Ways to Save Money for the Holidays

Though the holidays are still two months away, one problem that always sneaks up on us is getting the perfect present within our budget. If you don’t want to break the bank this holiday season, then now is the time to start saving money! In this blog post, we’ll be going over five ways that you can start saving money for the holidays. 

  1. Set a budget

Before you start saving, you’re going to need a budget to aim for. The holidays shouldn’t be a time full of stress, so when setting a budget, be aware of the amount of money you can spend without breaking the bank. Once you’re aware of your budgetary limits, then plan how much you want to spend on presents, decorations, food, and any other holiday purchases you plan on making. After you know this, add a little room onto your budget for any unexpected purchases. Now that you know your budget, you’ll know how much you need to save. Though budgeting is never fun, your future self will be thanking you!

  1. Download money saving apps

There are many apps that you can download on your phone, computer, or tablet that help cut costs and save money. Apps like Simple round up your purchases to help you reach your savings goal. Round-up apps can be really beneficial when you aren’t able to cut back on purchases. While apps like Honey help you find online deals. If you have a wish list, Honey will tell you when an item on your list has dropped in price. It also provides you with promo codes that you can apply to your online purchases. In the link below, you’ll find a list of innovative apps that help you save money. 

15 of the Best Money Saving Apps for 2020

  1. Shop smarter

One of the easiest ways to save money is through buying the right products at the right time. When grocery shopping, it’s easy to get off track and buy things that you don’t need. To prevent making unnecessary purchases, always make a list before leaving the house and stick to it. If you have a brand that you always buy, think about buying the generic version instead. Over time, this will save you a lot of money. Also keep an eye out for sales and coupons, but remember to not make unnecessary purchases, even if there is a coupon for it! 

10 Ways to Become a Smart Grocery Shopper

  1. Make food at home

It can be easy to fall into the routine of buying food from a restaurant when we don’t want to make food at home. Though overtime, this can become costly. When you eat out, you often end up spending more than you would have if you just ate at home. This is especially relevant if you’re constantly throwing away food you bought from the grocery store. Finding a cost effective way to eat out while also making food at home is a great way to save money. You don’t have to deprive yourself of eating out, just minimize it! If you eat take out two times a week, limit that down to once a week. With the food you have at home, don’t be afraid to change your meals up a bit! This will make eating at home a little more fun!

  1. Save a portion of your paycheck

This is probably the most self explanatory point on this list, but it’s important to consider how much you want to save from each paycheck! Through cutting back on unnecessary spending, you might be able to save more of your paycheck since you won’t be spending as much on a weekly basis. You might be saving for other purposes, but putting some money aside with the intention of using it for the holidays will help calm any nerves about overspending on presents. While you’re putting aside money for the holidays, also consider putting some aside for yourself. You’ll deserve a little treat for yourself once the holidays are over!

DIY Halloween Decorations

Now that it’s October, it’s time to decorate your house with all of your Halloween essentials. If you want to spice up your house with new decorations this year, try making your decorations instead of buying them! This list has easy and fun DIY Halloween decoration ideas that you can make in the comfort of your own home!

  1. “Spirit Jugs”
Photo by: Alice G. Patterson

For this DIY, you might want to start saving your empty milk jugs! All you need are some empty milk jugs, a sharpie, a craft knife, and some lights to make a spirit jug. By using these household objects, you’re able to make a Jack O’Lantern without having to buy a pumpkin! Check out the website linked below to see the final product and the steps in between! 

Spirit Jugs

  1. Bat Branch Centerpiece 

This DIY will have you scouring your backyard for tree branches. All you need to make this DIY are some thin branches, bat cut-outs, a hot glue gun, hot glue sticks, and a cylinder vase. Once it’s done, you have the perfect centerpiece! Check out the website linked below for the full tutorial!

Bat Branch Centerpiece 

  1. Halloween PomPom Coasters 

This is a DIY that you’ll be able to use every year! These pompom coasters are super easy to make and only require a few materials. You’ll need a variety of colored pompoms, a cork coaster, a hot glue gun, a sharpie, and some scissors. Check out the link below to see the final product and a full tutorial! 

Pumpkin PomPom Coasters

  1. Googly Eye Wreath 

If you’re bored of the same old wreaths sold in stores, then this is the perfect DIY for you! The main thing you’re going to need is A LOT of ping pong balls and googly eyes. This DIY might take you a little longer to make than the other DIY’s on this list, but it will be a decoration you use for years to come! Check out the website linked below for a full tutorial.

Googly Eye Wreath

  1. Melted Crayon Pumpkin 

Remember that trend a few years ago when all you needed was a crayon, hairdryer and canvas to make a masterpiece? If you do, this DIY is similar! The only difference is that instead of a canvas, you use a pumpkin. So if you want to stay colorful during Halloween, then this is the perfect DIY for you! 

