5 Tips For Decorating Your Home On A Budget

decorating on a budgetWe’ve all seen the glossy home magazines with stunning kitchens, immaculate master bedrooms, and bathrooms covered in marble. Trust me, I love the way those rooms look, but I know that for most people, they are a bit out of reach. Still, I really enjoy having a beautiful home regardless of the price of the finishes. So in order to get that champagne style on a beer budget, I’ve gotten quite skilled at scoping out sales and hunting down deals. While many people might scoff at the idea of discount stores, I urge you to give shopping for sales on home décor items a try. You never know what you’re going to find, and that’s actually what makes it fun! So, with that said, below are my five favorite tips for decorating on a budget.

 1.  Less Is More

When you have a new home or are redesigning a room, the tendency can be to fill it with a variety of different items. Yet, some of the most beautiful rooms are very classic and simplistic. You don’t have to purchase numerous vases, tables, or picture frames. Just a few simple choices can make any room more memorable and your wallet fuller.

 2.  Learn How To Refinish Furniture

You’d be surprised at how many solid wood dressers and tables I’ve found at garage sales, estate sales, and even on the side of the road. Often, people throw out perfectly good furniture simply because they don’t have the time or the know how to fix them up. Read a few DIY sites and practice on something small. It would only take you a few dollars in materials and a few hours on a weekend to make an old and discarded piece look like a million bucks.

3. Purchase Oops❠Paint

In every major home improvement store, there is a shelf where incorrectly mixed paints go to live. These paints are not necessarily bad or ugly. They just might not have been exactly right to the original owner. So, they are often marked down, some by more than 50%. Check this shelf regularly if you are trying to find a particular color that will work with the color schemes in your home.

4. Shop For Big Ticket Items Online

Buying furniture online can actually be relatively inexpensive, yet not many people do it because they want to actually sit on a couch or try out a bed before purchasing. While that’s understandable, it might be worth your time just to order it and see if you like it. Make sure you purchase from a reliable website that offers free returns. You should also only purchase pieces that have been extensively reviewed with several satisfied customers.

5. Learn How To Sew

Have you seen the price of a decorative pillow lately? Seriously, $20, $25, and even up to $40 are all normal prices I’ve seen for pillows that most of us don’t even use! Sewing is a lost art, but trust me, it is not as difficult as it seems. All you have to do is know how to sew in a straight line to make a pillow. Then, you can move on to making your own curtains and even bedspreads. Knowing this very simple skill can save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars over the years. There are many instructional videos online that can help you in the process.

I hope that the five tips above can help you in your quest to make your home beautiful without spending a fortune. Each of these tips has worked for me in the past and continues to save me money with each new purchase in the future.

What are some of the ways you save when it comes to home décor or home improvement?

photo by klearchos

Minimalism and Money: A Winning Combination

minimalismOne year ago, I made a decision that changed my life forever. I sold all my belongings, bought an international plane ticket, and moved to a Caribbean island to be with my husband who was attending school there.

Of course, when I put it like that, it sounds a bit more like a fairytale than the grueling decision it actually was.

However, while making that decision was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, it became easier once I embraced the concept of minimalism. Moving to another country was filled with uncertainty. I had to quit my job with no prospects. I wanted to build my writing business to a higher level but was nervous and unsure if it would be enough to support us. However, I knew one way I could guarantee a fighting change was if I made some major changes in my financial life.

Before I moved to the Caribbean, we were a two-car family. We had a townhome with three bedrooms. We went on dates frequently, had a plasma TV, and purchased the things we needed like clothes or items for our home without concern.

Now, we live in 270 square feet, an apartment that is smaller than most hotel rooms we have stayed in together. We do not have a car in the Caribbean; we take the bus, sometimes two or three busses, to get where we need to go. With my husband’s demanding study schedule, we don’t have as much time for dates but we try to take walks together, which are free, and enjoy the beautiful scenery.

Thoughts of a plasma TV are history. We actually go without a TV completely and watch shows on our computers. The smart phone that once acted as my extra limb has now been replaced with a cheap $20.00 version.

And here’s the thing: Even though I make about $10,000 less per year than I did in the United States, we have eliminated almost all of our credit card debt, created an emergency fund (something we never had before), and are well on our way to combatting the student loans that we have both accrued.

