Tag Archives: tips

Advice for Remodeling an Airstream

I’ve been emailed quite a few questions lately regarding advice for remodeling an Airstream. And it’s a tricky question– each Airstream will be different. That being said, there are a few common themes that all Airstream remodels will encounter, so George and I jumped on a video to chat about ’em. Enjoy! And as always, any more questions, you can ask in the comments!

love,
melanie

How to Make Beeswax Candles

beeswax candle DIY Did you know that beeswax candles are honey hole full of benefits? Ok, that pun was forced. But seriously, beeswax candles can help with allergies, have calming benefits and burn slower and cleaner than paraffin candles. I’ve even heard that beeswax candles give off negative ions that actually purify the air. I also love the scent of beeswax candles.

In elementary school we went to visit the town of Old Salem, a living history town that depict Moravian life in the 18th and 19th century. Well, one guy, dressed in his period-correct finery, was pouring candles. Even as an elementary schooler, I thought that was pretty cool and I bought one. My parents didn’t let me play with matches, so I ended up just smelling the unlit candle like a weirdo. But I’m still obsessed with the natural scent of beeswax candles.

Anyway, I know that beeswax candles are one of those things that I can make cheaper than I can buy. So I did just that. It took me a couple of tries to perfect the process, but here’s how to make beeswax candles.

Supplies

glue wicks Glue your wicks to the bottom of the jars. The glue helps the wick to stay in place during the pouring process. Let dry, then trim the wicks to slightly longer than the desired length. (I didn’t do that and regretted it later.) Pour your pellets and coconut oil into the pitcher. 1/2 pound of pellets makes about a 1 pint jar candle. Fill large pot of water 1/4 of the way full of water.

candle making pitcher Put the candle making pitcher in the water. It might float a bit. That’s ok. Stir until the wax is melted.

candle cooling As the wax is melting either heat up your oven on low or prepare a bowl of warm water and put your jars in it to cool the candles. I did both and both methods worked. The addition of coconut oil and the intricate cooling process ensures that the candles don’t crack. The coconut oil also gives the candles a lovely baby yellow hue.

beeswax candles cooling When wax is fully melted pour carefully into jars to not disturb the wick.

candles covered in tinfoil If using the water cooling method, cover in candles in tinfoil. If using the oven method, turn the oven off and let the candles cool inside.

We just made beeswax candles! All my childhood dreams are coming true! Also, wouldn’t these make great gifts?!

Have you ever tried candle making? Let me know in the comments!

love,
melanie

12 Habits to Save Money, Be Happier and Make Life Easier

12 habits to save money, be happier and make life easier Automating my life through habits is my big secret to staying sane. During the summer, I work 10 hour days, have two hour commute and with my lunch hour, I’m gone from my house for at least 13 hours a day. I also write for this blog and And Then We Saved, have some semblance of a social and family life and maintain a relatively healthy lifestyle. But to fit everything in, that doesn’t leave much time to do anything other than sleep. Automating my life has made things so much easier and it’s given me a bit of time back each day. It’s the only reason my brain hasn’t completely gone haywire.

I’ve learned that we humans can only make so many decisions per day and if we waste those precious decision-making skills on something like the lunch menu, we have fewer skills available for something actually important. I’m no psychologist or even an expert, but The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg explains the science (and power!) of habits way better than I ever can. I’d really recommend it.

Even our president knows about the power of habits. Ina 2012 interview for Vanity Fair President Obama was quoted saying, “You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits,” he said. “I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.” I’m not making the important decisions that our president is, but even piddly decisions are exhausting. So to deal with those decisions, I make habits. It’s helped me to save money, be happier and make my life easier. Here’s my best habits:

1. Meal Prep
There’s all kinds of articles out there about how to meal prep. Most of them I find overwhelming and boring. Here’s how I meal prep: On Sunday night I make all my breakfast and lunches for the work week, and then I have a loose idea of the dinner choices. I chose to not make my dinner in advance, because I like variety—it’s the spice of life! But I may do some dinner prep– like cutting up vegetables.

For breakfast I’ll have my crustless quiche. This helps to use up the leftover veggies in the fridge—ensuring that I don’t waste food or money and I start the day with protein and veggies.

