Valentines on A Budget – 5 Tips to Save You Money!

Valentines is officially HERE! and while today may be the BIG V-Day, most people may opt to do something small today, with a bigger celebration more than likely starting tomorrow night and on through the weekend, right??

Valentine’s is the next most popular-est holiday, outside of Christmas. As soon as Christmas is over you can almost guarantee the week or two after, stores will begin to fill up with red, pink and white balloons, bears, candies and roses galore…I mean, that’s just how it rolls.

In Honor of Black History Month >> Check This Out >> My History, Your History, Black History Facts You Might Didn’t’ Know About.

However, while Valentines is a day that everyone (well not everyone, but you get it) uses to express their undying love and affection for a significant other – it can also be extremely COSTLY! Yes, LOVE really does cost a thing, especially on V-Day.

And that alone can be a little disheartening as everyone may not have the Benjamin’s to splurge on LOVE. Therefore, I’m going to give you 5 tips of how you can keep the cost down on the world’s most LOVE filled day.

Scavenger Hunt

Valentines Day is the perfect day to tell your significant other how much you love them and while words are great – ACTIONS are better. Get some nice paper, preferably construction paper. Fold it in half and cut along the fold line to make hearts, make sure you use different colors – it just makes the activity more fun and expressive.

Image Credit: Pexels

Write nice things you love about your sweetie on each one and put them all over your living space (preferably in places you know they always go). You might want to let them know you’re doing this and tell them you’ve placed little love notes throughout the space and send them on a little hunt to find it. Or, it can be a complete surprise. You can do it while they’re sleeping, to up the ante – you can tape little pieces of chocolate on, to make the surprise even sweeter.

Handwritten Letters

I know this is a bit old-fashioned, especially with the boat loads of technology we have today. Taking out time to sit down and actually write a letter shows that you not only care but it’s the sincerest affection to give. You can write a love note to anyone; your kids, your spouse, a good friend, boyfriend, girlfriend or just to let someone know how much you appreciate them. The fact that you took out time to do it, will be the greatest gift of love and adoration shown.

Image Credit: Pexels

Plan a Date night in Your Kitchen or Dining Room

Now, I know some people may already sit down to have dinner together, but V-Day is an extra special day that causes for an extra va-voom to your dinner/meal conversation. Use your phone to create a V-Day playlist to serve as your background music. Light a couple of candles or string a couple of lights around your chandelier or alongside your wall (get those creative juices going).

Image Credit: Pexels

During your meal, don’t talk about work or any outside disturbances. Use this time to talk about each other. What made you fall in love and etc. And if you’re flying solo, no worries plan a night with the kids (no phones, no talk about work) use that time to tell them something special about themselves and etc. Just keep the talk about LOVE. If you don’t have kids, then invite some friends over and chat it up.

You also don’t have to buy any expensive dinners, cook whatever you got in the fridge or cabinets because this moment isn’t about the food but being amongst those you LOVE.

Movies Anyone? – Favorite V-Day Classics

If you’re an avid follower, then you know I LOVE LOVE LOVE movies. What better way to settle in on V-Day or whenever you decide to celebrate it than with a good ole love classic and some popcorn. Listed below are a couple of my faves in no particular order…

Image Credit: Pexels
  • Valentine’s Day (2010)Julia Roberts, Ashton Kutcher, Jamie Foxx
  • Serendipity (2001)John Cusack, Kate Beckinsale
  • Pretty Woman (1990)Julia Roberts, Richard Gere
  • Love and Basketball (2000) Sanaa Lathan, Omar Epps
  • The Notebook (2004)Rachel McAdams, Ryan Gosling
  • Titanic (1997) Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet
  • An Officer & A Gentleman (1982)Richard Gere, Debra Winger
  • 50 First Dates (2004) – Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore

Spa Day – INSIDE

As a people I honestly don’t think we do enough self-care routines (I’m totally preaching to the choir on this one (AMEN!). So why not create your own spa day inside. Light some candles, turn on some soft music and create a bubble bath for one or two (wink..) You don’t even have to have those high-priced soaps that do all the special things – if you got some body wash that’ll do just fine for creating the bubble effect. Get you a glass of wine (sparkling or other) and just RELAX! And follow-up with a good skin care regimen.

Image Credit: Pexels

I know Valentine’s day may not be a big deal to some people’s world and that’s okay as it doesn’t take a holiday to show LOVE. However you choose to spend V-day, just make sure you’re showing yourself some love and/or spending time with the people you do. Time is precious and LOVE, whether a holiday or not is worth giving.

