How to Create an Emergency Fund

How to Create an Emergency Fund

Creating a savings is difficult, especially if you’re already struggling to pay all your bills. You may believe that if you have access to a significant amount of open credit, you don’t really need to build up a savings or emergency fund. But if disaster should hit and you’re forced to put thousands of dollars on a credit card, you could find yourself struggling financially for years.

Creating an emergency savings shouldn’t be overwhelming. Here are some tips and tricks to putting a little bit of cash aside so you can begin developing the emergency savings you need.

Why a Credit Card is NOT a Savings

A credit card can be great for emergency situations. If your car breaks down and you need a quick way to pay an unexpected few hundred dollars, having open credit on a credit card can really save the day.

But this situation is only reliable if you see a payment for that credit card bill in your near future. Whether you have the cash tucked away in the bank or you have the freedom to pull it out of a paycheck, the only time a credit card is a reliable option for an emergency is if you absolutely have a way to pay it off.

The problem with people using a credit card as a way to get themselves out of an emergency is when they can’t afford to pay off their credit card bill. For particularly expensive emergencies, that bill could sit on the credit card for months, or even years, before it is paid away.

Another issue with only relying a credit card is that you’re likely to spend much more to cover the emergency on a credit card than you would if you have the ability to pay with cash. The interest on credit cards can be high, and as you continue to go months and months without paying your debt off, the interest will only continue to grow. If you can’t afford the emergency in the first place, you definitely can’t afford to pay more in interest than you expected.

Continuously avoiding credit card debt will negatively impact your credit. If your credit score gets too low, you will have a difficult time getting new credit cards, purchasing property like cars or houses, or taking out loans for things like education or a mortgage. Emergencies are usually unavoidable, but you don’t want one to ruin the rest of your life financially.

What is an Emergency Savings

An emergency savings is just how it sounds – a savings of funds to be used in the event of an emergency. These emergencies can range everywhere from losing your job, crashing your car, or an unexpected accident that leaves you with expensive medical bills.

It is impossible to be ready for any emergency that comes your way, but one of the best things you can do for yourself and your credit is create an emergency fund to bail you out of any unforgiving financial situations.

How to Grow an Emergency Savings

If you’re already living frugally, you may think you don’t have enough cash to set aside for an emergency fund. But the reality is that any little bit of money adds up and helps in some way. You may be unable to grow your emergency savings large enough to completely cover the cost of any emergency, but if you can reduce the cost put on credit, you’re helping yourself out in some way.

A general rule of thumb on how much money to keep in your emergency fund is around 6 months of living expenses. This includes rent or mortgage payments, car payments, groceries, and any other bill you would absolutely have to pay in those six months. This is your goal amount to always have within this fund, but at the moment it probably seems incredibly far away. Remember, you don’t need to reach this amount overnight, but the sooner you start saving, the better.

Begin saving by making a small goal, maybe one month of rent or mortgage payments. Set aside as much of your paycheck as you think you can do without, even if it is only a few dollars. You can also spend a bit of time each week earning some extra cash and automatically put that aside for savings. As you continue to set aside little bits, you will slowly but surely reach the goal you have made for yourself.

I encourage you to check out this additional posts on how to make “extra cash” in your spare time:

How to Earn $2,200 This Month in Your Spare Time!

How to Make $1,000/month with Affiliate Marketing

Earn Money Writing for Textbroker

Get Paid to Lose Weight with HealthyWage

 

It is also important for you not to view the money you set aside as a typical savings account. Only take money from this particular bank account in the event of a real emergency, which doesn’t include new clothes or a new car. Keep it limited to emergencies only and you’ll have some cash there when a true emergency hits.

For many people without much disposable income, an emergency fund seems like something completely out of reach. While it may take a bit of cutting back and restructuring your budget, you’ll be happy to have a fund of extra cash if you ever find yourself in a tight spot financially. Setting aside just a few dollars a week can get you on track to a decent emergency fund and keep you from making a bad emergency even worse!

Do you have an emergency fund set up yet? Comment below and let me know!

Developing a Moon Jar Mentality

Developing a Moon Jar Mentality

When it comes to teaching children to save money, there are a dozen different ways to do it (and I talk about why you should in a separate post here). I firmly believe in balance, though, whether for your children or for yourself.

