Growing up, my sister and I got super excited about any themed holiday programming. Many TV channels would have special line ups for upcoming holidays, with lots of throwback movies and shows mixed in with new movies and shows with special episodes or new original content for the upcoming holiday. Halloween was one of those times. I recently found myself missing that type of content. I cut the cord long ago and all though, many streaming services have “hubs” or special lists for holiday content, it didn’t feel the same as having scheduled and planned content for the holiday. So, this year, my sister and I decided to make our own “cord cutter’s” schedules for the upcoming holidays. To start we’re doing the cord cutter’s 31 days of Halloween and decided to share it with all of you!
Why Should I Care about Cord Cutter’s 31 Days of Halloween?
This list may help you and your family and friends get excited about the upcoming holidays again, especially if you may not be able to take part in your normal traditions this year. If you are separated from family and friends at the moment, maybe have a watch party or outdoor private screening of these to spend some safe time with them!
The schedule includes movies and TV shows that are available on Hulu, Netflix, Disney+, and Amazon Prime streaming services. If you don’t have access to one of those, feel free to swap out for shows or movies on streaming services that you do have, watch with a friend that does have them, or try a free trial! Just don’t forget to set a reminder on your calendar or phone assistant to cancel before the free trial is over if you don’t have room in the budget for a new streaming service at the moment.
Parental Advisory for Cord Cutter’s 31 Days of Halloween
Also, not all of the movies on this list are kid friendly. Some (usually the weekend picks) are more adult horror movies. The ratings were not included on the schedule, so please check those on the streaming service, use discretion, and monitor the content before allowing your children to watch a particular movie on the schedule. We are absolutely not responsible for any children watching content that may not be appropriate for them.
Show Me the Schedule!
Without further ado, the schedule is below! You can also download it here. Also, feel free to screenshot and share this post. Also, be sure to like and share on Instagram. We will be posted the movie or show on the list every day and update you on when we’re watching. Tag us in your stories of the movies you’re watching! Can’t wait to watch with you!!!!
Candles are so incredibly expensive. Too expensive in my opinion, but I’m obsessed with them. I love to have candles lit at the end of the day to make the house smell really nice and relaxing, but also provide some nice relaxing low light to wind down. During my season of getting laid off and being unemployed a few years ago, I really wasn’t able to justify purchasing new candles for my house at full price. For many of them, I used coupons, but sometimes I would be out and didn’t have any coupons to buy any more. It also frustrated me that I would have a decent amount of wax left at the bottom of some of the candles. It seemed like a waste to throw that wax and jars away. I knew that people would get out the wax and reuse the jars, but I still felt guilty about throwing the wax away, so I figured out a way to reuse that wax and make new candles from the leftovers.
1. Gather all of your old Candles.
Ask your friends and family for more if you can. You’ll be surprised how many people have hoards that they’re happy to give. You can also ask in Facebook groups, like your local Buy Nothing Project, or on Nextdoor. Again, you’d be surprised how many of your neighbors keep these.
3. You need to get the wax out of all of the old candle jars.
You can freeze the jars and try to pop the wax out with a knife once they’re cold. I don’t find that method super effective myself and I feel like I’m going to accidentally hurt myself that way. Instead, I boil water and put boiling water in each jar, filling it up to as close to the top as I can. The wax will heat up and bubble up to the top. Let the wax cool at the top and then just pop it out. You may need to do some of the jars more than once to get all of the wax out. Sometimes they’re stubborn.
Brilliantly Frugal Tip: Put the jars on a few old towels. I tend to spill a bunch water when I do this.
4. Clean the Jars.
You’ll need to scrape or pop out the leftover wicks and any bits and glue at the bottom. Then scrub the jars inside and out with hot water and dawn dish soap. This may take some scrubbing to get all of the glue, wax, oil, stickers, and soot off. I also then like to run them through the dishwasher after for good measure.
5. Gather Your Other Supplies.
You need an old pot that you don’t mind getting wax in, pencils to prop the wicks, and a clean tin or aluminum can (I used an empty and cleaned refried bean can with the label taken off), and tongs. And any of the empty jars that you want to reuse as candle jars
6. Group Your Waxes.
You want to try to put like waxes together. For example, you want all of your soy wax together, regular wax, and then beeswax separate. Then group again by scents. So, you want summer scents together, winter or fall scents separate, etc. The reason for this is that different wax types don’t necessarily mix well. Also, you’ll probably have to layer the scents to make one whole new candle unless you got a bunch of the same scent with enough leftover wax of just that one scent to make a new candle.
7. Put a cup or two of water at the bottom of the pot.
Then put the first chunks of wax that you’d like to be the base of your first candle into the tin or can. Then put the can into the water and pot to melt the wax. Use the tongs to maneuver the can if you need to, because the can will be HOT. You may need to swirl around the hot wax every once in a while to help the wax melt down.
Pro Tip: Put a lid over the tin can to push it down to the bottom of the pot and keep it from floating. This will help the wax melt faster.
8. Place your candle wicks in the empty jars.
While the wax is melting, take out your candle wicks and place them in your jars. You may need to prop them against pencils that are laid across the top of the jar to keep them from falling. Try to follow the pattern that the previous candle used for the wicks. For example, if it was a 3 wick candle from bath and body works, make sure to put three wicks in the jar in that triangle pattern again. This will ensure that the new candle burns properly.
Pro Tip: You can also use holders specifically made to hold candle wicks. I like these from Amazon.
9. Pour your wax.
As the wax melts in the can, use the tongs to lift the can and pour the hot wax periodically in the jar. Keep melting wax and pouring the waxes in layers into your jars until you run out of wax or the jars are full. This takes a while, so put on some TV or music while you do this, but don’t forget to keep an eye on the melting wax! This is a project that I usually do on a weekend over a couple of days and I listen to podcasts, or music, or play netflix on my laptop while I’m doing it.
