Author Archives: Gina Z.

7 Time-Saving tips for Organizing your Life the Right Way!

Time…it’s such a rare commodity, isn’t it?

I should probably start off with the obvious statement, “I’m a busy mom”. I work full-time outside of the house, I’m a wife and mom to two school-aged kids (fully equipped with after school activities), and have to run my home successfully on the daily. So, you know if there is a time-saving routine, I’m on board!

I probably don’t have to tell you, my life as a working mom is hectic, to say the least. For many years, I found myself increasing the load of tasks, which reduced my free time.

(I’m kidding, moms don’t get free time. We get the fall-on-your-face-can’t-do-anything-else resting time. Also known as Exhaustion Central.)

sleep when you finish your 7 tips in the house

As a result, I stumbled through my days, from going to work and forgetting my lunch, to coming home and remembering that I didn’t take anything out of the freezer to cook for dinner. Mom of the year right here!

Life was overwhelming, and the more I didn’t plan ahead, the more my life seemed like an abyss of chaos. We were eating out more often, the house mess was breeding out of control, and I just wanted to go anywhere but home.

This directly translated to retail therapy, more expensive outings, and money shooting out of my…hands (get your mind out of the gutter!).

So, I started adopting these 7 time-saving strategies to help me conquer my tasks quicker and easier. It made such a big difference. 

7 Time-Saving tips for Organizing your Life the Right Way!

1. Use the 20-minute method

Okay, to be honest, I don’t know if this is a real thing. But, I’m hoping it becomes a thing, because this method seriously changed my life!

I time myself for 20 minutes and clean one room or section of the house. I clean until the timer goes off. Usually, I can clean an entire room in this amount of time. But, even if I can’t, the space visibly looks better and I feel better looking at it.

No matter how tired I am, I can almost always do something for 20 minutes. So, this method helped me get a grip on my chores around the house and saved me so much time during the weekend, when I’d otherwise clean the whole house.

2. Throw one load of laundry in the wash

I’m blessed and grateful that I have a laundry room in my house. I can easily throw a load in the wash while I’m making dinner after work. Then, I throw it in the dryer before I sleep.

If there is a load already in the dryer, then I fold that one load and put it away. The whole task takes about 15-20 minutes and keeps your laundry corralled, so it never gets out of control.

3. Prep your week of meals on the weekend

This should only take a total of an hour or two, including the shopping.

Set your meal plan, shop for groceries, and prep your dinners. Ever since I started on this routine, my weekdays run so much smoother and I feel more relaxed. It also helps me fight the urge for fast food. It also helps me relax on the weekend, knowing that my upcoming week is fully planned out.

4. Prep your meat as soon as you get home from the store

I always buy family packs of meat and poultry because it saves a lot of money (more on the topic of saving groceries here and here). So, right when I get home, I put on some gloves and start dividing my meat into meal size portions. I do the same with chicken, and seafood.

This saves me time and money. I know the amount I have in each bag will feed my family and if I have someone over for dinner, I just take out additional portions as I need them.

5. Clean your kitchen at night

No one likes waking up to a messy kitchen. I’ve adopted the race-against-the-clock method for this and it works 95% of the time. I set my timer for just 15 minutes and I can usually have the dishes put in the dishwasher, pots & pans washed, and counters clean and clear.

washing dishes, clean kitchen to save time

It’s funny, when I first started this, it was really to challenge myself to see how fast I could clean the kitchen, because it was my most-hated task.

But now, it has motivated me to keep on that nightly task because no matter how horribly messy my kitchen gets (it always looks like a tornado hit it after dinner each night), I know that in just 15 minutes it can look awesome!

6. Make lunches the night before

My husband and I take our lunch to work each day (okay, okay, most days). Making the lunches the night before helps me get a grip on my mornings. I don’t have to think of what I am going to eat while I’m in a rush, I’ve got everything ready to grab and go. 

The kids usually eat at school, but if they’re taking snacks or breakfast the next day, I usually have them prep those the night before too. It just makes for smoother mornings and it only takes about 10 minutes in total.

