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Elle Martinez

Developing a Money Making Hobby

Learn how you can make money with these three easy and fun hobbies.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I admit that I have been guilty of vegging out in front of the screen. Not the TV, but the computer. But I realized that after getting sucked into a game or Netflix, I wasted too much of my time.

A few years ago we decided to try and home brew our own beers and eventually meads. If you haven’t done it, I want you to know it’s not complicated (just watch your temps and make sure everything is properly sanitized) and it was a fantastic way to unwind.

And the best part was at the end of the process, we had something we could sit back and enjoy by ourselves or with friends. (People tend to like free beer!)

Have Some Fun and Make Some Money

So what does this have to do with the Summer of Savings?

I want you to find a new (or rediscover an old)  hobby that you love and will make you some money on the side. (Sorry while I highly recommend home brewing as a hobby, you can’t sell your brews :( )

I’ve came up with some hobbies you can try out where you can tap into your creative powers, provide something useful, and make some money on the side. I narrowed them down to skills that you can learn online or with a short weekend class in town.

That money can be used to build up your savings, pay down down debt, or seed money to start your own business. The choice is yours.

Computer Repair and Building

When my mom told me how much those big box tech services were charging her to get programs installed and removed, it drove me crazy. Fortunately she was in that windows of free coverage, but I worried about what would happen after that.

Since we’re not in the same town, we can’t help out sometimes. Using YouTube though, my mom has gotten much better with computer maintenance and she now helps others with their tablets and laptops. Go mom!

It goes to show that there is a need for technical help and you can teach yourself the essentials.

Besides software, there are also hardware repairs like cracked screens on phones that can be terribly expensive that you can do at home at a fraction of the cost.

If you know some basics, you can be a neighborhood tech guru and earn some cash being a hero.

Where to Hone Your Skills

Upgrade your own computer and extend its life as you get some practice. There is so much available online that you can pretty much get everything you need without leaving your home. Sites like IFixIt can be an incredible resource for you.

Restoring and Refinishing Furniture

Furniture can be pricey so if you can help others keep their stuff lasting longer and looking good, you’ll be saving them a ton of money.

While you may think that you have to be a master craftman or woman, some pieces, especially wood furniture just need a little TLC.

You can start with small projects around your house to update your space. You can offer your help with neighbors or you can pick up pieces from yard sales or buy them cheap, restore, and sell on Craigslist.

Where to Hone Your Skills

The great news for those starting out is that there a ton of free and cheap resources you can tap into when it comes to DIY furniture restoration. Many home improvement stores have classes throughout the year. YouTube has lifetime amount of video tips to give you ideas and techniques on home improvement. I also like subscribing to channels like Mike and Lauren and see what projects they come up with.

Meal Prep

Are you a pretty decent cook? Can you get great deals on groceries? You might want to combine those two skills and make some cash.

Since eating out every day can drain wallets, offering some gourmet style meals that your neighbors can take to work is a win-win for everyone.

Buy and cook in bulk and you can cut costs down, allowing you to make a profit with your convenient meals.

Where to Hone Your Skills

Practice and improve your skills right in your own kitchen. There are also a ridiculous amount of cookbooks, videos, and sites you cna borrow or buy to learn more. If you’re looking at mastering the essentials fairly quickly, try out the Meta and Domestic section of The Four Hour Chef.

Thoughts on Productive Hobbies

Will you be masters overnight? No, but you’ll have a practical skill that people could use which can earn you some cash on the side.

How many of you have a talent that you use to help others and make some cash? How did you learn to do it? Any tips for those just starting?

Staying on Top of Your Money

Stay on top of Your Money without losing your mind with these free and easy tools.

The year is halfway through and this has been one of the busiest we’ve had in awhile. We had our second started at the beginning of the year and with her arrival came LOTS of bills. It took a few months, but we finally got them squared away.

I’m still trying to adjust to my new work routine as I take care of both girls during the day. So far I’ve settled into a split shift schedule where I take care of work in the early mornings and wrap things up in the evenings.

