How to Save for a Vacation on a Tight Budget

how to save for a vacation

Vacations are expensive. Let’s face it.

How are you supposed to take an enjoyable vacation when you’re pinching every penny in your everyday life? There’s gas, plane tickets, daily excursions, food, and more. When you tally up the costs, even a camping excursion can rack up a large sum.

But the vacation you want to take could be the experience of a lifetime. If you have a family, you want to do your best to create valuable memories that will last. If you’re a solo-traveler planning to backpack Europe, it’s likely that you’re aching for that trip and are just seeking for a way to make it happen.

Here’s the thing: it’s entirely possible to inch away towards the sum you need to have an excellent vacation. Read on, and you’ll find out a few key ways to save money and put it away towards a vacation.

How to Save for a Vacation

1. Where are You Blowing Your Money?

It’s understandable to splurge a little on things like coffee and snacks whenever you stop for gas. We all have those little guilty pleasures that we shouldn’t be spending money one, but is that where you want your money to go?

If you add up the cost of your weekly spending on non-essentials, you’re likely to find that you’re spending a lot more than you had previously thought. Things like soda, treats, movie tickets, and the like are all things that be eliminated.

If you dedicate yourself to a year without, say, drinking soda, you’ll be able to save maybe a thousand dollars alone on that front. Not to mention, you’ll be a lot lighter for that hike through the Andes!

The most important thing you can do to save money for your vacation is cut out non-essential spending, and set aside the money you would use whenever you have a hankering for that bag of Doritos, or can of soda.

2. Garage Sale

It can be difficult to start saving when your vacation fund is meager. It’s a lot easier to set money aside when you can see the result of your frugality. A great way to get your savings started is by having a garage sale.

Gather up all of the stuff you don’t need- old clothes, microwaves, knick-knacks, whatever. Often times you can get rid of a lot of clutter while making a couple hundred dollars to tuck away for your trip.

A lot of times neighborhoods will have community garage sale days. These are great because everyone knows that there will be a sale, giving you a lot of traffic that you would otherwise miss out on. If you don’t have a community garage sale day, you can always advertise on Facebook a few days in advance to get the word out.

3. Pawn Shops

Pawn shops are often a place that your parents tell you never to enter. They rouse images of people selling their priceless items just to have money for gas or cigarettes. This is definitely not the case, and you can get some value out of the things that you couldn’t otherwise get rid of on Craigslist or similar sites.

Know that you won’t get the full value for your items. Resort to pawn shops only if you know that you’re not going to be able to sell your items to anyone else. Additionally, if you’re not having luck selling online and your trip is coming near, pawn shops are a great way to get that last little cushion that you need.

4. Get a Side Job

There are a lot of employers that are just looking for part-time work. If you already have a full-time job and you need a little extra cash, consider finding something that only requires you to work one or two days a week.

There are plenty of part-time gigs on Craigslist or Indeed, and you won’t be tied down to a commitment that you aren’t able to come through for. Another thing to consider is working for a delivery service, or taking online surveys.

You will find a lot of little side-gigs online if you do a little research.

5. Get a Separate Savings Account

It’s really easy to dip into your vacation fund when you need new tires or your old bicycle needs a tune-up. If you’re not in dire need of money, do your best to find out how to get the money you need in other ways.

Your vacation will never happen if you keep pulling money from your savings. An easy way to avoid this trouble is to create a separate account to save your vacation money in.

You can set limits on withdrawals, having a way to keep your money safe from yourself. If your wallet gets too tight you can always use the money for something you need, but if your goal is to go on a vacation try to discipline yourself and save what you want to save.

6. Seek out Deals

There are a lot of sites online that send email blasts with travel deals. Whether you need to take a survey or subscribe to a website, you may find a lot of discounts online.

Additionally, keep an eye out for plane tickets far in advance. You’ll often find the best deals if you’re thinking ahead and planning your trip a few months out. In fact, if you buy the tickets early, you’ll be more inclined to save that money and dedicate yourself to planning your trip.

Use the Resources at Your Disposal

There are so many great ways to find deals on vacations available online. Do some research and make sure to fine-tune your trip to your preferences and your family’s needs.

If you’re having difficulty finding extra money to set aside for your vacation, take advice from other people who have done it. Often times it takes that friend or individual online who has a special trick or trip. Be sure to look around online for advice on travel or budgeted living.