10. Enjoy your new candles!
Feel great about the fact that you recycled and reused instead of throwing all of that away or your friends, family, and neighbors throwing it all away. You also saved at least $8-$20 per candle that you didn’t buy depending on the brand!
What to do when you’ve lost your job. That is the sentence I googled when I got laid off. It sucked. It didn’t feel good for me or even for my supervisor that had to tell me. They told me that they didn’t agree with the decision, I was a great employee, and it was only because of the cost of my salary that I was being let go. They were right. I was a good employee. I worked very hard for the company for 5 years and it felt like a rejection or discreditation of the care and work I’d done over the years.
I’ve also had family members that have lost their jobs. It can cause immeasurable and unique anxiety, uncertainty, and a variety of other feelings. This is especially true if you have been living paycheck to paycheck and don’t have an emergency fund, money cushion, other methods of income or support system to rely on.
What to Do When You’ve Lost Your Job Tip #1
Breathe. Take a day or two if you can and decompress. Let yourself feel whatever your emotions are about it. It’s important that you take good care of yourself in whatever ways you can, whether they are big or small. That could mean doing an at-home spa day with all of your leftover, sample, or gifting bath products that you hardly use. This could also be taking a day trip to a place you’ve always wanted to go, even if only to take some pictures and take a walk around. It could also mean just vegging out on the couch for a day watching crappy TV and eating frozen pizza and ice cream.
What to Do When You’ve Lost Your Job Tip #2
File for unemployment. If you’re not sure if you’re eligible, most unemployment offices have a questionnaire or will tell you during the application process. Many offices are overloaded so if you don’t get through, try try try again until you do. Triple check all the paperwork to make sure it was filed and done correctly by you and also the workers at the office. Again, they’re overloaded and mistakes are possible. Keep copies or screenshots of everything you send in to the office or communication you get from the office. Paperwork can and sometimes does go missing. If you have that paperwork quickly available, you can get mistakes or kinks worked out much more quickly.
What to Do When You’ve Lost Your Job Tip #3
Check to see if you qualify for other government programs. Depending on the local eligibility requirements and your situation, you may also be able to apply for your local food or children support programs in your area or state. Every little bit counts, especially when you’re not sure how long you will be out of work.
What to Do When You’ve Lost Your Job Tip #4
If you have student loans, if you can still make your payments on employment, do. If you can’t, switch to an income-driven repayment plan or delay (forbear) your payments until you’re working again. Income-driven plans and forbearance will likely cost your more interest in the loan run but will keep you from going into default or delinquency while you’re unemployed. Call or email your servicer right away to discuss what options are available. You may be surprised at how willing they are to help.
What to Do When You’ve Lost Your Job Tip #5
Assess your living situation. Do you need to move in with family or friends? Can you rent out a spare bedroom in your house or get a roommate in your apartment? You may have other friends or family that are needing to downsize or find other housing right now. You may be able to help each other out by consolidating your households.
Even if you don’t think you’ll need to make changes like that immediately, spend some time looking at your living situation and answering those questions of what you can and are willing to change. Make that contingency plan so that if you do need to make a change in the future, you know exactly how, when, where, and what you will be shifting to make that happen quickly.
What to Do When You’ve Lost Your Job Tip #6
Take an inventory of your finances and figure out what you can reduce. Unemployment is often less than what you made when you were working, so you’ll need to do some reducing and cutting down. Check our guide for doing that here.
What to Do When You’ve Lost Your Job Tip #7
Think about switching jobs or fields. Grocery stores, warehouses, and the veterinary and medical fields are all always hiring. Maybe think about if you should go back to school or certification program for any of those.
What skills do you have? Do those translate to something you can sell online? Many of my friends started doing online personal training and fitness classes online, leaned into their creative energies and Etsy shops for extra money, or turned another skill into something that they can sell. The great part about this is that you are now running your own business, Your schedule, ideas, passions, and wants are all yours to implement and grow while being able to pay your bills.
What to Do When You’ve Lost Your Job Tip #8
Take time to explore and nourish your hobbies. They don’t have to be a side hustle necessarily. You need to decompress. This is highly stressful. But if you do end up making some money, great.
What to Do When You’ve Lost Your Job Tip #9
Start reaching out to your network. Don’t feel weird or ashamed if you haven’t spoken to that person in years. Reach out and ask if they would like to get coffee. Even if they don’t know of any job prospects, it can be surprisingly helpful to connect with old friends and catch up when you’re going through a difficult time.
Make big meals and freeze the leftovers for when you don’t feel like cooking. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to “meal prep” and spend a whole day cooking. I personally do not enjoy or subscribe to meal prepping. It does mean that when you are cooking, instead of making enough for 1 or 2 people, make twice what you normally would. Use storage containers and Tupperware to portion out individual meals to freeze or to eat for the next few dinners. You can cook 1-3 times a week and still stick to your goal of eating at home more and saving money by eating out less.
I’m so excited to share my Brilliantly Frugal ways to decorate on a small budget! Decorating is often what makes a house a home, but it can be dauntingly expensive and discouraging. You’ll find Pinterest full of large home renovations and million dollar budget redesigns on Pinterest. I’ve personally have had to decorate my homes on a small budget and have gotten very creative over the years. What that meant though is that my house was beautifully decorated and put together in a unique way. I’ve always received compliments on how my home is put together and questions on how I chose my items, where I found them, and how I came up with the ideas.
Brilliantly Frugal Decorating Tip #1: NEVER PAY RETAIL!
