Category Archives: Budget & Finance

Shopping? Eight Helpful Tips to Consider When on a Budget



Improve your wardrobe by shopping smartly
Improve your wardrobe by shopping smartly

What is your shopping dilemma? Do you secretly long to wear clothing that fits, right off the rack? Or, even if they do not fit, you do not need to do much down cutting in order for your clothing to fit? Contrary to what some people think, it is possible  for women, and men to find trendy clothing which fits or requires minimum adjustments. I am not that materialistic; however, I have always loved wearing well-fitted clothing. In my community I found it difficult to find clothing which fits at a reasonable price. And being on a budget, I often settled for the closest things that fit, just to save money.


Over the years, my shopping smarts started evolving. I went from buying over sized or badly tailored clothing to finding the right size to fit me. Gone were the days of running to the seamstress or tailor to cut my pants’ foot because it was too long. Gone were the days when I had some many stitches in the waist and arms of my clothing that it made me feel uncomfortable. Today, I share with you some of the things I do when shopping for trendy clothing without breaking my pocket and going broke.


  • Unlike some people who shop at the end of each month, I shop only once a year. This way, I am able to save towards buying clothing without sacrificing on my other basic needs.  Be in control of when you shop instead of allowing when you shop to be in control of you. In other words, rather than being reactive to your shopping needs, take the initiative and plan for what you need in advance.


  • I only shop when stores are having sales; one thing I quickly realized is that the same clothing you will pay a hundred and more dollars for, you can get at maximum 75% off at certain times of the year. For example, I only shop in certain months of the year close to holidays such as Labor Day, Independence Day, Christmas and New Year’s holidays. So, terms like semi-annual and annual sales became my friend.


  • I found a few stores which sell trendy tailored clothing and signed up online to get alerts when they have sales. For example, I love shopping at Ann Taylor’s, Aeropostale, Levi’s, and Forever 21. I have no problem finding my perfect size without having to cut or adjust in anyway. I buy shoes of good quality and great prices at places like Payless, Macy’s, Ann Taylor, and Kenneth Cole. At the time when I am ready to shop, I monitor the alerts and start putting items I need in my basket. Sometimes, the best deals can go for up to 75% discount on already discounted clothing, but these deals may often last for a few hours. So, I get a head start by adding them to my basket while they are 50% and climbing.


  • One of the best times to shop is when you travel. For me, I usually make a list of the things I need prior to my travel: that way, I can plan my shopping time, around my fun time. Even if the item is not available in stores, I can always order it online and have it shipped to the place I am staying when I go on vacation. I know my clothing size so I feel comfortable shopping online. Besides, shopping online often comes with free shipping, which saves on time and cost for hiring a taxi to take you to the shopping center. Need tips on planning your vacation? Read Nine Steps to Planning an Enjoyable Vacation.



Make your vacation more economical by shopping when the big sales are on
  • Be patient, do not just grab an item because it looks good; consider what you will be sacrificing, if you succumb to the urge to buy something at its full price. While you may miss out on some lovely pieces when you wait for items to go on discount, there is always the chance that you can get the same item for even less. For instance, an item which may have cost $75.00 can be reduced to 50-75% less in a matter of months.





affordable men's wear when shopping
quality and affordable men’s wear
  • Buy clothing with your wardrobe in mind. Having a good wardrobe is not about the quantity of clothing you have, but rather the quality and ability to mix and match for different occasions. For example, it might not be in your best interest to purchase a skirt that you do not have a top to wear it with; or a pair of pants that you do not have a top that goes well with it. Pay attention to things like colors, appropriateness to the occasion, and the likelihood of mixing and matching with other pieces.


  • Remember, variety is the key. Avoid buying one style of clothing. The idea is to have a variety of clothing which you can wear at different occasions. This will prevent you from having to run to the store just to get something to wear, every time an event comes up. Popular events include, church, wedding, funeral, dinner party, seminars. Make sure you have something which can be worn to any of these occasions.




You do not need to have 50 pairs of jeans. Avoid buying so many jeans that you cannot wear: pick a few shades that can be worn for a variety of occasions. Instead of buying all in one shade, I usually go for a variety of colors

choose clothing that are versatile

such as a black, a white, a dark blue, a faded blue, and a red. After that, I can always buy if I have money to spare. If nothing else, consider buying a good pair of dark blue jeans from Old Navy, Levi’s, Guess, or Aeropostale: these jeans are more durable and the colors do not fade as easily as other brands. For a nice pair of black or white jeans, I go to Forever 21. If you wait for sales, you can often get a pair of any of these brands at $25.00 or less.