We’re also in the process of selling our current home and hopefully buying another place more conveniently located. Oh, and we’re taking the 2015 Moneystepper Savings Challenge with goals to increase our net worth by 30% and have a 20% savings rate by the end of the year. 😛

Watching Our Money

As you can see we have a lot going on, so now would be a great time to do a Mid-Year Financial check up. Doing these check-up regularly has some wonderful benefits to your marriage and finances.

  • Net worth reviews gives an opportunity to talk. These reviews don’t have to be massive sit down, crunch the number sessions. It’s just a reason to get to together and chat about your numbers.
  • Comparing the budget to actual spending is valuable. Life happens and our finances can be a reflection. Maybe an adjustment has to be made so the budget is more realistic.
  • See progress (or lack of) on financial goals for the year. It’s  handy tool for checking up on annual and long term goals.

While I share how we’re doing so far, I’ll also show which tools we use to stay on top of our finances.

Staying on Top of Your Budget

We’ve been doing a pretty good job taking care of our bills, paying down that student loan, and keeping a buffer with our joint accounts. However I think it’s never a bad idea to review spending to see if there are any money leaks that we may have missed or an expense we can optimize.

I know for many couple the thought of going through a ton of transactions seems daunting and can be enough to push you away from running the number, but there are plenty of ways you can do this quickly and easily.

Our current favorite is using Mint. We’ve used them for years (you may remember their charts showing up on our old net worth reviews). Setting it up was a cinch – it took about 20 minutes or so to get all of our accounts imported and organized. Now I can log on, go to the trends section, and see where our money has been going without any hassle.

If you want to use Mint to manage your budget, I’d say it’s a handy tool to use.

Looking at Mint, we’re doing well sending in the extra payments for the student loans, but I noticed that our vet bills have been higher than normal. I also see we could do a better job with our grocery bills.  I’ll look at planning our meals for the next few months and see if we can used the money saved to speed up the debt pay off.

Staying on Top of Your Investing

If you are looking at getting a snapshot of how your investments are doing, Personal Capital has some wonderful tools to get you ready. We have several investing accounts between us and so it’s handy to have all this information at our finger tips.

Personal Capital offers a free portfolio review so you can  check up on your portfolio to make sure things are truly squared away. Besides making sure that your asset allocation meets your plan, you should also see if there is a way you can lower your fees.

Reviewing our accounts, I’ve noticed that we have to go over my husband’s 401(k) to see if we can find investments with lower fees. the benchmark Personal Capital gives is .5% and right now we are at 1.03%. Definitely room for improvement.

Thoughts on Financial Check-Ups

So you know how we’re doing with our money; how about you? How are you guys doing so far in 2015? Any unexpected bonuses or setbacks?

Staycations, Past Financial Fails, and How to Become Financially Independent

Elle Martinez and Couple Money Staycation tips

I think this post title may be overloaded, but it’s a perfect description of this past week. I will be noticeably quiet this weekend as I recharge with my family.

Last Sunday I had a wonderful pick me up when Kristia from Family Balance Sheet took a snap of a newspaper article she was reading on Staycation tips. Guess who was included? [See the pic above :)  ] I was so excited to see that and immediately showed it to my husband and family.

Cheesy, I know, but it felt so good to share it with them.

Couple Money Around the Web

Here are few things I’ve been busy with on the podcast and around the web this past week:

I will say, even though Matt’s book is packed with information, I was finished reading fairly quick. He gives plenty of examples to help you get a solid foundation on finances.

Money and More Posts I Loved This Week

Getting the house prepped and ready for sale has eaten up most of our free time, but I did find some posts that made me stop for a few minutes and review how we see and handle money.

I hope to have some good news next week about the house, but we’ll just wait and see. Have a wonderful weekend!

Hosting a Fun (And Frugal!) Summer Party 

Get tips on how you can save big when hosting your next summer party.

How it ramp up to summer so quickly?! This week we’ve been battling 100 degree with humidity  – not fun. Hopefully, it’ll cool down in the next couple of weeks.

