Category Archives: Money Saver

crave vs save.

It’s time for another Crave vs. Save post today!

I went to the Gold Rush Days flea market this past weekend (see my recap of last year’s market here) in which I was bombarded by an array of vintage goods and hard-to-pass-up antiques. The more I looked around, the more I realized I already had several of the treasures I was seeing on display; the only difference was that I [happily] paid a fraction of the price for most of those items compared to what they were being sold for (all thanks to shopping at estate sales, garage sales, and thrift shops). This reminded me that whether it’s a simple piece of milk glass or a large furniture item, it’s important to do your research, bargain hunt and price compare for particular items you want so you don’t end up paying more than you should, or have to!

These crave vs. save posts are a prime example of the money you can save when you do your homework and hold out to find the best deal…

crave vs save


   Schoolhouse Electric, $110              Ashley Anna Brown, $68

boxwood wreath

       West Elm, $79                                          DIY, approx. $24


           Lowes, $79                                           IKEA, $49.99

bar stools

West Elm, $199/ea                           Target, $79.99/ea

numbered cubby

Urban Outfitters, $98                                  Target, $49.99

What items have you saved big on lately?

See my other Crave vs. Save posts here & here.

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Filed under House & Home, Money Saver

crave vs save.

I’m back with another round of “crave vs save”! These product price comparisons just go to show you don’t have to shell out big bucks to get what you’re after when it comes to decorating + furnishing your home. If you look hard enough, there will almost always be a cheaper version whether it be at Target, a thrift store or even something you could DIY. Patience and diligence is often all it takes!

crave vs save

soap pumpAnthropologie, $32                                    Target, $9.99

tree stump table     Crate & Barrel, $399                                   DIY, approx. $15

sheep skin rugs   Pottery Barn, $79                                                IKEA, $29.99

pillow price comparisonAnthropologie, $198                          Etsy, $30 (cover only)

woven storage basketsPottery Barn, $129           World Market, $59.99              Target, $24.99

Have you come across a great deal lately that you know would have costed you a lot more elsewhere?

(View my last “crave vs save” post here)

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crave vs save.

HAPPY FRIDAY! You guys know I love changing and improving rooms to reflect my constantly evolving taste and style which has the potential to get pretty expensive. However, between DIY projects, shopping second-hand and scouring for the best deals, it’s actually very manageable! Below is a prime example of how shopping around and price comparing can save you hundreds. Like I always say, high style doesn’t have to come with a high price tag!

crave vs save



table lamp



Let me know if you’d like to see more ‘crave vs save’ posts! Have a great weekend!


Filed under House & Home, Money Saver

earth day deals.


Earth Day is Monday and here are some fab freebies in honor of the occasion worth taking advantage of!

  • Target (4/21) – 1.5 million FREE reusable bags will be given away — 250,000 of which will also contain samples of sustainable products + coupons.
  • Caribou Coffee (4/22) – Bring in your reusable mug for a FREE fill of coffee.
  • MOKA Coffee (4/22) – $1 off any drink.
  • Mrs. Meyers Clean Day (4/19-4/22) – FREE shipping on all orders.
  • Sephora (4/22) – Receive a FREE full-size Origins moisturizer when you trade in an old skin care product/empty bottle.
  • Pottery Barn Kids (4/20-4/22) – Stop into the store to receive a FREE packet of seeds.
  • The Body Shop (4/22) – Receive a FREE ‘Earth Lovers’ shower gel with any purchase in-store or online.

Also, be sure to green up your act with my post featuring 10 easy ways to go green or Sonnet’s post on 8 simple ways to live greener!


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DIY details: our wedding

A few months back, I shared with you my top 10 suggestions for being a budget-savvy bride — ultimately planning a wedding with the cost in mind, rather than irrational visions you’ve accrued over the years of your ‘dream wedding.’  A little harsh? Perhaps. But if you follow my tips, then you (and your bank account) just might thank me later! I digress. Back to what this post is about. I had mentioned that I’d make sure to share my various DIY wedding projects when it was all said and done. And so here we are.

