money saving tips

15 Back to School Money Saving Tips

Growing up my mom used to say that August was the most expensive month besides Christmas. Back to school shopping can be expensive.  However, there are ways to be purposeful with your shopping that will save your wallet big time and your sanity too!  I have rounded up my 15 best back to school money saving tips for today’s post because who doesn’t love to save money?

15 Back to School Money Saving Tips

1 – Buy high-quality.  

We love Pottery Barn and Herschel for backpacks.  Did you know you can wash your backpack in the washing machine?  Empty the backpack inside and out, spot treat with a stain treater and then place on a gentle, cold cycle in the washer.  Hang dry!  We had my son’s backpack for 5 years and the only reason we replaced it was because he needed a bigger bag!  

We love Lands End and North Face for winter gear.  Last year, I went cheap and I ended up spending what I would have on one coat on two and both were broke by the end of the year.  I usually get 2 years and can pass it on with a higher quality coat.  Buy gender neutral boot and snow pants so you can pass them down to other children.  Grey, navy or black show less dirt and are great for both girls or boys!

2 – Take inventory of your closet first. 

Check out your kids’ closets and make a list of what your kids actually need for the upcoming season and next year so you can stay focused and save money while shopping.  Your kids might not need new shoes, don’t buy them if they don’t need them!

3 – Shop sales.  

Most sites like Pottery Barn and Lands End have sales.  Don’t pay full price, they will have a sale.  Temporarily join the store’s email list or check their website often.  Generally, they have sales over the weekends so check back on Friday!

4- Always buy a size up!  

When shopping for winter gear, I always size up.  If my kid is currently wearing a size 2 shoe, I buy a size 3.  If they are currently a size 10 shirt, I buy a size 12 coat.  Lands End coats have built-in sleeve extenders that help you maximize the life of your coat.

5 – Avoid personalization and monograms.  

It’s easy to resell or pass on if it’s not personalized.  It’s also safer to not have your child’s name printed on their backpack.

6 – Shop ahead for next season.  

Take advantage of the end of season sales and stock up for next season.  The steepest discounts happen at the end of the season both at major retailers and consignments stores.

7 – Take advantage of tax-free weekend.  

Most states offer a tax-free weekend on school supplies and apparel right before school starts.  In Iowa, ours is the first full weekend in August!  

8 – Use Coupons & Price-matching.

Before you buy, scan the item to make sure you are getting the best deal.  Sites like Amazon have a barcode reader and will pull up the item.  If it’s cheaper, take that to the store’s register and ask for a price match.  If they can’t do it at the register, they should be able to at customer service.  Most stores will honor their competitor’s coupons.  It’s always worth asking!

9 – Inventory school supplies before shopping.   

What items are still in working condition?  Use what you have first.  Cross it off the list so you don’t accidentally buy it again.  If that white binder looks a little beat-up from last year, scrub it clean with a Mr. eraser and it will be good as new.  Wash the pencil box with a little soap and water and it will be sparkly clean.

Stock up during sales on school supplies for the year or for your kids’ classroom!

10 – Shop discount stores & Consignment Stores.   

Places like TJ Maxx and Marshall’s are a great place to get name brand clothing for less.  Consignment stores are another great place to shop.  Take your old clothes in to consign and use the money you earned to buy this year’s wardrobe.

11 – Make a list and stick to it.

This seems simple enough but how often do you throw something extra in?  All those extras add up!

12 – Before you shop, make a game plan.  

When making your list, write down the store names and under each store write the item you are going to purchase there.  Check the weekly ads for the best deals to know what to get where! Remember, the more places you shop, the more likely you are going to find extras (or is that just me?) so be purposeful about sticking to your list!

13 – Do not wait until the last minute.  

Take it from me, I did that my first year and it was a nightmare.  The plastic primary colored pocket folders I needed were sold out so I paid way more.  Shop early!

14 – Shop online and use pick-up options.  

