If You Want To Save Money–Think Outside The Box


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My 13 year old daughter is obsessed with sewing lately. She has been begging me for quite some time to go to the craft store and buy enough stuffing to stuff enough handmade alphabet pillows to spell her name in pillows.

If you want to save some serious money you need to become a creative thinker and start thinking outside the box. Learn how .

We had an inexpensive solution for the fabric–I pick it up at yard sales when I see it as I know either she or I will use it up in one of our crafting projects.

She also needed  craft stuffing and that is when the project was beginning to look like it might get expensive. Craft stuffing isn’t horribly expensive, but it isn’t dirt cheap either and she needed enough to fill 8 pillows, one for each letter of her name.

I was racking my brain for the best way to save money on  craft stuffing–oddly enough I found it in the grocery store.

Saving money with out of the box thinking example use spider webbing for pillow stuffing

What you are looking at is 23 bags of Halloween spider webbing–I paid just $0.12 cents a bag. Meaning that entire pile cost me $2.76, which is less than what one bag costs full price before Halloween when they had it for $3.99 a bag and certainly way less than it would cost to purchase craft stuffing.

I should let you know at this point that I first bought just 2 bags of it for her to use in another pillow project she tried when it was marked down to $0.25 cents a bag a week earlier and we found it worked just as well as regular craft stuffing.

I seriously doubt my daughter will be using all of these bags for her 8 letter pillows, but considering she is on a sewing kick right now and I love to support her creative endeavors, I figured I would pick up all they had  and let her go to town. She is already planning out what she is going to make after she finishes her letter project.

How To Use This Story To Save Money

This isn’t the only instance where my out of the box thinking has saved my family some money. In fact, when my out of the box thinking is combined with my husband’s we have saved CRAZY amounts of money–like paying $10,000 for a 2000 square feet home and renovating every room back to like-new conditions for way less than most people would think possible.

Even if you don’t have a daughter who loves to sew and needs inexpensive supplies to keep her habit going and renovating doesn’t interest you–this article can still save you money.

Here is how to apply this money saving principle to your own life.

Whenever you have something to buy don’t just go out and buy it. Take a while to brainstorm other materials that would work just as well but cost less.

3 Ways To Spark Out Of The Box Thinking

1. Search Pinterest For Ideas

If you are stumped, try visiting my favorite place for creative inspiration: Pinterest. Enter your problem into the search engine and see what pops up. If at first nothing comes up, change the wording of your search to be a little less specific but still particular enough to apply to your problem.

2. Wander The Aisles

Another way my husband and I have saved a tonne of money is by taking a few extra minutes to walk the entire aisle of the hardware store when we need to fix a problem in our home instead of just going straight to the item we know will fix it. By doing this we have found alternative fixes that have saved us a significant amount of money.

My kitchen countertops are the perfect example of this. I really wanted granite countertops, but they were way out of my price range. As my husband and I were wandering the aisles for a cheaper hard surface alternative we found granite tile in the exact color I wanted my countertops in and they were 50% off. I love how the project turned out and it was a fraction of the cost of a slab granite countertop.

3. Engage In Disengaging Activities

Sometimes my best out of the box thinking comes when I am able to disengage my brain and just let it wander. For me this happens most often when I am out walking or running but for others it might be while you wash the dishes or while you are taking a shower.

To take full advantage of my disengaging brainstorm activities I will often write my, “Oh my, that is brilliant!” thoughts down in the notes section of my iPhone and then take a picture of it (because somehow my brilliant self often deletes notes by accident s0 my photos have proved to be a great back-up filling system).

How has out of the box thinking saved you money? I would love to hear about it in the comments below. 

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How A Thrifty Person Saves Money On A Pair Of Jeans


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My middle child’s current jeans were starting to look a little worn and my eldest child really only had one “good” pair left–he had others but they were getting tattered at the bottom and worn in the back pocket where he keeps his wallet.

How to save money on your favorite brand of jeans those ones that never go on clearance

Here is how I bought 2 pairs of jeans, one for each child, that totaled $64.44 for just $35.69 without waiting for them to go on clearance. That works out to a total savings of $28.75 (not including the $7 I saved on shipping).

How A Thrifty Person Saves Money On A Pair Of Jeans

First, I should tell you that I had my son pick out the pair of jeans he wanted at Old Navy when we happened to be going by one on the way to visit a friend. That way we knew what style he liked best, then we waited for a good deal to appear.

I should also tell you that these steps can work for just about any store you like to buy your jeans at–for my family that just happens to be Old Navy as they are long wearing, reasonably priced, and come in a variety of styles to fit almost any body shape.