The following projects were centered around the idea of saving money and trying to incorporate as many reused items as possible, all while staying in my nature-esque autumn theme. (Not shown: invites, RSVP cards and programs). Check it out:

IMG_0204DIY #1: ring bearer “pillow.” A white spray-painted pumpkin + twine. Too easy!


Untitled (2)DIY #2: centerpieces. These were made from vases I purchased from thrift stores & garage sales (I never paid more than a dollar for each). I tied the mouths of the vase with twine and filled them with pine cones and sticks from my backyard, plus a sprig of decorative berries from the craft store (now being used as Christmas decor around my house). They were set on top of wood slabs my stepdad cut from a fallen tree. Lastly, I placed tea lights in small canning jars (again, tied with twine) next to the vases for a little romantic ambiance. Total cost for 25 tables? $32.

IMG_1074DIY #3: reserved signs. For the tables that were reserved for immediate family, I bought paper with a faux wood grain look from the craft store (55 cents each), traced “*reserved*” using a pack of letter stickers, and added a few subtle leaf stamps in the corner.

DIY #4: head table decor. The head table was lined with old-fashioned Ball canning jars (from my mom’s collection) that were tied with twine and holding my bridesmaid’s bouquets. Not pictured: small juice cups held tea light candles that were placed in between the jars.

card box
DIY #5: cardbox. Here I glued together two round cardboard boxes from the craft store and added miniature bunting across the front, lace along the edges and twine on the top. Using the same letter stickers that I did for the reserved signs above, I traced “thank you!” on the top and added a button for the “o,” because just why the heck why not!  Total cost? $12.

IMG_1017 IMG_1015
DIY #6: cake topper. Paper bird cut-outs (hand drawn by a friend) glued onto a stick (from the backyard, of course) sat on top of my birch tree-inspired cake, making this the cheapest DIY project of  ’em all – around 50 cents. (Similar ones on Etsy run between $20-$30).

Untitled (2)

DIY #7: trail mix bar. While this was the most expensive “DIY” (around $75 because of the cost of ingredients), it was definitely the most worth-while and a huge hit amongst guests! The bunting triangles were purchased from the craft store as well as the letters to trace “trail mix” onto them. I strung them through a piece of twine that was held by two small pumpkins on each end of the table. An eclectic mix of bowls and dishes taken from my mom’s house were filled with an array of trail mix items and set on top of tree slabs.

There you have it! Are any of these ideas ones that you would recreate for a wedding or other event?!


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Filed under DIY, Money Saver, Wedding

ooh la latte! DIY style.

If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you know I’m a big fan of fancy coffee drinks but not the price tag – something I think most people can relate to. Throughout the years I’ve managed to come up with a few ways to whittle down the cost of my routine coffee shop visits (reference here or here) but all that has recently become a distant memory of the past. Enter Bialetti espresso maker and Aroma milk frother (or better known as  two of the best wedding gifts ever)! Forget going to Starbucks and lose the idea of shelling out hundreds of dollars for one of those high-end espresso makers! When combined, these two products are truly all a person needs to have delicious coffee drinks made right at home! (Am I starting to sound like an infomercial yet?) Yeah, okay… enough.

Ranting aside, my typical morning since getting this perfect pair has been occupied by creating delicious, homemade coffee concoctions like cappuccinos, lattes and cafe con leches. Mmm :)

The moral of the story here is that if you (or someone you know) is an espresso enthusiast, this is an excellent gift idea! (You could even consider adding a personal touch by including some various specialty coffee drink and/or syrup recipes). But gift or no gift, investing in these two products won’t break the bank and will [ideally] prevent those frequent stops at the coffee shop you later end up feeling guilty about.

Do you have any secrets for making fancy at-home coffee drinks? Are these items you’d consider buying?