This is 100% my motto when shopping and it holds true. I almost never pay retail prices. It makes me physically irritated to do so. I do my best to only buy an item if it is on sale or with a coupon, if that’s an option. If it’s not on sale or I don’t have a coupon, I wait. I practice my patience. And believe me, it is practice! I know it is torture to want an item very badly BUT IT WILL GO ON SALE. STAY PATIENT.
Although, there are some items that don’t go on sale or have coupons. For those, I try to buy secondhand or get free what I can. You can save SO MUCH MONEY that way.
These are my favorite Brilliantly Frugal ways to decorate and make a space a home on a small budget.
Brilliantly Frugal Decorating Tip #2: Paint
If you have hand me down furniture that you don’t like, paint it (ask for permission first!) You can also paint your walls, cabinets, even small home decor items. You can paint almost anything, even upholstery. Paint is probably the cheapest way to turn something you don’t like into something you love. Also, you can avoid doing an entire tear our renovation this way. For example, you can paint cabinets that seem outdated but are still in very good condition. You’d be surprised how a fresh coat of paint can make it look as if you got all new cabinets, when in fact, you only gave them a color update.
This is one of those items that rarely go on sale or has coupons unless you’re buying from Sherwin-Williams (they often have coupons available, but they are a more expensive paint option). Your family, friends, or neighbors may have some leftover paint from their home projects that you can use! Ask on our local neighborhood Facebook pages or Nextdoor. Even if they don’t have quite enough for your project, you can use what they have and spend a lot less at the hardware store by buying only what you need to finish the project! If you’re looking for a popular color, you’d be surprised how many people have that exact color leftover. They are usually happy to pass it along and get it out of their garage or attic.
Alternatively, if you’re flexible with your color choices, you can try the paint “oops” section of your favorite hardware store. Most hardware stores have a bin of paints that were incorrectly mixed, were returned, or never picked up. You can buy those instead of having a new batch mixed and save quite a bit of money.
Brilliantly Frugal Decorating Tip #3: Wall Art
If you’re renting and can’t change the wall colors by painting, you can try temporary (removable) wallpaper. You can get it at most hardware stores, and even online from Target. This can be a bit more expensive than paint if you’re doing an entire room. However, if you only cover one wall ( an accent wall), it can make a huge difference in a room and save a bit of money!
Alternatively, you can buy large tapestries as cheap alternatives to expenses canvas. You can find these online on Amazon, Target, Ikea, and other stores relatively cheap. These are often available at thrift stores as well.
Also, be sure to support your artist friends or local artists! Your friends may have relatively inexpensive prints or other art available for sale. This is a great opportunity to support your friends or community and have beautiful unique pieces in your home. If you don’t know any artists yourself, look out for local art shows on Facebook or in the local paper. Many cities, even small towns have annual art shows were local artists can showcase and sell their artwork. These are often hosting on the main streets and have music and food vendors as well. They can be a lot of fun on a weekend with friends to look at great and inspirational pieces.
Brilliantly Frugal Decorating Tip #4: Greenery
Plants are perfect for decorating on a small budget! Bring the outside inside. Houseplants can add a pop of color and life into a small space with little to no money. Are you scared of killing it? No worries! Get a succulent or ivy that is low maintenance. Don’t go to a big box store like Home Depot or Lowes. You’ll have more luck by going to a small local plant store. The owners and employees there will have specialized knowledge in the plants in the store and can help you pick something that fits your home, expertise, lifestyle, and budget. They also sometimes offer consultations online with suggestions of what would work best in the space and can provide delivery.
Brilliantly Frugal Decorating Tip #5: Thrifting
You will not believe how many New With Tag or like-new items you can find at Goodwill, Savers, Salvation Army, or other thrift stores. It’s insane! I regularly find new with tag or like new clothes, picture frames, candles, candleholders, pillows, and other decor items for 70-90% off the original retail price.
Even if you end up buying something used, you can often find the most unique and interesting items at thrift stores. It is so much more interesting to have one of a kind items to decorate your home. Having the same 5 things that everyone else is buying from big box stores that will be out of style next season can cost you more money in the long run.
Just be sure to carefully inspect items before purchasing them. Go to a well-lit area of the store and look over every share inch of the item for chips, stains, or missing buttons or pieces. I’m definitely guilty of getting too excited about a great deal and not realizing that the item is broken or damaged until I get home.
Thrift stores can also be a great resource for DIY projects. You may be able to find broken or cheap items that can be reused or remade into something new. You can also find items that have good bones, but the color, stain, or finish is a bit outdated for very little money. Antique, vintage, and other well-made items are frequent finds at thrift stores. You can paint, stain, or refinish items in contemporary colors for a lot less than buying the item new or at an antique store!
Brilliantly Frugal Decorating Tip #6: Estate and Garage Sales
Estate and Garage sales are two of my favorite Brilliantly Frugal places to find items to decorate on a small budget. At sales like these, the sellers are often motivated to get rid of the items and are hopefully not sentimentally attached to the items. This can make for some great sales. If you get vary lucky, you can find new with tag, vintage, or designer and luxury items for a great price if you dig enough. Just be sure to bring hand sanitizer and to wash all items as soon as you get them home. Many times items have been in storage for a bit and can be dusty or dirty.
Brilliantly Frugal Decorating Tip #7: Discount Stores
Discount Stores like Ross, HomeGoods, Burlington, Marshalls, TJ Maxx, and others are honestly some of my favorite places to check for new but deeply discounted items to decorate my home.
Caution. These stores are addicting. They have GIANT home decor areas with cute decorative furniture, decor items, linens, and kitchenware for fractions of the original pricing. You can often find designer or even luxury brand items there for fractions of the cost. Just be careful. Sometimes the deal on a designer or luxury brand item looks great, but the quality of a lesser known brand or other option at the same store is the same or even better for a much lower price.