My children have had piggy banks for pretty much their entire lives, even though they’ve only recently started to understand what exactly money is (beyond a fun thing to feed the piggy). As their piggy banks became a bit too full with unused change, I decided it was time to take our education a bit further and help them designate what coins should go where.

Note: while this post is not sponsored by the Moon Jar company, I do have Amazon affiliate links within it – all this means is I may make commission on purchases made after clicking my links, this is no way impacts my recommendations or your purchase price.

Enter: the Moon Jar

 

What is a Moon Jar?

“Moon jars” are Spend/Save/Share jars meant to promote financial literacy. When I first read about moon jars, I knew this was something I could create on my own, but I also believe in supporting other small businesses whenever possible, so I opted to purchase an actual moon jar and I’m so glad I did!

Moon jars were first created in February 2012 by a group of three people who very much have the same mentality as you and I – living a thrifty life means living a better life. You can read more about their story here.

As an adult, you too will benefit by adopting a moon jar mentality. Because children often learn financial habits by watching their parents, you can pass along your good habits to your children while improving your own financial situation!

Teaching Your Kids About Money: Why Early Frugality is Key

Creating a Realistic Family Budget

Teaching my children to live thrifty as I do is very important to me, even if they are only 2 and 3 years old. The development of a realistic family budget is a hallmark of financial health, and this is the first step to implement when adopting a moon jar mentality.

You can read more about exactly how to create a budget (and see examples of mine!) by clicking here.

Having a budget can help you to make better financial decisions regarding spending, saving and giving. It can also help you to identify ways to cut back on spending so that more money can be allocated for saving and giving. Some people approach budgeting from the standpoint of being hopeful. For example, you may hope that your income would be at a certain rate, but if you look at the historical pattern, you will see that your income may fall short of that hope. Being realistic about income as well as expenses can help you to more effectively manage your finances.

Ask Kids to Contribute Their Ideas for Budgetary Savings

Part of the moon jar mentality involves cutting back on spending so that more funds can be used for savings and giving. Your kids directly contribute to spending, and this means that they should be included in a family conversation regarding budgetary savings. Talk to your kids about how they use money by keeping lights on in rooms they are not in, spending money at restaurants instead of enjoying meals at home and more. When kids are included in the conversation, they often are willing to contribute personal effort to saving money for the family. In addition, they may even come up with some great ways to save money that you have not yet thought about.

Savings Tracker Worksheet


Make Savings a Habit

While spending is one aspect of the moon jar mentality, saving money is another that requires special attention. Saving money helps families to pay for unexpected expenses as well as to make large purchases. For example, the family may be saving for a new house, for a summer vacation or for a new car. Some parents may prefer to avoid talking to kids about their exact bank account balance. However, you can consider creating a progress chart or graph. Each week or month, you can update it so that your kids can see the progress the family is making toward achieving its goals.

If you’re anything like me, you probably LOVE garage sales, right? My family goes just about every weekend when we have the time! And of course my kids want toys each and every time. Rather than “spoiling” them and risk my house filling up with clutter, I only let them get toys if they have enough in their “spend” section. They are also allowed to pull from their “give/save” fund *IF* they are buying a toy to gift to someone else. Heh I will admit that my son tries to talk me into allowing him to buy presents to “gift” to his sister (when really they’re for him) but after a short conversation, he usually concedes…usually. He is a toddler after all. 😉

Teaching Your Kids About Money: Why Early Frugality is Key

Allocating Funds for Charitable Giving

Charitable giving is an area that many people fall short on. You may love the idea of giving money to a charity regularly, but if you’re still living paycheck-to-paycheck, I get that it can be a struggle. Start by trying to save your leftover change at the end of each day and go from there – you’d be surprised how easy it’ll become to grow that habit of giving!

When you adopt a moon jar mentality and bring the whole family in on the efforts to cut back on spending and to save money, you may find that additional funds are freed up that can be used for charitable giving. You should also include your children on this, such as by asking them about causes they are most interested in and letting them contribute to the act of actually making a financial donation to a relevant organization.

And if you find yourself still shaking your head going “Okay, Amber, great idea, but I seriously don’t have any extra cash to give!” then I very much encourage you to read this post on why I consider giving to be thrifty – if you can’t donate cash, donate time and volunteer with your kids!