How to Choose the Perfect Purse For You

perfect purse

Ladies, how many times have you struggled to find something in your purse? Chances are, all the change is scattered throughout the bottom and your keys are mixed in.

The struggle is real.

It’s time to stop struggling and find the perfect purse. Is there such a thing? Of course!

Read on for some tips to help you decide.

The Purpose

Purse sales have reached over 1 billion dollars. So if you’re going to invest in a good quality handbag, you have to ask yourself, what do you plan on carrying in the purse?

It should be able to hold all your belongings and personal possessions. Test a purse’s size and storage.

Are you a student carrying books? Do you need a slot for glasses? Do you need extra space for the kids’ snacks?

The size and interior of a purse make a huge difference in determining if it will hold all your items with ease.

Color Preference

The best thing about purses is the wide variety of colors they come in. You can have a purse to match every outfit in your closet!

If you don’t have a style preference and stick to wearing neutrals, a beautiful colored bag would be perfect. However, if you tend to wear brighter colors, a neutral bag is best.

To get an idea of what neutral-colored bags can look like with your outfit, the handbags selection from the well known designer named Chloe are a good start.

Trust us, it’ll be hard to pick just one!

Comfort Is Key

The biggest aspect of finding the perfect purse is the comfort. It’s ok to test out multiple purses to see how they feel on your arm. You’ve probably seen women at the store do it all the time.

If you can, put some things in the purse to get a sense of how heavy it will feel. Are the strap lengths good? Can they be adjusted?

A purse should help balance out your figure. Short women normally look taller carrying a long handbag. Slim and tall women benefit from a more round purse.

Quality vs Knockoff

Sure, the perfect purse is a Coach or Kate Spade. But those are extremely expensive. So be aware of people trying to sell you a knockoff.

Knockoff purses have some sort of defect. They’re made with the low-quality material, the straps might break, and it has too many useless pockets. Steer clear of someone trying to sell you a Coach purse out of the trunk of a car.

Good quality handbags have consistent stitching and seaming throughout. The zipper opens and closes correctly, the connections for the straps are secure.

Does the purse have little feet on the bottom so the bag doesn’t get dirty when you put it down? Bonus! Is the zipper comfortable to pull? If so, you’ve got yourself a real one.

The Perfect Purse Is out There!

Now that you have some tips in front of you, make a checklist. What’s your idea of the perfect purse?

You work hard so you deserve to splurge a little. If you need more fashion tips, visit our blog today.

5 Time Management Tips For Student Moms

time management tips for student

Being a student is demanding. Add academic responsibilities to motherhood and it can be downright overwhelming.

More moms are going back to school than ever before. Currently, 1 in college 5 students is a single mom.

Many parents struggle to balance work, child care, and school. But improving your time management can help you get a leg-up in your daily routine.

A bit of planning can make all the difference. Check out our top five time management tips for student moms!

1. Meal Prep

Meal prep can simplify your weekly schedule. Daily cooking takes a lot of time and energy. Pre-prep your food for the week and free up extra hours to study.

Set aside a time to plan your weekly menu as a family. And if they are old enough, your kids can even help cook!

Meal preparation is a great way to save time and money — both precious resources for a student mom.

2. Keep Your Schedule Simple

Keep your family schedule organized and simple.

Be honest with yourself about your commitments. You may not have time to do everything that you used to do. And that’s okay!

Always be realistic about your course load. Work with your academic advisor to find a good balance for each semester.

You may need to par down your kids’ schedules as well. Focus on quality versus quantity when it comes to their after-school activities.

3. Study Outside the House

Motherhood’s never-ending to-do list can be pretty distracting when you’re trying to focus on school work. One minute you’re reading your psychology textbook, then you’re cleaning the kitchen.

Your study environment has a big impact on productivity. Remove the household distractions and find a place to study outside your home.

Coffee shops are a popular place for students. And, most universities have study spaces in the library you can reserve for free.

4. Ask for Help

Communication is key to your success as a student. Reach out to friends and family for emotional support. And ask for help with childcare and chores when you need it.

Your university can also be a great resource. Many schools offer programs to help parents, like discounted childcare.

Remember to communicate with your professors. Let them that know you’re a parent and talk to them about the best way to manage your coursework.

5. Study Around Their Schedules

Work with your kids’ schedule to increase your study time. Consider doing your homework while your kids work on theirs. Your studying can inspire your kids to commit to lifelong learning.