Melted Crayon Pumpkin

  1. Painted Pumpkins

If you don’t have crayons laying around for the last DIY, then try painting your pumpkins instead! This is an easy DIY that you can add your own personal touches to. Remember that you don’t have to be an artist to do this DIY, so have fun with it! 

Easy Painted Pumpkin Ideas

Tips and Tricks for Carving Pumpkins

If you haven’t gotten around to carving pumpkins yet, then you should be happy you waited because now you get to hear some advice for carving the perfect pumpkin. Once you learn our tips and tricks, head over to your nearest pumpkin patch and start making a pumpkin masterpiece! 

  1. Selecting the Perfect Pumpkin

If you’re stuck between choosing the right pumpkin, make sure to take the following recommendations into consideration. You’re also going to want a pumpkin that is the perfect size for your design, has a smoother surface, and sits flat. Watch out for pumpkins that are soft or have blemishes, these pumpkins are more likely to go bad. If you want a fresh pumpkin, look for ones with a green stem!

  1. Find a Template 

Finding the perfect design is probably one of the most important steps in carving your pumpkin. You can go free hand, or you can print off a template! All you need to do is tape the template onto your pumpkin and poke holes (using push pins) in the pumpkin where the design outline is. After you’re done, take off the template and begin carving where you’ve poked these holes! 

40 Pumpkin Carving Templates

 

  1. Removing the top or bottom

Most people go the traditional route of cutting the top off of the pumpkin to clean out the insides and put the candle inside. Though, you can just as easily cut the bottom off! This makes placing the candle in the pumpkin a lot easier since you don’t have to reach your arm inside the pumpkin. If you prefer cutting the top off, we suggest cutting at a 45 degree angle so that the top doesn’t fall through! 

  1. Get Creative! 

If your pumpkin has a great stem, consider making it a part of your design. You can flip the pumpkin on it’s side and make a face using the stem as a nose! This makes for a fun, easy, and creative design. Another great idea is buying a smaller pumpkin that fits in your jack o’lanterns mouth. This requires a bit more skill, but it’s definitely worth the extra effort! 

  1. Use an Ice Cream Scoop

If you don’t have many tools around the house for carving pumpkins, one easy tool for getting the insides out of your pumpkin is an ice cream scoop. This works better than big flimsy spoons and faster than small spoons. Also, it’s just more fun to use! 

Activities for Fall

Fall has just begun! That means it’s time to start enjoying those activities that are reserved specifically for fall. If you want ideas to add onto your list of fall activities, this is the list for you! 

  1. Make Apple Cider

Making apple cider is the perfect activity for a day spent inside. Not only will it make the perfect drink for any meal, but it will also make your whole house smell amazing! . We recommend checking out an apple orchard near you to get fresh apples for your cider! 

Homemade Apple Cider Recipe 

Apple Orchards near Lake Geneva

  1. Go to a Pumpkin Patch 

If you have a whole day off, going to the pumpkin patch and heading back home to make a jackolantern is the perfect way to spend a fall day. While you’re cutting your pumpkins, don’t forget to save the pumpkin seeds to make a nice snack! 

Easy Pumpkin Seed Recipe

Pumpkin Patches near Lake Geneva 

  1. Make a Pie

This is not an activity exclusive to the fall season, but if you have left over pumpkin or apples from the previous two activities, consider turning those leftovers into a delicious pie. If you’re not the biggest fan of pie, it can also make the perfect gift!

Homemade Apple Pie Recipe

Homemade Pumpkin Pie Recipe

  1. Have a Scary Movie Marathon  

Everyone has those movies that give them that nostalgic feeling of the fall season. Maybe you want to save some of your favorites for when Halloween is closer, but if you have a few movies that you’ve been wanting to watch, reserve a night to watch a few! This is also the perfect time to sip on your apple cider and snack on some pumpkin seeds. 

  1. Have a photoshoot

If you’ve been looking for an excuse to have a photoshoot, remember that the leaves are only going to be colorful for a few weeks out of the year! Head out to a hiking trail or your local park and you’ll find the perfect spot to take some pictures with the changing leaves. 

Hiking Trails Near Lake Geneva

Fall DIY’s

Fall is less than a week away, that means it’s time to start decorating! If you’re a crafty person who prefers to make their decorations, then we have a few DIY’s that you have to try this season. 

  1. Fabric Pumpkins

This is the perfect DIY to put your old socks and leftover fabrics to use. With some basic sewing skills, fluff, and rice, you’re able to turn your old socks into a cute centerpiece that can be reused throughout the years. 

How to Make Fabric Pumpkins From Old Socks

  1. Embroidery Hoop Wreath 

If you happen to have an embroidery hoop laying around, you’d be surprised to know that it can be made into a beautiful wreath! With just a few faux flowers and a hot glue gun, your embroidery hoop is transformed into an outdoor decoration that will have your neighbors asking where you got it from.