For lunch, during the summer, I’ll usually have a large spinach salad with pre-cooked chicken. It doesn’t take long to throw together and it doesn’t get old because I can mix it up with different dressings and toppings. During the winter, I’ll usually have soup or stew made from my trusty crock-pot.

For snacks, I rely on packs of nuts and apples with nutbutters that I keep in my desk at work. I also keep tea and coffee at work for those times when I need a little extra jolt. It keeps me from dropping $5 at my school’s coffee shop.

For dinner I rely on easy staples. I don’t plan in the traditional sense of the word (i.e. there’s no Taco Tuesday) because George and I might be in the mood for tacos on Monday or every other day, we love tacos. Instead, I’ll have a loose idea of what we’ll eat that week. One night will usually be stir fry, the next night will be tacos, another will be fish or chicken and a veggie. We’ll usually have hamburgers and we’ll almost always finish the week with a homemade pizza. Pizza is a treat and it’s our favorite.

One of my favorite tips for these easy dinners is to buy a grocery store roasted chicken. They are tasty, cheap and you can make so many quick, easy meals with them.

2. Lay out your clothes for the week (even gym clothes!)
In the morning, I’m a grump. I admit it. You’ll never see me spring out of bed to greet cartoon bluebirds at my window. I just won’t ever be a morning person and that’s ok. But to make my mornings a little easier, I’ll look at the weather forecast on Sunday; then I lay out my work clothes for the entire work week—including my socks and underwear. When I don’t do this, I end up dressing a lot sloppier than I should. It’s really helped me to up my wardrobe game and I don’t have that panicky “I have nothing to wear” moment in the morning.

I also put all of my gym clothes for the week in my gym bag along with my shoes. When I get home, I take the dirty clothes out of the car and leave the clean clothes and the bag in the car. This means I go to the gym right after work (or during lunch at work) and I don’t have the chance to go home to change. If I have the chance to go home and change clothes it’s a million times harder to go to the gym because my bed just looks too comfortable.

Sidenote: To make this process even easier, I’ve been on the lookout for clothes that can double as work and gym wear. I haven’t come up with much, yoga pants aren’t acceptable at my job, but I’m hopeful! If you have links to (preferably inexpensive) gym clothes that can double as work clothes, link me in comments!

3. Put things in their place
To make things a habit, I’ve found that placing things in a visible or convenient place makes the habit stick faster. To help me to drink more water and kick my vending machine bottled water addiction, I bought a refillable water bottle and I keep it on my work desk at all times. That simple step has helped me to drink more water and has saved me a couple hundred dollars.

Here’s a weird example: I could never remember to pluck my eyebrows and I’d always find weird stray ones when I was sitting in the car before I went in to work in the morning. So I started keeping tweezers in the car and now my eyebrows don’t look like Helga Pataki’s.

I also constantly found myself out-and-about without medicines or Band-Aids, so I made myself an Ouch! Bag to keep in my purse and it’s saved me so much money. By putting things in a convenient place (even if that place is a little unconventional) it’s so much easier to trick your brain into making a habit.

4. Make a list of tomorrow’s to-dos before you leave work
I love a to-do list. But on the days that I forget to make one, I totally notice. I won’t have direction and I’ll spend most of the day putting out fires. (Usually not literally. Although the HVAC system in the library did catch on fire one night. But I left that up to the professionals.)

By making a to-do list before you leave, you also leave that responsibility at work and you’re less likely to worry about forgetting to do something. I’d recommend keeping the to-do list short. I’ve found that three “to-dos” is the perfect number for me. More than that and I’m overwhelmed. Less than that and I’m bored.

5. Do the hard stuff first
I have way more willpower and concentration at 8:00 am than I do at 4:00 pm, that’s why I start my day with the hard stuff. It’s usually the stuff that I really don’t want to do, but as soon as I finish it, I feel better and the rest of the day is a breeze. Some people call this habit, “Eating the Frog.”

I also have a rule that I don’t buy anything after lunch. After lunch I have a lot less willpower. It’s too easy to buy things!

6. Reward yourself
You will never create those hard habits without a reward system. Our bodies crave a reward and when we don’t get that reward we become depressed. Seriously! Give yourself a small reward after you complete a new habit, like a small piece of chocolate after working out. Once you establish the habit (it may take a couple of months) you’ll no longer need the reward because the habit has become, well, a habit!