So what’s the difference?

Shouldn’t we be struggling more if we’re making less?

The answer has been the winning combination of minimalism and money or rather being extremely selective about what we spend. We went 10 months straight without buying an article of clothing, we make very inexpensive meals, and we actually think about what we spend every day. We tell ourselves no❠a lot and we tell our friends no❠even more, all in the hopes that one day we will be 100% financially independent.

While our certain situation is definitely unusual, these lessons can be applied to anyone regardless of income level. Here are a few steps you can take:

  1. Try to turn off your TV at a certain time each night. Then, turn it off an hour earlier the following week. Keep going until you no longer watch it anymore. If you miss it, you can always turn it back on. If you don’t, you can save a significant amount of money per year by cancelling it.
  2. Visit your cell phone company and see how much of a price difference it would be if you got a plan with less extras.❠Then, consider what else you could do with that money, how much you could save in a year, and what you could spend it on. If your desire for the cell phone plan outweighs those goals, then keep it. However, if other things sound more enticing, try going without it.
  3. Have a talk with your significant other to see if you could be a one-car family.
  4. Meal plan so that you don’t overspend at the grocery store and aren’t tempted to eat out.
  5. Take pleasure in life’s simple gifts. Go for a walk. Have a picnic. Cook a nice meal. Enjoy the sunset. All of these things are either free or relatively expensive.

Even one of these changes can make a big impact on your life and set you on the path towards minimalism and financial freedom. While I am still working towards that goal myself, I can attest to the fact that leading a minimalist life has made me much more peaceful and much more confident that I’ll achieve my future financial goals.

photo by sodaniechea

When is it Frugal â“ When is it Cheap?

frugal or cheapMost of us will agree that being frugal is a good thing, but frugality has a rogue cousin named cheap, and while the two are closely related we never want to be known for being the second. It can sometimes be hard to know when we’re crossing the line from frugal to cheap.

Here’s an attempt at identifying the signsâ¦


I’ve written about issues with tithing, but at the opposite end of the spectrum is a person who is in a position to give generously and doesn’t. Such a person might be able to give more than 10% of his income, but doesn’t manage 5%, or even 2%. High income is a blessing that we should share with the Church and with others who are in need; if you have it and don’t share itâ”well, that’s cheap.

And how about giving to people on the street? If a person who looks to be homeless approaches you and asks for money, do you really withhold it because you’re sure he’ll use it to buy drugs or alcohol, or do you just find it difficult to part with five or ten dollars? What the recipient does with the money is between him and God, but everything that happens up to that point can say a lot about how we view money.

Tips are another issue. Wait staff rely on them as their primary source of income; we may disagree with the tipping system, but that’s how the restaurant world works. If you can afford a restaurant meal, you should be able to add a decent tip. By not giving one, or by giving a poor one, you’re not hurting the restaurant, you’re hurting the person who is waiting on your table. Is that frugal, or is it cheap?.

Taking advantage of the generosity of others

If you’re of the frugal mindset, you get the bartering thing: you do something for me, I do something for you. If you’re cheap, I’ll do something for youâ¦and that’s about where it will end. Some examples:

  • A neighbor drives her kids and your kids to the mall two or three times a month, you never or rarely drive them in
  • You have regular lunches with a friend who sometimes picks up the lunch tab for both of you, you never reciprocate
  • Friends or family members have you over for dinner several times a year, but you never invite them to your house, at least not for dinner
  • Rather than buying your own hedge clippers you borrow your neighbors when ever you need it; it’s been this way for years and you rely on the arrangement

These are classic examples of taking advantage of the generosity of others, which is the backdoor version of being cheap. Some people are generous by nature, but that should never mean we take advantage of them.

What causes people to be cheap?

There are different reasons why someone is cheap, and not all of them are bad.

Love of money.

The cheapskate often believes (maybe only subconsciously) that money is the highest virtue, and for that reason it is to be carefully guarded. The frugal person sees money as a tool; he keeps his spending low and his bank account full, but he doesn’t put it on an altar.

Love of self.

There’s no way to escape that being cheap has a selfish quality to it. Cheapskates often want to keep their money for themselves, often justifying it by considering it to be a form of survival. Many people who are cheap are very indulgent when it comes to what they want, but very reluctant that anyone else should benefit from their spending. By contrast, a frugal person will live on the cheap, but be very generous toward others.

