Canning Your Own Food: Is It Worth It?

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Many people want to can their own food but get overwhelmed when they start looking into it & want to know if canning your own food is worth it. It can seem like a huge expense to get started, but can save you a lot of money in the long run. Plus, you’ll know exactly what you are eating and can adjust to your own preferences!

Canning Your Own Food: Is It Worth It?

When you first start canning, like most new things, you will spend more time doing it.  After a few canning sessions, you’ll be shocked at how little time you actually spend in the kitchen!

Canning is a safe and effective way to store food by sealing the food in jars and heating them to let out any air, preventing bacteria from growing and spoiling your food.

Before you get started, you need to decide which canning method you are going to use. Water bath canning (covering the jars with water and boiling) works best for fruit, pickling, and canning preserves. Oven & dry canning are reserved for dry goods only. Pressure canning is great for meat, veggies, and some fish.

Oven Canning

Oven canning is the cheapest one to get started on. All you need are canning jars, dry goods (think flour and other grains, and dehydrated foods), and an oven. There is a lot controversy over oven canning so many people choose not to use this method at all, so we aren’t going to teach you how to do it today! If you are just wanting to make sure bugs don’t get in your flour, try putting in an open stick of Wrigley’s Doublemint gum. It helps repel bugs and doesn’t change the flavor at all! 

Dry Canning

Dry canning is similar to oven canning. It’s only used for dry goods (less than 10% moisture) but you don’t use an oven. Instead you use oxygen absorbers to stop bacteria from growing. I typically see this done with items that stay good for very long periods of time, but haven’t tried it myself.

Water Bath Canning

Water bath canning & pressure canning are the only methods endorsed by the USDA and those are the two I stick to. Water bath canning is done by submerging closed jars in a special HUGE pot. These pots come with a lid and a special rack that makes it easy to add and remove the jars safely.

Pressure Canning

If you want to can meat, fish, or low-acidic foods, you’ll need a pressure canner like the one above. They have a steam-tight lid and a special gage.

Although pressure canners can be a little expensive (water bath canners go on sale for about $20 this time of year), it is a one-time expense. Canning is the most cost-effective way to make and store your own food.  It’s even cheaper if you grow your own food, but many people buy organic produce/meat to can. Picking up produce from your local farmer’s market is a great way to support local farmers and is normally cheaper than buying organic produce from the market.

While canning can seem like a time-consuming process, once you are done you can have an entire season’s worth of canned produce and meat that is ready with little effort at dinner time!

For many, the benefits from canning your own food outweigh the time and initial expense!

7 Inexpensive Summer Activities for Kids

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7 Frugal Summer Activities For Kids

As summer approaches one of the biggest things on most parents minds is how to occupy the kids home from school without breaking the bank.  Here are 7 Inexpensive Kids Summer Activities that will help you to keep them occupied and your wallet in check this year.  Check these out and grab your calendar to plan ahead for fun times for the whole family that will leave your kids excited for next years adventures. [Read more...]

5 Ways to Cut Summer Utility Expenses

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5 Ways To Cut Summer Utility Expenses

One of the largest budget strains in the summer months are the higher utility costs due to extra electricity needed to run air conditioning and extra water for pools, sprinklers and the like.  While it is important to stay comfortable during the hottest months of the year, it can also do devastating damage to your budget and savings if you are not careful.  Here are 5 Ways To Cut Summer Utility Expenses that are simple, cost effective and worthwhile.  It is often the smallest of changes that make the largest impact on your budget.  Check out these tips and apply them to your home this year to see a marked difference in your summer utility bills. [Read more...]

5 Ways to Save on Kids Summer Clothing

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5 Ways To Save On Kids Summer Clothing

With Spring here and Summer just around the bend it’s time to start changing out our closets and deciding what we need to buy to fill out our kids summer wardrobes.  With budgets always tight this is a great time to take advantage of our 5 Ways To Save On Kids Summer Clothing.  Not only can you grab great name brand clothing at a fraction of the cost, but you can also make a few dollars back on items your kids have outgrown with some of these methods! [Read more...]

How to Make a Home Gym on the Cheap

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How to Make a Home Gym on the Cheap

Whether you’re self-conscious about hitting the gym when it’s full of tanned, “perfect 10″ beach beauties, or you’re just trying to save a little cash, learning how to make a home gym for less can save you time (driving back and forth!) and lots of money. It can also help you shave off a little (or a lot of) pounds!