1. I bought a discounted gift card to Old Navy

As soon as we got home from our stop at Old Navy I bought a $50 gift card from Cardpool for just $44.50. That saved me $5.50 right there.

I knew I would spend at least $50 on two pairs of jeans, and their hoodies from last year are also getting a bit worn, so I figured if I got a steal of a deal on the jeans I would just throw in a hoodie for one of them. Why was I so stuck on spending over $50? Free shipping–more on that later.

Savings $5.50

2. I checked my email daily & opened all the Old Navy emails

I sign up for the emails of all our favorite stores. I keep a special email account just for them. It doesn’t take more than a minute each day to delete all the emails if I don’t need them. I usually do it during “bathroom” breaks (TMI–I am sorry, but a busy mom has to use every minute of the day to the max).

I signed up for Old Navy emails a long time ago and most days I simply delete them without even opening them but when my family has a clothing need I start opening them daily–waiting for a good sale to appear.

It took about 2 weeks of opening daily emails to find what I wanted– a discount code that saved me 25% off the pair of jeans my middle child wanted.

My oldest child is very slim and tall and he likes just one type of jeans which were already marked down to $24.50, so the discount code did not apply to his jeans–but under $25 for a pair of jeans is already a good deal for a person over 6 foot tall in my books.

Savings: $9.99

3. I shopped through Swagbucks

Instead of clicking to the site directly from email, I took a second to write down the discount code and then opened a new tab on my browser to the Swagbucks home page.

I then entered “Old Navy” into the Swagbucks search engine and sure enough they were offering a cashback SB point value that ended up saving me $3.27 (I will get this back when I cash in my SB points for a gift card)

Savings: $3.27

4. I ordered enough to qualify for free shipping

I tend to shop for a few needs at once rather than one need at a time just because it means I can qualify for free shipping at most websites without having to buy things we don’t need just to get free shipping (admit it, we have all done it–$5 away from the free shipping limit so you throw in an item you don’t need to save the $7 shipping fee coming out $2 ahead. But you now have an item that potentially could become clutter in your home…and who needs more of that?).

At Old Navy the free shipping limit is currently $50, meaning your order has to be $50 or more to qualify for free shipping.

By buying both my boys the jeans they needed at the same time I surpassed this limit by just a few dollars.

Savings: $7

(note: I didn’t include my $7 in my savings calculations because–well–what kind of thrifty person pays shipping?)

One way I might have been able to save more: If I had taken the time to compare cashback rates at various cashback sites I might have been able to save even more.

Why I didn’t just take my boys to Goodwill for Jeans

Being a thrifty ninja I know there are going to be frugal minded people who read this and go–secondhand jeans would have been cheaper.

Yes, you are right! At my local Goodwill jeans are currently right around $6 a pair. However, my boys are in no way a standard size.

One son  is tall and skinny and I can’t even find his size in retail stores, let alone thrift stores. My other son is built like a football player (but he plays soccer). His build is broad, his height is in his torso and he has has muscular short legs.

Finding new jeans in a retail store that fit these two body types is like finding a needle in a haystack. Finding them on the secondhand market is like finding a speck of sand in a hay stack.

It doesn’t mean I don’t look at goodwill when I am there for another reason (I buy a lot of my own skirts and shorts at Goodwill). It just means I am not making a special trip to the thrift store for jeans for my boys–it would be a waste of my time and time is also money.

Got any great thrifty jean shopping tips to add to my list? I would love for you to share them in the comments with me. 

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How A Family Stretched 1 Home Into 3: Becoming Debt Free & Creating Income


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Just a few short weeks ago my family started renovating our 3rd, paid-with-cash home. We currently live in one and rent one—  this new home will be another rental.

How A Family Stretched 1 Home Into 3 Becoming Debt Free & Creating Income

You would think I would be rejoicing. After all, my family has no debt and 3 paid for homes–and I am grateful. But honestly, the rejoicing is bittersweet.

You see, the cash for that new rental came from the death of my father. The cash for the rental before that came from the death of my grandmother. The cash for the home my family currently lives in came from the death of my mother.

Words cannot describe the sorrow I have experienced on this journey. Words cannot describe how ashamed people make me feel about “not working for my financial freedom.” Words cannot describe how stressed out I get sometimes with the pressure I feel to handle this money I have been given by my belated loved ones wisely.

In total now I have received 6 inheritances. 6 loved ones gone. 6 cards I no longer receive at Christmas. 6 birthday messages that no longer bring joy to the day of my birth. I have lost far more than my family has gained.