Again, be sure to inspect items for any damage or missing parts or pieces. By the time the item makes it to the discount store, it has been through several warehouses and damage does happen, unfortunately.
Brilliantly Frugal Decorating Tip #8: IKEA
Ikea has an amazing amount of home decor, art prints, and trendy home pieces for incredibly cheap. We’ve gotten aesthetically pleasing home storage solutions for under $10 that I love using in our pantry. We were also able to find two large poster size art prints for only $4. I cut one down to fit a frame that I found at Salvation Army for another $5 and hung it up in my office at work. It is the item that I get the most compliments on and I only spent $9 total on it.
Brilliantly Frugal Decorating Tip #9: Target
Even Target sometimes has extreme discounts on home goods and furniture. Full price, a lot of their offerings can be expensive. However, if you wait for the end of a season or during Target’s big sales, you can often get trendy contemporary pieces for great prices. Read about how to save more at Target with Target Circle here.
Brilliantly Frugal Decorating Tip #10: Maximize Social Media
Facebook Marketplace, Offerup, & 5Mile and other similar apps are great spaces to check for hidden gems. You’ll often find people selling items that they no longer want for very little in good condition that you can grab in your area. This is especially true if you can find people who are moving. They often desperately want to get rid of the item quickly before they have to be out of their current home. This means you get an item for very cheap and they don’t have to move it! Win-Win!
The downside to these apps is that you often have to do A LOT of scrolling through junk or overpriced items to find something you like. You’ll have to check back often because a good deal will usually go pretty fast. Also, be sure to double-check that the item you are looking for is actually listed in your area and not somewhere else that will ship unless you’re willing to pay the shipping.
If you have a local Buy Nothing Project group on Facebook, be sure to join and check back regularly for items that neighbors are gifting! We have acquired so many items from our neighbors on our local Buy Nothing group. We’ve received a lamp, large mirror to hang above our front entryway table, coffee table books, and so many other things that our neighbors were no longer using but we were happy to give away. We’ve returned the favor by gifting our unused or unwanted items frequently as well.
Getting healthy, exercising more, and losing weight are some of the top 3 new years resolutions in the US. I’ve made these same goals for myself this year as I hone in on living a better, happier life while I enter into my 30s. The only problem is that it seems like living healthy and trying to lose weight can be unreasonably and impossibly expensive. Thankfully, I’ve learned some tips and tricks over the years to teach you how to get healthy and save money in 2020!
Gyms to Get Healthy AND Save You Money in 2020
Gyms can be incredibly expensive. However, there are cheap gym options that offer the basics that you need to get your main exercises in and help you get healthy and save money in 2020.
DON’T GET PRESSURED INTO A TOO EXPENSIVE GYM
Planet Fitness is super inexpensive. You can get a membership for as low as $10. The $10 membership gets you access to the gym equipment and the lockers, but not the tanning beds or massage chairs. Only $20 a month gets you “Black card status” which also gives you access to the tanning beds, massage chairs, and 50% off drinks in the cooler at the gym. If you’d like to try it out, click here for a free one day pass.
Be sure that you can actually afford the gym or option that you’ve chosen. Make a point to look through your budget and determine the amount of money you can spend per month on your new health goals. Don’t pick a gym simply because it has all the bells and whistles. Pick a gym because it checks the boxes for your needs and is within your budget.
For example, I have to have a gym that has a treadmill and weight machines that are not overly crowded. When picking a new gym, that gym HAS to have those things, or I know I will not go, which is a huge waste of money. Also, some of the things I would like to have at the gym but could live without is group exercise classes like Yoga or Spin at a time that I can attend. If I find a gym that has all of those things and is within my budget, GREAT! I’m signing up! But if the only gyms that have my wants in addition to my needs are outside of my budget, I’ll need to look for the next best thing. There is no reason to go into debt to become healthy.
Do Trials Before Committing
Almost every gym or app has a few days of free trials available, but be careful! Many will charge you automatically if you don’t cancel in person during the trial. Be sure to write down or set a reminder on your phone before the deadline to cancel if you try those. It can also be a way to try some super expensive gyms for fun.
Apps to Get Healthy AND Save Money in 2020
There are so many apps out there for weight loss or fitness, it can be daunting. Additionally, many of the free ones seem to have little benefit and the premium ones can sometimes be really expensive. But fear not, I’m happy to share the apps that I’ve used to meet my health and fitness goals while still being Brilliantly Frugal.
One less expensive workout option is app subscription options, like Openfit, or Bad Yogi Studio. Bad Yogi Studio is only $15 per month and gives you access to a ton of premium yoga classes that are regularly updated. You can play the videos on a phone or stream to your TV and do the classes at home! Openfit is similar in that you can play the workouts on your phone and can do them anywhere. However, the workouts are more HIIT or strength training focused on Openfit.
Another app that I love is Noom. It helps you set goals, track your weight/exercise/food and calories in the app. It gives you helpful encouragement throughout your journey. There is a premium version of the app, but there’s really no need to sign up for that unless you want a personal coach. Otherwise, the app is completely usable and helpful in the free version.
Lastly, if you have a Fitbit, you need to be using the app to its full potential. You can log food and water consumption, exercise, track your weight, and make weight loss goals. You can also track your calorie consumption throughout the day and set the app to customize the amount you can eat for the day based on how many calories it’s predicting you will burn for the day. This is super helpful, because instead of sticking to a boring and monotonous 1400 calorie a day diet, for example, it can be set for a 400 calorie a day deficit; meaning you can eat more on days that you are more active or do more exercise. Your calorie progress logs and tracks in real-time.