7. Planning your wardrobe the night before

I have to be honest, I don’t do this all the time. But, when I do, I find myself waking up pumped for the day.

I know it sounds weird that just taking your clothes out the night before would get that reaction, but I always waste at least 15-20 minutes staring at my closet, half asleep trying to figure out what to wear.

Planning my clothes the night before also gives me time to press any wrinkles out or make sure that the outfit looks presentable without feeling the rush in the morning.

Ironing clothes at night to save time

These are just some of the things I’ve adopted in my life that have helped me tremendously and they not only save me time, but some save me money as well!

I encourage you to try some of these in your routine. Whether you are a busy working parent like me or a student who is always pressed for time, these methods are tried and true and can help you get a grip on your endless tasks of to-do’s.

What are some of your favorite tricks to make your life less hectic? I’d love to hear your ideas!

Until next time my frugal friends,


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Why being frugal now will enhance your life!

Often times we look at frugality as another word for cheap or stingy with money. This article is hopefully going to correct your perspective.

Frugality is being creative with how you spend your money. It’s planning out your purchases so you can save as much as possible.

I say it’s being creative because in order to limit how much you spend and still get the things you want, you have to look further than just whipping out your credit card. You have to plan ahead, look for deals, and find alternatives.

These all take creativity. Anyone can can buy something, but Frugal people are picky with what they buy, because they understand that happiness doesn’t lie in material possessions and choose to spend their money on worthwhile things. The increase in their savings is icing on the cake.

This is not to say that people who aren’t Frugal just throw away their money. But, there is a difference in the ease of their spending habits. They don’t usually plan ahead and impulsively buy as they go, never counting the thousands of dollars they’ve wasted that year on things that they no longer find interesting.

I can relate to you non-Frugal people, because I’ve been there. I wasn’t always frugal.

But, I distinctly remember how I felt with no savings and how uneasy I was when an emergency expense came up and I had to borrow money to fund it. It sucked. I now know better.

I’m guessing your reading this because you’re either on the fence about being frugal, you’re new to frugality, or you’re just wondering why Frugal is even a thing. This post will help clarify things for ya.

5 reasons being frugal will enhance your life

  1. It will give you more control over your hard earned money
  2. You’ll save a lot more money
  3. It makes it easier to plan for your future goals
  4. You’ll have less stress from debt or struggling to afford something you need
  5. You’ll build wealth, which is by far the most important benefit you’ll enjoy.

You’re whole life will positively change!

If you’re just starting to explore how to save money and want to get FREE tools to help get you started, you should join the current Build Your Wealth Challenge. It’s got tons of helpful tools and I even give you exclusive access to the resource library. You should check it out!

Frugality has become the new F word, but it shouldn’t be! That word has a lot of power in enhancing your life. My advice? Learn it, apply it, and enjoy the benefits. I do each and every day.

Peace and love my frugal friends,


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Why going on a cruise is your best frugal vacation travel option

 

We budget, we save, we work hard and we take minimal vacations. I’m right there with you. I don’t know many people that wouldn’t want to take more vacations, but just can’t find it in their budget. Cruises change everything when it comes to traveling to epic destinations on a small, frugal budget.

I just came back from a cruise to Mexico last week and my family and I had a blast! I paid about $300 per person for the entire 4 day trip, meaning it was less than $100 per person, per day. This may still sound like a lot to some of you, but did I mention it’s all-inclusive?

Before I tell you all of the amazing things about why a cruise is an awesome vacation option, I want to mention that I am NOT sponsored by any cruise line, this is simply my honest opinion based on my experience. 

My expense included lodging, food (24 hours a day!), turn down service, room service (!), entertainment for the kids, fun and entertaining shows and activities for the adults, access to a casino, access to a pool, large water park slides for the kids and the kids at heart (me!), a mini-golf course, a gym, should I keep going? What other vacation packages offer this much fun for that price? Not many.