  • Take care of your clothing; although this is not a shopping tip, I think taking care of your clothing can help you save money on buying new clothing. Pay attention to washing instructions as much as possible. Avoid washing mix colors in the same bundle, and washing dark colors with detergent that has bleach in them. When unsure, go safe and wash on hand with regular plain washing soap that grandma used a long time ago. Before you put that iron on it, make sure that you follow ironing instructions. Get rid of stains promptly; if you spilled sauce or accidentally got your clothing dirty, blot or wash it out as soon as possible. Frequently check your wardrobe, or wherever you store your clothes for signs of rust and moisture: this will prevent your clothing from getting spots which are often difficult to remove.

While I believe in wearing well- tailored clothing, I also believe in not spending more than I can afford on clothing. If your aim is to be financially healthy, shopping for clothes in a smart way is just as important as shopping for food. Implement these shopping tips today and watch yourself save money that you can use for something else.

If you have any shopping on a budget tips, I would love to hear from you in the comments box below.


How to Plan a Vacation in Nine Simple Steps



Vacation  to Disney Land


 Vacation: Nine Steps to Planning an Enjoyable Stay.We all need a vacation, but so many of us work hard, and cannot seem to find enough money to take a well-deserved break. We find ourselves feeling burdened by all of our responsibilities…from taking care of our children, tuition fees, mortgages, and cost of daily living. We have so many things to do with our money that we forget to spend a little enjoying life…I remember working all the time and being unable to take a vacation because of financial constraints. That is, until I changed my perspective and learned a way how I can take vacations without borrowing money and sacrificing on my basic needs. This is an affiliate link: You can get your Disney World Holiday Savings Travel Guide by clicking here.



In today’s post, I share with you Nine Steps to Planning An Enjoyable Vacation:


Explore the Idea and Commit to taking a Vacation

One of the hardest things to do when planning a vacation is to take the first step and really decide you are having a vacation come what may. So, take some time…days, weeks, months…but, not years…to let the idea of a vacation abroad sink in. Forget about the cost at this time… Just think about the vacation date, who you would like to take with you, and where you would like to spend that glorious vacation.

Once you have processed the idea, come to a decision. Write it down in your list of things to do and put a big “Yes” to it.

Decide on the Vacation Date

As a single parent, full-time nurse and pursuing a 4 year online degree, one of the most difficult things I had to do is decide on a vacation date. I had to consider schooling for each of my children, my school break, and whether I would be granted the dates I wanted to take my vacation by my employee. One of the things I did, which I found helpful was to plan my vacation two years in advance.

Begin Saving for the Trip

Once I decide on a date, I send in my vacation request way in advance then start my savings, in a separate account. The best thing is to have a target amount to save each month; however, this may not always be possible. The important thing is to commit to saving as much as I can while cutting back on things such as eating out and buying clothes. Two years might sound like a lot, but believe me it flies. Want to know how to work in travel? This is an affiliate link: you  can Click here to find out how to work in travel.


Decide Who Will Be Going On the Trip

Before going any further, I decide whether I who will be going with me. There are times when I travel alone and other times when I take one or both of my children. This is a crucial part in the planning since the number of travelers will determine the cost of airfare, hotel, food, entertainment, and other expenses.


Determine the Place You Want to Visit

Port Clinton Ohio
Planning a vacation gets me excited

In the initial stage, you would have had a destination in mind. Now, it is time to make a final decision and stick to it. More than likely, you would love to visit somewhere you have never been before, so you may need to do some quick search to help you decide if the place you have in mind is really worth visiting. You may also look at things such as cost for tickets, the time of year, access to entertainment, shopping, eatery, lodging, crime rate (and types of crimes), transportation, and cost of airline tickets.

Before I became knowledgeable about traveling, I had this fear of booking online. I guess the fear was from my lack of knowledge and experience. One of the sources I find useful information when checking my intended destination is online travel companies, being my favorite. I have been booking air travel and hotels with them for six years now and have never had any issues. One time I had a small mishap which was no fault of theirs. They took the time to call me up and sorted things out.

There are many online travel companies; I have used a few others here and there. Whichever you chose, take the time to read the hotel reviews.

You would be amazed at the things you can find out from travelers. Some travelers write about the hotel accommodation, the neighborhood, entertainment, shopping and transportation. You need firsthand information like this that you would not always find when reading about the area, or hotel information. Planning a trip to Disney World? You can check out this affiliate link and get a copy of Disney World and Savings Travel Guide by clicking here.