Glazed Cherry Bread
Looking for something delicious and different to whip up for V-Day? You’ll love this cherry bread recipe made with delicious maraschino cherries. To get the full recipe and view the video of how it’s made visit Tastes of Lizzy T.

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Lunch and Soup – 4 Different Ways

I have a couple of questions for ya..

  • Are you on a budget? This girl definitely is!
  • Do you like Soup? Of course I do…(anything dealing with food really…haha)

So, yes…I’m on a very tight budget and I can’t or don’t I should say always have money to go and break a 20 on lunch only to have a couple of dollars left – Yesssss, food establishments make a killing off of our “lunch” dollars because they know 1 of 2 things to be true…

  1. You either left your lunch at home. -or-
  2. You were too lazy to cook.

And let me just say that I have been at the helm of both of those statements. And after going through what seemed like fifty dollars or more a week for lunch; I decided that enough was enough!

In which inspired this post >>>>> Lunch on a Budget for $20 or LESS!

With the cost of food seemingly going up every second it seems, it can be challenging to try and map out meals to bring to lunch everyday. I mean, who really wants to munch on PB&J or slurp up salty Noodles and Oodles. So, while shopping the aisles for lunch choices one day, I decided to get a couple of staple items and mix and match the ingredients for each day of the week – I even had a solution for snacks in between.

I have to be honest with you, shopping for food for lunch can be a little crazy; because you want to eat something different every day of the week and depending on your tastes buds, that can get a bit costly as well. So, listed below are a couple of things I picked up off the shelves and freezer section that lasted me all week and guess what (all of it was well under 20 dollars!!)

Here are my buys for Lunch:  Total Cost: $10.08 
  • Minute Rice – Multi Grain Medley – 2 @ 1.84 each
  • Bag of Mixed Vegetable – 1 @.57 cents
  • Green Giant Steamers Vegetable Medley/Broccoli Cheese – 2 @ 1.18 each
  • Green Giant Harvest Protein Bowl (Vegetarian) Southwest Style – 1 @ 3.47 each
Here are my buys for Snacks:  Total Cost: $8.81
  • Great Value No Sugar Added Pear Cups – 2 @ 1.43 each
  • Great Value No Sugar Added Mandarin Oranges – 1 @ 1.43 each
  • Great Value Dry Roasted & Lightly Salted Almonds – 1 Bag @ 4.52
What I had at Home:   
Sam's Choice Organic Bone Broth Chicken Total Cost: Free
  • Overall Cost: $18.89

So this is how I did it:

First, let me start with snacks. It’s 4 cups of fruit to a carton, so I had two snacks a day. A fruit cup and some almonds. I measured the almonds out according to the serving suggestion and put them in zip lock bags and took them all to work along with my fruit so I wouldn’t have to remember to take it everyday. So there were my snacks for the week. Two cups of fruit and almonds a day.

And then there was lunch. So for lunch, it was pretty easy. 1st Day: I had a cup of rice medley and some steamed veggies. 2nd Day: I had the steamed veggies with some chicken bone broth ( I made it like a soup). 3rd Day: I had the broccoli cheese and rice medley. 4th Day: I had the rice medley and the bone broth. 5th Day: I changed it up and brought in the Green Giant protein bowl, which was very delicious by the way, see below….

Green Giant Harvest Protein Bowl – Southwest Style

So, as you can see – lunch was not only cost efficient but different as I didn’t feel like I was eating the same thing every day……ever felt that way about a salad?? Any-who, the key to making this work is making sure you choose what it is you want to eat for the whole week. For instance, I knew that I wanted veggies – the only thing I needed to do next was find a partner to go with them and once I did….everything else was simple.

Don’t forget to incorporate items you may have at home, so another suggestion I would make is to check your cupboards before you go shopping. That frozen broccoli that’s been in the freezer for a month, could be paired with something delicious.

Think of things that you can use multiple times throughout the week without breaking the bank and going to the store everyday for items to eat (I’m still working on this feat for dinner as I do this currently). Don’t look at me like that, I’m a work in progress – say a prayer for me…lol.

Well, I hope your lunch time can now be an adventurous one. Oh and psssstttt, by the way, don’t be afraid to shop the yellow tags. I got some soup on sale last week at Wal-Mart for $.86 cents that usually run $2.87 cents. Now you may want to hurry and eat it up, because I mean, they put yellow tags on items for a reason, right???? rightttttttt…..but it can also save you loads off your pocket, especially for LUNCH!