Even after my habit is established, I also like to give myself healthy rewards. If I finish a project at work, I’ll take a short walk around campus. That way, I get my daily supply of Vitamin D, a little exercise and a reward!

7. Automate your bills and savings
Automating your bills and savings is like a habit that is done for you! There’s no reason to waste time on paying bills if your income is stable. (If your income is unstable, you may want to try the envelope system.) Automate your bill pay through the billing provider or through your bank. It makes life so much easier. It saves paper and stress.

Automating my savings has been one of my best life hacks. The bank automatically pulls a bit of cash from my checking account out each month into another bank account. I have the cash in a separate bank account to take away some of the temptation of spending the money. I don’t even have an ATM card for that bank. I love my Capital One 360 Savings account for this because you can designate pots of money within a savings account. (They didn’t pay me to say this!) For example, I have a little bit of money pulled into a travel fund each month and a house fund. I even had a savings designation for my laser eye surgery!

8. Learn from people who already have it figured out
We’ve all got that friend or relative that has it all figured out. They have their habits down pat. Ask them how they established their habits. The same habit-reward system won’t work for everyone, but I think it’s fascinating to find out how my dad does so much laundry or my mother-in-law manages to hand wash all the dishes after she just made dinner. (Dishes are my kryptonite!)

There’s also some really great literature out there about habits. I can’t recommend Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit more. I’d also recommend Getting Things Done by David Allen. His system to-do system is a little complex, but he offers some great insight into the power of list-making.

9. Keep a journal
One of the best habits I’ve established is keeping a gratitude journal. Each night I write down three things that I’m grateful for. It’s helped me to be happier and more grateful for my life. Even on the bad days, I’ll find something to be happy about and many times on the good days, I’ll write down more than three things. It’s also a habit that has helped me to establish other habits because I can see the positive effects that my habits have on my life. For example, going to yoga made me feel clarity or sweeping the floor made me feel accomplished.

10. Start habits one at a time
I get so excited about starting habits that I want to do all the good habits all at once. But I have so much more success when I start habits one at a time, establish the habit for about a month, then try to incorporate the next habit. We aren’t robots and trying to start five habits is overwhelming. We may do good for a week or so, but then we’ll resort back to our old bad ways because it is too hard. I know. I’ve been there. Take your time establishing a habit before moving on to the next one. You’ll have much more success. Promise.

11.  Delegate
Some tasks aren’t worth your time. They really aren’t. Creating habits and automation will only take you so far when you have a busy life. (And we all have a busy life.) Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it or even hire someone to do it for you. I know it cost money and we’re all trying to save money, but consider if your time would be better spent on other tasks. Figure out what your time is worth with this handy calculator from Learn Vest.

There’s some great services out there to help out busy professionals. Fiverr will help you to do everything from writing a professional bio to creating a logo for, you guessed it, five dollars. To the point where you need an assistant? Virtual Gal Friday can help! For more errand-like tasks, TaskRabbit will help you to outsource household tasks.

12. Forgive yourself and start again
Creating new, positive habits is hard. I still struggle with habits every.single.day. We all have days that just don’t go as planned and we don’t have time to meal prep. Or we fall asleep before we have time to lay out our clothes. (Ahem, me.) But don’t beat yourself up about it. Simply forgive yourself and start again. That’s the great thing about habits. You have the control to pick that habit back up and start again.

How have you established a habit? How have habits bettered your life? Let me know in the comments!

love,
melanie

186 Ways to Save Money

186 Ways to Save Money I’ve been on my saving money quest for about a year now. In that time I have saved enough to go on several trips and beef up an emergency savings fund. I’ve also written quite a bit about saving. So let’s round up those ways to save money and take a stroll down memory lane.

Have trouble saving money? Me too. Below you’ll find easy, painless ways to save without stress.

14 easy ways to save money

7 painless ways to save money

25 ways to save money and de-stress your life

Wasting money on food? Yeah. It happens. Check out these tips for saving money on food and drink. Although I have no problem wasting booze!

8 ways to save money by using leftovers

16 ways to save money on booze

12 ways to eat more meals at home and save some dough

Hobby addict? I got the addiction. And the only cure is these tips.