Walmart and Target both offer it and it’s a great way to stay on budget and not get sidetracked by the awesome items, not on your list.  Target will even populate your school list online and you can pick up!  How cool is that?

15 – Make a budget and keep track of what you spend.  

Sometimes, it’s more cost-effective to buy the school supply pack from the school.  This year, we used what we had and then purchased about $50 worth of school supplies for two kids which is less than what I would have paid for the supplies.


What back to school money saving tips do you have?  It can be an expensive time of year but it can totally be done on a budget.  It’s hard to believe school is almost back in session, summer sure has flown by in a hurry!  Our supply shopping is done so now we will celebrate with sleeping in and spending our days at the pool!  Below, I am sharing a few of our favorite back to school essentials!


Until next time keep on keeping on with a simple purposeful life!

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Linking up with Andrea and Becky – check out their blogs for more fun!

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10 Helpful Sephora Tips

I am going to tell you a little secret.  I am 35 years old and I just stepped into Sephora a few weeks ago.  I can hear the collective gasp across cyberspace.  Can I tell you why?  I was intimidated.  A whole store of beauty products and I am a novice when it comes to beauty products and how to properly apply them.  I once had a bad encounter with a beauty consultant at an NYC department store and ever since then, I have been a bit embarrassed and intimidated about buying and applying makeup!

However, over the last year, I have adopted the mantra of “why not?”  Why not learn how to apply makeup, why not go into a store and learn, why not?  So, I knew just the person to ask and hold my hand during my first Sephora shopping adventure — my sister.  Not only, was my first experience amazing, it won’t be my last visit.   My sister taught me so many insider secrets and tips that I knew I had to share them all with you.  So, today I am sharing you 10 of her best Sephora tips!  After this post, you are going to want to go shopping there too.

Sephora bag and products on a wood floor

10 Sephora Insider Tips

1 – Do not be intimidated

Sephora is full of brand-name beauty products and is very similar to the beauty counter area of a department store.  They also carry skin care and their own line of beauty accessories.  Just walk in and take a tour for yourself.

2- Ask for help

Sephora has many helpful employees who are experts in their field.  The best way to learn is to ask for their wisdom and help.  From color-matching to helping you find the perfect product for your price-point, they are there to help.  I recently started using glow-tion after it was recommended to me and it’s now my favorite product I use.

3 – Ask for a sample in a product you want to try

They will give you a sample to take home.  If they don’t have a pre-packaged one, you can try it on right there or they can make you a little sample to go.  If you aren’t sure which foundation you like best, ask for a couple of samples to try before you commit to buy!

4 – Ask for a sample at checkout

If your cashier doesn’t put samples in your bag, ask for them.  They always have some. If you shop online, they always give you 4 samples with your order. Samples are great to take on overnight trips or put in your purse or gym bag and a great way to test new-to-you products.

5 – Check out the Travel-size version

I wanted to try the two-faced waterproof mascara and they had a travel-size version.  They carry several products in the travel-size, not only are they more compact, you can try and decide if you like a product without such a large investment.  Travel-size options might be next to the regular size product as well as by the check-out, there is a large display of travel-size options.  I got a travel-size dry shampoo because you still need that on vacation ;)!

6 – Sephora’s Picks are on the End Caps

Sephora highlights their favorite picks for all categories of makeup from foundation to eye line to blush on their end caps.

7 – Check out the Seasonal Box Sets

The box sets are a perfect way to get more bang for your buck and try out new products.  They also make awesome gifts for your friends and family.  They have a variety of themes from skincare to eye make-up.

8 – Sign up for the Insiders Club

You will earn points every time you shop as well as a birthday bonus gift.  They also share great tips, deals and FREE classes they offer at your local Sephora.

9 – Sephora has 2-day shipping

You will love that Sephora offers their own 2-day “flash shipping” for online orders.  Plus, remember they send you samples :).

