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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.

Appetizers  

The Meal

Dessert

Seafood Delight

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

Appetizer  

The Meal

Dessert

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).

Appetizer

The Meal

Dessert

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

Dessert

Comfy Foods

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

Appetizer

The Meal

Dessert

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!

How to Eat Better on a Budget

Learn these 7 tips to help you natural and organic on a budget.

With the warmer weather, more people are spending time outdoors and for some couples, it’s a nudge to get more fit. One of the best thComments 1ings you can do for your health and finances is eating smarter.

7 Ways to Save Money on Healthy and Organic Foods

The joke is buying at Whole Foods means spending a whole paycheck, but that doesn’t have to be the case with you.

Shopping at stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s can be a part of your routine without sabotaging your grocery bills.

  1. Don’t be confused by the labels. Protect yourself and money by understanding food labels. For example, ‘natural, is practically meaningless as there is no standard, so you may not get the benefits you expect. Consumer Reports has a great explanation of the different food labels being used.
  2. Shop local. You don’t have to visit all the farms in the area (though it can be fun!). There are farmer’s markets and Community Supported Agriculture programs that allow you to be more familiar with how your food was grown or raised. For the last fours we’ve been a part of produce delivery service that has made it incredibly easy for us to keep to a healthy family menu.
  3. Shop in season. Eating seasonally can save you big bucks at the grocery stores. If you can, preserve or freeze what you can for off season.
  4. Spend on organic food when it makes a big difference. When you’re shopping on a budget it can wise to prioritize the dollars. If you want to go organic, make sure it’s worth the extra cost. Learn which are the best buys and which ones you can pass on.
  5. Plan ahead for the week. Fresh produce goes quickly so only buy what you know you can eat (wasted food can be a big money drain). Try and decide what meals you’d like to have before you head into the store. Need ideas? Check out I Am The Lady for some shopping lists.
  6. Go frozen. That said, you can get some wonderful frozen vegetables and stock up.
  7. Put a coupon on it. Though you might not see as many coupons for organic foods, some grocers do have them out there.

I hope these tips help you the next time you go out for groceries. Eating healthier does take some effort, but it is well worth it in the long run.

Thoughts on Better Eating

How about you? How do you eat smarter without spending a ton of money?

How to Find Local Deals and Rediscover Your Town

Best Free Apps for Local Deals, Concerts, and Events

Are the two of looking for some new local spots to try out for a date night, but don’t know where to start? Want to make it even better by getting a discount?

There are lots of sites and apps claiming to being the best for deals, two of the biggest being Groupon and Living Social.

As great they can be, there are other sites and apps to help you find your new favorite spots around town. Some of them you may already know, but aren’t using to their fullest potential and some are new ones with great features.

Local Concerts and Events

Not all of them are widely publicized, but that doesn’t mean the band isn’t great.

  • BandsInTown: Stay up to date with the bands performing in your area. You can link up your Pandora playlist to get a personalized concert calendar based on the music you love.
  • ScoutMob: Currently only available in certain cities, this apps keeps tabs on local events, restaurants, and deals.
  • Dealspotting: Other shoppers submit deals to the app allowing you to uncover some less publicized specials on some venues and shops.

Bargain Deals

If you’re already going to pick something up, make sure you’re getting a great deal. These apps will help you find the best prices on and offline, get you a discount, or make shopping easier.

  • RetailMeNot: I’ve used them to grab a discount on items and usually save 10-25%. With participating merchants you can show the deal on the app at check out.
  • ShopSavvy & Redlaser:  These apps allow you to scan bar codes and see if the item you’re hoping to buy is available for less online or offline.
  • Smoopa:  If you prefer for the deals to come to you, you can use Smoopa to set up alerts on products and e-mails you when the price falls below a certain point.

Tip: If you’re using the price checking apps at a store, go ahead and ask if they will price match. You’ll be scoring a great deal and you’ll be supporting a local business.

Thoughts on Local Hot Spots

I shared some of my favorites; I’d to get your take on them. Which ones do you use when you’re hunting for a deal? Do you have any sites or apps you check out to discover new places and events?

Mortgage Pre-Approval and Packing

couple money interviews

It has been a BUSY week for us. I met up with a real estate agent and the credit union to get information and begin the home selling buying process.

We now have a loan pre-approval so we can start the process of looking at homes in the area. However we want to make sure we take care of selling our house first so our current focus this weekend is getting the house cleaned and de-cluttered so we can move on to the next steps and get it listed as soon as possible.

I already went to the dump and get rid of some of the old stuff – like the broken grill and old bike we don’t use anymore.

Next week and beyond we’ll get more paperwork done and hopefully get some ideas on how to stage our house and get some pictures taken. We’ll keep you posted on how that goes.

Couple Money Around the Web

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

One of my goals this year is to try out and expand different projects. Hopping on other sites and podcasts is a great learning experience as I get to see the other side of the mic and pick up tips on how to do interviews.

Money and More Posts I Loved This Week

I didn’t have much time to read, but these were a few of my favorite posts this week.

Have a great weekend!