Home Gym Essentials

First, you’ll need some space. All you really need to work out at home is your body, because bodyweight exercises are amazing! Plus, you can do cardio without any equipment, too. However, if you’d like to have the full gym experience, here are a few items I suggest to purchase (even one at a time).

Choose a workout area that allows you to move around a bit. Ideally, an entire room (or garage, whatever) is what you want – but not everyone has that much space, so whatever you have… make it work!

If you don’t have a ton of space, I recommend using the living room. Buy a few workout DVDs (I love Jillian Michaels and Leslie Sansone workouts), and get your calorie burn on in the living room!

Like working out outside? Make a slosh pipe! This thing is one crazy workout, and only costs a few bucks.

Yoga Mat – price varies, usually around $20 but this one (in brown) is only $8.99 right now. You’ll use a yoga mat for pretty much everything! Whether you’re doing sit ups on the floor, or any floor work at all, you’ll want a mat to make yourself comfortable. You don’t want an aching back… it will just be one more excuse to stop (or shorten) your workout.

How to Make a Home Gym for Less

Resistance Bands – You can use bands or loops. It seems the loops are a bit cheaper. The loops kind of have a weird smell at first so if you’re sensitive to that, stick with the bands instead. I use the resistance loops and bands for arm and leg work. For legs, step side to side and do side leg raises. For arms, you can do pretty much any exercise that you’d do with dumbbells. My favorites are tricep extensions. Move slowly, creating even more resistance than the band/loop does. This will increase your calorie burn!

Jump Rope – price varies but I bought one for $1.54 on Amazon not too long ago. You can also get a weighted jump rope, but those do cost more. Do 30 seconds of jump rope at first, then work your way up to jumping faster and longer.

If you’re doing interval training, do a few burpees, then a minute of jump rope. Alternate burpees, mountain climbers, jump rope, etc for 20 minutes to get an amazing cardio workout.

Weighted Hula Hoop – You can buy a weighted hula hoop for about $50, or you can make your own. Weighted hula hoops are great, but start light (and only do it for a few minutes at a time), or you’re going to have severely bruised sides. Don’t ask me how I know this. :)

How to Make a Home Gym for Less

Stability Ball - $18.00 (I got this one for $14)- Use in place of a workout bench, and also for other exercises like crunches. Do some research to see which size you need for your height before making a purchase. Stability balls are also great chairs! If you work on the computer a lot (like I do!), sitting on a ball for a few hours a day will help strengthen your core.

These items are what I consider essential for building a complete home gym for less. While you’re still adding to your gym, remember to do lots of bodyweight exercises. Not only will you get used to using your own body as your gym, you’re going to build muscle and stamina in ways that you never thought possible! Also remember to do cardio and weight training!

Is there anything else you’d add to create a home gym for less?

The Ultimate Cheat Sheet On Saving Money

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The Ultimate Cheat Sheet On Saving Money

Maybe you’re living paycheck to paycheck, or possibly not even able to make one paycheck stretch to the next. Maybe your paychecks are enough to pay the bills, but you just feel like there’s more that you can be doing to save for your future. Either way, these tips will help you start to save money immediately. The key is making a plan, and putting it into action!

The Ultimate Cheat Sheet On Saving Money

Set up a savings account. Even if you don’t have a ton of money to put in the account, having it there will hopefully keep saving money on your mind! Setting up an account that earns interest is your best bet, so shop around before settling.

Budget that moolah! Set up a budgeting worksheet, and stick with it. Income in, expenses out. It’s really simple if you write it down!

Unplug. Not only will unplugging save you money on your electric bill, if you’re watching less television, you’ll see less ads. Less ads = less things you “need” to buy = money saved. Pay attention to what your energy bill was last month, and this month. Start unplugging as often as you can, and see how much your bill goes down next month, and the month after. Take the extra money that you saved on your bill and put it into a savings account.

Sell your stuff. We all have clothes in our closet that we haven’t worn in ages. Why not sell them? You’ll make someone happy by giving them a discount, and you’ll make a few bucks to put into your savings account. Win-win!

Meal plan. Meal planning will save you time and money every single week if you stick with it. Keep track of how much you save by creating a menu plan, and put that money in savings.

Sign up for rewards! Whether it’s at your favorite coffee joint, or at your local grocery store, rewards = money saved. If you’re signing up for online rewards programs, set up a separate email account so your main account isn’t flooded with this types of emails.