For example, when planning my trip to international Drive Orlando, Florida in 2011, I learnt via the reviews that the hotel was near a bus stop, a shopping mall was nearby and I can take an I-ride trolley for $1.25 or by a bus pass. This information helped me determine the cost for transportation to the mall. I also walked with a bag of coins so we would not have a problem paying for the ride. I also learned via the reviews that the hotel had a shuttle which took people to and fro the Disney land and the airport. So, I did not need to pay for taxi service.


Estimate the Cost for the Trip

This is the phase where I visit at least two of the online travel companies and make check out the cost for each person on the date I would have requested earlier on.  I usually start this process very early since the estimates will determine if I really can afford the trip. Estimating the cost is a time consuming task, but very rewarding. I do cost checking from time to time to keep abreast of cost fluctuations. As the time drew nearer, I check at least once a month. I wish to stay. I play around with booking flight and hotel as a package and booking each by itself to see which is cheaper. I also try booking at different days of the week and look at things such as the time of the flight.

At this point, you are also consider the at least two or three hotels where you can stay. I say two or three just in case one is sold out when you are ready to book. I always make it a habit to call the hotel to check cost as well. Sometimes you may find their cost cheaper than online; however, it is not usually the norm.


Make a Budget

Once I have figured out the cost of airfare, land transportation, hotel accommodation, I make a budget and add a tentative amount for daily meals and entertainment. Next, I make a list of what I want to purchase and put a red mark at the things I need. Then I add all of this, including baggage cost. Now, I try not to be stingy here; I always round off my cost to the nearest hundred. So if the airfare cost $1030, I make it $1100. This way, if the cost goes up, I have some cushion.

So you have done all your research and come up with an estimate and you are saving diligently. Your account looks good. At least six months ahead prior to the date I usually can tell if I can afford the trip. I also take this time to hone in on any extra means of saving.

Book Your Flight and Hotel

I normally book my flight first and try to do so at least two to one and a half month in advance. Some travel airlines and blogs advise at least a month in advance. I also do the booking for my flights in the night and on a Tuesday or Wednesday. I also try to limit cost by choosing flights with a few stops and flying days on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays.This is an affiliate link where you can learn how to Get Free Flights with Travel Hacking by clicking here.

Once my flight has been booked and confirmed, I share the good news with my children! They are usually excited to hear the tickets are bought!

Next, I monitor the cost of the hotels I had in mind. I normally book my hotel at least a month in advance when it is high seasons; otherwise, a week or two is good enough for me. Oh! One thing I forget to advise earlier is to always go incognito or clear your browsing prior to booking. I find that the cost for a flight or hotel I have been monitoring may go higher if I do not take those measures.

Chicago, IL
Chicago, IL on vacation

You can also sign up with one or two of the online travel companies you looked at so you can receive alerts when there are deals on airfare and hotel. One time, I actually got a deal that cut my hotel cost of just over a hundred a night to $57 dollars! Now, these deals do not last long; so if you are not busy when you receive an alert, check it out…you just never know.

If the hotel does not have a shuttle service, I usually book a shared shuttle a day or two in advance. I suggest that once you book your hotel, that you call the hotel and verify shuttle service and airport schedule. Some hotels may offer shuttle service but have cut off points such as late at night and very early in the morning. For those who prefer driving to public transport, you can always look at deals which include airfare, hotel and car.

If Disney Land is on your list of things to do, you can always book in advance, I was lucky to get a same day ticket for a reasonable cost. If paying for a tour was also on your list, there are places where you can purchase tickets at certain stops the same day.

Vacation Here We Come

The most exciting moment is when you get to leave your job today knowing you are flying out the next day and wouldn’t be back for at least another two weeks. I came up with a one line song “Get out of here and have some fun!” I used to sing this whenever I was going on a vacation and my colleagues will get jealous and promise to sing it when their turn came.

In all of your excitement make sure you do not forget your travel documents, some raw cash and your luggage (travel light, essentials only). For those traveling with children, you may want to consider taking some medication for pain and allergy. Also, make sure that you take appropriate clothing based on weather conditions. I can recall visiting Chicago in April and ended up having to buy warm clothing because I failed to pay attention to the temperature.

Whatever you do, please be safe and enjoy the vacation you planned so faithfully! Please write in the comments section and share your travel experiences. The following is an affiliate link where you can learn how to Get Free Flights with Travel Hacking by clicking here.