planning kit).

Of course this tip comes at the expense of spending a good amount of extra time at home planning out the meals and grocery list at least a week at a time.

However, when done well, meal planning saves some serious cash by giving every single item on your list a specific purpose. It also helps you find places to trim or double up on certain items and you are creating your plan and even includes planning for leftovers.

2. Make Well-Organized Grocery Lists

While your meal plan can help save you money, a well-organized grocery list can help save you time at the store.

I’ve tried paper lists, grocery list apps, and everything else under the sun and they can all work. But the list only makes your shopping faster IF you follow one important rule… organize your list by department.

That means instead of writing your list in whichever order you think of adding them (ie: eggs, avocado, chicken, bananas) causing you to run back and forth across the store, your list should have like items together so you can work your way through your list and the store at the same time.

Bonus points if you set up your list to follow the floor plan of your actual store.

3. Shop Your Pantry First

Before you head to the store, make sure to shop your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer first. In fact, this should probably come before tip #1 because if you really want to up your game, you can plan your meals based on the items you already have at home!

By using what you already have, you are not only saving money by not buying more groceries, but also saving the time it would take to think about whether or not you have a certain item in your pantry already.

4. Use Technology To Your Benefit

Once you finally get to the grocery store, make sure to use technology to your benefit. Because… there’s an app for that!

Remember the list you made? There’s an app for that too! My favorite is Our Groceries because my husband can add items from his phone and it will instantly appear on my list. Also, it’s automatically organized by store department and you can edit the department if you need to.

I haven’t tried every app out there, but I’m sure there are plenty of others that would serve this purpose just as well.

There are also apps for helping save you money at the store, from Walmart’s Savings Catcher to the Target Red Card (and Cartwheel) you can always save money if you take a few minutes to check out the deals before heading into the store.

5. Order Groceries Online

I’ve saved my very favorite tip for last because it compliments every other tip from this list AND makes my life exponentially better.

Ordering groceries online is the one-two punch you might not have expected to see on this list… right?

There is a stigma that ordering groceries for pickup or delivery is a luxury and very expensive. In truth, ordering groceries online can be a great way to save money (and obviously time) on groceries.

While there is often a slight markup on some product and/or a delivery fee, those extra costs are often offset by the other benefits of buying groceries online.

  • No more worrying about shopping while hungry.
  • No more making unhealthy or unnecessary impulse purchases.
  • No more going back to return an item you’ve decided might not fit the budget or meal plan for the week.

All of the grocery delivery services I’ve tried not only let me see the running total as I add items to the cart but they always have sale sections that are very easy to find and plan meals around.

I shouldn’t even need to mention how much time you can save by not stepping foot in the grocery store, but ordering groceries online allows you to fit groceries into your schedule when you can’t manage a full trip to the store.

Bottom line, grocery shopping has to be done… but if you can do it faster and within your budget maybe it won’t be such a source of pain!

What are YOUR best tips to save time AND money on groceries?

Jenna is a mom to four awesomely exhausting children. She believes that finding the right food for your family should be easier. That’s why she is committed to providing information you need to make deliberate choices for your family over at Particular Pantry.

Toddler Mom Hack: How To Make Mini Freezer Meals With No Extra Effort

Guest post from Keri of Families & Finance:

If your kid are anything like my kids, they eat ALL THE TIME!

It’s no secret that young children eat about every two hours. If you are in the throes of motherhood, you have probably wondered how in the world they can fit all of that food into such tiny bodies. I sure have!

I have also wondered how I can get away from spending all of my time in the kitchen slicing apples, doling out PB&J’s, and cleaning up the inevitable mess. I really didn’t want to pay for ready-made snacks and meals as they aren’t healthy or budget-friendly!

There had to be a way to streamline the process without shelling out more money.

My Solution = Mini Freezer Meals

I’m all about practical shortcuts, so I put my thinking cap on. After a bit of trial and error, I figured out a no-stress way to create toddler sized freezer meals! It’s so simple that you might just cry happy tears.

My “secret” is to use silicone muffin liners.

When silicone muffin liners first came out, they were all the rage, weren’t they? I saw them everywhere! People were making homemade chocolate cups, and using them as lunch box dividers. I thought “Well, I’d better get myself a set of those and see if they are all they’re cracked up to be.” It turns out, they are.

The idea came to me after I saw someone freezing soup in muffin tins. I thought it would be pretty difficult to remove the soup without a liner. Suddenly, I realized that although soup might not be a great thing to put into a silicone liner, other leftovers would work great!

That night, I took the few leftovers from our meal and dumped them into a muffin liner. I stuck it into the freezer in a snack-sized Ziploc bag. The next day, I fed my two-year-old his very first homemade freezer meal. It was a miracle!

Homemade Freezer Meals Save Time, Money, and Energy

I have been doing this ever since and it is a complete lifesaver!