A moon jar mentality focuses equally on personal spending, personal saving and charitable giving. When all members of the family are included in this activity in various ways, they can make contributions of their own. More than that, kids can learn excellent financial habits that they can profit from throughout the rest of their lives. So what are you waiting for? Click here to get YOUR moon jar!

Do you yet follow a spend/save/share plan?

Comment below and tell me about it!

Financial Freedom and Mental Health

Financial Freedom and Mental Health

Do you always find yourself with more bills than money? Feel like you are a slave to your debt? It’s no surprise. One of the biggest things us grown folks freak out about is money. Not only is money ruining our fun but it’s also taking a toll on our mental health. Let’s see if we can get your financial freedom and your mental health back in good shape.

It’s all about the money

Money is a driving force for most adults. We need it to eat, feel safe, and care for our family and ourselves. Almost everything we do leads back to money. The decisions we make: if we are having steak or ground beef.  Whether we can go to a movie or go home.  What we can give our kid for birthday presents?  Money has a lot of control.

What happens when money is in control? Our mental health goes downhill.

Stress

Money straight up stresses us out.  And why wouldn’t it?

Stress can cause health problems. You may forgo health care in order to save money.

Spend sleepless nights thinking of all the bills you need to pay.

High stress levels can even effect your appetite. Some people like me crave all the sugary feel good feelings from food, while others forgo eating period.

Stress can cause you to lash out at friends and family.  This will leave you lonely and the people you care about most upset.

Stress can cause you to be unhappy about events or purchases that would normally be seen as positive.  A new pair of shoes, a birthday present from your spouse, going on a date not any fun due to money woes.

Depression

If you are short on cash you may start feeling as if everything is hopeless and fall into depression.  Depression can lead to weight gain, an unhealthy social life, speech problems, and a host of other health issues.

Anxiety

Money problems can make you extremely anxious.  How will you make ends meet, how will your child have a good birthday? Can you really afford to spend money on the extra bottle of shampoo? How will you pay for childcare during the summer?  How will you make ends meet when you are always one step behind?

Overwhelm

Feeling overwhelmed by the amount of money that is always being asked for?  You are not alone.  College loans, medical bills, and mortgages can leave us all with more debt than we can even imagine.  It’s tempting to shy away from the mountain of debt that is looming in front of you.

Resentment

Resentment comes to the table once debt becomes part of a partnership. Partners can start to resent each other if their spending styles are different or if one has more debt than the other. One of you is a spender and one is a saver?  This can cause all kinds of problems in an otherwise healthy relationship.

Anger

I think everything you just read should have made you angry.  You should be, you are busting your booty most days of the week for what?  All this stuff?  All these services?  It just isn’t fair and you are probably about fed up! How does money always have the control?

Fear

What if there is never enough? What if I lose my job and lose my kids and my home?  How will I keep my family safe?  What if they take legal action against me because I cannot get this money monkey off my back?

What if there is no way out?  What is the point of being an adult? It’s awful, such a grind.  Get up get your family ready, go to work, come home and work more, pay bills.  Rinse and repeat.  You may ask yourself, what in the world is the point and why am I living like this.  There has to be something more.

Denial

While some folks think of how much money they don’t have every minute of the day others bury their heads in the sand. Denial only offers a Band-Aid and often leads to a debt avalanche.  What once might have been an easy fix could now take over your entire world.

Shame and embarrassment

Life wasn’t supposed to be like this.  As kids, no one ever told us how much money would control our lives.  Not going out to social events that seem fantastic because you might not be able to pay bills at the end of the month.  Embarrassment when your friends seem to have a glamourous life and you are sitting at the table using a candlestick for light and slurping down some 15 cent ramen because that is what’s left in your budget.

Affecting your quality of life

If you haven’t guessed it, money really screws with your quality of life.  If you let it.  I’m not sure why they don’t teach us this important life skill in school.  We have to learn how to turn the scenario around.   We need to be controlling the money, not the other way around.

How do we make life about enjoyment and not about money?