Being frugal (more on how I started here) and always trying to stay on budget, I search for vacation deals, keeping in mind these 4 important travel must-haves: lodging, food, entertainment, and transportation costs. In the past, I thought lodging and transportation were my largest vacation expenses, but believe it or not, food is a HUGE factor when trying to keep your vacation within your budget.

 

This is one of the many reasons why cruises are such a great option for the frugal traveler. It’s all-inclusive (yes, I had to repeat this!). You book your room and you don’t have to think about ANYTHING else, except all the great memories you’re gonna make.

I get it, cruises, back in the day, used to be for the retired senior citizens. But they’ve really amp’d up their game and I’m telling you, you really can’t go wrong if you’re looking for an epic vacation on a teeny, tiny budget!

I love that they also have short weekend trips of 3-5 days or long trips of 2-3 weeks of travel, so it can accommodate anyone’s schedule and it makes for an easy quick or long getaway.

Why cruises are the best for budget travel and vacations

Cruises are for Kids and Families

It’s hard to travel with kids and keep the budget reasonably low. Many destinations take advantage of this and bump up the price of kid-friendly activities.

Cruises provide all the kid-friendly activities that your kids will love and even hook them up with a full activity schedule, fully equipped with prizes and small gifts throughout the cruise. And, its all included in the price!! Nothing extra to pay and the kids have a blast! On board yet (pun intended)?

Cruises offer a lot of ship activities for Singles

They’ve got karaoke bars, shows, an on-board casino, mingle activities, and so much more for singles to really enjoy time with their friends, family, or to meet other cruisers.

Cruises are great for foodies

I’m going to confess something to you right now. I’m a huge foodie! Like HUGE! I’m one of those people that look forward to eating and savoring all the yummy-ness. Let me tell you, their food is delish! They have so many options, even the picky eater will enjoy the variety. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll gain 5-7 pounds after your trip is over. But, it’s okay, you’ll enjoy every bite along the way!

They also have at least one night (depending on the duration of your cruise) where you get to dress all fancy for dinner, they put on entertainment while you eat, and the night feels so special. It really does make for some awesome memories.

Cruises save you SO much Money, they have so much to offer the budget traveler. Seriously, where else can you get all of this for just the price of your room?

Your transportation is also the destination

Once you get on the ship, your epic vacation starts. No long road trip where the kids are asking “Are we there yet?”, no traffic (in my case at least) that causes a 3 hour delay to get to your destination. Once you’re on the cruise, your vacation starts immediately. It’s unique that way.

Just to repeat all of the awesome perks you get, here is a list of SOME of the things you’ll enjoy:

-Lodging with turn down service

-24 hour meal options and even room service anytime at no extra charge

-Free shows and activities on the ship

-Access to a casino and bar

-Access to a pool, hot tubs, water-park slides, and mini golf course (depending on the ship)

-Awesome view until you reach your destination

-Free activities and prizes for kids

Seriously, I can go on and on, but I’m afraid this post will be 5 pages long. I can’t stress enough how awesome of a deal cruises are for the budget traveler. I’m super frugal, and this is by far, the best vacation package I’ve found that satisfies everyone in my family, adults and kids alike. My kids count the days until our next cruise and we usually go about twice a year. It’s incredible!

Peace and love my frugal friends,


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$7 Frugal Dinner for 4: Vegan Stuffed Grape Leaves/Dolma Recipe


I absolutely love grape leaves. I can eat them day or night, vegan or with ground beef, even cold or hot. It really doesn’t matter, they still taste delicious in any form. But the process can be tricky and understanding how to roll it, takes practice.

But, I’m going to show you how I taught my 10 and 16 year old to roll like a boss. It gets easier the more you do it. And believe me, if you’ve ever tried a grape leaf, or dolma as the Greek call it, you already know it will be so worth it.

Continue reading →


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7 Reasons Why Your Credit Cards are Making You Broke!