20 ways to save money on your next road trip

12 ways to save money on gardening supplies

5 ways to save money at the fair

18 ways the library can help you save money

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but if you work for the man you can’t show up to work in your grandma’s hand-me-down muumuu. These links will help.

21 ways to save money on your beauty routine

18 ways to save money on clothing

Getting married soon? Yeah, it’s shockingly expensive. Here’s ways to save.

10 unconventional ways to save money on your wedding

Saving money is great and all, but making money is pretty swell too.

How to make extra money recycling scrap metal

How to make money at flea markets

love,
melanie

18 Tips for Traveling to Memphis, Tennessee

18 tips for traveling to Memphis Tennessee I finally surprised George for his 30th birthday. Big time. With a trip. To Memphis. Because I’m the best wife ever. Surprising George was a huge feat for me. Something always happens and that little stinker somehow figures out his present. Not this time. Oh no. This time I waited until I could hardly stand it anymore (12:01 PM on his birthday) and whipped out those tickets with so much pride.

We had the best time. No stress. Just relaxing and sight seeing. And Memphis is perfect for that. Of course I learned a bunch along the way. And as I learn, I like to share it with you all. Learn from my triumphs and tribulations, folks.

Here’s what I learned along the trip, along with some phone photos because I remembered the camera, but forgot the charger. Story of my life.

1. Memphis is in on Central time (duh!).
I did a lot less planning on this trip because I had to keep it a secret. Much of this trip was loosely planned or not planned at all which was a little nerve-wracking for me. I didn’t even remember that Memphis is on Central time! We went to bed much earlier than many of our Memphis friends, but we got up earlier too and avoided some of the crowds.

Memphis Trolley

The inside of a trolley in Memphis.

2. A downtown trolley ride is a steal.
The downtown trolley in Memphis is a steal. The trolley doesn’t travel very far, just in a large loop around the downtown area and up and down the main drag, but it’s only $1 per ride or $3.50 for a day pass. The trolleys are heated, and beautifully restored. I was ready to move into one, they were that pretty. We even took a ride on the trolley at sunset right by the river. Gorgeous.

3. There are weird alcohol laws in Tennessee.
If you are a drinker, especially a wine drinker, be aware that the alcohol laws in Tennessee prohibit you from buying wine at a convenience or grocery store. You’ll have to visit a liquor store for to purchase wine. And the liquor stores, especially in the downtown area, where we stayed are not plentiful. But you are allowed to enjoy adult beverages on the street. I did some researching and the wine laws may change soon, but as of April 2014, you still can’t easily buy wine in Memphis.

4. There are weird smoking bans.
I’m not a smoker, but apparently in Memphis if the bar, restaurant or establishment is 21 years of age and up (even for breakfast!) people are allowed to smoke. This may have been more of a problem if we were traveling with kids.

5. Be careful if you have food allergies or intolerances.
The food allergy and intolerance wave hasn’t hit the south yet. I love the south, it’s my home, but people are still fairly clueless about food allergies and contamination. And it can be dangerous for folks like me. Almost every single thing was served with a biscuit or on toast. I would suggest doing your research and asking your waitstaff how your food is prepared. Some places surprised me with a gluten-free items that weren’t on the menu.

Beale St. in the morning

Beale St. in the morning

6. Visit Beale Street in the morning to avoid crowds.
Crowds don’t bother George and I, per say, but if we can avoid crowds, we will. Beale Street doesn’t get going until the late afternoon, but if you like to keep it a little quieter, visit Beale Street in the morning. We went about 11:00 am. The bars and restaurants were just opening. Beale Street didn’t get crowded (and obnoxious) until we swung through at 4:00 pm.

7. There’s no breakfast restaurants on Beale Street.
Really. It’s hard to imagine because breakfast food cures hangovers, but there are no restaurants serving breakfast on Beale Street. You’ll have to get a couple of blocks away to get your breakfast fix. We stopped at a little diner called the Bon Ton Cafe, just a short walk away.

Sun Studios 8. You can walk from Beale Street to Sun Studios.
We had debated whether or not to get a car on this trip. It would have been convenient, but after doing the math, I decided against it. Parking fees can be steep and other than Graceland, you can walk to most attractions if you stay in the downtown area. Walking from Beale Street to Sun Studios, for example, was no problem.