10 – Look for Value Sets

I love carrying roller ball perfumes with me in my purse and gym bag.  I bought a value box of perfume samples for $35 and got a $30 voucher for a roller ball of my choice.  So, basically, I walked away with free samples and a $5 discount on the roller ball I wanted.  Ask a Sephora employee for other value set options!


I went from intimidated to infatuated after one trip with my sister.  Tell me, have you been to Sephora?  If you have tips, please share in the comments so we can all learn. Do you have any favorite beauty products?  Now, we can also shop with purpose on our next visit.


Want to know 12 things we stopped buying at the grocery store?  Read more here.


Until next time keep on keeping on with a simple purposeful life!

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12 Items We Stopped Buying at the Grocery Store to Save Money

We have a growing family and each member seems to have a growing belly so I am constantly on the hunt to find cost savings during my weekly grocery hauls and yes, weekly, the food disappears before it even enters the door sometimes.  I barely ever actually grocery shop and most of the time prefer online grocery shopping in my PJs while watching Friends.  Not only are Ross and Rachel better grocery shopping partners, it also saves money, time and my sanity.

There are a few things no longer on my grocery list and I thought I would share what we have opted to stop buying in an effort to save money.  What do you forego to stay on budget?  So, let me share with you some items to skip when trying to save money at the grocery store.

12 Items to Stop Buying at the Grocery Store to Save Money

1 – Name Brand

There are very few products I have to have the name brand for, if there is an off-brand equivalent I will buy it.  Often times, it can save a substantial amount of money.  Everything from canned soups, baking supplies, cereal to lunch meat.  I buy generic.  If you are an Aldi shopper, you know generic doesn’t mean poor quality!

2 – Kleenex

I know this might be weird but we just use toilet paper.  Right now, there is a box of tissues on our guest toilet because my mom came to visit and brought a box with her.  Is it weird we don’t buy kleenex?

3 – Pre-made baked goods

I still occasionally buy the break and bake refrigerated cookies to bake for an event but I love to buy the muffin box mix and whip those up.  Brownies are my go-to for a frugal but delicious dessert treat for a crowd.  A boxed mix is just a dollar or two at most grocery stores.

4 – Pre-made frozen meals

When I worked full time they were my go-to for lunches and a quick dinner but I just make extra of the meal I make for dinner to have as leftover or as my grandmother calls them planned-overs.

5 – Margarine & Butter Spreads

We just buy butter sticks.  We keep one stick in a covered butter dish in a kitchen cabinet so it’s soft for spreading on toast and bagels.

6 – Out of Season Fruit

We eat berries of all types in the summer, apples in large amounts in the fall and then choose more seasonal fruit varieties in the winter.  Not only is out of season fruit extremely expensive, it also doesn’t taste as good when it has to be shipped halfway around the world.  Frozen fruits are a great alternative in the winter months along with unsweetened jarred fruit.

7 – Bottled Water

We have plenty of reusable water bottles for the whole family and most of my kids are old enough to independently fill their own water bottles.  When we head out somewhere, they all grab a water bottle to go!

8 – Dryer Sheets

We stopped using these when our oldest child was born and had some skin sensitivity.  I got out of the habit and although I miss the scent, I just use dryer balls instead and the wrinkle release cycle on the dryer to help with static and wrinkles.

9 – Multiple Types of Shampoo

We buy baby shampoo for Lucy and the rest of all use the same kind of shampoo and conditioner.  Right now I am buying Panter Pro-V because it makes my hair extra soft.

10 – Decorative Napkins

Just like my fine china is white, I buy white napkins.  White goes with everything and is nice and classic.  There are always exceptions to this rule like kid birthdays but whenever we entertain, I just buy white.

11 – Candy

I am the queen of chocolate (I never was until I had children) and not buying it not only saves money but it saves my waistline.  I have a hard time saying no!  The great thing about online grocery shopping is I don’t even see it :).