Even better, the app will automatically pick up when you’re going for a run, bike ride, or long walk, based on your heart rate. Alternatively, you can manually ask it to start tracking when you start your workout. Either way, it helps you track and maintain your goals in real-time, which is amazing!
Keep an eye out on Facebook Marketplace, Nextdoor, or your local Buy Nothing Groups for free or very cheap at home gym items like stretch bands, exercise balls, free-weights, foam rollers, etc. You can have a respectable collection of at-home gym items for little to no money. I have personally found a brand new foam roller for free from my local Buy Nothing group. It has been a great addition to my personal at-home gym collection.
Join a local walking or dog walking group! There are many on Facebook and may help you make friends with some of your neighbors.
Make Your Own Food AND Save Money in 2020
COOK AT HOME. I know. You already know this and it’s super annoying to be told again, but IT’S TRUE! And sometimes you need tough love. So here it is. My best Brilliantly Frugal tip is: STOP eating out and START cooking at home!
It’s generally healthier and more cost-effective. You’ll make yourself much smaller portions than what you would get at a restaurant or fast food place so you’ll automatically be reducing your calorie consumption. Hopefully, you’ll be buying as much fresh food as possible. You will save yourself from all the sodium and other horrible preservatives that you find in fast food and major food chains. You’ll be able to make better, more informed decisions about what is going into your body when making it at home.
Make big meals and freeze or use leftovers for lunches at work. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to “meal prep” and spend a whole day cooking. I personally do not enjoy or subscribe to meal prepping. It does mean that when you are cooking, instead of making enough for 1 or 2 people, make twice what you normally would. Use storage containers and Tupperware to portion out individual meals to freeze or take to work for lunch. You can cook 1-3 times a week and still stick to your goal of eating at home.
It can seem easy to buy lots of premade workout drinks and shakes, but try making workout and healthy shakes and smoothies at home! It’s super easy and they can be really yummy. You can be sure of what you’re putting in your body without all of the preservatives, sodium, and fillers. You can get an expensive Nutribullet if you want, or the really inexpensive personal blender that I got on Amazon. Bullet journal or use your apps to track your savings on food and pounds lost to keep you motivated!
Make the Shopping Convenient
Don’t have time to grocery shop? Thankfully it is 2020 and that is not a problem! Use Amazon Prime NOW or Curbside pickup from your favorite stores. You can get curbside pickup from Target, HEB, and Walmart. That means you order groceries ahead of time online, and then head to the store when you’re ready. You never have to leave your car. The store working will bring your items to the car and load them for you and you’re on your way! It’s super convenient.
Never Pay Retail
USE A COUPON FOR EVERYTHING. All things healthy are on sale right now. That includes protein shakes and other healthy foods and snacks. Don’t pay retail for anything. Use Honey and Mypoints extension to find coupons online. If you are shopping in the store, be sure to use the store’s app to look for coupons. You can read more about Target’s rewards program, Target Circle here.
Brilliantly Frugal Take Away
Find a fun option that you’ll stick to. If you hate the gym, don’t sign up for a regular run of the mill gym, because “going to the gym is how you lose weight.” You’ll just set yourself up for failure and end up wasting money on a gym membership that you never use. If you need something more fun, try the at-home options that you can do on your own time. If working out AND a diet sounds too daunting right now, try just working on the diet portion or just the exercise portion for right now. Know yourself. Make your plan targeted to something that is reasonable and that you can stick to. You can do it!
Your Brilliantly Frugal Motto: EVERYTHING is negotiable.
Brilliantly Frugal Tip #1: Electric
If you are able to shop for electricity in your area, start by shopping on powertochoose.com. You will need to know your average monthly kilowatt per hour (kWh) usage to know your TRUE rate. Find your average (kWh) by looking at your last few electricity statements to see what you used. You may have to dig around on your electricity provider’s website a bit to find the statements.
Now head over to powertochoose.com, enter your zip code, filter by your average kWh usage, companies with good ratings, and whether you would prefer a company with renewable energy or not. I would also suggest picking a fixed-rate plan to be sure that your rates will not increase. Now, look through the available plans, considering the kWh charge, any new customer signing bonuses, and your current rate charges to pick a new plan!
Brilliantly Frugal Pro Tip: Follow these ^ steps each time your electricity contract is set to expire to make sure you’re getting the best rate.
Brilliantly Frugal Tip #2: TV
You’ve probably seen this a million times now, but it’s true. If you have cable, you need to cut right now. There is nothing on the cable channels that you can’t watch on a streaming service like Hulu, Netflix, Disney+, etc. Hulu even has a live TV option with live sports. Though, if you don’t watch live TV now, there’s no need to buy that ore expensive version of Hulu. Who has time for live TV anymore anyway?! Even when I had cable, I found myself almost exclusively watching my recorded shows on the DVR. Which is basically like watching streaming services with more steps and for more money.
If you aren’t willing to cut your cable, check to see if you can get a better rate with a competitor or at least check to see whether you’re actually using the channels in your current package. If not, you may be able to at least downgrade the package you’re subscribed to and save a little bit of money each month. When that’s not an option, call your cable company to see if they have any current promotions available. Sometimes they’ll at least give you free premium movie channels for 3 months.
Brilliantly Frugal Pro Tip: Review your bills, subscriptions, etc for ways to reduce your subscriptions or ask about promotions once a year for the best savings.
Brilliantly Frugal Tip #3: Internet
The major internet companies often work together to keep options limited and prices high for customers. However, shop around once in a while or see if you can bundle services to reduce your bill. It may be worth switching between companies every once in a while when your contract is up to get the “new customer” promotional rates. If you’re lucky enough to have Google Fiber in your area, switch to Google Fiber. It is incredibly fast, reliable, and cheap.