Ditch the addictions. Do you have to have that $5 coffee each day? You might think so, but cutting back to once or twice a week would save you sooo much! The same thing goes with cigarettes, alcohol, or any other expensive habit (like eating out at lunch every day). Ditch the habit completely, or at least cut back to once or twice a week, and notice how much you save!

Cancel memberships. Do you have a gym membership that you use just a few times a year? What about the beauty box subscription you don’t really care for? If you’ve got a subscription or membership to something you’re not using, ditch it!

Budget shop. Hit the yard sales, hit Goodwill, ,shop at Schoola and hit thrift stores! These places will save you a ton of dough if you shop smart. Don’t buy junk you don’t need – stick to the basics.

DIY. Even if you aren’t crafty, in this Pinterest generation, it’s soooo easy to make your own birthday, Christmas, and even anniversary gifts. They don’t have to look cheap to be cheap. If you’re shopping at stores like Michael’s and JoAnns, be sure to print coupons before you go.

How do you save money? Leave your tips in the comments!

4 Ways to Save On Your Next Family Vacation

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Road trips are so fun! Whether it’s just you and the hubs, or you pack the entire family up and travel across country, the experience is a once in a lifetime (or maybe once in a summer) opportunity!

4 Ways to Save On Your Next Family Vacation

The most important thing to remember when planning your road trip is to HAVE FUN! Yes, it will get kind of crazy, stressful, and even hectic at times. But at the end of the day, you want to be able to look back on your trip and know that everyone enjoyed it. For me, enjoying a road trip also includes saving big bucks.

4 Ways to Save On Your Next Family Vacation

1. Save on travel.

Figure out which will be cheaper: driving, flying, or taking a train or bus. Factor in gas, wear and tear on your vehicle, and time if you’re taking a car. Factor in baggage fees, flight tickets, etc for plane trips. If you’re taking a train or bus, factor in the cost of the ticket(s) as well as the cost of renting a car once you arrive, unless you have family or friends to escort you around when you arrive.

If you’re taking your own vehicle, do a thorough check and routine maintenance before taking off across the country! Check the headlights, brake lights, wipers, brakes, fluids, etc.

Save money on gas by driving the speed limit, and checking for the cheapest local gas prices wherever you go. If you drive a gas-guzzler, renting a fuel efficient vehicle might be more cost effective for your trip. Proper tire pressure will also help you save on gas!

If you’re flying, sites like Travelocity and Cheapoair can help you find the best prices for your flights. Traveling off-season can also save you a few bucks, depending on where you’re going. Flying to/from warmer states is much cheaper in the summer months because the weather is terrible (120*++). Tickets can go up by $200 each in the winter because traveling to the those areas is more desirable in those months.

2. Entertain for free.

Instead of spending a ton on coloring and activity books, print them out from home. Try sites like:

The Color
Hello Kids
Coloring Castle
Educational Coloring Pages

Download free Kindle books daily from Amazon. By the time your road trip starts, the Kindle will have dozens of books for your little ones to read!

Rent CDs and audiobooks from the library. It’s free, and you can usually renew them online!

3. Save big on attractions.

Check sites like Groupon, Living Social, and Amazon Local for the city or cities you’re visiting. Purchase vouchers, and plan your trip around the attractions you’ll be visiting. You can even save on hotels this way!

When you arrive in the town you’re visiting, check the Visitor’s Bureau to see if they have tickets at a discounted price. Sometimes you can buy a bundle and save quite a bit!

Use Google! When you are searching for an attraction, hotel, etc, type it into Google, followed by “discount”, “coupon”, “deal”, or “savings”.

4. Save on food.

The easiest way to save on food is to pack sandwiches, drinks, and snacks instead of hitting the drive through. Pack simple snacks like trail mix, granola, fruit, cheese and crackers, pretzels, and chips. If you can pack a cooler, sandwiches are a great idea.

Once you arrive at your destination – or even along the way – stop at the beach (or even a roadside park, rest area, etc) and have a picnic lunch. This will save money while allowing everyone to use the restroom, stretch their legs, and get some of that excess energy out of their systems!

How do you save on road trips? Leave your tips in the comments!

7 Quick and Easy Ways to Save $100 Right NOW

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For me, the key to saving is to have a goal in mind. Are you saving to pay for a new pair of shoes? A higher electric bill when summer comes around? Christmas? Disneyland? A new car? Obviously $100 won’t get you there, but it’s a good start.

Quick and Easy Ways to Save $100 Right NOW

Obviously you’re at the right places for learning how to quickly and easily save money (Helloooo, coupons!), but I have a few extra tips for you as well.