We have to gain financial freedom. Financial Freedom means something different to everyone.  What you have to do is not let it be a frivolous thought that you are striving for never to reach. Figure out what it means to you:

  •  Go on adventures
  • Learn to play guitar
  • Bake A Cake
  • Curl up and Read a Good Book
  • Take a Hike in the Mountains
  • Travel the World

Balance your monetary goals with your happiness goals for a custom path to financial freedom that is just right for you!

Positive Effects of Financial Freedom

Relief from the money hound breathing down your neck.

Happiness.  You can be thankful and grateful for the gifts you give and receive.  Go out and spend time with friends and family and enjoy yourself to the fullest.

Less worry.  It’s a great feeling not to have to think about your next set of bills putting you one step away from living under the freeway.

Improvements in physical and mental health.  You will have more energy to get up and exercise and you will be in a much better mood.  Good moods breed better sleep, more fulfilment in daily activities, a greater peace of mind leading to less stress and anxiety.  Feelings of safety and security will be yours.

Every day can feel like Christmas.  Wake up early with excitement and wonder.  Not able to contain your joy just to live and experience every day in the moment.

You worry less about being fired, about someone else always controlling your happiness.

To give gifts, travel, help out financially and feel happy and not resentful or worried about it the contributions you made.  Won’t it be great not to worry about paying off the Christmas season for the next six months?

Pay for emergencies. What about the next time an emergency comes up?  Hot water heaters break and can cause havoc, wouldn’t be awesome to have the extra funds so there is no extra burden put on your well-being?

Here are a few tips to get you started on your journey:

  • Pay Bills On Time
  • Don’t spend Money before it comes in
  • Don’t spend all extra money frivolously
  • Try building a safety net, this security blanket will give you some peace of mind and allow you to relax a little, knowing that if an emergency happens you will be somewhat prepared.
  • Make debt payment a priority
  • Don’t owe anyone you don’t have to
  • Make a financial budget and start cutting the fat
  • Pay off the smallest debt first and get yourself a win. Use the payment for the bill you paid off plus the monthly amount for your next smallest bill to make a larger payment and payoff your next smallest bill quicker.

Your Financial Freedom

After food, shelter, and well-being are taken care of what does it take to make you happy? Where are you content? There is only one way to get away from always needing more.

There is no magic number or special level you have to reach.  It’s about what matters to you.  Your financial freedom may be completely different from everyone else you know.  See if you and your spouse can meet in the middle or work toward some common goals and respect each other’s individual goals.

A happy medium is needed to enjoy life because only right now is guaranteed.

You also need to have a safety net because you will most likely have many tomorrows.

I have included some worksheets with this article so you can get started figuring out what financial freedom means to you and how to start seeing improvements in your mental health!

After you have filled out the worksheets you can make a game plan for achieving goals.

Planning with Your Significant Other

Sit down and brainstorm.  This can be silly or serious, hopefully a little of both.

Compromise and plan.  Share your lists and see where they overlap.  Communicate with each other to come up with solutions to difference of opinion.

Guidelines.  Set some rules. You have to stand up for what you believe in and you have to be willing to honor your significant others values as well. In order for the compromises you all reached set up ways you will respect each other’s decisions.  Stick to the rules.  Don’t bully your spouse and don’t allow yourself to be bullied.

If you don’t stick to your guns and allow the other person to take, take and take you will be resentful.  This goes both ways.

Keep the Peace With Your Partner

A solution we have used in the past that has worked really well for us was separate checking accounts for play money.   Make it 100% just yours or 100% just theirs.  This gives everyone some freedom and control.  This is especially great if you and your significant other are very different in what is important and what isn’t.

Everyone will have different opinions just make sure you both stay out of each other’s freedom of choice money. This allows you to buy the new yoga pants you want with no guilt and them to buy that new fishing rod they have been after for so long without getting a tongue lashing about spending bill money.

It’s important that these accounts are used for playing and not your bill pay accounts! This will go against what you are trying to do.  If you spend all your money be patient more will come. Play fair and don’t cheat the system or you will cause more stress and financial unrest in your relationship.

If things aren’t working out maybe your values have changed and you need to refresh your worksheets and have another meeting of the minds.

This is a journey that should develop as your life goes, it isn’t set in stone and can be adapted as long as each party is remembering to respect the other.

