6 Tips for Combating the Mid-Year Frugal Slide

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It’s July, and for most of us, Our New Years Resolutions are a thing of the past. Mr. and I were talking today about ways we could reign in our budget. We’re not making it rain by any means, but… we could make a few changes. Here are my top ten tips, and trust me, I’ve already started incorporating some of these. I’ll have all of them back in the works by weeks’ end.

  1. Back to meal planning and sticking to it. No more trips to Denny’s when I am feeling lazy in the morning, or Mondays after group therapy.  That means I’ll be back to meal planning posts and new recipes too. And I’ll have several “back up dinners” on-hand in case the day gets away from me, or it’s too hot to cook the original meal. I took advantage of the sale on chicken breasts at Smart & Final the other day, and picked up 10 lbs. I came home and cut up the whole half breasts into more manageable sizes, and marinated some of it with different spices and put it in ziploc bags in the freezer. 10 lbs of chicken should get us 5 dinners, plus leftovers from each meal.
  2. Back to maintaining a robust snack bag in the car, refilling it daily, and remembering our water bottles when we leave the house. I fill our water bottles (we have these for the kids and these for the adults- in 40 oz) with water and ice before we leave in the AM and refill them as needed throughout the day in various places.
  3. In conjunction with #2, start taking surveys on receipts for deep discounts and free stuff again. I am Sonic’s text list, so when they have a daily deal that I have change in my car for, the kids and I stop for .50 ice cream cones, 1/2 price drinks (cherry limeade!). Frequently when you check out, there is a survey on the bottom of the receipt that will score you an XL (Route 44) size beverage for free! I really need to get back into stretching the buck.
  4. Check all my apps before I go shopping. I’ve been bad about this over the past few months. I’m sure I’ve missed out on Ibotta deals, Checkout 51 offers, and Cash Dash promos. No More! I’m back, baby!!
  5. Allowance. Yup, just like a teenager, I’m putting myself on an allowance, and Mr. is going to as well. I’m sticking to $40 in the summer, and $25 once we are back to school. This will just be for “fun money”. I still shop around for gas to stay within budget for gas each week. Costco is usually the cheapest.
  6. Keeping eyes open for cheap entertainment. Big Dude is in ESY (summer school) for the next few weeks, so a lot of the traditional summer things that are fun and cheap we haven’t been able to do (like Regal Summer Movies). We’ve mostly been doing fun stuff at the library, which is free, but I think we need to look beyond that. It’s starting to get too hot for park play dates!

I’d love to hear from you about how you combat the frugal slide. What do you do when you feel yourself slipping off your track?

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Our Summer Bucket List (Have you made yours yet?)

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Summer is lurking… Can you feel it? I got a sunburn over the weekend, so I can definitely feel it.

The kids and I have already started our bucket list- stuff we gotta do while we’re running wild this summer.

So far Henry has requested:

  • Checking out the soon to be open re-done Kids slash ground and pool at the Santee YMCA.
  • And the splash area at the Tierrasanta Pool.
  • Hunt for shells at Silver Strand State Beach.
  • Swim everyday (he has said this at least once a day for a week).
  • Free Museums at Balboa Park on Tuesdays
  • Using our Zoo and Living Coast Discovery Center passes.
  • Play with friends at the park and have “Free Picnics” (aka free lunch for kids-As soon the websites are updated, I will post them).
  • Lots of crafts- And I’ve got tons for him to do, including shrinky dinks and faux stained glass projects.
  • Go to the La Brea Tar Pits.
  • Go to Legoland solely to go to the waterpark.
  • Family Movie night with the “puffy bed”- Set up the air mattress in the living room and snuggle and watch movies.
  • Special events at our local library- They always have fun stuff for kids during the summer.
  • Ride the coaster and have lunch.
  • Ride the trolley with friends to Seaport Village. Ride the carousel and have ice cream at Ben & Jerry’s.
  • Go to the “Kids Movies”- Regal Cinemas has discount second run kids movies all summer a few times a week. They are just $1.00!

I’d love to hear about your summer bucket list and plans!

Earn Free Concessions and tickets from Regal Crown Club!

We love to to go to the movies, but it’s expensive!

That’s why I love the Regal Crown Club! You can sign up at your local Regal Cinemas or here online.