We’ll be heading up to my husband’s family reunion. They do it pretty much every year and it’s a lot of fun. It’s great to catch up with relatives, spend time together, without paying much.  Since I also have some of my family in the area, it’ll be a busy, but sweet long weekend.

While we don’t have a big yard, we’re still planning on having family over this summer to come for a little party. With that in mind, I wanted to share some ways you can throw an awesome summer party without blowing your budget.

Grab the Essentials on the Cheap

No matter what kind of party you’re having, I’m going to say that getting your food right is one of the most important elements of planning.

Having lots of people coming over (like a mini-family reunion)? You may save a chunk of money by buying in bulk. Warehouse clubs like Coscto can provide high quality food at a competitive price.

If you love having people over, but don’t like constantly making grocery trips just for a party, here’s a list of pantry essentials that can give you plenty of options for those last minute get togethers. Those who like to serve some alcohol  cocktails may appreciate this handy chart on cocktails.

You can also cut down on stress by preparing a few dishes ahead of time. It’ll allow you to have more time relaxing with your friends and family.

Decorate on a Budget

I will tell you right now, it’s easy for me to come up with food for a party, but I have a hard time coming up with a theme or decor for it.

When I need ideas I turn to Pinterest. People share so many ideas and most of them will also show you how they did it.

Now that you have an idea of what you’re going for, it’s time to pick up the decor. Stores like Party City can have some wonderful stuff, but it can get pricey.

Don’t laugh, but your local dollar store can be a great store to snatch somethings for your party. You might not be able to get everything on your list, but the money you save on those basics can be redistributed to other parts of your party budget.

Enlist Your Guests

No, I’m not suggesting you have your guests do all of the work. (Come on, there’s a difference with being frugal and being cheap.)

I’m saying that when someone asks if they can bring anything, have a list ready so you can give them a small task.  Things like a bag of ice or a two litter aren’t expensive, but they can be a huge helpful for you (especially when it comes to time).

If you don’t want guests to spend a time, ask them to bring in their favorite game or a deck of cards. Playing a game together can be a wonderful way to pass the time as you work that grilling the main entree.

Thoughts on Summer Get Togethers

There you have it – some of my favorite tips on summer parties. I’d love to hear from you and get your thoughts. How many of you are either hosting a get together or going to one this summer?

Delicious Meals on the Cheap

Make date night romantic, fun, and frugal with these five recipes.

If you decide to stay home for date night or just want to impress your spouse, I got you covered! I gathered recipes I gathered dinner recipes (some of them copycat ones from popular restaurants) around five different themes

With each dinner plan constructed, I looked for awesome meals that would cost a pretty penny if you went out to eat them, but are a fraction of the price made at home so you don’t have to sacrifice quality.

Steakhouse Classic

We’ve learned that minimal seasoning and a good cut of meat makes all the difference with steak dinners. Costco has some great deals on rib-eyes – they’re thick and absolutely delicious.


The Meal


Seafood Delight

I’m a beach girl, so I love to grab some awesome seafood whenever we visit family in Virginia.


The Meal


If you’re outside and the meal has you filled up, you can skip dessert and have a mojito (or nojito) instead to cool off.

Night In Lamb Chops

Sometimes the weather dictates that dinner at home would be best.

Make the most of it with this filling meal as you two watch a few episodes of a show on Netflix or Hulu Plus while sipping on your favorite beer (I would drink a Belgian dubbel).


The Meal


Delicious and Easy Stew

Admit – sometimes you just don’t want to be in the kitchen. For those days, one of your best friends is a crockpot. With the stew being so hearty you can skip an appetizer.

The Meal


Comfy Foods

I love getting a pork shoulder done forget togethers. It’s easy to make and there is plenty to go around.


The Meal


Thoughts on Cooking at Home

I hope these recipes help the two of you have a wonderful meal together AND save money. If you want to get some fantastic clone recipes from popular restaurants,  try out CopyKat. I also have some easy to make recipes on Married Food.

I’d love to hear from you – what are some of your favorite meals? Do you cook for one another often? Any recipes you want to pass on are greatly welcomed!