Yup. These donuts were absolutely delicious...as big as our heads... completely worth every delicious calorie... AND were completely FREE!!! So was the coffee. Add in a rocking chair on a porch on a rainy day in Ohio with her family and you have yourself one VERY happy girl!
Each Tuesday at the farmstand about 10 minutes down the road from my parents' house in Ohio locals enjoy an early morning catch up over free cups of coffee and massive, delicious donuts. I love free donuts almost as much as I love the THRILL I get from saving money; so today I want to share with you other ways I/we saved money while on vacation in Ohio to give you ideas on how to save whether your having a stay-cation, a holiday abroad or something in between.
Consider alternatives: Before we even reached Ohio, we saved ourselves around £400 over last summer's airfare by traveling through Reykjavik airport on Icelandair rather than via the usual east coast airports. We always use price comparison websites to find our flights such as Momondo and Skyscanner as well as the Hopper app. Considering alternative routes and departure and arrival airports could save you quite a bit on your next holiday. This can go for locations, dates and accommodation types, too!
Understand what's included in your airline ticket: With airlines cutting costs all the time, make sure to read what is actually included in the price of your ticket. Is a piece of luggage per passenger included? And if so, up to what weight? Are you permitted a carry-on item and a personal item, or just one carry-on item? Is food and beverages included? Food was not included on our Icelandair flights; for the 6-hour flight from Reykjavik to Cleveland, Jeff and I pre-purchased sandwiches online and saved 10%. One drink plus water was included. What we really appreciated, though, was that on each flight the girls received a cold snack or small meal.
Visit the local library: this may seem like an old-fashioned entertainment option, but so what?! The library in my parents' town is wonderful. Not only can you borrow books (obviously), you can borrow magazines - they had my favourites! - toys and DVDs! We likely saved ourselves $10 by not renting or buying DVDs and, gosh, probably $20 (at least!) by borrowing magazines over buying them from the store. The toy library was mainly for babies and toddlers, but what a great service! There were also a few table toys for the girls to play with and colouring sheets; other children were playing games on computers for free. The next chance I get I want to take a closer look at what the libraries here in the UK offer for free as well.
Check Groupon for discounted local activities: Check Groupon for discounts on activities and restaurants in your area... then check for a discount code to use on top of that! My lovely Grandma wanted to take us to a local amusement park. Had we just walked in and paid the advertised price, it would have cost about $70 for the couple of hours we were planning to spend there. However, I insisted I take a quick look on Groupon before we left her house; lo and behold there was an offer for the activities we wanted to do - mini golf and a few rides. I also entered a discount code for an additional 20% off. In the end, by spending a few minutes on Groupon, I saved my Grandma almost 50% of the original cost. Cha-ching! If you have the Groupon app, you can simply present the voucher on your smart phone at the venue when you arrive. Otherwise you can print it out prior to leaving the house.
Voucher Codes: I love voucher codes and they're so easy to find. Numerous times voucher codes came to the rescue while we were on holiday. I got $10 off a $30 online order of my favourite hand soaps from Bath and Body Works and saved 20% off an online order from Kohls when I bought a new swim costume (due to having forgotten to pack mine...oops!). A handful of times we were in the checkout line, I whipped out my phone and Googled a discount for the shop or restaurant we were at. We got a BOGO burger saving $7 and 15% off shoes for Jeff saving us around $18. I'm sure there were other instances I'm not remembering. Before making any purchase online or in a brick and mortar store or restaurant, just put your mobile phone to the test to find a voucher code. Such fun!
Keep your eyes peeled: Look around for brochures at your hotel or rest stop that may include money saving offers or coupons. You never know where you may find a freebie either. My best friend and I went to supper in my parents' town; I was disappointed that I couldn't find a coupon or discount for that restaurant (there was a reason we went there as opposed to another place where we could have used a coupon); when we walked into the restaurant, there was a simple sign that said, "Scan this QR code for a free treat." So I did and it was for a bowl of meatballs! We shared them and they were so good. Food just tastes better when it's free... like those donuts!
"Need or Want?": as always, the best way to save money is not to spend it in the first place, so ask yourself whether what you're about to buy is "a need" or "a want". Of course, I made many exceptions to this rule since we were on holiday and in Ohio, but they were for things that I really will appreciate, like an expensive shirt to wear to work (which my boss has already complimented!), gel pens for the new Living Well Spending Less planner I've bought myself to help me SMASH my goals (I always think SMASH is such a dramatic word) and two Yankee candles for Autumn. See... I do spend money on treats for myself.
Holidays can be very expensive, but by spending a few extra minutes looking for ways to save money and free local activities, you can uphold your money-saving mindset and keep within your budget.