Fall Embroidery Hoop Wreath 

  1. Mason Jar Leaf Lanterns 

If you’re not using your mason jars for jam, turn them into a leaf lantern! All you need for this DIY is a mason jar, some fall leaves, a mini candle, a sponge, and some modge podge. Once complete, light the candle inside and you have a mason jar leaf lantern! 

Mason Jar Leaf Lanterns 

  1. Gold Leaf Pine Cone Garland

With just a few pine cones, some string, gold paint, and a few tools from around the house, you’re able to make a garland that you can hang anywhere in your house. Though you could leave the gold paint out of the equation to make this DIY easier, a little gold helps to make it stand out! 

Gold Leaf Pine Cone Garland

  1. Pumpkin Succulent Planters

If you’re a plant lover, then this is a DIY that you have to try! All you need is styrofoam pumpkins, some succulents and dirt, and a few tools to make a pumpkin succulent planter. This DIY is one that will have to be maintained throughout the season, but it’s definitely worth the effort. 

How to Make Fall Succulent Planters

Easy Ways To Make Someone’s Day

Everyday we get to decide how we want to spend our day. Some days we wake up in a grouchy mood where we just want to get through the day and get back home. Other days we wake up in a good mood where we want to spread kindness to those around us. For those days when you’re feeling extra kind, here are some ideas on how you can make someone else’s day. 

  1. Text Someone

If someone is on your mind and you want to make their day, sending a nice text is one of the easiest things you can do. This works especially well for people you haven’t talked to in a while; letting them know that you’re thinking of them will definitely brighten their day. 

  1. Pay It Forward

When you’re stopping for breakfast or coffee in the morning, think about paying it forward by paying for the person behind you. This can set off a chain of people paying it forward as well, meaning that your decision to make one person’s day better will influence others to do the same. 

  1. Donate 

Though you might not see the effects of this action, donating something to a local thrift shop or charity will impact someone’s life who could use a good day. One way you can do this is by skipping your morning coffee and using the money saved to donate to a charity of your choice. 

  1. Flowers

If you know someone who you want to be extra kind to, the perfect gift that never disappoints are flowers. We usually give people flowers on important occasions, so giving someone flowers on a normal day makes this gesture even more special. 

  1. Smile 

One smile can make a person’s entire day. There’s a good possibility that you’ll pass by someone who isn’t having a good day. So next time you’re walking down the street, try smiling at people passing by. That action will either not affect that person’s day at all, or make that person’s entire day. 

Labor Day Activities

The first Monday in September is just five days away. This means it’s time to start planning how you want to spend your Labor Day this year! For those of you who are looking for new ways to enjoy Labor Day, here’s a list of some activities to try. 

  1. Try a New Recipe

We all have our go to recipes, and when we’re busy, we don’t take the time to branch out and try new things. If you have this Labor Day off from work, take some time to make that recipe you’ve been dying to try. 

  1. Set up an Outdoor Movie

If you’ve ever been to an outdoor movie, you know how much fun it can be to just relax outside while being captivated by a movie. You can get this same experience at home with just a projector, pillows, and blankets. If you don’t have a projector, pull up a movie on your laptop instead! Even if you don’t have Labor Day off this year, you can still end your day with an outdoor movie. 

10 Fun Ideas For An Outdoor Movie Night

  1. Have a Cookout

Having a cookout is always a good way to spend a day off. You get a great Labor Day meal and amazing leftovers for the rest of the week! This is also a great time to try out that new recipe we mentioned earlier. 

  1. Picnic 

Having a picnic is the perfect activity for any day. You get to choose the location and what food you want to bring. It can be as fancy or laid back as you want it to be, it could even be right in your front yard! Whatever you choose, you won’t regret spending that time outside. 

  1. Hike 

Hiking is a great way to truly enjoy the outdoors while also getting some exercise in. There are plenty of hiking trails near Lake Geneva, some of which we listed in a previous blog. This Labor Day, put on your hiking shoes and try out one of these trails! 

Hiking Trails Near Lake Geneva

How to Become More Motivated

We all struggle to stay motivated at times, especially when the task at hand is boring or tiring. Though we wish we could skip our daily tasks and goals sometimes, we have to stay motivated and complete them. For those days when you want to do nothing, here are some tips on how to stay motivated. 

  1. Remove Distractions 

It’s incredibly easy to get distracted when you’re trying to complete a task. One of our biggest distractions is our phone since we almost always have it on us. Replying to one text message can disrupt our flow and halt our motivation. Putting your phone on silent or leaving it out of sight might be the first step to becoming more productive. 

  1. Start Your Task

This might seem like a no brainer, but starting can be the hardest part of the task when we aren’t motivated. Oftentimes, once we start working on our project or goal, everything is a lot easier than we thought it would be. This can be made harder when you don’t even know where to start. When this happens, try opening up your laptop or notebook and write down a plan or schedule for the task at hand. 