7 Quick and Easy Ways to Save $100 Right NOW

1. $5 Bill Jar. The $5 bill jar is an idea that has been floating around Pinterest and other sites for a while now, but basically it works because every time you have a $5 bill, you put it in your savings jar. I know it sounds like a lot, especially if you don’t have a lot, but when you use cash and spend $13 out of a $20 bill, you have $8 left. Keep the $3 for later, and put the $5 in the jar. It adds up fast. Each month, empty the jar and put the money into savings.

If there’s no way for you to save $5 at a time, save your loose change. It will add up to $100 before you know it. When looking for quick and easy ways to save $100, this one is definitely the easiest!

2. Paycheck deductions. If you have a job, and a steady paycheck, this one is a no-brainer. Perhaps only one adult in the house works – that’s fine, too. Even if money is tight, you can afford $25 a week being deducted from your paycheck. Trust me! It will all work out. In a month, you have $100!

3. Sell yourself. Well, not yourself, exactly sell… but parts of you that you don’t need, you can donate and get cash! ;) You can get paid $35+ for donating plasma. If there are two adults in the household, that’s an easy $70. You can also sell your hair, or even extra breastmilk, which would easily bring that total to well over $100!

4. Babysit. This is more earning than saving, and I know this might sound old school, or totally crazy if you’re not a parent already, but babysitting can actually be a lucrative business. Babysitting just a few days a week will quickly and easily earn you $100 (or more!). Especially around holidays, babysitting can be a huge cash cow. For example, on New Year’s Eve, many parents stay home with their kids anyway… and then offer babysitting for $30 (or more!) per kid. You’re already home with your own kids, why not add a few more to the mix? I’ve made $200+ on holiday nights before!

On the same note, you can also offer pet sitting (or walking!), if kids aren’t your cup of tea. ;)

5. Sell stuff. Instead of having a yard sale (waaaay too much work!), list a few items (like your old couch that’s collecting dust in the basement – or the extra refrigerator that’s used twice a year in the garage) on Craigslist or a local Facebook Group that is designed for selling things. If you have scrap metal sitting around your house (or even aluminum cans), you can cash in on it as well.

6. Keep the change. If you don’t use cash, sign up for a “keep the change” program through your bank. They will automatically put the change from each purchase into your savings account. You wouldn’t believe how quickly this adds up to $100! Just think about it: say that each “change” purchase averages $.50. You swipe your card several times a day, or at least several times a week. Before you know it, you’ll have $20 in your account… then $50… then $100!

7. Car maintenance. Make sure you replace your air filter, get regular oil changes, and rotate your tires on a regular basis. This will not save you actual cash in your pocket each time, but it will save you more than $100 over the course of a few months. This goes for household air filters as well!

Frugal Easter Ideas

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Frugal Easter Ideas

Frugal Easter Ideas

Easter can get expensive – fast! Use these frugal Easter ideas to save money this Spring.

Save money on the baskets!

Some Easter Baskets cost upwards of $20. That doesn’t even include what you put in the basket! Instead of spending big bucks on a basket (aka toy holder), make your own! Not only could you weave your own basket (if you have time), you could even use just a paper bag that is decorated for Easter (think bunnies, eggs, etc).

The Dollar Tree (and similar stores) also has baskets for just a buck. If you don’t have a store local to you, look online at and see if you can score a good deal.

Some other ideas include plastic pails (like for summer – double use!), hats, organizing containers, lunch boxes, and any other type of container that can hold the Easter bounty. Containers with lids and/or handles are best for smaller kids.

Save money on the basket fillers!

Some of my favorite things to put in Easter baskets are not candy items. They get candy too often from school, neighbors, friends, family… why give them even more on Easter? Make it fun by adding some of these things to their Easter baskets. Making a “theme” for the basket is a good idea, but having random stuff thrown in is fine, too!

  • Beauty theme: makeup, nail polish, brushes, hair accessories
  • Rough n Tough theme: cars, trucks, train tracks, shovel and other outside toys
  • Princess theme: dolls, clothes, accessories, jewelry
  • Sports theme: favorite sports balls, cones, bike accessories
  • Toddler theme: homemade playdough, wooden toys, ABC blocks
  • Crafty theme: rubber stamps, stamp pads, ribbon, glue, scissors

Artsy theme: markers, crayons, coloring books, free coloring sheet printables

Stalk Amazon!

Amazon has the best deals on so many things! Stalk Amazon, and stalk early — you can buy a few things year round and save big bucks.