This isn’t About Saving Everything Right Now and Being Rich Later

Why I don’t think all your hard earned cash should go towards someday? Three months ago we suffered the most horrible loss of our lives when our son and our best friend died in car accident. Tomorrow is not guaranteed and if you spend all of your time waiting for some day, you are going to miss out on so much. Find your Zen, your comfort level. Learn what you can live without and what you need in your life. Be happy right now.

A glimpse of Financial Freedom through my eyes:

This morning about half way through my shower I stopped to enjoy it. The warmth, the water running over my face with my eyes closed. Being completely at peace and enjoying the moments. Don’t let your life be about someday, make today count.

Enjoying life is the key to mental health and finding your answer for financial freedom is a huge piece of the puzzle. I hope you enjoyed my take on financial freedom for mental health. Check out the free worksheets I created HERE to help you conquer your monetary woes and start creating your financial freedom for an awesome life.

Xoxo, Cynthia

Cynthia Devening is the creator of Devening Fitness, a health and fitness blog sharing weight loss and health tips for busy ladies.  Get started on your health and fitness goals today by signing up for her free beginner’s workout plan.Better your mental health by striving for financial freedom Better your mental health by striving for financial freedom Better your mental health by striving for financial freedom

(April) Fool Yourself Into Saving Money

(April) Fool Yourself Into Saving Money

Saving money tricks are everywhere and let’s face it – you want to save month every month but you don’t. Just like starting that diet or cleaning out that junk drawer, you put it off and think it’ll somehow magically be easier next month.

Newsflash: it won’t get easier until YOU make it a HABIT!

Habits are tricky beasts, though, aren’t they? The bad ones are awful to let go of, the good ones are seemingly impossible to start.

So rather than trying to force yourself into saving money, how about we try fooling you into do it instead?

Here are six “tricky” ways to get into saving money that, when done, will leave you thousands of dollars richer each year and you won’t even realize you’ve done it! Disclaimer: there are affiliate links below – meaning I may make a commission should you click through and invest. This is no way impacts my recommendation of services or products, but it may help fund my coffee addiction.

Do a Savings Challenge

There are a number of different ways to challenge yourself on a regular basis when it comes to saving money. You can adjust any sort of challenge to suit your needs and goals, depending on how much “extra” cash you have each month and how much you want to end the year with. My preferred method is to save $.01 for whatever day of the year it self – i.e. the first week of the year, you save $.28, the second week would be $.77, etc. By the end of the year, you’ll have nearly $700!

I prefer this method above the others because it allows you to start later in the year without your bank account taking a serious hit. For example, even if you started halfway through the year, you’d only need to set aside about $160 to get on track to hitting the year-end goal!

Savings Tracker Worksheet



 

Get a Piggy Bank

Okay, so you don’t have to have an actual piggy bank, an empty mason jar or water jug will do, but let’s face it – if you’re like me, a cute piggy bank (like this insanely adorable Panda one!) will make saving money just a bit more fun. Whatever you decide to use, make sure you actually use it! The easiest way to make this happen is to use cash whenever possible. Not only will the act of using cash help you save money in general – physically giving away cash makes you MUCH more aware of your spending rather than swiping plastic – but you can easily toss all the change you get into the savings vessel of your choice.

After we held a garage sale this summer, we had a lot of change left over – about $60 worth! While it was tempting to take it to the bank with the rest of our profits, I used it as an opportunity to start my own savings bank. Near the end of the year we decided to finally take it in and we ended up with nearly $300 (!!) Talk about a great Christmas bonus!

Don’t Cash Out Constantly

If you use money saving apps like Ibotta, why not actually SAVE that money? With Ibotta specifically, you can’t cash out until you hit $30 anyway. So why not wait and only cash out once a year, putting that money immediately into your savings account? And if you’re not yet familiar with Ibotta, it’s a great way to earn cashback on your groceries – it’s FREE to sign up and you’ll get an automatic $10 back by signing up through my referral link.

Likewise, if you earn cashback on your credit cards, don’t apply it to your card balance! Instead keep it on your card account and when you do cash out, put it in savings.

Personally, I have a Discover IT card because I’ll get DOUBLE all the cash back I earn in the first year but I definitely encourage you to shop around and find a card that best suits your needs. If you’re a hardcore Amazon shopper like I am, the Amazon.com Rewards Visa Card might be a better option for you (both offer a $50 sign-up bonus!)