  1. Set Goals

Setting goals for yourself can be the perfect way to stay motivated. These goals can be set to complete everyday tasks or achieve life goals. Either way, having these goals gives you something to reach for. To boost your motivation to complete these goals, try giving yourself rewards for achieving your goal. 

  1. Visualize the Results 

Visualizing the results can be a huge motivator to finish or start a task. For example, if your goal is to work out everyday, visualize what the results will be in a few months. In an everyday workplace, think about how happy your boss will be with your work, or imagine the decrease in stress once you complete your task. 

  1. Think About Successes 

When you think about your failures too often, it can hinder your ability to stay motivated. Before starting a task, don’t think about your failures. Instead, think about all of the times that you succeeded when you started something you weren’t too sure about. Remember that your mindset can determine the outcome, staying positive can help you manifest positive results.

Thoughtful Birthday Gift Ideas

Thinking up meaningful birthday presents can be incredibly difficult. Oftentimes, we end up running out of ideas and settle for a gift that isn’t as meaningful as we had wished. For their next birthday, maybe consider getting them one of the following birthday gift ideas. 

  1. Happy Notes in a Jar 

This is a gift that won’t break the bank, but is sure to make the birthday person happy for a long time. You can write all the notes yourself, or you can get all of their friends to write out something nice. Either way, this gift is perfect because they can look back at these notes anytime they want. 

  1. Massage Gift Card

Gift cards can often seem like a cop out, but getting them a gift card for a massage is a different story. By giving them a gift card to get a massage, you’re giving them the opportunity to have a relaxing experience. Nothing can beat having your pain and stress relieved. 

  1. Custom Calendar 

With this gift, you give the birthday person something they can use all year long. You can customize the calendar anyway you want to put a smile on their face everyday they use it. 

Custom Calendar

  1. Personalized Puzzle 

For those who enjoy sitting down and finishing a puzzle, a personalized puzzle is the perfect gift for them. You can choose a photo that was from a fun event, or something that will make them laugh. This might not be a gift they will use everyday, but it’s a gift they know you put some heartfelt thought into. 

Personalized Puzzle

  1. Houseplant

A house plant is a gift that will bring life into their living space while also giving them something to take care of. If they don’t have any house plants yet, we recommend getting them a beginner plant that doesn’t require much upkeep like a succulent. 

Beginner Houseplants 

  1. Specialized Journal 

This is another gift that the birthday person can use everyday if they choose. Journaling can be super relaxing or can be a way to spark creativity. Any way they choose to use their journal, everytime they use it, they’ll remember who got it for them. 

Specialized Journal 

Reasons Why You Should Eat Outside

While the weather is still nice, you may want to find a way to enjoy the outdoors. An easy way to enjoy the weather is by taking your meal outside, and this comes with many benefits. Here is a list of reasons why you should enjoy your meals outside. 

  1. Relaxing Setting

It’s undeniable that being outdoors is beautiful and relaxing. By taking a meal outside, you’re able to fully enjoy the wonders of the outdoors. Whether you choose to take your meal to the park or just outside your house, making the move outside is well worth it. 

  1. Fresh Air

Stale air can be detrimental to not only your mental health, but also your physical health. Fresh air helps to improve your immune system, clean your lungs, and increase serotonin levels. Eating outside is a great way to take in the fresh air while also enjoying a meal. 

  1. Concentration Improves 

Many studies suggest that the outdoors are a great way to improve your focus. Though this cannot be fully realized if you’re distracted by work or technology. Taking your meal outside is a great way to escape from these distractions.

  1. More Vitamin D

According to the Harvard Medical School, being outside 10 to 15 minutes a few days out of the week is enough to meet your weekly vitamin D requirements. This is a very important requirement to meet since vitamin D helps keep your bones healthy. This requirement can be easily met through taking a few of your meals outside every week. 

  1. Immune System Benefits 

Being outside has proven to reduce stress, and reducing stress helps to increase your immunity to negative things that enter your body. Overall, multiple studies have shown that being outside and a healthy immune system have a natural correlation. 

  1. Improved Sleep 

With the relaxing environment, reduced stress, and fresh air you experience from eating your meal outside, it’s very likely that you will experience an improved quality of sleep. Not to mention that the time you spent outside may make you feel more accomplished about your day, leading to a more relaxed state before you go to bed. 

Sources: 

https://www.vitacost.com/blog/benefits-of-eating-outside/ https://thriveglobal.com/stories/5-advantages-of-getting-fresh-air/#:~:text=Fresh%20air%20reinforces%20your%20immune%20system%20It%20causes,to%20slaughter%20and%20decimate%20microbes%2C%20infections%20and%20germs.