A difficult past experience.

Any one who’s ever experienced a bout of poverty knows the feeling of doing without, and might have a reluctance to ever return to that status. An improvement in personal financial status may not be accompanied by a change of heart toward money. Unlike love of money and self, this is motivated by fear. Many people who experienced the Great Depression were frugal, but some were cheap as a result. Cold beds and empty stomachs had something to do that.

Frugality: the constructive use of being cheap

As I said in the beginning, it’s sometimes hard to know the difference between frugal and cheap, but I think it’s really in how we use them. Being cheap is a condition of the heart and mindâ”frugality is using being cheap as a tool. Simply put, a frugal person knows when and how to turn on and turn off cheap. The true cheapskate can’t because it’s part of who he is.

The constructive use of cheap is in keeping everyday living expenses to a minimum. A person making $5,000 a month might choose to live on $3,000, and bank the difference. Cheap is how he’s able to live on the lesser amount, but it affords him a life with plenty of savings and an absence of debt.

He may use the extra money being cheap has provided to be generous, to lower stress in his life, and even to provide himself and his family with some luxuries. But he can always control what he does. Cheap is his tool, his method toward financial independence, but it’s not who he is.

If it’s used right, cheap isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Being cheap, however, is very different.

What do you think is the difference between being frugal and being cheap?

photo by nrmadriversseat

5 Money Saving Tips for Car Drivers

money saving tips for car driversNo matter how much driving experience and knowledge of cars you have, one thing stands for every driver: by servicing your car regularly, you’ll avoid big, expensive repairs in the future. A lot of drivers know this and still end up shelling out for costly repair jobs.

Here are five things that can really help you with reducing your car expenses further down the line:

1. Drive your car in a fuel-efficient way

This means changing gears according to your driving speed. If you’re driving 40 mph in third instead of fourth gear, you’ll be considerably wasting your fuel. Other ways to save fuel include resisting the urge to fill up the tank all the way; checking whether the fuel cap is firmly closed, so no fuel evaporates; driving smoothly and avoiding making any sudden, jerky moves.

2. Get your car checked regularly

Find a reliable, trustworthy mechanic (yes, they do exist!) who won’t rip you off and won’t exploit your inexperience to offer you services you don’t need. Find out how often you need to have your oil and oil filters changed and make sure that they are changed when these â˜due dates’ are reached. If your car is not new anymore, you might be able to switch to a less-expensive type of oil; seek expert advice if you are in any doubt about this.

A good business directory, like Thomson Local, can help you locate mechanics offering car body repairs in your area.

3. Take good care of your tires

Change them every few years (depending on how much you drive) and check regularly to ensure that they are properly inflated. You have this service for free at almost every gas station. Make sure you use winter and summer tires when appropriate and you can  maximize  their efficiency and prolong their road use safely.

4. Go easy on the air-conditioning

Alternatives include opening your windows or using an air-vent.

5. Only drive when you have to

Avoid driving your car to places that are close by. Walk, ride a bike (it will be good for you) or let a bus or train take the strain. This sounds like a radical measure if you are one of those people who feel like they have been born inside a car, but calculating how much you can save this way might make you reconsider. Car-pool whenever you can, and you will save even more money on gas.

Stick to these money and car-saving â˜tactics’ and you’ll drive your car much longer than you expected.

photo by ilker

25 Dates under $25

cheap datesAfter two years of marriage, date night is a rare occurrence in our house. Fancy dinners out and long weekend getaways are now replaced by Redbox, take-out and errands. Where did the passion go?

In our quest to ignite the fire once more, my husband and I have committed to reinvigorating our social life. Since we are a young married couple on a budget, we set the limit of our dates to $25. But there are lots of options for having dates on a budget. All it takes is a little bit of extra creativity and perhaps some planning.