Right before I had my third baby, I made a few dishes to turn into muffin cup meals so that I could feed my boys without having to cook. I can’t imagine what I would have done without them!

However, my favorite thing about this is that it can be done without any extra meal prep. My youngest two would be hard pushed to finish two muffin cups each. This doesn’t add up to much food at all!

Whenever we have a little bit of a recipe left after dinner, it goes right into the freezer. If I’m running low on mini freezer meals, I usually steal a couple of muffin liners before everyone eats. Nobody is the wiser, and it saves me a lot of work.

This has relieved me from dishes and cooking so many times!

Homemade Freezer Meal Tips

Make sure to label the snack bags. It won’t take long before you have a variety of meals to choose from. If your toddler is anything like mine, he will want a say in what he eats for lunch, and everything starts looking the same pretty quickly.

When you are ready to feed your kids, just pop a muffin cup into a dish and heat it up in the microwave. The muffin cups take about thirty seconds each to defrost. Then, stir them up and they are the perfect temperature for little ones. If your kiddo is a bit older, zap it for another fifteen seconds or so.

Make Your Own Mini Muffin Meals

This idea is incredibly simple and it can be applied to almost any leftovers. I have frozen mac and cheese, casserole, and breakfast bowls to name a few. The sky is the limit!

It’s amazing how much of a difference this one simple trick has made in our lives. Give this mom-hack a shot if you are looking to save money, time, and energy while feeding your kids!

Keri is a mother of three, Financial Planner, and founder of the blog, Families & Finance. She helps struggling stay-at-home-moms relieve the stress of money through frugal living, personal finance, and entrepreneurship so that they can find fulfillment in their everyday lives.

How to Clean Your Teeth at Home

Can't afford dental care regularly? Try these tips to professionally clean your teeth at home!

Note from Crystal: I know that this topic might be a bit controversial and I personally would differ with some of the conclusions of the guest poster and do believe that regular dental visits are something that should be prioritized if you can at all make it happen in your budget. However, I decided to share this post here because I thought it might give some great ideas for those of you who are unable to afford regular dental care. It also is a great reminder for all of us to think outside the box and this might be a great option for in between dental visits and/or to reduce the costs of needing extra expensive dental work.

Please do your own research and do what is best for you and your family. If you have other suggestions for ways to save on dental care, I’d love for you to leave them in the comments. As always, sharply critical comments will be deleted but we welcome kind and gracious comments that contribute to the conversation.

Guest post from Liberty:

When was the last time you had your teeth cleaned? How about your kids’?

If you’re like many people, you find it challenging (particularly on the budget) to faithfully book teeth cleanings for each family member every six months.

The average cost of a regular teeth cleaning is $137. Multiply that times a couple of children, plus parents, and you have a regular six-month monstrosity of a dentist’s bill!

It can be difficult enough living on a tight budget without worrying about a huge extra bill, or the worse alternative. an outbreak of cavities (bigger cost alert!)

We all want to provide the care our kids need to enjoy clean, healthy teeth for a lifetime, but sometimes it’s harder than getting your six year old to eat shrimp at your friend’s dinner table!

The good news is you can professionally clean your entire family’s teeth at home for less than the cost of a new crockpot!

My grandmother, a dental assistant for 30 years and only recently retired, taught my family how to clean our teeth ourselves.

I grew up cleaning my teeth at home (and watching my mother clean my teeth when I was younger) and neither I nor any of my siblings have ever had a cavity.

Every once in a while, we’d visit our grandmother and she’d offer us free teeth cleanings at the dentist’s office. But she always ended up saying, “I don’t even know why I do this, your teeth are just so clean!”

The best part about cleaning your teeth at home is that it’s unbelievably easy and extremely cost-effective, in addition to causing other health benefits you may not expect. Teeth cleaning is so easy teenagers can do it — and that’s saying a good deal!

There are four simple steps to clean your teeth:

1. Floss thoroughly.

Run the floss between every tooth twice: once up and down on one side and once up and down on the other side.

2. Scale and scrape.

Gently scrape your teeth with a scaler along the gum line, between your teeth, and over the flat surface of each tooth. Be sure to gently scrape out any grooves you may have in your teeth, and to avoid widening cracks.

You’ll want to use a professional-quality, stainless steel scaler — they’re actually quite affordable. Don’t use one of those cheapie Walmart teeth-scaling kits.

3. Polish and brush.

Put a small amount of pumice polish on your toothbrush and give your teeth a good brushing. Pumice whitens your teeth and removes plaque and tartar at the same time.

Brush with side-to-side, up-and-down, and circular strokes. Make sure you brush along the gum line as well as the surface of the teeth themselves.

4. Replace your toothbrush regularly.

The pumice polish ruins your toothbrush’s regular cleaning capabilities, so buy yourself a new toothbrush each time you clean your teeth at home.