Credit cards are a normal way of life. From the moment we turn 18 to the last day we live, we will have at one point accrued credit card debt. It’s not our fault. Society shoves credit cards down our throats and says to us that getting MORE credit is normal, “charge it” is now a regular part of our vocabulary, and having outstanding credit balances are no big deal.

I’ve learned the hard way how much money these credit card habits can suck from my bank account. It has at one point, literally made me broke.

Continue reading →


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5 ways to start your Christmas shopping early and 3 reasons why you should


We all love the holidays, but it can also be a stressful and expensive time of year. I’m a procrastinator, so I would be the person who went the last week before Christmas all the way until Christmas Eve, gathering all of the leftover gifts and standing in roller coaster long lines.

If this is you too, then you’ll love these tips.

Here’s why you should start Christmas shopping early

1. You can be more thoughtful with your gifts and sentiment

When time isn’t pressing you to pick a gift in a matter of days, you will have enough room in your planning to get your friends and family something they’ll really love and use. It won’t look like a last minute gift and you’ll look like such a thoughtful person.

2. Shopping early will save you a lot of money

The more time you have, the more you can research prices. You can also plan ahead when you know that a store will have a sale or a coupon or a combination of both. So, you have time to be picky with what you buy and you don’t have to settle for an expensive mediocre gift.

3. Planning ahead and staying ahead of the game minimizes your holiday stress

There is nothing more stressful than the holidays. With the planning of the gatherings, travel, family visits, shopping, cooking and everything else that comes with the blessed holiday, it can add a lot of stress and anxiety. Eliminate some of that stress by getting some of your to-do list out of the way early. The more you can plan ahead, the less stress you will have. It’s amazing how much more enjoyable the holidays can be when you get more done ahead of time.

Here are ways to get you started on shopping early

1. Start your list and shop in the Summer

It’s so easy to wait until after Thanksgiving to start your Christmas list and join in on the Black Friday frenzy. But there’s a much easier way. If you start in summer, you can score some awesome deals at a gradual pace, so you’ll accumulate all the gifts on your list, a few each month. It saves you from the last minute panic, trust me.

2. Save a little cash each month

I find that this is one of the easiest ways to create a budget and make small changes in your monthly spending so that you aren’t spending a ton in December. Your wallet will thank you.

3. Create a gift closet

Stock up on great deals you find throughout the year with certain people in mind. It will save you a lot of time and money in the long run. Many department stores have monthly sales that are going to save you a lot of money.

4. Take advantage of your rewards

We usually get those store ads with rewards almost every month. This is great time to start using them each month to buy a gift or two and store them away. The great thing is that the more you use their rewards and stock up on more points through your purchases, the more rewards you receive.

5. Use the couponing sites

Last year, I was able to score some really amazing gifts for kids and adults because I signed up for the Krazy Coupon Lady app and Facebook page. I was alerted with screaming deals for things like the gel manicure starter kit equipped with the curing machine, crockpots and other household mini appliances, and clothing. It helped me stock up along the year and I was even able to bulk up my gift closet. It’s such a helpful tool!

I hope these tips were helpful to you. I used these tools last year and they made such a difference in the way I was able to enjoy the holidays with my loved ones. This is one place that we can have full control and plan ahead to help save us time, money, and stress.


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College Survival Tips-How NOT to be Broke!

 

Budgeting when starting out in College

Budgeting is hard, especially when you’re starting college. Now that you’re out on your own, you’re busy managing not only challenging school work, but living arrangements, eating schedule, sleeping schedule, cramming schedule…you get my point. So where does budgeting come in?

If this is you, then this will help you tremendously. Keep reading.

Continue reading →


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The Most Delicious Kanafe Dessert Budget Recipe

Being Middle-Eastern, I’ve been surrounded by scrumptious pastries my whole life. My favorites are baklava, basboosa, and my weakness is kanafe with cream, which is this shredded dough filled with a custardy cream. Yum! If you have ever purchased middle eastern pastries you’d know that they are awfully expensive! Bakeries charge by the piece, and their pieces are pretty much 2 bites big. Continue reading →


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How to Shop for Back-to-School Deals!