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Filed under Money Saver, Recipes

budget bride guide.

Did you know the cost of an average American wedding today is 26-30k?! I mean, really think about that number —  that is the cost of a brand spankin’ new car, a down payment for a house, or almost a whole college education… and to think people spend this for one day. I cringe.

My wedding is in one week and since the day of the engagement I had one goal in mind: make this wedding as eco-friendly as possible, both for the sake of my wallet as well as the environment.  Over the course of my penny-pinching planning (tongue twister for ya), it’s an understatement to say that I learned a thing or two about being a a bride on a budget. With that, keep reading to learn how I was able to plan my wedding for around one third of the “average American.”

1) Watch what you say. First and foremost, do not, I repeat – DO NOT – say things like, “I am only getting married once, I HAVE to have it…” or “It’s my special day, I deserve to have everything I want,” or my personal favorite, “But I’ve been dreaming about this day all my life…” Blah, blah, blah! News flash – keep telling yourself things like that and you can kiss your cash goodbye by the time the wedding is all said and done. Which leads me to my next point…

2)  The rule of three.  Pick the three things that are most important to you and splurge on those items only. Is it the dress, food, venue, DJ, photographer? Whichever three you choose, make those your spendy spots and go easy on the rest. (One easy way to decide is to ask yourself, “What will make the day the most memorable?”)

3) Incorporate nature. Whether it’s your aisle runners, centerpieces, or venue décor, using items from nature is not only eco-friendly (and beautiful), but it’s free! A great deal of my wedding décor is made up of sticks and pine cones from my backyard. As I always say – go green, don’t spend green! While we’re on the topic of nature…

4) Keep it natural. Try using as many sustainable products and services as possible. A few examples: invites (like mine) can be made from 100% recycled paper and printed with soy-based ink; look for a caterer who offers seasonal and organic food (if your budget allows); buy farmers market flowers for bouquets (instead of the florist shop ones sprayed with pesticides), the list goes on.

5) Utilize local vendors when possible. Not only is it great to support small and local businesses, but they also tend to be much cheaper than those pesky retail wedding giants. I saved a lot of money by going with small/local places and freelance people such as my engagement photographer, florist, cake maker, seamstress  and hair stylist. The website Etsy is also an excellent source for supporting the little guys, not to mention a wonderful resource for unique ideas!

6) Ask for discounts when applicable. One thing that I made sure to take full advantage of was my fiancé’s military standing; throughout my search for various vendors I always asked if they offered a military discount. In the end I saved hundreds since my reception venue, florist, and photographer all offered one. It never hurts to ask!

7) Do it DIY style. The more you ‘do it yourself’, the cheaper your total bill is going to be. Let me put this in simple terms – you should know your way around Michael’s Craft Store  like the back of your hand and Pinterest should easily become your most viewed websites when planning a wedding. I applied around at least ten ideas to my wedding that I took directly from Pinterest — everything from my cake topper to my card box. While they aren’t 100% the same, here are a few of my favorite pins that inspired a few of my DIY wedding projects: cake toppercake, trail mix barcenterpieces. Bonus – your guests will more than likely be quite impressed with your hard work and creativity!

8) Buy used. One of the easiest ways to save money (plus reuse/recycle) is to buy used items! I managed to get all of the vases for my centerpieces solely from garage sales and thrift stores for $.10 – $1.00/ea. (Much cheaper than renting or buying new, plus now I can donate or sell them to someone else who could use them for their wedding!) Bridal consignment shops and recycled wedding websites are starting to pop up all over so do your research before you buy new.

9) Make sacrifices. This goes back to point #1 – if you get every little thing you want, your bank account will ultimately suffer. Although it may be hard, ask yourself if the item or service is really that important and thoroughly think it through before making impulse purchases (that you later realize you could have easily done without). Think of it this way — what are the things that have the potential to make or break the day? It’s probably not those $200 shoes that more than likely no one will even see (and you’ll wear only once) or the programs that will get thrown out right after the ceremony.