To close this blog post, I want to say a MASSIVE thank you to my family and friends for their generosity during our stay in Ohio. You all mean the world to us.
Hello Everybody! I posted a picture on Instagram earlier this evening that received the comment, "Aaaaannnnd she's back! Good to see you're still saving money." This is referring to our returning from our holiday in Ohio to visit my family the past three weeks and, jokingly, that I haven't thrown the towel on saving money... at least, that's the way I read it. I know this person personally and am very sure this person meant it in a loving way, so I replied, "Yep, we're back! Always trying to save money... and motivate others to save money along with me."
I continued to clean up the kitchen that I started before feeling the urge to post the photo, then thought, "that's not really what I wanted to say!" So, I corrected myself, "*correction* I desire to be a good steward of "my" money and inspire others to do so too." - This is the main purpose for my blog! To inspire YOU to be a good steward of "your" money by being a mentor, of sorts.
My aim is not necessarily to teach you all I know... because I don't know "all" nor do I necessarily know how to teach, but my desire is to let you know that there is someone else out there who isn't doing what society or the world in "Christianese" is doing; someone else who avoids debt, someone else who is making difficult decisions, someone else who really and truly considers where every penny goes by budgeting and planning, someone else who "lives like no one else, so later I can LIVE AND GIVE like no one else" (quote courtesy of Dave Ramsey). I desire to inspire others. If I don't inspire you, that's alright... no hurt feelings here! I won't be hurt if you don't read my blogs or following Finding the Pennies on Facebook or Instagram. However, I know that I have inspired a few of you out there already and that's fantastic! My hope is to inspire many more readers in the world so we can navigate life together.
The photo of the leftovers we had for supper this evening that I posted to Instagram that prompted this blog post.
Bear with me, I'm working my way backward on my corrected quote above: "I desire to be a good steward of "my" money and inspire others to do so, too." "And"... yep, this one word binds the two desires I have... I desire to be a good steward of "my" money AND I desire to inspire you. I don't want to merely be a good steward of my money, but I want to to also share my thoughts and tips... even if it's a picture of our leftovers from tonight's meal that will be our lunches for tomorrow. If you think, that's weird... I AM weird and am 100% okay with that! I want to share how I take small (and sometimes big) changes in my life - remember the subtitle on the FTP homepage is "Trusting God with the Small Change"... small changes to make small change that ADDS UP to BIG money-saving mindset change".
Ok, let's back up again on that comment: "I desire to be a good steward of "my" money and inspire others to do so, too." - "'My' money." My money is not really my money at all. It's God's money.
Of David. A psalm.
1 The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it.
We often think it's "my" money because I've earned it. I've worked hard for it. I've deserve it. Me... me... me... Well, not according to Scripture. EVERYTHING on the earth belongs to the Lord. You may be wondering, "if EVERYTHING belongs to the Lord, then why do I even have money?!" You have money because the Lord has blessed you with it; he has given it to you.
17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
EVERY good and perfect gift has been given to you. It isn't your doing. It isn't in your might. It wasn't due to your efforts...*gulp*... With that in mind... let's quickly take another step backwards and look at "to be a good steward". Since money doesn't belong to me, but rather it has been given to me, I truly desire to take the best care of that money, or to be a good steward. "But Lauren... when I think of the word 'steward' I think of someone managing a house or taking care of a group of people." Yep, it's exactly that... taking good care. A steward does, to their best knowledge, what they feel is best for that thing they are taking care of. "Stewardship" is taking dedicated care of something.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines "stewardship" as: the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one's care. That something is money, in this case, and the understood "has been" before "entrusted" points to God's entrusting of money to us. We have the responsibility to carefully manage HIS money. I consider myself to be more than a "saver". While I do enjoy saving money, both in terms of not spending too much and also saving money for the future, I honestly want to care for money that God has given our family to the best of my ability. I do this by making smart decisions before I spend, we plan and stick to a budget, we live pretty frugally and make the most of what we have and not wasting what I do have (an area I want to learn more about), we don't take on debt and pay back any debt that we may owe (like our mortgage) as quickly as possible, we invest and save for the future and we tithe and give to others. I believe this is what is meant by being a good steward of money, though stewardship can also relate to time, talents, family and other possessions.
How am I desiring to inspire you? By writing posts about lessons learned, by explaining the thoughts I have or "rules" I live by, by posting what may seem like completely silly or insignificant posts about leftovers or the like. I may save money and thoroughly enjoy doing so... but more important to me is that I am a good steward of the blessings God has entrusted to me... for His glory.