Save cash at your local farmer's market

save money at the farmers market

Spring is coming! It is only a few days away and for many that means farmer's market season.

Your local farmer's market is a wonderful place to find fresh produce. It is also a great way to save money and support your community. 

But how do you save money at the farmer's market? Well, here are a few ways. 

1. But in bulk. Ask your farmer if they sell in bulk and then freeze what you won't eat immediately. Many farmer's don't want to return home with all of the produce they brought with them and will often sell multiple pounds of items at a discounted rate. 

2. Go at the end of the day. Again, a lot of venders aren't looking to return home with a carload of what they brought and will discount produce toward the end of the day. 

3. Shop the clean 15. Yes, in a perfect world we would all eat nothing but organic produce, however since your produce is local you can almost guarantee that it is not loaded down with extra pesticides to make it shelf stable. 

4. Buy "damaged goods." Often produce that is slightly bruised or misshapen will be sold at a discounted rate, don't be ashamed to load up on these discount goods, they usually taste the same. 

5. Look for unique finds. Does your farmer's market sell stuff your supermarket doesn't? Choose to spend money on items you can't buy at your local grocery store and save the extra money for everyday produce. 

What about you? What tips do you offer for saving $$ at the farmer's market? 

Linking up at Thrifty ThursdayFrugal FridaySITS SharefestSmall Victories SundayThe Thrifty Couple

Websites where you can make money freelancing from home

It's been three years officially since I started my home-based business. And it's been one year since I expanded that business to an official "part-time" job where I earn a consistent income. 

I hear from a lot of people ( A LOT!) who want to start their own business freelancing from home. And I am honest with them, it can be tough but I am also proof that it can be done. 

So I thought I would share a few websites where you could start earning a freelance income this month. 

1. Elance. I began using Elance in 2008 and found immediate clients at a real wage. The program works a like a lot of freelance sites in that you set up a profile, upload a resume and then "bid" for jobs.

There are a variety of services you can offer from writing to programming to graphic design etc. etc. 

You can get paid once a week via PayPal. Elance does take a percentage of what you make (as does PayPal) so charge with that in mind. 

Setting up an account is free, however, if you want to bid on more than five jobs a month you will have to sign up for a "professional" account at a small fee. I don't recommend that. 

You will need to learn HOW to write a job proposal and keep protecting until you get good at it. 

It is pretty easy to set up a basic account with them and begin browsing and bidding on jobs in under 30 minutes. 

I think Elance gets a bad wrap because there are so many people on there charging only $2 to $3 per hour and that is really hard to compete with. 

My advice is to just be persistent. 

Pro tip: Set up a GREAT portfolio. Include everything you can possibly think of that you have ever worked on so that potential clients can get a good idea of the body of your work. 

2. Odesk. Funny thing, Odesk and Elance are now one company. But, there are people who prefer one over the other. 

Odesk is a great way to find clients and the site is laid out in a way that's really easy to use. Much like Elance you just set up an account and begin searching for jobs to apply for. 

There is an array of skill levels and budgets so there is something for everyone. 

There are also lots of skill tests you can take which will help you stand out among the thousands of freelancers in the site. Take as many as you can and be sure to load up your portfolio. 

Like Elance you will get paid quickly for the work you do, but Odesk takes a 10 percent commission. 

Pro tip: Don't just blindly or generically apply for jobs on Odesk because you are trying to get your foot in the door. Instead write thoughtful cover letters to each potential client. This will make you stand apart from everyone else. 

3. FiverrThis is a site where basically you get paid $5 to do a task. You can write an article, design a logo, record voice work... the list goes on and on. Basically you can get paid for doing almost anything. 

I actually have mixed feelings about Fiverr. On the one hand it's a great way to get noticed and build your portfolio. But on the other hand I really think you should consider your time. Your time is almost always worth more than $5. 

However, you can really hone your skills using Fiverr, especially if you are a social media aficionado. 

Pro tip: Offer lots of service upgrades so that you can earn maximum profits. 

4. Etsy. Etsy isn't just for cute dresses and funky hand made jewelry. You can also upload digital designs and offer freelance packages. 