Family study time might motivate them to take an AP Capstone Program or dual-enroll!

If your kids are too young to have homework, set up an activity for them to complete while you study.

Use Time Management Tips for Student Moms

Being a mom is a full-time job. And as a student mom, you have a lot on your plate! Utilize these time management tips for student moms to give yourself the extra time you need.

What do you think of our tips for student moms? Comment below and let us know.

5 Reasons to Organize Your Life With Labels

organize your life

Is your home or work life feeling a bit chaotic?

Do you find yourself running behind because you’re scrambling to find what you need as you walk out the door?

When things are in disarray, it causes unnecessary stress within our lives. Thankfully, there are thrifty ways to organize your life. One of my favorite ways is through labels.

5 Different Labels that Can Organize Your Life

Labels are the new trend. With the right tools and a little bit of creativity, they can organize your life while accenting your home’s style.

You don’t have to be an artist to master it either. With so many free label templates available, half the design work is already done for you. All you have to do is click, customize, and print!

Not sure where to start? Use these 5 great label ideas to help you organize everything in your home.

1. Use Chalk Labels for Reusable Organization

Perfect for temporary needs, reusable chalkboard labels give a stylish touch to jars, boxes, organization drawers, and more. Many crafty moms use these labels for seasonal projects or temporary storage.

However, be careful where you store them. Like regular chalkboards, they can easily be erased intentionally, or unintentionally. Place them in an area where they are clearly displayed, but won’t be bumped.

2. Start from Scratch with Homemade Labels

Are you the creative type that doesn’t want to be reined in by the limitations of a template? Let your imagination run wild with home printed labels. You don’t have to use an expensive program.

You can create labels in Microsoft Word that look professional and attractive. Just design, print, and stick!

3. Get Classy with Book Plate Labels

If regular sticker labels aren’t chic enough for you, try book plate labels. These stylishly framed organization tools look great on just about any form of storage, from baskets to magazine holders.

The great thing about them is they are typically reusable as well. Whenever you want to make a change, simply slide a new label into the plate.

4. Clean Up Your Labels with a Label Maker

If your handwriting isn’t the best or you simply want a more professional look, try a label maker. These handy tools have come a long way from the boring style of the 90’s.

You can now purchase label makers capable of printing colorful, unique labels that draw the eye.

5. Get Trendy with Adhesive Vinyl Labels

If you’re seeking a more trendy, designer look consider adhesive vinyl labels. While these are expensive to make yourself, you can save the money you would normally spend on materials and machines and simply buy packets from online craft sellers on sites like Etsy.

The great thing about these labels is the ability to use an attractive script on transparent backgrounds. When done right, your friends will be hardpressed to believe your boxes, jars, and other organizational containers weren’t bought that way!

Discover More Do-It-Yourself Tips

Want to discover more ways to organize your life and save money? Here at Thrifty Momma Ramblings, we know how to live on a budget without cutting out fun and quality!

Take a look at our Do-It-Yourself (DIY) articles for more projects for work, play, and around the house.

5 Tax Refund Tips That Get the Most Out of Your Money

tax refund tips

After all the stress of filing your taxes in the first place, receiving a tax refund is fantastic. It feels like you just got a random gift of free money — even though it’s really just your own money that you’re getting back.

It can be tempting to hit the mall with all that new money in your bank account, but there are smart ways to spend your tax return. Before you go on a spending spree, take a look at these tax refund tips.

1. Pay Down Debt

If you have any high-interest debt like student loans, you should put at least some of your refund towards paying it down. You’ll thank yourself later when your principal is lowered.

You could also work towards paying off a car or put a little extra towards the mortgage if you own a house. Take a look at your financial situation and see where the best place is to spend that check.

2. Pay Off Credit Cards

Speaking of high-interest debt, do you have any credit card debt piling up?

If you took advantage of your credit limit over the past few months and now need a way to finish paying it off, plan to put some of your anticipated refunds towards your credit card bill. Since the interest rates on credit cards are usually so high, you should make it a priority to pay as much of your bill as possible.

3. Invest It

Don’t have any pressing debt you need to take care of? Excellent! Consider investing your tax refund instead so that your money can work for you.

No matter how much money you received back from the government, you can increase it by investing it wisely. Don’t worry if you’re not a stock expert — you can work with a financial advisor or download one of the apps that makes investing easy.

