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5 Frugal Trips To Take This Weekend

I recently ran across this older blog series from the NY Times, The Frugal Traveler and could not stop reading the multiple weekends the writer experienced on a mere $100.  Granted, this writer is traveling all over the world in fascinating cities, where sightseeing alone can qualify as something to do. It all sounds terribly exciting! However, it got me thinking about planning a next-to-nothing getaway for my own family. With school looming around the corner, we've got to get something squeezed in quickly and (as always) inexpensively. After a little digging, I found some excellent opportunities and thought I'd share them. Here are 5 frugal trips to take this weekend, should you also be craving a little excitement on a small budget.

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10 (Almost Free) Ways To Beat The Heat

frozen treat
  Ah, mid-July. The mid-summer point where temperatures start to climb, and we all swelter a bit more. Even with the heat, I want to get outside as much as possible to savor these last weeks of summer. But where to go and what to do? Most summertime activities have been tried and tested at this point in the season, and even the ever-enticing pool has started to lose its luster. Never fear! There are plenty of options around. With a little creativity and effort, you can enjoy the last weeks of summer while creating great new memories for the whole family. Here are 10 (almost free) ways to beat the heat.

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5 Ways To Quit Impulse Buying

I know you all have been there too. I entered Target with the sole mission of picking up a child's birthday present. I knew exactly what to buy, which section to find it, and I didn't even need to buy a gift bag because I have stockpiled them lately. A solid hour later I sailed through the check-out line with 15 other items. 15!  It started with the genius visual merchandising that drew me over to the accessories. I had time for a quick walk-through. Boom, a fedora marked for clearance wound up in the cart. Immediately the new hat was followed by socks, nail polish, air conditioning filters, a pack of Hanes T-shirts, 5 of the $1 items for kids' entertainment, a tank top, batteries, and 3 packs of gum. Oh, and the birthday present. But they were all on sale! I thought I was supposed to buy these items when I found them for reduced prices, right? Well, considering that my budget for that trip was $15 and my total receipt was for around $78, something is wrong with this scenario. After that trip, I've been bringing it back to the basics and had a little heart to heart with myself about spending. I also ran across this article from Psychology Today on why we impulse buy and found I am guilty of most of those reasons. So, here are 5 ways to quit impulse buying:

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5 Essential 4th of July Dishes

  It seems we are barreling straight into July before I've really had a chance to enjoy June. Is it just me or is it time for a pause, a break, a moment to kick back and soak in all that is good about summer? Luckily, the 4th of July is just around the corner. The 4th of July is a great time for my family to relax and slow down. Since so many people are off of work, we usually wind up seeing lots of friends and family that day. It's a wonderful opportunity to catch up on naps, games, and even ends with fireworks. What's not to love? My favorite part of July 4th is the food. Like Thanksgiving and Christmas, I feel that everyone brings their best dishes and recipes to the table on the 4th of July. Fresh fruit, grilled meats, homemade desserts seem to overflow on this day. It feels a bit decadent....and I'm okay with that. Plus, it's an interesting aspect to incorporate the red, white, and blue color scheme into the mix. So, here's a round-up of 5 fun 4th of July dishes that are guaranteed to bring a smile to any event you attend this year.

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Top 7 Ways To Save Money Every Month

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Setting a Family Budget

Our household recently experienced a change of employment, which meant changes in pay as well. While any increase in salary is obviously welcome, the change in how we get paid has thrown us a curve ball. We've gone from a bi-monthly set pay schedule to a once a month pay schedule. Talk about terrifying. Sure, that lump sum is going to seem great on the first day, but how about stretching it out through the next 30? Not only do we want to stretch every dollar, we want to be 100% debt free as soon as possible. Though we aren't living check to check, it's a giant shift in our thinking. While we've always budgeted and planned fairly well, this seems like the perfect time to reevaluate and examine all the little ways money walks right out of the house each month. Perhaps there are ways to tighten up and save even more each month, which would then leave even more money on the table to pay down our remaining debt.  This past week, I went back to the basics and looked at our daily habits and how they add up either positively or negatively to affect our bottom line each month. Yep, there is definitely room for adjustments.

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Easy Summer Recipes Under $10

If you are like us, summer brings a lovely sort of chaos. Although our speed slows and we spend hours idly lounging with no real objectives, we also seem to have bursts of running to and fro from one summer activity to another. The trickiest part of this for me is we have no set schedule. Camps or clubs are only a week at a time and when I finally get a handle on the rhythm, we're onto the next week. Dinner presents particular difficulty  (why do I feel like dinner time just sneaks up and ambushes me in the summer?) and I often default to breakfast-for-dinner or fend-for-yourself night because I didn't plan very well. Or even worse, we're ordering take out and fast food on a regular basis, blowing right through our grocery budget.

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What To Buy In June

What to buy in June
It's finally feeling like summer: the pool is open, the heat is kicking in, and Father's Day is around the corner. It's also wedding season, with more weddings than ever taking place this month. June is also a great month for deals, at least on certain items. And you know I am ALWAYS looking for the best deals. So, here's what to buy in June:

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The Single Best Father’s Day Gift

Bill Cosby

We already celebrated mom and discussed that ultimately all she really wants is quality time with her kids.  So, what about dad? Does the same gift giving apply to him? Um, no. What dad really wants for Father's Day this year is time TO HIMSELF. That's right, the single, best Father's Day gift is truly down time.

Oh, he loves his kids and his family, no question. He does cherish the opportunity to coach team sports, show off some math skills during homework, and having little hands help with yard work. However, what dad secretly wishes for is an hour or two that he can sneak off guilt-free to swing a golf club, tennis racket, or fishing rod on his own.

So, here are three ways to give dad what he really wants for Father's Day.

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3 Online Resources For Beginning Gardeners

Well, April showers bring May flowers, and true gardeners are well ahead of me I know. As I continue to see all of the incredible beauty with spring flowers, I realize I've dropped the ball this year. However, it's just so busy this month with Mother's Day, graduations and everything else we are winding down on right now. So, my landscaping and gardening have taken a back seat. I've officially begun researching how to start a small food garden and a planting garden, and I am ready to fill my patio with lovely plants and flowers of all varieties. Let me point out here that I am a complete novice at this, but am ready for both me and the kids to get on board in the garden. So, here are my 3 online resources for beginning gardeners, but if you have more please share!

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3 Products with the Best Discounts in May

May is the 2nd busiest month of the year in our household, just barely less frantic than December. Of course, the school year winds down and we are buying teacher gifts, graduation gifts and thank-yous for coaches and helpers in every other activity. Mother's Day is in the middle, which means finding gifts for (gratefully) both grandmothers and dropping hints to my own family about what they could give me. We're considering a small remodel on our kitchen, which means I've been scouring prices on appliances lately. Finally, we are going out of town for Memorial Day so there's about a million last minute things we need to buy for that trip. The good news? May is a budget girl's dream month for buying everything. May is loaded with incentives and discounts on a wide variety of products and with Memorial Day sales, I might just find the lowest prices possible since Black Friday. It's also loaded with opportunities to grab great gifts for graduations, weddings, and my own household. Since I've done most of the scouting early, here are my suggestions for the 3 products with the best discounts in May.

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