25 Dates Under $25

  1. Picnic in the park
  2. Visit the beach
  3. Go on a hike
  4. Go to a matinee movie, or better yet, visit the $1 theater
  5. Find a local cheap wine tasting (we googled and found one that has 8 tastes for $5!)
  6. Take a class at Whole Foods (learn how to make sushi? Yes Please!)
  7. Visit a local fair or festival
  8. Scout out free local Art Walks
  9. Attend a free concert in the park
  10. Take advantage of happy hour
  11. Order dessert at a four-star restaurant
  12. Visit a museum on a half-priced day (there are a lot in the summer)
  13. Find an adventurous recipe online, go buy the ingredients, and cook together
  14. Go thrift store shopping
  15. Walk to get frozen yogurt together
  16. Create DIY art for the home
  17. Tackle a home project together that ends with an evening of wine
  18. Spend $25 in gas and take a day trip (pack a lunch)
  19. Go to your local zoo
  20. Volunteer at a local animal shelter
  21. Bake a decadent dessert together
  22. Drive around looking at your dream houses
  23. Go for brunch at a small boutique diner
  24. Take advantage of a good Living Social or Groupon deal to a restaurant
  25. See if your city offers Restaurant Week and take advantage!

The Importance of Date Night

Date Night has long been a discussion in many women’s groups, as well as ministries across the country that commend the importance of a night out with your significant other. Most of these discussions are geared toward people with children, since couples can often lose sight of their relationship while trying to raise little monsters, er, I mean kids.

However, date night isn’t just for couples with children anymore. We find ourselves–as a relatively young married couple–falling into the same routine and ruts. Perhaps, it doesn’t help that we have conflicting work schedules, with one of us sometimes working weekends and nights, that makes it really hard to plan a good date night.

Date night is not just a reason to go out and spend money. It’s a time to reconnect and separate yourselves from the drama and exhaustion of everyday life. We often get bogged down by the little things, like things that need to be fixed around the house, bills that need to be paid, or social obligations that we need to attend. It gets to be too easy to just say “We’re tired, let’s stay in.” And while I am the biggest proponent of staying in and vegging out, I also realize the importance of date night and how great I feel after having some quality uninterrupted, no-distractions time with my husband.

The Key to a Good Date Night

Oftentimes, it’s not what you’re doing on date night that’s important. What matters most is that you both feel that you’re getting what you need from the relationship. Make a point to act like teenagers–kiss more, hold hands, be affectionate. And most importantly, be present in the moment. Don’t let yourself get bogged down by grievances and annoyances.

If you’re feeling like you just really won’t be able to enjoy date night, offer your partner a massage to help them destress. That always leads to best kind of date night ; )

photo by spiritquest

Five Tips for Eating Out on a Budget

eating out on a budgetEating out is a blissful way to de-stress and live life to the fullest, filled with drinks, great food, and a social setting that produces some of our best memories to be formed. On the flip-side of things, however, dining out can also prove to be excruciatingly expensive, existing as a money-swallowing social habit that can lead to some serious bummed-out vibes upon checking the status of your bank account.

Rather than giving up restaurant ventures altogether, we’ve provided a slew of helpful tips for enjoying a night out while not leaving you penniless by the end of the evening.

Pay attention to the nightly specials

As easy as it is for your eyes to skip right past the enumerated specials on the menu, make a bold attempt to give the list more than a passing glance. Sometimes restaurants will offer throwaway specials on desserts you don’t want anyway, but other times you’ll find that restaurants desperate to draw business or attention from critics will highlight fantastic entrees and appetizers with eye-catching buy one, get one❠deals or budget-conducive reduced prices. Furthermore, consider coupon applications and websites like Groupon to be your new best friend for eating out â“ deals can range from half-off❠specials to, on a rare occasion, getting an entire meal (or at least a drink) free of charge.

Take restaurants for a test drive

If you’re dying to check out a new restaurant, try checking it out without throwing large sums of cash out the window if you just want the experience.❠Keep in mind that, unless you stumble upon an uncannily grumpy restaurant owner, no one is going to throw you out of the joint for only ordering a beer and an appetizer. Keep your goals in mind when going to a restaurant, and try picking your new favorite places by dabbling with the menu rather than ordering a feast for five. Better yet, upon finding these places, establish yourself as a regular â“ who knows, you might find yourself with a cheaper bill one night than you deserve or a free dessert to top off your meal.

Check out the lunch menu

Though there are portion differences, there are also marked price differences. A smaller portion of the entrée you desired for a lower price is more than an acceptable compromise for being able to afford eating out. You also gain the benefit of receiving better service, as most servers are fully aware that someone ordering a lunch special is ⓠmost likely ⓠon their lunch break and in a hurry to get back to their place of work.