Brilliantly Frugal Tip #4: Credit Cards
If you have consistently paid on time, call your credit card companies and remind them of how long you’ve been a good customer. Ask for a reduction in interest rate. Even if they won’t permanently reduce it, they may give you a limit increase or 0% interest for a period of time. If they give you a limit increase, this can help your credit score (read more about that here). If they give you 0% and you have balances on other cards, consider transferring the balances to reduce the interest you will accumulate on the debt. Read more about credit cards here and how to focus on reducing your debt here.
Brilliantly Frugal Tip #5: Student Loans
If your student loan payments are a struggle to keep up with or afford, consider switching to an income adjusted or an income-driven repayment plan. You can talk to your student loan servicer about your options. You will pay more interest in the long term, but may help you keep your head above water if you need the help. I have an income-driven repayment plan and focus any extra money I make in the month towards the one student loan with the lowest balance. Read more about paying off debt using the snowball method here.
Brilliantly Frugal Tip #6: Cell Phone Data Plan
Get on a good unlimited plan! Do your research! I personally suggest switching to Google Fi.
Pros: Unlimited data. You can sign up for a straight unlimited plan. If you don’t use much data each month, you can sign up for a different plan for less. If you use less than 6 gigs per month, they will refund what you didn’t use as a credit on your next bill. In other words, you ONLY pay for what you use. And yes, they pay CASH on your statement, not “rollover minutes” or “rollover data”. Each line is only $20 per month. They use both Sprint and T-Mobile towers, so coverage is both good AND backed up. If one of them has towers down, Google will auto-switch you to the other towers. It auto switches you to open wifi when it detects it. It encrypts the connection, so you don’t have to worry about security. This keeps your data usage WAY down! I only used about 2-3 gigs per month now. It also includes free international data in over 200 countries.
Always go shopping with a list and use coupons. The list will help give you an idea of what you will be spending before you even leave the house to go to the store. It can also help you be sure that what you will be spending will be within your grocery budget for the month. Lastly, it will keep you from placing random things in your basket while you shop and help keep down your overall cost.
Coupons of course help reduce your overall bill by helping you save on individual items. Thankfully, couponing is not as time-consuming or laborious as it once was. If clipping coupons from the paper sounds like a lot of work, you don’t have to do that at all!. You can find and print coupons on coupons.com. Additionally, almost every store has an app with digital coupons available. You just need to save the coupons ahead of time when you’re making your list and scan the barcode at checkout at the store. If you shop Target, use Target Circle. You can read more about that here.
Brilliantly Frugal Tip #8: Gas
Use the GasBuddy app to find the cheapest gas in your area. I’ve been surprised a few times when I thought I already knew the cheapest gas station in the area only to find that a different gas station is a bit cheaper in the area.
Google Maps will also sometimes show the gas prices when you search for gas stations along your route.
Brilliantly Frugal Pro Tip: Check the app every single time you need to fill up and you’re low on cash for the best savings since gas prices change so frequently.
Brilliantly Frugal Tip #9: Eating Out
Use a loyalty program every single time that you can. You’ll usually rack up points for free items later, get free items on your birthday, or coupons for discounted items frequently. The trick to this is to not eat out more than you normally would. You should go the same amount, just be sure to scan the reward code to keep free items later. Whataburger, Starbucks, and Chick fil a are good examples of fast-food restaurants with rewards programs. Most restaurants also usually give free items or coupons if you join their email list. Ask your waiter about it.
Brilliantly Frugal Tip #10: Car Care
Get your car regularly serviced. I know, that seems daunting or like a luxury when money is tight. However, I promise it will save you a ton of money in the long run. The trick to this is to set aside a little bit of money each month (put it into a savings account on payday if you have to so that you won’t spend it.) Most auto servicing chains like Jiffy lube or Kwik Kar always have coupons for oil and brake changes. Just google for those coupons in your area, print or show the coupon on your phone when you get the service for the discount!
Brilliantly Frugal Pro Tip: Follow Brilliantly Frugal on Facebook and sign up for the email list on our website for notices and alerts about how to save more money!
Target is one of my favorite places to shop. The addition of Target Circle makes it that much better! I am so excited to tell you all about it!
How it Works
Target Circle is built straight into the Target App and is completely free. Download the Target App on your phone and register. Search for what you plan on buying through the search bar at the top and add the Target Circle offer if one is available. If you just feel like browsing offers, click on “Shop” and then “Target Circle Offers” to browse the offers and add any offers to your list.
If you don’t feel like making a list ahead of time, open the app and click on the barcode in the search bar while you’re out shopping. You can scan the barcodes of each item while you pick it up to see if a Target Circle offer is available. It will automatically add any offers it finds to your list! It’s so exciting when you’re out shopping for your daily essentials and you see an offer pop up!
At checkout, click on the wallet in the Target App and have the cashier scan the barcode. All of your Target Circle offers will automatically be deducted from your total before paying at checkout.
To save even more money, sign up for the Target Red Card, debit or credit, to save another 5% on any purchase that you use your Target Red Card. (Read Understanding your Credit Score and 5 Credit Card Myths before deciding whether you want the Debit or Credit Card.) I personally opted for the debit card, because I didn’t need or want another credit card at the time.
You can also add other Target coupons and target gift cards into the wallet. No need to keep up with the plastic cards that I am constantly losing.
Wait. But What Happened to Cartwheel?
Right, Target used to have an app called Target Cartwheel. It worked similarly to Target Circle, in that you could add offers and scan the barcode at checkout to save. You could add friends and see how much your friends were saving along with you! Target was striving to add a social media type aspect to its offerings. However, the app evolved a lot over the years. Eventually, the social part was completely removed and the separate app was incorporated into the Target App. Now Cartwheel is being incorporated into Target Circle, but there are a few differences.