9. Be prepared for crowds. Check local events.
I had booked a hotel and bought our plane tickets for this trip months ago. I’m also pretty oblivious to sports. Little did I know that Memphis was one of the hosts for the NCAA tournament. There was an insane amount of people in town for the games. It was also spring break for schools in Arkansas which is right across the river. Luckily I booked early so the hotel rates weren’t outrageous, but the restaurants and the streets were a little overwhelming at times.

Wearing our nerdy headphones at Graceland.

Wearing our nerdy headphones at Graceland.

10. Sun Studios does guided tours. The Graceland tours are self-guided.
I was a little disappointed that the Graceland tour was self-guided. We wore nerdy, Walkman-esque headsets and it was distracting trying to figure out if I was on the correct audio chapter. Sun Studios, on the other hand, had a guided tour. It was obvious that our tour guide had a passion and respect for music history. It made such a difference. She even played a bit of guitar for us! Just get to Sun Studios early. The tours fill up quick and the waiting area is cramped.

11. You can’t walk to Graceland from the downtown areas, but the taxis from Graceland are plentiful.
You’ll probably have to call for a taxi to Graceland, but the taxis will be waiting to whisk you back to your hotel. I considered staying at the Heartbreak Hotel for a night—its right across the street from Graceland, but it was more expensive for us to stay at the hotel than to commute via taxi from downtown.

The living room at Graceland

The living room at Graceland

12. Graceland isn’t open late and it’s smaller than you’d imagine.
I splurged and purchased the “platinum” tickets for Graceland. It was a good decision. In addition to the house, we also visited most of the exhibits. I think I would have been disappointed with the house-only pass. The platinum tickets gave us access to other exhibits where we saw boat loads of costumes, artifacts and videos. It’s also important to note that Graceland is only open 9:00-5:00 pm Monday-Saturday and 9:00-4:00 on Sunday. And the lines can be long.

13. Buy your Graceland tickets online first and pick them up at will-call.
In order to avoid the long lines, I would highly suggest purchasing Graceland tickets in advance. You will avoid the long ticket lines and you might even be able to find an online discount code like I did!

14. For souvenirs, get away from the tourist areas.
I try to stay away from souvenirs. Instead, I take a lot of pictures for mementos. If you must purchase souvenirs in Memphis and in other big cities, get away from tourist areas. The local drugstore or even Wal-Mart will carry similar souvenirs at half the price.

15. Check the weather report, especially if you are staying downtown. The streets fill with water pretty quickly and without boots, your feet will get wet.
I packed in such a hurry that I didn’t even check the weather report. I really wish I had packed boots. It was rainy for two days out of our trip and the older streets of downtown Memphis were filled with water in a matter of minutes. I genuinely thought I might get trench foot from this trip.

16. The highlights of Memphis can be seen in a long weekend, but the museums and sites are plentiful.
There’s plenty to see in Memphis. Memphis is steeped in music and civil rights history. And there’s plenty of museums to prove it. And although there’s much to see, if you get your priorities straight, Memphis can be seen in a long weekend. With just four days in the city, George and I felt like we saw almost everything we wanted to see, but also never felt rushed.

Memphis Skyline from the top of the Peabody hotel.

Memphis Skyline from the top of the Peabody hotel.

17. The view from the top of the Peabody Hotel is the best in the city.
The Peabody Hotel is a sight to see— especially if you appreciate architecture. It’s a seriously majestic hotel in the middle of the city that was built in the opulence of the 1920s. The hotel is also home to live ducks! The view from the top of the hotel is awe-inspiring. On a clear day, you can see all the way across the Mississippi river to Arkansas and most of the city’s sites. And the best part is that the view is free and open to the public!

Ducks in the Peabody Hotel fountain!

Ducks in the Peabody Hotel fountain!

18. If you want to see the ducks march at the Peabody, get there early.
The Peabody Hotel is home to a parade of ducks which at 11 am everyday march from the roof to the fountain in the lobby of the hotel. Then at 5 pm, the ducks are wrangled up and marched back up to the roof. The original ducks were put in the fountain by some boozed up guests who were going to use them as decoys on their fishing trip. Years later, a hotel employee, who was a former Ringling Circus animal trainer, trained the ducks to march on the red carpet and the tradition is carried on to this day. The march is super cute, but a bit crowded. We arrived 30 minutes early to the march and got a pretty good view. But we definitely weren’t the first folks there!