Provided you use your card wisely, you’ll see a great amount of money suddenly adding up without any extra effort on your part.

Most cards are 1-2% back on everything, and then somewhere between 3% and 5% back on random specific things, like Amazon purchases.

So let’s say you have an Amazon.com Rewards Visa Card like I do and you use it each month to pay for the following bills and purchases:

  • Pet food/supplies, diapers, toilet paper, dry groceries – all Amazon purchases: $200
  • Gas/Transportation: $100
  • Trash Collection: $20
  • Electric: $100
  • Groceries in-store: $400
  • Car insurance: $70
  • TV (hopefully just Netflix/Hulu and not cable!): $15

Provided these are all in your budget as they should be, you will earn nearly $25/month on expenses you had to pay anyway! That’s easily $300/year in your savings!

How to Trick Yourself Into Saving Money

saving money tricks

Round Your Bills

Hopefully you’ve already created a budget. It’s really easy to then go into your budget and round up one or two of your bills. For example, we pay between $96-$180 on our electric bill each month (depending on the season). Rather than trying to guess what our electric bill each month, I budget out $200 for it. Once it’s paid, I then transfer whatever is left into our savings account. This quickly adds up to hundreds of dollars automatically saved every year without having to specifically budget for it.

When you do this with your own budget, limit yourself to just one or two bills that you’ll round up – especially if you have a lot of debt you should otherwise be paying off. Try it with your mortgage or car payment to start!

Buy Gift Cards

If you’re not yet buying discounted gift cards, you NEED to start today. This alone will save you SO much money. Personally I love Raise.com for this. I buy gift cards for gas stations, department stores, restaurants – basically for anywhere I’d be spending money anyways – and automatically save anywhere from 4-10%! Since these purchases would already be in your budget, take the savings from the gift cards and actual save it!

Pro-tip: Use Ebates to save even more! Check out my post on how I’ve earned over $1,000 EASY thanks to Ebates!

Work More

Duh, right? But I don’t necessarily mean get a second job! There are hundreds of different ways to earn a few extra dollars each week and those extra dollars can certainly add up fast over the course of a year. Whether you’re earning via websites like SurveySavvy or InboxDollars, or trying your hand in affiliate marketing, you should save at least half of what you earn. I believe in treating yourself well, so if you are working on a “side hustle”, you don’t have to save it all. As with anything of these tips, use common sense and smart budgeting practices, but don’t be so strict that you cause yourself to splurge.

What ways do YOU save money? Share with me in the comments below!

Get Creative with Pool Noodles

Get Creative with Pool Noodles

You know how everyone uses pool noodles in pools to play? What’s up with that? Slapping water at your sister’s face is so 1990; get with the times and utilize those old pool noodles in an innovative or fun way.

Heh these tips are also helpful if (like me) you happen to have over a dozen pool noodles in your house after a Dr Seuss birthday party

What to Do with Pool Noodles

Pool Noodle Wreath Core

Pinterest is rife with beautiful holiday wreaths and the basis for all of them is a circle. One of the easiest things to work with is foam core, but buying it from a hobby store is more money than it’s worth. Cut a length of pool noodle, make a circle, and duct tape it down and your wreath base is done! Get to crafting!

Pool Noodle Door Jam

Slamming doors can be obnoxious and potentially damaging, especially when you have little kids with little fingers. Take a piece of pool noodle about 10 inches long and cut it lengthwise. The result should be a slit that will fit over your door width, which if placed high on the door will keep it from closing, banging, or annoying your family and out of the reach of nosy babies.

Ideas on reusing pool noodles

Car Seat Balance

When we bought our minivan, we didn’t realize that the bucket seats in back were not going to work well with car seats.  Go figure.

Because of the incline of the seats, they only just barely are balanced properly and when our daughter was first born, her head would immediately slump forward. Our only safe solution was to use a pool noodle. Now I need to note that you should NOT try this tip without making 100% sure it’s safe for your situation – which is why I recommend checking in with your local car seat safety inspection site.

We took a small section of pool noodle – about 9 inches – and placed it under the front of the car seat to keep her head in the best position for safe, comfortable car rides! Again make sure the balance ball on the car seat is in the safe, green zone if you attempt this.