Below is one of the creations with the products I purchased up top:

BON APPETITE!!

Back to School Money Safety – How your Credit Card Can Work for You & Not Against You

Recently, I was contacted by a site called Credit Cards (a.k.a creditcard.com) who reached out to me in lieu of a post, posted  a couple of weeks ago entitled “Back to School Savings” – since July was “BTS” (Back To School Prep) for me and every other parent in the U.S. I thought I’d offer a couple of saving tips, affirmations to get my and other kids (as well as parents) off to a good start and end it up by detailing some “family” time/fun outings that parents can do with the kiddos before school starts back (in which were suggestions by my own rambunctious two! =)

Continue reading “Back to School Money Safety – How your Credit Card Can Work for You & Not Against You”

Back To School – OH NO!, Savings – OH YESSSS!!

photo credit above: bing/backtoschool

I’ve never been the parent that school shopped early for my kids – I was the one, just like millions of other parents, fighting the long lines and busting through the aisles trying to purchase every item on their school list. We all know (for those of us that have kids) how that time of year is – It’s almost like Christmas shopping except this occurrence happens months earlier when the weather is dreadfully hot.

Seemingly, I always succumbed myself to this madness every single year. In 2016 I vowed that I would take a different approach the following year; but then again, I said that every year and still somehow found myself caught up in the masses of bogard shopping my way through the crowded stores and congested aisles.

grocery1
photo credit: http://stephie5741.blogspot.com

So, last year (2017) I remembered what I told myself that previous year and decided to break the “back to school” segments down. I had to come up with a way to do school shopping a little bit smarter without breaking the bank all at once, it was then that I decided to do my son and daughters school shopping by my pay period schedule. Whether you get paid once a week, every two weeks, twice a month or once a month – I came to the conclusion that back to school shopping had to be done strategically, especially if I wanted to save a little money.

I set out to come up with a plan; I get paid twice a month so therefore I laid out what I would purchase each pay period (starting in July), by the time August rolled around I had purchased everything the kids needed to go back to school; including their school supplies!!!! I was so excited and proud of myself for thinking smart this go round – while other parents were in the stores, scrambling for supplies. I was at ease because I planned my work and worked my plan.

Beginning with July’s first check, I bought the kids some shoes – the next check I purchased their school clothes, in which my two have to wear uniforms – so, thanks to one of my best friends advice, Old Navy has now become my one stop shop for that, check them out as they have good deals on uniforms. school listWith August’s Check, I purchased their school supplies in which you don’t have to wait until local stores such as Wal-Mart puts out the big box that contains the various school supply list for your child’s school.  You can get that list early, by visiting the school’s website– most times, they’ll have the lists posted in July or early August, that way you can get a head start on beating the crowd and shopping early because trust me, the stores will be putting out those items real soon. If they can put Valentine’s Day items out in late December, early January – you can bet, those school supplies will be out as well.

I used to order my kids backpacks, but after having a couple of “epic fails” with that – I started going to stores such as Staples and/or Wal-Mart to purchase those, the backpacks are usually purchased when I buy their shoes. I usually don’t mind spending extra dollars on  a backpack because I like for them to last “ALL” year – but even in that case, I still have had to either find myself stitching them up or buying a new one before year end…..SMH, and she lets out a very slow sigh.…

deep sigh

If you can’t afford to purchase supplies (I’ve definitely been there) then you might want to check your community  website or the local papers in which you’ll find churches and/or organizations whom have back to school rallies in which they give away backpacks and school supplies to children in need. You can also check those same sites to see how you can donate items to those same organizations to help children going back to school or maybe even hold your own “Back to School Drive” to collect supplies and give them to a local school; I know the teachers will be thrilled to receive them as well as the students.

borders-straight

** “A Word to the Wise Moment” **

If you can, maybe a month or two after school starts – this would also be a good time to buy a couple of extra folders, notebook paper, pencils, pens, glue sticks and etc. because if your kids are anything like mines? They go through those first round of items quick – next thing I know, I’m getting told “Mama, I need more paper, lead and etc. for my classes” and I’m looking like, did I just buy you a bunch of stuff?, which was in August and they’re telling me in February, I knew it wouldn’t last long – I just hate going out buying extra stuff, I know – lazy me. So, pick up some extra items either now or later to spare them the talk and you the headache.

borders-straight

While kids may have going back to school right now on the backburner of their minds; us parents and/or caregivers can use this time to take our savings game to another level. Maybe you already do the tips I suggested above and just want to know where to go for the savings, well let me help you out with that.