Have you ever been to Memphis? What kind of tips do you have? I’d love to hear them in the comments!

love,
melanie

 

20 Ways to Save Money on Your Next Road Trip

save money on road trip

Picture c/o http://web.archive.org/web/20121219045655/http://usamania.wikispaces.com:80/ released under CC licensing.

This summer George and I are taking a road trip to Florida. We’ve been talking about taking this trip for years and I am so pumped that we finally ponied up and planned the thing. I often visited the gulf coast of Florida on family vacations as a child. And I can.not.wait. to (annoyingly) sing entire Jimmy Buffett albums in the car and experience the first time George swims in the warm, clear water of the gulf.

This isn’t our first road trip. Oh no. One summer I lived in California and we drove all the way across the country. I learned quite a bit about road trippin’ and money from that excursion. This time we won’t be traveling quite as far but my budget is still tight. Here’s some of my best tricks and tips to save money on your (and my!) next road trip.

  1. Plan, plan, plan
    Planning is one of the most important aspects of saving money– especially on a road trip. First, create a list of the stops on the trip. Google Maps has a great multiple destinations feature. Using your ideal stops and mileage,  create a budget. I’ll have more tips about the details of creating a road trip budget tomorrow. Knowing where you are going and how much you think it will cost is one of the most essential ways to keep your road trip on the cheap. 
  2. Travel with friends
    By traveling with several people, you’ll be able to split more of the expenses like fuel and hotel rooms. If you like to do your own thing, just let your group know that you like your space too. There’s no shame in needing a little me time.
  3. Expect the unexpected
    So many unexpected things will happen during a road trip– good and bad. You might have car trouble, prepare for that. You might also see something  so kitschy that you just have to stop. The world’s biggest ball of twine, anyone?!
  4. Pack your own food
    Eating on the road will eat through your budget like pac-man eating dots. By packing your own snacks and some meals, you manage to fight the lure of the gas station pretzel and Slurpee. Some of my favorite road trip snacks are: peanut butter and apples, dehydrated fruits and instant coffee! I’ll, of course, have another post about road trip food closer to my trip.
  5. Eat out for lunch instead of dinner
    There comes a time on the road trip when jerky just isn’t going to cut it. Plus, the local cuisine is part of the experience. To cut down on the cost of eating out, try eating at restaurants for lunch instead of dinner. The prices will be lower at lunch time, but you still will be able to savor that local cuisine.
  6. Grocery stores
    Gas station food isn’t very healthy and it’s expensive to boot. Sometimes eating out isn’t much better. Find the local grocery store for healthy and inexpensive fare. George and I will go to the grocery store as one of the first stops when we get to our destination. We stock up on things we couldn’t pack on our road trip like yogurt or milk and store it in our hotel fridge– if we’re lucky enough to have one. This is great for those late night snacks or hotels where breakfast isn’t free.
  7. Stay with people you know
    Relatives and friends have an obligation to let you stay at their house for free. Kidding. But it never hurts to ask if you can stay with relatives or friends who live in cool locals. Offer to cook dinner for them or do other household chores while you are there. Be a good guest and offer the same in return. 
  8. Stay with people you don’t know
    If you don’t know anyone in your desired travel location, you could always try couch surfing. I’ve never tried it, but if I was going to couch surf, I’d be take precautions. I’d only couch surf  with a friend and through a verified organization like Couchsurfing.org.
  9. Collect experiences, not things
    Stay away from souvenirs. You don’t need them. Rely instead on pictures to remember your trip. If you must bring back something for your loved ones, look for something free and memorable. I brought my mom a rock from our trip to the Grand Canyon. Shells from the beach are another total classic.
  10. Take advantage of your smart phone
    What would I have done traveling without a smart phone? Probably eaten at a bunch of crappy restaurants and seen a lot less sights, that’s what. Yelp is one of my favorite tools for scoping out delicious (and cheap!) restaurants in a new city. I also just downloaded the Gas Buddy app for this trip. Gas Buddy helps you find the cheapest gas in your location.
  11. Make some money on the way
    If you are going to travel a long distance, you might as well make some money while you do it! There are a couple of different ways to make money on your road trip. Barnacle uses drivers to deliver packages all over the U.S. If you have a truck, you could also become a carrier for things like furniture and motor vehicles. Check out U Ship for more details.
  12. Camp along the way
    America is a beautiful country with lots of free or low cost camp sites. Even if you aren’t a happy camper (I’m not!) just knowing that I have a hotel booked for the next few nights would soften the blow of spending a night at a campground. It might soften the blow to my wallet too! Recreation.gov is a great place to start your camp ground search.
  13. Kayak.com
    Kayak is my favorite site for travel discounts because it searches all the major travel sites at once. No more going to Priceline to compare it with Orbitz. Kayak does all the work for you!
  14. Ask hotels for discount
    It never hurts to ask for a discount. I highly recommend AAA for roadside assistance. They’ve helped me when I’ve locked my keys in my car– more than once! With AAA, you’ll often get discounts on hotels too!
  15. Don’t forget stuff for the actual trip
    I never leave for a trip without sunscreen, cash and paper towels. Sunscreen is always more expensive at the beach or touristy locations. My bank’s ATM or a Cash Points may be no where in sight. (I hate ATM fees!) And paper towels are a must for quick clean up in the car. In general, all of these items are going to be cheaper for me to buy at home than to buy on the road.
  16. Pack light(er)
    I know, I know, I just said that you need to bring all kinds of stuff. And you need to bring stuff to a point. But packing light(er) will help you to save on gas. I’d consider things like shoes. Do I need 5 pairs of shoes for this trip? Probably not.
  17. Keep your car in tip top shape
    Before you leave on a road trip, get your car checked out by an expert. There is nothing worse than having to buy a big unexpected thing, like tires, on the road.
  18. Keep your tires properly inflated
    By keeping your tires properly inflated, you’ll save on gas. Properly-inflated tires also are more environmentally friendly and believe it or not, help prevent accidents!  Periodically check them at gas stops and you could save a cost of $300-500 per year!
  19. Maintain steady speed
    Keeping a steady speed is essential for achieving optimal fuel economy. Tests from The Energy Conservation Japan show that “varing your speed up and down between 75 km/h and 85 km/h every 18 seconds can increase your fuel use by 20 percent.” So, put on that cruise control and ease on down the road, baby!
  20. Make travel a priority
    Travel is a big priority in my life. I save for it just as I save for retirement. I don’t want to get to the end of my life and regret not taking George to see the clear, blue-green water of the gulf coast. That’s why each month I sock a little bit away just for travel.