I have seen lots of people sell their epublishing services whether it's designing covers or formatting books. There are also a slew of people offering graphic design services to businesses and individuals. 

You could offer social media strategy or blog design services. 

Etsy does cost $.20 to upload items to Etsy and you will be charged per month. They also take a 3.5 % commission, so charge accordingly. 

Pro tip: Provide lots of details on your offerings so the parameters of your services are clear and concise. 

More places to checkout: 

Freelancer

Guru

Journalism Jobs

What about you? Do you freelance? What sites do you use? 

Linking up at Thrifty ThursdayFrugal FridaySITS SharefestSmall Victories SundayThe Thrifty Couple

Peeling a hard-boiled egg with a spoon

peeling an egg with a spoon.

My kids LOVE hard-boiled eggs. And since we have 12 pasture raised chickens at our house we are in no short supply of eggs. 

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I love that eggs are wholesome and nutritious and a far better snack option than a lot of things my kids might ask for. 

But they can be a beast to peel. 

It's so simple. Once you have boiled your eggs and then let them sit in cool water for a minute simple take your spoon and tap it on the large end of the egg.

When the shell has cracked take the tip of your spoon and work it under the shell finding the thin membrane underneath. 

Work the spoon all the way around and the shell will peel right off. 

That's it. It takes under two seconds. 

What about you? What kitchen hacks do you use? 

 

Staying motivated when paying off debt

Let's face it. It can be really hard to stay motivated while paying off debt. You're working hard, you're trucking away and there are times when it feels like the balance will never reach zero.

But hold fast. You can do this and I am going to share with you a few ways to stay motivated. 

1. Tell fear to stop lying to you. Fear is that voice that tells you "it will always be this way" or "your life will never change" or "just accept that you are a failure." 

Fear lies to your face every morning when you brush your teeth. You have to tell it to shut up.

Remind yourself of the progress you have already made. Remind yourself that there is a hopeful future and tell fear to leave you alone. 

2. Stop the excuses before they start. I am the QUEEN of making excuses. I can give you a reason for not doing something without even having to think too hard. 

It is an ugly quality. Trust me. 

But last week I was listening to The His and Her Money Show the episode was about a woman who paid off $160,000 by herself. A single mom who paid off over $100,000.

Seriously? So what excuses do I have to save money this week?

3. Start small. There is a reason the "baby steps" are so successful. People feel a sense of success when they pay off that first smaller debt. 

Set a small goal you can reach quickly. For example, decide you're going to find an extra $10 a week to throw at a debt or put into savings. Put that money in a jar where you can see it and you will feel extra motivated. 

Which brings me to...

4. Make a visual. Create a place in your home where you can see the progress of your debts, like a tally board. 

Or

Make a vision board of what you want your life to be like after you pay off your debt. Put on there your goals and dreams. Be it a new house, a trip to Hawaii, a baby, going to college, building a water well in Africa. Whatever your motivation is put it where you can see it and look at it daily. 

What about you? What are some ways you stay motivated? 

Linking up at Thrifty ThursdayFrugal FridaySITS SharefestSmall Victories SundayThe Thrifty Couple

What I got free this week and how I got it.

I am not sure if I am actually going to be making this a series. But I think from time to time I will be sharing with all of you the free stuff I bring home. 

I am by no means a hoarder and I won't take anything just because it's free, but I do like a good deal. And what better deal is there than things you actually want or need that you get for free?

So I wanted to tell you about all the stuff I got for free this week. 

Free DVD

I picked up copy of "Big Hero 6" on DVD. We haven't seen the movie, but it looks cute so I put it away for Ryals for Christmas. 

I saw this deal on SouthernSavers

It's free through Topcashback.com, a rebate site. So I won't get my money back for a week. But I did this last year to get our much loved copy of Frozen and I was reimbursed $20. 

Click here to read more from SouthernSavers on how this works. 

I scored the boys a cute Spring outfit from Schoola, an online kid's consignment that sells gently used clothing and donates a portion of their proceeds to local schools. 

You can click HERE and get a $15 credit once you've made a purchase you will get your own link to share and earn more $15. I currently have a $75 credit balance!! 