Don’t let your drinks cost more than your meal

Large drink tabs can overwhelm a bill total, which is generally the basic business idea behind a bar/restaurant. As a solution, if you plan on drinking more than one alcoholic beverage during your night out, plan to follow-up your restaurant experience with a trip to a local bar that boasts some pocketbook-friendly drink specials. You’ll be happy you did when you find that you haven’t wasted more money on your drinks than you intended to spend on your entire three-course meal.

Avoid splitting bills

If your friend or business associate declares that you can both split the bill, talk your way out of it by suggesting the server bring back separate checks. There is no need to deal with the extravagant meal expenditure of your company if you only ordered a BLT and a cola. Also plan to pay the tip based on the calculation of what you ordered, rather than allocating the entire tip to one person.

(QuickQuid is an ethical  in an online payday lender that helps hard-working Britons find a fast and convenient solution to financial emergencies from the privacy and convenience of home. Its cash advances are a hassle-free solution to household bills, emergency expenses or short-term money needs.)

photo by zigazou76

How Someone’s Lunch money Bought a Washer and Dryer

bought a washer and dryerI’m going to do it. I’m going to bum change off people for two months and pay for it. My wife thinks I can’t. She think it’s impossible, but just watch me.

My friend seemed pretty determined and sure of himself just a day before he had finally given in to his wife’s demands for a new washer and dryer. But instead of heading off to the local Sears or Best Buy and swiping plastic, he was determined to do things the good old-fashioned way — by asking for simple pocket change.

“Can you give me a dollar or two for lunch,” he asked friends and acquaintances (and sometimes even strangers) every day. He did this for two months and he proved his wife right â“ in a short amount of time he had enough money to buy a new washer and dryer.

His experience teaches us a couple simple truisms about money: where there’s a will, there’s a way and (even more importantly) that small change adds up, even in a short amount of time.

Tracking Expenses: From Pennies to Big Bucks?

My friend knew he could bum enough change off friends and strangers to pay for two big-ticket consumer items. He had no shame in asking for change from the same folks, over and over, too.

Even if you would never go to this extreme in seeking new cash streams, consider that his experience shows the possibility of creatively seeking out new sources of cash flow and (more importantly) that his friends, acquaintances and some perfect strangers had no idea just how much money they willingly forked over to him. They were literally bleeding pocket change that added up to big bucks over time.

Learn from my friend’s accomplices: Keep track of your expenses! If possible, forgo cash because it’s so difficult to track. Create a family and household budget that narrows in on spending and is as focused as a laser beam. Above all, remember: small sums add up over time, but small losses and untracked purchases and expenses do too.

There’s a Saying About Change…

You’re happy and rich but you need to change your change to cold, hard cash. Head to your local bank and ask for some (free) coin wrappers, roll the coins in the privacy and comfort of your home and deliver them back to the bank for cash, free of charge.

Credit union members take heed: many credit unions offer coin machines — free of charge — to their customers. You can dump your unsorted shinies into the machine without facing the 10% haircut charged by commercial coin changers. If you have several hundred dollars in change (or even more, like my spouse-betting friend), that’s one very expensive haircut.

Wonderfully Weird and Wacky Ways to Wealth… or a Washer and Dryer

Bumming change to best a betting spouse may be uncouth, but it proves that small things can add up to bigger things? People unfortunately often overlook the fact that they are losing money by throwing away every item passing through their household. Instead of trashing it, you should try cashing it (in). For example, did you know that empty wine bottles could fetch up to 50 cents? Or that used toner cartridges can command even 20 bucks?

If you don’t want to deal with ink, bottles or basketball player undies, you can even earn a tidy monthly sum by testing websites.

If bumming change can buy you an appliance, why not selling your garbage or website testing? Be creative and the change will start to add up very quickly…

(Kyle Taylor is the editor of The Penny Hoarder, a daily blog with weird & wacky tips on how to make extra money. Connect with him on Facebook/Twitter or subscribe to his newsletter to get his 5 wackiest ways to make money via email!)

photo by editor


barteringWhen was the last time you used the old fashioned barter system?    Has it been a while?    Bartering is the oldest form of commerce.    It happens when I exchange something I have with you for something you have.    For example, if I need a new television, I may be able to trade with you my iPod for your television.    If you believe that to be a fair trade, then we agree to swap.    Viola!    I just got a television.    It could also work for services.    If I need my house painted, then I may be able to trade you two weeks worth of babysitting if you come and paint my home.    We each take something we have in our possession and exchange it for something else we need.