Boot Shape Saver

I only own three kinds of shoes – flats, running shoes, and boots.

As someone who lives thrifty, it’s rare for me to buy new shoes (except for that one incident with a cat…) so keeping my boots tall and beautiful requires some reinforcement at times. Luckily pool noodles are about the perfect width for this process. Top them with a decorative bow, poof, or handle for easy removal and a cute accent for when they’re just sitting around.

Truffula Trees

Ah, the very reason I had to come up with this list in the first place! For my daughter’s 2nd birthday, I created a forest of Truffula Trees for her Dr. Seuss-inspired bash! Pair tissue paper flowers with brightly colored pool noodles and wrap them up diagonally with equally bright duct tape. They’re beautiful, fun, and great decorations for a playroom even after the party is over!

Dr Seuss party ideas on a budget

Pool Noodle Forts

Taking equal lengths of pool noodle and binding them together with tape (using foot long lengths of noodle for the corner braces) can give you the perfect shell to drape a sheet or two over. This creates a big, airy, SAFE fort for you to hide from your kids in. Or for your kids themselves. Whatever you prefer.

Trampoline Safety

A trampoline is a lot of fun until someone falls off or misjudges their jump and lands on the spring coils. Can’t do much about the first but the second is an easy fix with pool noodles! Cut short lengths, long enough to cover each coil, then slit the noodle pieces and slip them on. Soft, foamy, and pretty sturdy, they’ll keep your kids contusion-free (at least from the springs).

Balloon Battles

Everyone knows that “keep the balloon off the ground!” is one of the most entertaining post-party games, regardless of your age. Know what makes it even more fun? Using pool noodles to do so! You could even take it a step further and create a soccer-like game, in which you have two teams trying to knock the balloon into a goal. The options are limitless and the kids will surely go to bed happy but exhausted!

DIY pool noodle ideas

Pool Noodle Sprinkler

First, cap the end of a pool noodle; a large plastic lid and a lot of duct tape is good for this. Next, skewer lots of holes in the length of the noodle. Then, insert a garden hose and turn it on. The water will spray out of your skewer holes and make for a fun summer cooling-off station!

Pool Noodle Painting

Pool noodle DIY ideas

The composition of pool noodles, along with their small size when cut into pieces makes for the perfect stamp for little hands. Cut them into 2-3 inch long sections, grab some fingerpaint and a white poster board from your local dollar store, and you’ve got yourself a good 30 minutes of frugal fun for the kids!

Pool Noodle Bed Bumper

When transitioning into a big-kid bed, our little guy had trouble with moving and rolling around in bed. A solution was to bind about 8 half pool noodles together and it turned into a colorful, fun, and most importantly SOFT headboard for our little guy.

Homemade Race Ramp

Kids love to send their toy cars flying down an incline, but we’re always looking for something better than a poster board. By cutting a pool noodle in half lengthwise, you have to equal race tracks for your little kids’ little cars to zip down, and you can make the tracks longer and longer with the addition of more noodles.

DIY Paint Brush Holder

Cut a short length of pool noodle, and then cut it lengthwise to create a slit that you can slide your paint brush into. This is especially handy if your kids are a bit neurotic like mine and not only refuse to use their fingers to finger paint, but need a new brush for each and every color.

Pool noodle DIY ideas

Noodle Fights

We don’t typically allow for any sort of “weapons” in our house (i.e. Nerf guns and the like) but let’s face it – I have a 5 year old boy and he’s going to use a pool noodle as a sword. So when I saw these handles on Amazon, I had to get ’em. We cut off about 8 inches of pool noodle and then attached them with ease to the handles. The kids love to play pirate with these and should one of the noodles break, they’re easy to replace!

See on Amazon

Pool noodles are surprisingly useful, aren’t they? And this is just a small sampling of the various DIY pool noodle adventures!

Have you ever used pool noodles for something other than poolside fun?

Comment below, I’d love to hear about it!

pool noodle ideas

Throw a Frugal Dr. Seuss Party

Throw a Frugal Dr. Seuss Party

Looking for easy Dr. Seuss birthday party ideas? Dr. Seuss may seem like a cliche party idea, but when Target has a bunch of Dr. Seuss goodies in their dollar bin, what’s a thrifty guardian to do?! So in July of last year, my daughter’s 2nd birthday theme was settled….7 months in advance. Yay for being prepared!