I also got free dish soap, dishwasher detergent and baby wipes (not pictured) from ePantry. 

You've probably read about this company on a lot of different blogs lately. I was skeptical, but since I got a $10 credit through SarahMae.com I decided to try them out. I was really impressed with the quality of their products, the speed at which they arrived and their customer service. 

I was able to score these deals through credits I received by sharing my referral link with friends. You can click here to get your own $10 credit and once you place an order you will get your own referral link. 

Note: You do have to make a $20 purchase. 

You're so welcome @epantry thank you for the fantastic customer service! #peoplestillsaythankyou #epantry

A photo posted by LydiaSenn (@thesennfam) on

I am not joking when I say they have great customer service. And it's a small business with just 15 employees!

Note: This post contains referral or affiliate links. This means when you click and make a purchase I will get a small commission in the form of payment or credit for items. This is at NO additional cost to you. I never talk about products I wouldn't buy with my own money. For more you can read my FULL statement here

Spinach Pesto with Flaxseeds- Allergy Friendly!

We love pesto at my house. It's flavorful and pretty kid friendly. But I understand it's not very allergy friendly. While my family doesn't personally have to deal with food allergies I know some of your families do. 

So a couple weeks ago I whipped up this spinach pesto with flaxseeds modifying this recipe from Chow. . It's budget-friendly because instead of basil it uses pesto and it's allergy friendly because instead of pine nuts there are flaxseeds. 

Plus it's really simple. 

You will need:

8 cups loosely packed spinach (baby spinach works best)

1/2 cup flax seeds

2 garlic close

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil 

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp salt and pepper 

a food processor

Place half your spinach in your food processor along with your flaxseeds and begin to process. after about 20 seconds add in your garlic and the rest of your spinach. 

Add in your salt and pepper along with your cheese. 

Now comes the fun part. While your processor is still running begin adding in your oil, allowing it to drizzle down the side of the bowl until the entire thing is a green velvety dip! 

Serve with some whole wheat pasta. Trust me. It's delicious. 

What about you? What have you been cooking lately? 

Top Five Money Saving Posts

Over the past few months I have written A LOT about saving money. Is it crazy to say that it's a passion? But really, helping others feel hopeful about their futures is a passion. 

Particularly moms. I've been a mom in debt and I am have been a mom out of debt. Which one feels better do you think? 

Today I am going to share the top five MOST read money saving posts. 

   

 

 

If I had to describe what it felt like to live with a pile of debt it would be this: like constantly wearing a backpack full of bricks. 

Could you breath with that on your back? Move freely? Rest peacefully? No. You couldn't. 

I know that it isn't polite to talk about money. But I am going to do that today, because I feel like telling our story will encourage some of you. 

Read More.  

I like to say that paying off our debt wasn't about what we did but what we didn't do. I thought I would share a few things we didn't do. 

Read More. 

 

 

I think at some point we have ALL reached a point when there is more month than money.  

We may have entered the month with the best of intentions, but we just didn't stick to our budget. That could be for a number of reasons

But for a lot of people it comes down to three things, emergencies, lifestyle and guilt. Of course there are endless things that can wreck a budget if you let them, but it seems that these things that cause our money to fly out the window the fastest. 

 

Read More.

We all know that sticking to a grocery budget is paramount... but what about when your famliy suffers from food allergies? 

Each week on my YouTube channel I answer a budget-related question from a subscriber. 

Read More. 

One day I woke up and decided to stop living paycheck to paycheck. I remember the day clearly. We had more month than money, our checking account was in the red and we had about $136 in our savings account. That's a bad day. 

It is days like that you feel you won't overcome, that you will always be in debt, that you will always feel the noose of credit cards and bad decisions and self-doubt.

But you won't. I am speaking directly to you, sister. YOU WON'T. You can break the cycle, you can get off the crazy train, you can own your life, get out of debt and stop living pay check to pay check. 

Okay, so how does one break the crazy cycle? These are the things that worked for our family while we were working to become debt free

Read More. 

 

 

Kitchen Time Saving Tips

I've talked in the past about how I save time in the kitchen by meal planning

But I thought I'd share some other time saving techniques. 