Today, we find that most people don’t think about these types of exchanges first.    They think dollar first.    Meaning, if I have money to buy it, then I will get it.    If I don’t have money, then I use credit, which is supposed to represent money.    But what if we begin to think about what we already have in our possession that may be able to get us what we need?    Instead of always allowing your bank account to drive your decisions, begin to look around you at what else can be used to get the things you need.

We all have something to contribute to this world.    Money is not something we always have in our possession, but that does not mean that we are poor.    It just means that we don’t have money.    But what do you possess?    Can what you possess be a means of exchange for something you need?    I recall this happening to me when I needed to get my house painted.    I didn’t have enough money to pay someone to do it, but needed to get it done.    I had a paint partyâ.    Since I despise painting but love cooking, I decided to make a dinner for all of my friends who came over to help me paint.    I did lend a hand in painting every once in a while, of course.    But it made the task more enjoyable to spend time with my friends while accomplishing a goal that I could not afford to accomplish with the amount of money I had in my account.    I exchanged my cooking skill for my friends’ willingness to paint.    And all were happy.

In allowing money to always lead our decision making, we not only limit ourselves, we also limit the opportunity for others to offer what they have to us.    There is a blessing in both giving and receiving.    Allowing others to contribute to your life by using what they possess is a way of also letting people know that even without having money, they have value.    We all have value, even when we do not have money.    Bartering is a way to remember not to place the worth of a person simply on the size of their wallet.    Perhaps we all need a reminder from time to time that not only are we not ultimately judged by our fiscal net worth, but in how we used what we were given in a way that blessed the world.

(Shayna Lear is a financial planner and educator from Philadelphia, PA. She is studying Divinity and Economic Development at Palmer Seminary and Eastern University respectively.    Shayna is also the author of Money On Purpose:  Finding a Faith-Filled Balance, published by Judson Press (http://www.judsonpress.com) and the blog, God, Love and Moneyâ; http://www.godloveandmoney.blogspot.com)

photo by kylemacdonald

Avoid Starbucks and Make your Own Gourmet Mocha Coffee!

make your own mochaIf you enjoy Starbucks, raise your hand.  Both my hands are up right now!  yes, I love Starbucks that much.  I love getting it by myself, I love getting it with my fiancee, I love getting it with friends, and I love getting it with mentors.  Anytime, anywhere, it’s always a good day to stop over at Starbucks!

The problem with Starbucks is that it can annihilate a budget.  Heck, if you’re trying to get out of debt, then this is the worst thing you can do!

So what is a Starbucks addict to do?  Well, I have some good news.  You can make them on your own!  My personal favorite coffee drink is a grande Mocha.  For me, the grande size is perfect and always hits the spot.  I had done a Google search a while back and found a Mocha recipe!  Yes, a grown man making Mochas at home, I’m not kidding!

So, let’s get to the point here.  Forget the $4 drinks at Starbucks and make your own Mocha coffee drink.  While saving money, I have enjoyed many a Mocha with the following recipe:

So, what are the ingredients?

-1 cup of your favorite brew

-2 packets of Stevia natural sugar

-2 tablespoons of a top shelf brand hot chocolate mix

-1 to 3  tablespoons  of half and half


Now how do you make this liquid gold?!

First, go to the grocery store and buy a bag of your favorite coffee.  You can either buy it already ground or in beans and put it in the grinder yourself.  Personally, I’m lazy so I opt for the ground coffee.  And here’s one tip for quality coffee: only buy coffee on the upper shelf.

The second step is to place your chosen hot chocolate mix and place two tablespoons into your mug and stir.  Once the cocoa mix is stirred in, you will need to add the two tablespoons of half and half.  The two tablespoons is just a guideline.  I tend to be on the more liberal side when it comes to half and half.

At this point, your mocha is complete but I like to take it a step further.  I enjoy a nice heaping spoonful of whipped cream with sprinkles in my Mocha.  Heck, you can even change things up with different colored sprinkles depending on the season.