Yes, even replacing toothbrushes every six months doesn’t raise the cost to more than a fraction of the cost of a crockpot!

It can be intimidating to clean your teeth the first time — you may want to begin by cleaning your family’s teeth at home, and still going in for a cleaning occasionally to see how well you’re doing. Get x-rays. Ask the hygienist if there’s much of a buildup on your teeth. Make adjustments to your home-care routine accordingly until you have the process mastered.

You’ll still save money without worrying about sacrificing the health of your teeth in the process.

DIY teeth cleaning is a cost-effective, rewarding experience!

As you run your tongue along your teeth and feel the newly-smooth surface (the rough plaque having vanished along with the pumice), smile big and show your teeth as you think of all the things you can do with the money you saved.

Legal Disclaimer: As you’ve guessed, I am neither a dentist nor claim to be. This information is provided for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for obtaining professional dental advice. Please use at your own risk.

Liberty is so fascinated with effective DIY teeth cleaning that she wrote an eBook about it: Goodbye Dentist! Professionally Clean Your Family’s Teeth (in Under $20). You can download your free copy (opens in Dropbox) of this step-by-step, pain-free, detailed guide to becoming your own dentist and saving hundreds of dollars.

10 Experience Gifts for Kids

Give experience gifts to your kids this year! Unique, frugal, and clutter-free!!

Guest post from Micah of Home Faith Family:

For my fifth birthday, my dad gave me a choice between two birthday presents.

  1. A traditional gift.
  2. A daddy-daughter date with no other siblings to come along.

Coming from a family of seven, there was never alone time… and as a little girl, I was practically my dad’s shadow, so naturally, I chose the date with him.

Fast-forward a few decades later, my husband found himself unemployed after leaving law school, and our family finances were tighter than a knot.

Our children had birthdays coming up, and we felt guilty knowing we wouldn’t be able to buy them the toys they were eyeing at the store.

As my husband and I discussed what to do for our children so they wouldn’t feel neglected on their birthdays, the memory of my father’s date came to mind.

I shared the experience with my husband and we decided to try to give experiences to our children instead of gifts.

Our little ones had SO much fun that this has been their birthday gifts ever since!

5 Experience Gifts For A Non-Existing Budget:

I completely understand that a tight budget can be tricky when dealing with experience gifts. In these situations, I’ve found that creativity is my best friend!

1.Use the seasons to your advantage.

Is it winter? Use a trash can lid to go sledding. Are you enjoying summer time? Pick wildflowers together and have a contest to see who can make the most creative headband with the flowers.

2. Have a puddle splashing contest to see who can make the biggest splash.

This one was a hit with our little boy who loves the outdoors. Just make sure you have a lot of clean towels nearby for when you’re done!

3. Take dancing lessons together using YouTube and have a dance party at home.

Use what you have around your home to decorate the dining room or living room for when it’s time to dance.

4. Go on a nature walk and skip rocks in the river.

5. Take your child on a “tour of their life” in your local town.

Drive them to where they were born, places that have meaning to them and share your feelings and experiences with them on how much they mean to you. If you do this option, be sure to have a recorder going so you can write these stories down to give to your child later.

 

5 Experience Gifts When You Have a Little Money to Spare:

When you can budget the experiences, you want to gift your children, you’ll be able to cater to their interest and needs more.

1. Something they love more than anything. 

Maybe they’ve always wanted to be a professional baseball player… go enjoy a day at the ballpark.

Or perhaps they want to be a ballerina on ice skates… take them ice skating.

2. Cooking Classes.

Sign-up and take a cooking class together and then step back and let your child take the lead. You might be surprised at how well they do in the kitchen.

3. Music Lessons.

Does your son or daughter want to learn how to play a certain instrument? Sign them up for music lessons. If you can afford the lessons but can’t buy the instrument, there are places you can rent instruments from, whether this is the music store or your child’s school.

4. Museum Day Date.

Get lost together exploring the wonders of the world, learning about science, planet Earth, history, or anything else your child has an interest in.

5. Day Away With a Friend.

If your child has no interest in doing a one-on-one date, offer to take them and their friends to a trampoline park, a panic-puzzle room, or another fun, group party place where they can have a blast with their friends and family.

I promise (from experience) that children will rarely remember the gifts they receive on their birthday. But they WILL remember the time you spent with them and the memories you helped create.

Toys will eventually break, electronics will quickly become outdated, but the pictures you take and the laughter you share will be something you two can hold onto for a lifetime!

Have you ever been gifted with an experience gift?

Share it with us in the comments below… as well as why you loved this gift so much!

Micah Klug loves being a mother and helping other women DIY their home on a budget, grow their faith in Christ, love their marriage, and strengthen their family relationships by living simply without losing their quality of life or sanity. She writes at Home Faith Family, where you can download your free marriage ebook, “Love Again: 100+ Conversation Questions to Strengthen Your Relationship.”

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