10) Condense the guest list. As tough as it may seem to weed out Great Aunt Sally or your old co-worker, this is the easiest way to  keep your budget in check. A good way to decide who makes the cut is to simply consider the people who are most important in our life and who you want to share in the celebration of your special day. But if you just can’t get over the idea of not inviting every single one of your FB friends, compromise by just having them come to the dance portion of your reception.

So there you have it – my personal top tips for being a budget-savvy bride! Be on the look out for a recap of my wedding and an up-close look at my various DIY projects!


Filed under Money Saver, Wedding

garage sale season: tips & tricks for being a savvy shopper

It seems like every few blocks I drive by lately I see a sign that says something along the lines of, “HUGE SALE! This way —->” With that, I’d like to announce that garage sale season appears to be in full swing my friends. For all those frugalistas like myself out there, this is basically another way of saying it is Christmas time in summer. You can’t see it, but I am doing a little happy dance as we speak as you read.

It never fails to amaze me how those sale signs have the power to completely detour me from my initial destination; I set eyes on one and there’s no turning back – I’m a slave to the sign. I don’t consider myself the spontaneous type in the slightest, yet it’s funny that such a simple piece of cardboard with an arrow on it can suddenly make me impulsive. (And on that note, you can read more about a little adventure of hastily following a sale sign here.)

But enough about my fixation for following those sneaky signs, today I am sharing with you my five favorite tips on how to be a savvy garage sale shopper!

  1. Look for city-wide. Throughout the summer, various cities put on a “city-wide” or “neighborhood” sale — ultimately a great way to hit several sales in one day. Local churches also often hold large community sales.
  2. Map it out. If you plan on going to multiple sales, especially on city-wide sale days, check the listings in the newspaper and map out a route to save time and gas.
  3. Carry cash. Make sure to have a variety of different bills and change for easy buying.
  4. Be an early bird. To find the best items, you want to get to sales as close to when they open as possible.
  5. Bargain. The great thing about garage sales is that you have the option to negotiate prices or bundle items. Most people are eager to get rid of the stuff they’re selling (espeically towards the end of their sale) and will more than likely agree to your barter more so than not, just so long it is reasonable of course.

Whether you’re a garage sale virgin or veteran, hopefully you found my suggestions useful. Happy saling!

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happy earth day!

Happy Earth Day! – A day dedicated to increasing worldwide awareness and appreciation for our environment!

Head on over to my Earth month post to learn more, or check out my post on easy ways to go green to do your part in honoring this special day!

Not only do people all over the world celebrate Earth Day, but big businesses do, too!

Stop into your local Caribou or Starbucks with your reusable mug today for a FREE fill of coffee! Dunn Bros is offering a FREE beverage when you purchase any regular priced retail travel mug.

Or visit your nearest Target to receive a FREE re-usable bag (quantities limited). Target also currently has a link to a wide variety of coupons for earth-friendly products that you can print:  Go green while saving green – win, win! :)

How do you plan on celebrating Earth Day?

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Filed under Eco-friendly, Money Saver

iced coffee craze.

Remember my blog post a while back on how to create a “latte knock-off” at Starbucks for a mere $1.94?  Well, I’m on to something even bigger, better, faster, and best of all — cheaper! The secret? Re-usable tumbler plus Starbucks VIA Iced Ready Brew packet. 

Here’s the low-down: a 5-pack of the ready brew packets cost $5.95, with each packet yielding 16 oz. (rather than the measly 12 oz. with my faux latte). Do the math and that’s $1.19/drink! The packets are already lightly sweetened, so all you need is water and ice (plus half & half, if desired) and you’re good to go!  Eco-friendly bonus — you’re not wasting plastic, or your time by sitting in the drive-thru!

Now go ahead and try saying sweet sustainable savings three times fast!


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