Back to school was always a hectic time for me. I drag my kids from store to store for weeks before school starts to take advantage of every. Single. Deal. The only problem is I was wasting a ton of gas running from place to place, a ton of time waiting in line at each store, and more often than not, I ended up having to go back for MORE supplies during the first week of school. I’m telling you, back to school for me was a pain.

Luckily for you, I’ve found a much better way to shop in recent years and I’m going lay out all of my tips and tricks for you to use freely.

Disclosure: Please note that links to merchants mentioned within this post might be using an affiliate link which means that – at zero cost to you – I might earn a commission if you buy something through my links. I never recommend anything I  won’t personally use and fully stand behind.

The secret is in online shopping.

I’m pretty old school and online shopping scares me a little, only because I feel like I can’t control myself on how much I buy. I like to touch the items in person and place them in my cart, so online shopping was never for me, until just recently. I can’t believe I’ve been missing out all of these years. Welcome to the 21st century, Gina!

Check all the online deals!

Online window shopping is how I prefer to do my research. I can visit several sites side by side and compare quantities and prices really fast.  I can easily know where the best deals are.

Check the Couponing Sites

My faves are Krazy Coupon Lady (KCL) and Coupon Mom. If you’re subscribed to their blog, they will send you emails and push messages on your phone when a screaming deal comes in. They’ve saved me so much money on so many things!

Look for Coupons

Coupons for school supplies start showing up in the beginning of summer and don’t expire until the end of September. They’re also for the national name brands that everyone loves. Keep them with you when you shop and you have potential to save even more.

Find a good One-Stop Shop

Target has been my go-to one-stop destination recently. They have the cartwheel offers and gift card promotions on so many items that save me so much time and money.

This year, I found 95% of my school supply list at Target and it took me 10 minutes of online shopping. Best part was, all the items were ready within an hour and I got free shipping to the store, so conveniently, I picked it up right after work. It was the most effortless school shopping experience I ever had. Really! It saved me so much time and money, I’m definitely shopping like this every year from now on!

Upcoming Target Deals Starting Today!

Great thing that Target is just getting started with their HUGE Back to School Deals! If you shop between 7/30/17-8/5/17, you can receive a $10 Target GiftCard with $40 Kids’ Clothing purchase, or Receive a $5 Target GiftCard with $25 Kids’ Clothing purchase. They’re even having a BOGO 50% off Kids’ Shoes.

And if you do what I did and shop online with in-store pickup, they’ll give you $5 off of your $50 School Supplies purchase!

Mom’s, you can even score some nice clothing for yourself, Women’s Mossimo Supply Co. Apparel is BOGO 50% off as well.

Honestly, how could you go wrong? While I still had to go to one more store for a couple of items (cause I price check everywhere like it’s my job), they did a great job of helping me check off almost all of my purchase list.

I got the rest of my supplies from Big Lots. They are also amazing with their offers for all your back to school needs. I found printer paper for $3.50 a ream (400 pages) and composition books for .50c each. I couldn’t find those prices anywhere else.

All in all, I spent a total of $10.04 at Target and $26.78 at Big Lots (I had to get 4 reams of paper)

Here are all the goodies I picked up:

Target:

  1. #2 pencils, 24 ct pack – $1.22
  2. BIC Brite Liner Highlighters, 4 ct- $1.59
  3. Crayola Colored Pencils, 12ct- .97c
  4. Compass and Protractor Set- $1.99
  5. Washable Glue Sticks, 2ct- .94c
  6. Wood Ruler 12”-.49c
  7. Kids’ Scissors- $2.49

Big Lots:

  1. Printer Paper Ream, 4- $14.00
  2. Composition Notebooks, 5- $2.50
  3. 2” Binder- $4.00
  4. Pencil and Crayon sharpener duo- .97c

I love finding the best deals and sharing them with you. Where are you favorite places to shop for Back-to-School?

 


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