 

1. Chop a week's worth of veggies all at once. 

If I know we're going to have some roast vegetables with dinner on Tuesday and roast green beans with dinner on Monday I will go ahead and just chop of all the veggies for a few nights at the same time. I already have my cutting board, I already have my knife. I just take 10 minutes to chop and place everything in freezer bags. I will go ahead and throw in all of the oils, seasons etc. I am going to use to cook my vegetables later one. 

2. Make your own frozen skillet meals. You knows those skillet meals you see in the freezer section where all the meat, sauces and veggies are ready to go? You can do that at home. Last week I bought a giant pack of chicken breasts. (They were really on sale!) I went ahead and planned a couple meals and again complied everything uncooked into  freezer bags and threw them in the freezer. 

For example, I put all the ingredients for stir fry in a bag, including the soy and teriyaki sauce. When it's time to cook I will dump it all in the skillet and go! The same thing can apply to crock pot meals you prep in advance. 

3. Brown your meat and freeze. Recently I browned an entire pound of ground beef, but I didn't use the whole pound for one meal. I placed it in bags again- in the freezer- and pulled it out when I needed it. 

4. Save your scraps. I save my onion peels, bits of garlic, even celery leaves for use later in stocks and broths. I just keep a ziplock bag handy in my freezer and dump them in. 

5. Preportion your beans. I cook dry beans instead of using canned. It saves a lot of money and I think tastes better. When I cook a big batch I freeze them in smaller portions measured out for recipes I know I will make. 

6. Group your ingredients. Keep canned tomatoes and chili seasoning together or pasta and pasta sauce for quick access when making your favorite dish. 

For more tips pickup a copy of the The Poor Girl's Handbook to the Kitchen

What about you? What kitchen tips do you have? 

Looking cute on a thrift store budget

I am not a clothes horse or a fashion girl. Oh no. I have to make a conscious effort to look nice everyday. 

That's why it was really no big deal when I decided to get rid of half my clothes last year. However, I did replace a few of the things I donated with pieces I love and wear often. 

And the best part was most of them were free or less than $5 per item.

Thanks to credits at places like Twice and shopping at my local Goodwill. 

SO I thought I would show you some of my frugal outfits and tell you how I came up with the outfit pairings. 

Ralphelaurensweaterfromgoodwill

I got this Ralph Lauren sweater at Goodwill for just $3.99 and I paired it with my thrift store jeans ($4.99) and my Goodwill scarf ($1.99). Throw in my $2.99 JC Penney shoes and that outfit cost me less than $14. 

A photo posted by LydiaSenn (@thesennfam) on

Not bad for an outfit that is 90% thrift!

A photo posted by LydiaSenn (@thesennfam) on

I got this cute black and white striped top from Twice. It is made by New York and Co. and I wear it all the time with black pants, jeans even my denim skirt. 

You can get a free $10 credit from Twice by clicking on the link here

And Twice will give you store credit in exchange for gift cards to major retailers including Walmart!

A photo posted by LydiaSenn (@thesennfam) on

This outfit might be the one I am the MOST proud of. Hand-me-down jeans, thrift store shirt and sweater ($1 and $3.99 respectively) and a sweater that was a gift. 

This outfit is a mash of old, new and thrift. (Please excuse the dirty mirror!)

The jeans are from Old Navy and the top is from Goodwill.

I know a lot of you are probably thinking "my Goodwill isn't that great." I understand, I really do. But keep looking, keep digging through those racks and you might just be surprised. 

Here are some tips when shopping at thrift: 

Look for things that are "NWT" new with tags. When searching online boutiques like Twice put NWT into the search function to find thrifted items that have never been worn. 

When at a thrift or second hand store check the labels. Don't pay $3.99 for something you could get for the same price new on sale. Instead, look for name-brand, top-quality items. 

Look for fabrics that are heavy or weaves that are thick.

Check for tears, pulls or loose threads. 

Choose patterns that are vibrant. 

What about you? How do you find cheap and cute clothes? 

Linked up at, Thrifty ThursdayFrugal FridaySITS SharefestSmall Victories Sunday, The Thrifty Couple