How Target Circle is Better Than Cartwheel
A major complaint about Cartwheel was that the discounts were essentially in-store only. Every once in awhile a cartwheel offer was available on the online store, but it was incredibly rare. It also meant that you couldn’t use Cartwheel offers if you wanted to order online and do in-store pickup or Target Drive Up (the curbside service). Now though, Target Circle makes all of that possible. You can shop in the app, add cartwheel offers, pay with gift cards and your Target Card, save a ton of money and have the items delivered to your door, pickup in-store, or use Target Drive Up to have the items brought and loaded in your car.
If you’re not using your Target Red Card, you’ll still get 1% back in Circle Rewards to use later when you scan the barcode. You can redeem those on your next trip when you add the rewards in your wallet in the Target App and scan the barcode at checkout.
Target is now doing an amazing thing by supporting local nonprofits through Target Circle. When you use Target Circle, you earn “votes.” With those votes, you can vote for who Target will support next in your local area. Voting periods are usually a few months and there are usually about 4-5 local nonprofits to choose from. Target includes the company’s logo and a brief bio of each to help you decide. You don’t have to use all of your votes on one nonprofit, you can vote for more than one, diving your votes however you like between the nonprofit if you would like.
If you don’t have Amazon Prime, you need to join. Get a FREE 30-day trial here. Not only do you get free 2-day shipping, and in some cases, free same day or one-day shipping, but you also get these 5 really cool perks INCLUDED for FREE in your membership. Read on to see how it saves you money.
With Prime Video you get access to all kinds of shows that aren’t available on Netflix, like HBO, PBS, and History Channel shows. You also get access to all kinds of Amazon Prime Original shows, like Man in the High Castle, Red Oaks, The Marvelous Ms. Maisal, Bosch, and more! You can’t get these shows anywhere else. Also, if you have kids, Prime Video also has an impressive selection of original kids shows and your kid’s favorite PBS shows!
How it saves you money: CUT THE CORD! The number of shows and movies available to binge watch will keep you so busy that you won’t miss live TV.
Prime Music is just like Spotify or Pandora but is FREE with your Prime membership and there are NO ADS! You can listen on your phone through the Amazon Music app or on your computer at music.amazon.com.
How it saves you money: Get rid of Spotify or Pandora Premium! You don’t need those when you have Prime Music for FREE!
With Amazon Drive you get 5GB of free cloud storage. Cloud storage is a great way to backup important documents because you have access to them anywhere that you can access your Amazon account and they are not saved on your device but instead are backed up on the Amazon servers. You never have to worry about losing documents when a device breaks, melts down, stops working, or is stolen. Saving on cloud servers also tends to be more secure than saving on a device.
If you’re one of those people that likes to save on USB drives, this is a great alternative. You never have to worry about losing them. I ALWAYS lose my USBs.
How it saves you money: Stop paying $10 per month for iCloud Storage or additional Google Drive Space.
Are you tired of your phone and tablet being out of storage? It’s the worst! Thankfully with Prime Photos, you can store all of your pics! Get them off of your phone and tablets! Storage is UNLIMITED with Amazon Prime.
How it saves you money: Stop paying $10 per month for iCloud Storage.
Prime Reading is completely free with your prime subscription. Prime Reading is like a library for Prime customers. Just look for Prime Reading in the Kindle store. You’ll find tons of popular titles like Harry Potter and Handmaid’s Tale.
How it saves you money: This is a great alternative to Kindle Unlimited. It doesn’t have as many titles available as Kindle Unlimited but has plenty available for the casual reader.
Estimated Savings: $10 per month
$10 per month in shipping
$103 per month in cable
$10 per month for Spotify or Pandora Premium
$10 per month in document Storage
$10 per month in photo storage
$10 per month for Kindle Unlimited
= $153 per month SAVED
$153 per month x 12 months = $1836 in savings for the year!!
If you were offered a raise of $1836 at work, you would take it in a heartbeat. SO SIGN UP NOW!
First of all, I am not a tax expert, CPA, or tax attorney. Nothing in this post should be taken as tax or legal advice. Please consult with your own CPA or attorney.
I don’t know everything
It is hard for me to admit, but I don’t know everything and sometimes I need help. This year, I learned that I needed to file certain tax forms that I not only have never filed before, but when I looked at them, they made no sense to me. I consider myself an intellegent person, but even the smartest and most educated people don’t know how to do everything. I realized I needed an expert.
Why I actually hired a tax professional
As I said, my taxes got more complicated this year. When I bought my first house several years ago, I used a first-time homebuyers government grant to help with my downpayment. In return, I agreed to not sell that house for nine years. I had no intentions of moving out of that house any time soon. But life happens and plans change.
Since I bought that house, I went back to school, got laid off from my job, took the Bar exam, and got a new job. Then I found a dream job in a city 3 and half hours away. I needed to pack up and move within 30 days and sell the house that I spent the last five years renovating, decorating, and making a perfectly comfortable, functional, and beautiful home for me and my dog. That also meant that I had to send the IRS specific forms about the house sale.
What I learned
I LEFT MONEY ON THE TABLE.
Apparently, I hadn’t been taking advantage of a credit from my the original house purchase and lost out on hundreds of dollars in tax credit. I was also worried that I would owe additional taxes because I did make a profit from the house sale. Thankfully, my CPA was able to find an exemption that I was able to take advantage of. I don’t owe any taxes and got a return!
Does this mean you need to hire a tax professional?
Not necessarily. If your income is fairly straightforward, you normally only file a 1040EZ. You may not need one.
Though, if you have a small business, several sources of income, own property, or have made any big purchases or sales within the last year, you may consider speaking with a CPA to see if their services and fees would be something that you would like to consider.