12 – Bottled Juice

This is all my husband, he was raised on juice concentrate so we made the switch when we first got married.


So, there you have it 12 items we don’t buy at the grocery store to save money and stay on budget with our grocery bill.  We budget $125 a week for a family of 5 for groceries. Don’t forget to share what you skip at the store in an effort to save money in the comments!  Soda is on my list to go but I haven’t kicked that habit yet! Someone tell me I can do it!

stacked coins budget basics online course

Speaking of budgets, I am going to be sharing more about how we got purposeful with our finances and formulated a realistic budget for our one income family.  You can learn more about the class here.


Until next time keep on keeping on with a simple purposeful life!

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PS – Blogging friends Monday is our monthly 10 on the 10th link-up, this month we will be sharing 10 favorite places to travel, can’t wait to read all your ideas :)!

Linking up with Andrea and Becky – check out their blogs for more fun!

3 Target Tips

I love Target but who doesn’t?  Maybe my bank account!  Recently I went to Target because my sweet friend Britt alerted me that they have #tibekoko signs.  You better believe I needed one or a few!  I decided to test out the $10 at Target challenge and go see if I could find them.  
Spoiler alert, I failed miserably.  I did two transactions so you could see what $10 at Target looks like but let’s be real I had another $60 in my cart because we needed paper towels.  Yes, I know paper towels don’t cost $60!  Let’s see what I did find for about $10 and I am sharing 3 Target tips with you.   Will you share your tips too?  You all are so smart and my budget will thank you!
Exhibit A – my purchases

Keep on Keeping on Coin/shadow Box | $3
Thank You Notes | $1
Clearance Cat & Jack Flip-Flops | $6.48

Sub-total | $10.48
Red Card Discount | $0.52

Grand Total | $10.58

So obviously the sign was not a want but a need.  Since that is clearly a given, I put that in my office to remind me of our sweet #tribekoko.  For those of you visiting, KOKO stands for Keep on, keeping on.  That’s our tribe’s goal to keep on, keeping on with a joyful, faith-filled life!  I got an extra for an upcoming Instagram giveaway since we are so close to 2000 tribe members!  The sign can be found in the Dollar Spot which gets me every time.  I could have spent way more than $10 there #always.

The stationary is another spot love!  8 cards for a $1, I am in!  We have 3 kid summer birthdays around here and so I needed to pick up another pack.  I thought these would be tie into the colors I used for Lucy’s TWO CUTE MERMAID party.
Then these flip flops (similar) were the typical “not on your list but suddenly you need them to be on your list” item.  I know you know what I mean!  I was looking for my girls in the kids shoe section when these caught my eye.  I love a cute, comfy flip flop!  They looked big enough for my foot and sure enough they were!  
Tip 1:  Buy Girls Shoes
I learned the tip that girls size equate to women’s sizes from my friend in the shoe business.  He said I could buy kids UGG boots in a size 6 and they would be cheaper and still fit great.   So there’s that tip for you too.  I love to save a little money, don’t you?  Have you ever bought kids shoes before?
Tip 2: The Clearance Tag
Target clearance always had a red label and in the top right hand corner there will be a teeny tiny number like 15, 30, 50, 70 or 90.  These shoes had a 50 in the corner meaning they were 50% off.  
Tip 3:  Check the Online Price and Sale Codes
Recently, I bought some outdoor chairs for our deck.  They were 30% off in store.  Before I went, I checked online and saw they had an extra 10% off online.  So once I checked out, I simply went to guest services and they price matched what was online!  I saved another $12 and every dollar counts!
What are your Target tips?  I would love to hear because I love Target but my budget appreciates any help it can get.  What have you found at Target lately!  Do you purposefully go in the Dollar Spot door so you can peruse that section first?  I do too! 
Until next time, keep on keeping on! #tribekoko
I am linking up with Johannah, Becky, Emily and Sarah today – you need to check out their Target hauls too 🙂 because who doesn’t love Target
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