For each dollar you spend (on tickets or concessions), you earn points that can be redeemed on concessions, tickets, or other swag.

And if you are a Disney Movie Rewards member, link your account to earn even more points on both platforms.

Check out this great deal they’ve got going right now if you check out all three new Disney movies this summer:

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  • See any ONE of these films and receive 100 Disney Movie Rewards bonus points
  • See any TWO of these films and receive 100 Disney Movie Rewards bonus points + 1,000 Crown Club credits
  • See any THREE of these films and receive 2,000 Disney Movie Rewards bonus points + 1,000 Crown Club credits + free small popcorn (loaded directly to your Crown Club card)

Disney Movie Rewards points can be redeemed for all kinds of great stuff: Disney Gift Cards, Starbucks Gift Cards, and tons of Disney dvd’s/Blue Rays, and other merchandise! You can earn points by buying Disney movies, seeing movies in theatres, and by playing various games online and taking part in various promos.

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Regal Cinemas also has a great summer movie program. Starting in Mid June and running through the summer, Regal Cinemas shows kid and family friendly movies for just $1.00 per person on Tuesday and Wednesdays!  It’s a great way to beat the heat, and spend some time with the Kiddos!

Great gifts for kids that won’t break the bank (or your sanity)

DSCN9862It’s that time of year, when friends and relatives start asking you and your kids the dreaded question.. The Holiday gift question.

First of all, if you don’t have kids, please do your friends WITH kids a favor: Skip the toys that make noise/require batteries. Many a night I was woken by a phantom toy mysteriously going off. This Stupid Fisher Price Dog was the main culprit.

This year, we’re skipping all the “hot” toys. Why? Well, we don’t have cable, so Lil’ Man doesn’t really know about what toys everyone else has or wants. We mostly watch PBS and Netflix. I’m trying to get away from “stuff”. We have so many toys and stuffed animals. We don’t need a lot more stuff. I’m asking for more “experience” type gifts. Here are a few things that are always welcome in any household:

  • Groupon/living social/Amazon Local discounted vouchers or gift cards to places that  kids love to go, but can be a little pricey. For us, that’s Urban Jungle, Kid Ventures, Boomers, bowling. Zoo tickets, movie tickets, and museum passes are great options as well!
  • If you have a vacation planned, ask for gift cards. We have a friend who takes their family to Disney World each year, and she asks her family to buy the kids Disney gift cards to help offset the cost of their vacation (bonus- Disney GC can be used almost anywhere in the park- food, gift shop, even admission!).
  • Accessories for toys or games the kids already have. We always need more train tracks for our Thomas the Tank Engine trains. Most kids could always use more pretend food (we like these and these from Melissa and Doug).
  • Gift baskets that include experiences: I know I keep going back to experiences, but kids and families love to do stuff together. Movie baskets that contain popcorn, candy, redbox codes or GC for redbox is always a big hit here. We’ve given pizza night baskets that contain the fixins for a pizza (boboli crust, toppings, sauce) and a board game. Use your imagination!
  • IOU’s/GC for dates or time with the kids: Lil’ Man and I have a special date every week. We go out to eat and do an activity together. Maybe you have a little in your life that you’d like to spend more time with? Give them the gift a a date! Ice cream feeding the ducks, exploring nature- all of these things are inexpensive for you and mean a lot to a kid.
  • Craft supplies. The most popular gifts we’ve both give and received have been treasure boxes (usually a decorative cardboard box from Michael’s) full of craft supplies. Dollar Tree has a great selection of craft kits, glitter glue, stickers, feathers, pom poms, construction paper, water color paint, acrylic paints. Add in some wooden cut outs from Michaels (.50 or less EACH), and a few paint brushes and the kids will have fun for hours. The best part: for less than $20, they’ve got a cool box and tons of stuff to keep them busy and unplugged!
  • Monthly Subscription Boxes: Kids love to get mail. Monthly subscription boxes like Kiwi Crate, Little Passports, Green Kid Crafts are a great option for kids to get a little something fun in the mail each month- and monthly subscription boxes aren’t that expensive! Adults love them too! BirchBox (makeup), UrthBox (snacks), and Dollar Shave Club (razors and shaving accessories for men and women) are all popular options!