The bottom line
Ultimately, ONLY YOU know your financial situation and whether you need a CPA or tax professional. Even if you may not need one, you may always hire one anyway for peace of mind.
Garage Sales are my absolute favorite way to sell my unwanted items. I can easily make a few hundred dollars in one weekend instead of selling one item at a time. Here are my tried and true Brilliantly Frugal Tips for 2018!
Garage Sale Pro Tips
Pro Tip #1: Know your city and county rules. Some require that you register your garage sale. You may get fined if you don’t.
Pro Tip #2: Garage sale season starts in early spring and ends in early fall. Try to schedule your garage sale at popular moving times. Those are typically in June after school is out, and in August, right before dorm move in season. If you can, have the sale Friday through Sunday or Thursday through Sunday. Believe it or not, Friday is usually my busiest day.
Pro Tip #3: Don’t do it alone. I usually need at least one helper, sometimes two. Ask a friend to bring their items to sell and run it with you, offer a friend a percentage of the sales to help, or ask the family to lend a hand. You will need help carrying items in and out of the house, to answer questions, and to take and exchange money. Don’t try to do it all yourself, because you will be overwhelmed.
Pro Tip #4:
How to Get People to Shop:
Post on your personal Facebook page! You’d be surprised how many friends might stop by, even just to say hi, as they run errands.
Post on Facebook Marketplace, the Garage Sale app, your city’s Facebook page, Offerup, Nextdoor, Letgo, 5miles, etc.
Pro Tip #5: When you post on Facebook and all of your other apps about the garage sale, go ahead and post your furniture, appliances, and electronics individually in the marketplace. In my last yard sale, I had more people respond to those than anything else. Several people stopped by the yard sale to pick up the item and ended up purchasing a few other smaller items at the same time.
Pro Tip #6: Never hold items for people without payment. You will have MANY people asking you to hold an item for them and then never show up to pick it up. I only hold items if they provide a PayPal or Venmo payment in advance.
Pro Tip #7: Be diverse in payment options! It is 2018! There are many ways for people to send each other electronic payments. I accept Paypal and Venmo payments at my sales, but there are many other apps that you can use.
Pro Tip #8: That being said, the majority of your shoppers will have cash. Make sure you have at least $100 in change at the start of your sale. I usually try to keep it all in $10s, $5s, $1s, and quarters. Keep the money on you at all times, either in a fanny pack or something similar. Do not use a cash box or something that you will set down. It will get stolen.
Pro Tip #9: Don’t be afraid to put anything out in the sale. You never know what someone is looking for or why. Usually, the things that I think no one will buy are the first things to sell. There are plenty of people who are happy to buy broken, distressed, or old items to fix or spruce up for a deal.
Pro Tip #10: Make sure to have some furniture available to get people to stop. Focus on ways to repurpose or spruce up furniture when talking to shoppers!
Pro Tip #11: Have organized tables! Keep like items together such as clothes, toys, home decor, auto accessories, etc. It helps shoppers find what they are looking for and show how the item can be used.
Pro Tip #12: Make lots of signs! Make prices clear and low so that you have lots of shoppers. Your goal is to get a HIGH volume of items sold, not necessarily a high price for each item.
Pro Tip #13: Most shoppers will ask for a discount. Be prepared for that. Know your rock bottom price on your items. Also, don’t deny offers! If their offer is too low, counter with another offer in the middle! The buyer’s goal is to get a deal. Your goal is to get the item out of the house and hopefully make a little bit of money in the process.
Pro Tip #14: Towards the end of your sale, offer bulk prices. EX: a whole grocery bag of items for $5 or even $1, a whole table of things for $X, etc.
Pro Tip #15: Provide shopping bags! I keep all of my plastic grocery bags. When it’s time for a garage sale, I take the entire stash with me outside. If you provide shoppers with bags, they are more likely to buy more items at once. I have had shoppers ready to check out, but when I offered them a bag, they took the opportunity to fill a second bag with items they weren’t initially sure about!
Pro Tip #16: Hang jewelry on a cork board! It’s easier for shoppers to see the displayed pieces, especially the small ones.
Pro Tip #17: If you don’t have time to do one yourself, see if you can enlist someone else to run it or give a friend your items to sell at their garage sale on consignment.
Pro Tip #18: When I do garage sales, I sell items for my friends all the time. The more items I have out, the more people stop at my garage sale, the more of my own items I will sell. Sometimes my friends will allow me to take some of the profit from their items as a thank you. I’ve also had friends donate whole truckloads of items for me to sell! I’ve made so much money on garage sales.
After the Garage Sale
Pro Tip #19: Go through the items again and see if there are items that you would rather keep than go Goodwill.
Pro Tip #20: Pull out any items that you might be able to sell yourself online. If you have furniture, appliances, or electronics, slash the price on your facebook marketplace posts and see what happens!
Pro Tip #21: Any Brand name clothes can be sold on Poshmark!
Poshmark is a great app that lets you sell brand name clothes like Forever 21, H&M, Victoria’s Secret, Calvin Klein, Vera Bradley, Target brands, and so many more! People go here purposefully looking for specific brand names for cheap. Poshmark handles charging for shipping, sending you a shipping label, and provides many helpful articles for being successful in your sales.
Brilliantly Frugal Tip: Be sure to use code DANIELAMCL when you sign up for an instant $5 bonus!
Pro Tip #22: There are usually people on Facebook Marketplace that advertise that they are picking up garage sale leftovers. Message them a time they can come to pick up your leftovers and save yourself a trip to Goodwill.
I learn something new every time I do a sale. What have you learned doing your garage sale? We’ve love to see all of your suggestions in the comments below!
If you don’t have quite enough items for a garage sale, or would like to make more per item, check out our Ultimate Guide here!
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