4. Build Up Your Retirement Fund

A different way to invest is to build up your retirement fund. The more you save now, the more it will grow over time. Even a small boost now could translate into thousands of dollars of savings down the road.

If you have a 401(k), put as much money as you can in it until you max it out. It’ll reduce your taxable income for next year, your employer might match the funds, and future you will thank you.

5. Put It In Savings

Finally, there’s nothing wrong with just sticking the money you’ve gotten back into a savings account. If you don’t have an emergency fund yet, this is a good way to start one.

That way, no matter what life throws at you — a flat tire, a family emergency, or home repairs — you’ll know that you already have the money saved away to take care of it.

Put These Tax Refund Tips to Good Use

We hope that these tax refund tips help you decide the best way to spend that check you got! Put this advice and way more to use when you take advantage of our library of resources.

Learn more personal finance tips right here.

5 Must-Read Tips for Winning a Credit Card Dispute

credit card dispute

Seeing an unauthorized charge on your credit card is infuriating. You know that you didn’t make the charge, but still see it on your bill nonetheless.

A credit card dispute can be an annoying process, and there’s no guarantee you’ll get your money back. Here, we outlined some tips you can use in the claims process to make sure you get the outcome you desire.

Know Your Rights

The most important tip we can give you is to know what your rights are in relation to disputing a charge. The Federal Trade Commission outlines the credit card dispute process, as well as what charges you are allowed to dispute.

The FTC allows you to dispute charges relating to billing errors. You can dispute credit card charge related to billing errors, unauthorized charges, charges to companies that didn’t deliver on promises, etc.

You can’t dispute the charge if it doesn’t fall under the wide billing error umbrella. There are periodical updates to the claims process, so make sure you know your rights and which kind of charges you can dispute.

Contact the Merchant First

The process of how to dispute a credit card charge should always start with the merchant.

There are several elements you can clear up without involving your credit card provider. You may have failed to account for a tip at a restaurant, for instance. The merchant might have double-charged you for an item.

Try to clear the situation up with the merchant before involving your credit card company in the ordeal.

Get Your Information in Order

Once you involve the credit card provider in your dispute, they’ll likely start compiling information for an investigation. You might even have to file a police report if someone stole your credit card information.

Make sure you have all the receipts and information you need before getting this process underway.

Don’t Give Up

It’s not uncommon that the credit card company will deny your claim the first time around. Don’t give up! Stay persistent with your claim – especially if it’s a high-value claim that’s over $100.

Do your best to remain calm when you’re talking with the credit card company or merchant. The claims process is incredibly frustrating – especially if you know you didn’t make the charge.

Don’t let the situation get the best of you. You’ll be constantly wondering “how long to dispute credit card charge?” Stay persistent and calm to maximize your chances of getting your claim approved.

Small Claims Don’t Trigger an Investigation

There is a particular threshold with each credit card company that triggers an investigation. If you fall under this line, your provider might not even contact the merchant to see if they have the accurate reading on their end.

Ron Lieber wrote in the New York Times that this number is somewhere around $25 for most credit card providers. If your disputed charge falls below this window (it’s different for each company) they will almost always credit your account without any followup investigation.

Winning Your Credit Card Dispute

Follow these above tips to make sure you give yourself the best chance of winning your credit card dispute. Don’t make the wrong move here, or you might find yourself paying for an item or service you didn’t receive.

Need some more financial or personal advice? Take a look at our blog!

Top 10 Healthy and Cheap Snacks Your Kids Will Love

cheap snacksPreparing cheap, healthy snacks for your kids can be difficult. With 1 in 3 children obese or overweight, preparing a balanced diet for your kids is more important than ever.

But what ingredients do you use for a healthy snack?

Here are our top 10 healthy and cheap snacks your kids will love.

Sweet Potatoes

A great choice for fun snacks for kids is sweet potatoes. Not only are they packed with vitamins, but there are plenty of different ways to prepare them.

While it may be difficult to convince kids to stay away from traditional french fries, the nutrients sweet potatoes bring their diet are worth it. With so many different ways to prepare your sweet potatoes, you’re sure to find a recipe that your kids will love.

Sweet potatoes can work well with any diet. Whether it’s vegetarian or paleo, you can still enjoy sweet potatoes.

Whether they’re fried, baked, or pureed, there are plenty ways to enjoy sweet potatoes.

Smoothies

If you’re looking for a great snack for the summertime, look no further. Smoothies are an excellent choice that will keep your kids cool and healthy.