So there you have it, the most epic and cheap way to make a homemade Mocha!  You could even make it a family event and get everyone involved.  I can definitely see my wife and kids doing this as a family someday.  Plus it’s a chance to teach kids about frugality!


What habit is destroying your wallet?

It’s time to be honest, what habit do you keep ignoring?  Instead of avoiding your addiction altogether, why not find a cheaper substitute?  I don’t care what your vice is, I know there is a cheaper way to do it!

While I still enjoy Starbucks once in a while, making my own coffee drinks at home has saved me a serious bundle of cash over the years!  Will you be trying this recipe over the weekend?  

 photo by journeyscoffee

How I Leveraged Craig’s List and Made Thousands

CraigslistI was 18, making minimum wage, and sick of having bosses telling me what to do.   I had started out as a bag boy at a local grocery store during college and had moved up the ranks to the produce department.   While I learned a ton working at a grocery store for three years, I realized the danger of settling for mediocre pay and not challenging myself to think outside the box.

One day while I was working at the grocery store, it was like a light bulb went off.   I think I was stacking some apples and day dreaming about what I would do in life.   This is when the entrepreneurial spirit inside of me began.   I started brainstorming money making ideas while I worked away at the grocery store and was confident I’d come up with something.

Then it hit me.   I started thinking about my talents.   While some people fit into tidy categories, I seem to break barriers in terms of social aspects.   The Lord has blessed me with physical strength as well as a passion for communication and talking with people.   So that got me thinking.   What could I do with my strength and relationship skills?   Nothing came to mind at the time.

As I was driving home on a weekday, I saw a large moving truck near my house and it hit me!   Why not start a moving company!   I sped home and started researching.   Doing a couple Google searches for moves it was obvious that the majority of companies were using Craig’s List to advertise their services.   Genius!   Free advertising coupled with text and an image.   Heck I could do that I told myself.

I threw up an ad the next day and read something like this: College student mover offering relocation assistance for $20/hour.   You provide the truck and I’ll do the heavy lifting.   All revenue will be going towards my college education.❠  Clever words huh?

Well guess what happened?   My cell phone started blowing up within hours with soccer Moms asking me to move their furniture.   They were so enthralled with my drive to pay for college that it was a no-brainer for them to hire me.   I was also priced extremely low.   While other moving companies were charging $55/hour, I was a bargain at $20/hour.

I carried out my first move that very weekend and I remember smiling all the way home.   I couldn’t believe how easy it was to move furniture!   It helped that I worked out every day but the money was huge compared to my minimum wage job at the grocery store.

Soon, the money started to pour in and I was booking clients right and left.   I ended up quitting my grocery store position and focused all my attention on moving jobs.

Over time I began to realize that Craig’s List was a science and there were perfect times to post.   My typical regimen was to post four times a day during the week and work the entire weekend.   I would post once in the morning, once at lunch, once in the afternoon, and one in the evening.   My ads never really changed and I always focused on my goal of paying my way through school without debt.   Parents loved it and the business kept rolling in.

This posting regimen as so effective I sometimes had to cancel on clients because there was simply not enough time in a weekend.   I remember some weekends where I would work from 6Am until 4AM the next day!   I’ll be honest, working that much was not something I enjoyed, but the money sure was nice!

In terms of revenue, I won’t go into specifics, but I’ll just say that I was making in a weekend what most people make in a week at work.   Between the $20/hour wage, tips, and maxing out hours on the weekends, I raked it in during college.   To this day, some of my friends still don’t believe how much money I made during school.

After a year of moving furniture for clients, I ended up creating a personal blog for my services and posted a link within my Craig’s List ads.   It worked well and noticed an uptick in business because of it.

So, now you know a little bit about my side hustle in college.   Late nights, obsessive Craig’s List postings, and buckets of sweat later, I look back on my moving days❠and just smile.   Who knew someone like me could leverage a free service and make thousands of dollars while others were making minimum wage?

If you’re a college student and looking for ways to make extra money, hopefully this article spurred you on to do what I did!   All it takes is some strength, dedication and communication skills.   The rest is a cake walk.

To the readers: what about you, what were some of your side hustles in college?   Did you have any unique ways of making money that you’d like to share with the rest of us?   Comment below!