What are your best road trip money saving tips? Let me know in the comments!

love,
melanie

 

Chunky Knit Scarf and Tips for Working with Homespun Yarn

lion brand homespun yarn scarf folded Last time I was at home, my mom was admiring my knit capelet. Ok, so maybe she wasn’t admiring it so much as I was making her model it for me. I mean, she’s my mom, she has to be proud of my work, right? I was being an extremely annoying daughter that day and after I made her model for me, I drug her away from her J.C. Penny couponing to go to Hobby Lobby. It’s right across the street! She picked out some yarn so I could make something for her and man, oh man, my mom paid me back for annoying her. She somehow managed to pick out the most difficult yarn in the store to work with– this Lion Homespun Yarn.

lion brand homespun yarn scarf It’s a really pretty, textured yarn, but man, was it a pain in my tuchas. I found very few tips for working with this yarn online, so I’m sharing with you all what helped me to actually create something with the Lion Brand Homespun Yarn.

1. Work with needles larger than the ones recommended on the package. I ended up using size 19 needles after knitting a giant twisted ball of nothing on smaller needles.

2. Knit with two strands of yarn at the same time. The yarn is naturally twisty, so it twisted onto the other strand of yarn instead of onto itself. This will also make a chunkier knit.

3. Keep going. I abandoned this project several times because after I cast on it looked like a big ol’ mess. Only after I knitted the first few rows, could I see the scarf come together.

homespun yarn scarf I cast on 13 times for this scarf and in the end it turned out to be the perfect size for a chunky knit scarf.

Man, I wish I had this advice weeks ago! Have you ever had adventures with Lion Brand Homespun Yarn? Let me know in the comments!

love,
melanie