There are a lot of different ways to make a smoothie. Trying out these new recipes and combinations can be fun for kids.

With a little bit of low-fat yogurt, some orange juice, and a banana, you have a solid base for your smoothies.

From here, you can experiment with different fruits, vegetables, and even grains to create a delicious and nutritious treat for your kids.

Whole Grain Cereal

Another fun snack for you try is whole grain cereal. Whether you just want an easy breakfast meal or a fun mid-day snack, whole grain cereals can give your kids the energy they need to get through the day.

Whole grain cereals provide energy and nutrients to keep your kids’ brains and bodies healthy.

Start their day off right with a little bit of cereal, some low-fat milk, and some fruit. Or use some yogurt to make some flavorful snack bars.

With the right recipe, you can put together a healthy snack loaded with different vitamins and nutrients.

Hummus

If you’re looking for an alternative for dipping your snacks, hummus is the solution you’ve been waiting for.

The pureed chickpea mixture can add texture and flavor to your snacks. In addition to tasting great, hummus is also rich in many different vitamins. But how should you serve it?

There are many creative ways to incorporate hummus into your snacks. Not only does it work well as a dip for your chips, crackers, and vegetables but it can also be used on sandwiches. While hummus has a thicker, paste-like consistency, it’s not as messy as other dips.

Cheese

A popular protein-packed snack for your kids to try is cheese.

Kids love cheese in all shapes, sizes, and forms. With the right recipe, you can create the perfect snack.

Cheese can be one of the most healthy and fun choices for a snack. The key nutrients it provides gives kids energy and can help build stronger bones.

Using full fat or 2% cheese can help keep your kids full until dinner. But it’s important not to give them too much cheese, or they may get sick.

Whether they’re cut into fun shapes or simple cubes, cheese can be a fun snack that kids can enjoy with their hands.

Quesadillas

Snacks with lots of different options are always the most fun. Quesadillas can help keep your kids feeling full until dinner and make sure they’re getting the nutrients they need to get through the day.

There are so many different ways to prepare a quesadilla. It’s important to always have a recipe that’s balanced and healthy. But what ingredients should you use?

Quesadillas are healthy and fun snacks because of the different ways you can make them. Using a combination of meats, beans, and vegetables make these snacks filling and nutritious.

With a little bit of salsa, some cheese, and a helping of beans, your kids will have a filling, energizing snack.

Peanut Butter

Much like hummus, peanut butter is another great spread to add to your snacks. Whether it’s used as a dip or a spread, peanut butter is a great choice for giving your snacks some substance.

Peanut butter is a versatile treat. There are plenty of ways to use it, whether it’s with something sugary or salty.

Because peanut butter is such a beloved childhood snack, it’s important to try to change your recipes up to make things interesting. Instead of the average PB and J, try using waffles or rice cakes.

There a lot of different ways to prepare a peanut butter snack. Because of this, the snacking possibilities are virtually endless.

Snack Mix

Another nutty snack that’s great for your kids is snack mix. Snack mixes are a combination of nuts, fruits, and sweets that are both delicious and healthy.

There are many different ingredients you can use to prepare a snack mix. Typically, nuts are used as a base to provide protein.

Finding the right nuts to use for your snack mix can be tricky. Whether you want normal peanuts, tree nuts, or shelled nuts, it’s good to figure out what will pair well with your recipe. Click here for more nuts to choose from.

When paired with fruits and sweets, snack mixes can taste great and provide kids with lots of nutrition.

Eggs

Eggs are another flexible ingredient to use in your snacks. The protein-rich snack can be prepared many different ways and is great for any time of the day.

While it’s most popular for breakfast, eggs can be served at any time. Whether they’re fried or hard-boiled, eggs can give kids the perfect balance of flavor and nutrients.

Noodles

Noodles are a quick snack that can provide kids with some carbs. When paired with sauces with vegetables, noodles can be a well-rounded snack for your kids.

While too much pasta could be bad, they can be great in limited quantities. When combined with sauces and cheese, noodles can provide them with a perfect balance of nutrients and flavor.

Preparing Cheap Snacks

Snacks are important for keeping your kids happy. Because of this, these snacks also should be healthy.

Finding a balance between cheap and healthy snacks is always tricky. But the first step to preparing healthy snacks is picking the right ingredients. Check out our blog for more tips and tricks for cooking healthy snacks.