And then there is the blow to my foolish pride. I wanted to bring my family financial freedom. I wanted to pay off our debt by managing each penny our family earns well. I wanted to increase our family income by starting a blog that would take off like a rocket even though I named it after the slowest creature on the planet.

This last inheritance especially created a war within me. I let people’s words said behind my back–but known by me–get to me. I let whispers in my head grow to loud shouts saying things I can’t even write because that would give them an ounce of truth when there is none in them.

Until one day, a friend said something that others had said but had yet to sink in until that moment  “Yes, people gave you money. But you and your family chose to use it in a way that multiplied it in amazing ways”.

My loved ones gave us a packet of seeds that had financial freedom as a potential harvest, but only with the watering of our hard work and the added minerals of our out-of-the-box thinking did that packet of seeds grow to its full potential. Those 6 inheritances amounted to the cost of just one home in most parts of North America–yet we stretched it to cover 3, plus 2 vehicles, a laptop, a camera and a conference to start my blog, and a few fun family vacations and memory building tools (such as second hand RV to camp in).

I share these things not to boast (trust me–we have made mistakes on this journey) but to encourage.

To encourage you to take whatever financial windfall or talent you are given to create your own unique road to financial freedom.  Perhaps it might be a mix of the two as it was with us—the windfall from the inheritances mixed with our talent to see homes not as they are but as they could be, and the skill to get them there for as little financial output as possible.

To encourage you to think beyond the normal. Often in my life I have been called weird. It used to bug me until I realized it was my weirdness that was causing my family to become debt free and own two rentals. My “weird” talents let me think outside of the box and come up with a plan to take what was enough for one home and purchase three, thus reducing our expenses as well as generating income.

To encourage you to be okay with slow growth. It is so hard some days to preach the message of slow growth when I struggle with it myself, but it is the message I feel God has laid on my heart to share with women. Slow growth is better than no growth. Slow growth doesn’t overwhelm, it doesn’t shove your main priorities to the side. I don’t know what your main priorities are but for me they are my God, my husband, my children, and my friends.

Making room for my priorities means that my blog hasn’t grown as fast as I would like, it means that the renovation homes don’t get painted as fast as they could– but it also means at the end of my days those I love will know with all their hearts that I loved them with all I had.

To encourage you to embrace your path and stop trying to follow the path of another. Stop wishing you were smarter, braver, had that talent or this talent and start developing the talents God has placed within you. I have a talent for seeing potential in things others don’t, it is a talent my husband shares with me and it is this talent that helped us stretch our financial windfalls to create our financial freedom.

To be okay with whatever path brings you financial freedom. Never in a million years would I pick this path that brought me and my family to the financial freedom we now have. The sorrow is unspeakable. I often wish that I could have done it the “normal way” with hard work minus the windfalls of the inheritances. But that isn’t what happened and I know those who left their financial legacy to me would not want me to feel this way. They wanted their money to be a blessing and so I set out to do exactly that with their money to make it create a lasting financial blessing for our family.

Chances are you too will look back on your path to financial freedom and think “Wow, that isn’t how I expected to make it here, but here I am.”

Honestly, my husband and I are not what I would call “fully financially free” yet–but we are getting closer, which has me reflecting a lot lately on just what financially free means and I think Crystal Paine in her new book Money Making Mom says it well.

Financial freedom is:

• making choices based upon what is best for you and your family and that align with your long-term goals

• thinking big and creatively

• using the skills and talents you were born with

• taking calculated risks and trying new things

• turning knowledge and available resources into income generating ideas

• being in a position to give generously

• using your time and talents to bless others and make an impact

Crystal Paine Money Making Mom

The last 2 points of the quote–those to me are the real definition of what financial freedom is for our family–to be able to take the fruits of our labor and share it with others in a way that makes a positive impact.

What if you are just beginning down the path to financial freedom? What if you don’t have a financial windfall at your disposal? What if you are not even sure what your talent is? What if you know what your talent is but you just can’t seem to get beyond the fear of beginning?

My advice–pick up a copy of Money Making Mom (it releases Nov. 3, 2015. But you can pre-order it now and then go over here and get some amazing goodies, scroll to bottom of page when you get there). Read it, highlight what speaks to your heart so you can refer to it again and again while on your journey to financial freedom–and then push through the fear and begin.

Begin watering your own seeds to the harvest of financial freedom.

Even if friends think you are crazy, even if you only have enough funds to create just 1/2 a dozen of the product you want to sell, even if the path you want to take isn’t normal–begin.

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