Listed below are some back to school sites/savings that hopefully will help you spend less and/or save more for your Elementary, Middle School, High School or University student:

Backpacks You Say?

Right now you can order a back pack from Wish, one of our church members just ordered one recently. It took a week to come back and she said that it was not only in good condition but a good size as well, so check them out. (You have to sign up with them in order to see the deals, but it’s worth giving it a shot)

Who Loves Coupons, Raise Your Hand!

I’m not a huge couponer, okay let me be honest – I hate coupons (please don’t judge me). I just forget them every time I go to the store; I’m the girl that uses the coupons on the frozen meals that says “Save 1.00 right now on this product!” and that’s the only time I really use coupons (true confession) However, there are quite a few people who use them religiously, so this part is for you! Here’s a link to get those back to school savings for the kiddos – Back to School Coupons – Right Here!

Not a Couponer?, Well Maybe this will Help!

Now, while I may not be very coupon saavy, A girl do love a good deal! So, for everything else you may need, including when the tax free weekend will happen in your state, you can check out the sites below and begin to save, save, save! – Just click on this link – Give me the Deals!

Well, as we continue to enjoy the summer and for us parents (secretly count down the days to Back to School happiness) hopefully this post helps you to spend less coins than you did last year. Because savings of any kind when you have children is an

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Roshonda N. Blackmon

Creator of A Blog, A Magazine. It’s JustsumInspiration, Author, Speaker & Encourager

 

 

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Need A Vacation, Destination?

The summer is the most expected and beautiful time of the year. After braving through winter and tip-toeing by Spring, when the end of May and June gets here – You feel as if you can finally breathe and take down those packed up summer dresses/clothes and flat/opened toe shoes you’ve been dying to wear.

It’s also the time of year in which makes you want to hit the road and visit the beach or other places, maybe places you’ve never been before. The sun and breeze of summer makes you want to spend every single day outside, doing something. While most people may not always have it like that to travel to the places of their dreams – they choose to stay local and enjoy the sights of their own neighborhood and city. I’ve had a couple of summers in which I took a vacation only to “stay” at home. Yes, I desired to go someplace but didn’t quite have the plan nor the funds to do it. So I made my week a “Staycation” – If you’re like me and maybe don’t have the funds to travel to your favorite destination – Here are a couple of quick tips you can do to make that staycation a vacation..

  1. Hotels Here I Come – Have you ever felt like you’ve wanted to go somewhere else outside of the walls you constantly see everyday? Why not stay in a hotel “in town” it’s a cheap way to get away and look at other walls outside of your own. You can order room service and just enjoy the sights of being in a fresh new place. No Clean Up required as someone will do that for you.
  2. My Hometown is Awesome – How about yours? The thing is, we live in cities that a lot of times we don’t know anything about, such as it’s history or foundation. Most towns have museums or you can go to the civic center and they will have loads of information about your town that you probably didn’t know about. You can take a day and explore what your town/city has to offer or what events are scheduled for that particular day or month.
  3. Alone Time – If you’re like me, sometimes you need some downtown from the hustle and bustle of your regular day. Take a day and just lounge around the house (no electronics, if possible) and just watch movies, pig out on your favorite foods, crochet (in which I don’t know how to do, but a friend of mine swears by it. According to them it’s very relaxing. Tried it, wasn’t for me..lol) or come up with some other craft. Take the day and just unwind, relax your mind and your body.

Okay, so maybe the whole STAYCATION idea was not what you were wanting to hear….

Nicki Minaj

And you really want to get out of the house and hit the road. Listed below is a link to 17 of the worlds best affordable vacation destinations that I feel you and your family, girlfriends or best buddies would love to travel too. Check it out as one of the destinations just may be the next photos to grace your phone or family album.

17 Best Affordable Destinations in the USA – For the Family

This link is not only your guide to the best destinations in which include San Antonio, Texas;  Las Vegas, Nevada; Tucson, Arizona; Memphis, TN and quite a few more. but this list also gives you hotel suggestions for lodging, cheap flights to get you there and even a list of things to do while you are vacationing. So if you have the time, a little cash and a plan then one of these vacation, destination trips just may do the trick for your summer fix.

Whether you decide to STAYCATION or VACATION during your time off or away, make sure you have fun, be safe and make plenty of memories!

destination-sign

Roshonda N. Blackmon – Creator of JustsumInspiration, Author, Speaker & Encourager

Let’s Live Well, Laugh Loud & Love Hard!

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