Dr. Seuss birthday party ideas and DIY tips for throwing a cute toddler or child's party on a budget. Throw a birthday party and save money. Learn how to make a Truffula tree, Seuss food, hop on pop, and other frugal party ideas.

 

My daughter turned two this past weekend and luckily she didn’t care much what her decorations looked like, provided there were cupcakes and balloons. So Dr. Seuss it was. Now when I hopped on Amazon to find some decorations, I immediately had to click away (no matter how much I love to shop online!)

$8 for some Dr. Seuss balloons and $23 for a Thing 1 toddler top?? Errhm. No.

I decided to make use of my thrifty skills – and love for crafting – and make all of our decorations. And OH. MY. GOODNESS. I have never been more pleased with myself. I’d also like to note that every single thing I created was made from goodies purchased at the dollar store. #humblebrag

Dr Seuss party ideas on a budget

Dr. Seuss DIY Ideas

My first big project was going to be somehow disguising the weight machine we have in our foyer.

Yes, I said in our foyer.

We got it for free and it definitely helped in my mission to get paid to lose weight! The only downside being that the only place it fit was in our entryway.

“Hello, welcome to our home! Mind the barbells…”

Given that the machine is over 6ft tall, I knew I’d either have to just roll with it or figure out something to cover it really well. So decor piece #1 was…

DIY Truffula Trees

These things were a bit tedious to make but actually a LOT of fun.

You’ll need:

  • Scissors
  • Tissue paper (5 sheets worked well for me)
  • Ribbon or twist-ties
  • Pool noodle
  • Colored duct tape

Simply fold the pieces of tissue paper into an accordion, tie a ribbon around the middle, cut about an inch into each fold, and then fan out! For the “trunk of the tree”, simply wrap tape around the pool noodle and use the last bit to secure the flower to the trunk. Easy to make and a great way to WOW your guests…especially if you have a giant weight set to cover up in the entrance way to your house. (Just me? Weird.)

I had the toddlers paint a few poster boards and used those to make a sort of fort to prop the trees up. The extra trees were placed throughout the house – yes, extra trees. I may have went a bit overboard.

Dr Seuss party ideas on a budget

One of my favorite things about this theme is that the look/feel/font of Seuss is always a bit askew. As someone with ZERO artistic talent (seriously, my 3 year old draws better than me), I very much appreciated my lack of talent as a strength here. We live in a VERY old house – like fully expect newspapers mentioning Lincoln when we finally tear out the walls – so there are many spots in which we have wallpaper peeling or plaster crumbling. I.E. Nothing a poster board with an inspirational Dr. Seuss quote couldn’t cover!

Dr. Seuss Food Ideas

One Fish Two Fish… – Multicolored gold fish in a cute little plastic fish bowl.

Dr Seuss party ideas on a budget

Go Dog Go – Hot dogs cooked in crescent rolls (also known as pigs in a blanket)

Hop on Pop(corn) – we did a popcorn bar for this one. Giant bowl of hot air popcorn with half a dozen topping options: cinnamon sugar, parmesan, butter, garlic salt, and of course MILK DUDS! Yum.

Dr Seuss party ideas on a budget

Green Eggs and Ham – deviled eggs with a bit of blue dye added to the yellow yolks and some rolled deli ham. Easy peasy and delicious!

Lorax – I drew a quick little yellow mustache, a set of eyes, taped them onto a plastic cookie jar, filled it with every child’s favorite snack (CHEESY POOFS!) and VOILA! The Lorax.

Dr Seuss party ideas on a budget

My husband – ever the witty man – did contribute one idea: Yerdle the Turtle soup. Luckily, I’m the one who does the party planning.

Dr. Seuss Birthday Outfit Idea

Once again, I’d like remind you that ALL of this can be found at The Dollar Store. For my daughter’s outfit, I used a red tutu I’d already made for the 4th of July last year and then I bought a red t-shirt. Grabbed a bit of white fabric paint, made myself a nice little circle, grabbed a black permanent marker, and suddenly…she was THING 2! Forget spending $20+ on an outfit when she looked oh-so-stinkin’ cute in one I made for barely $1.

Go Dog Go - Hot dogs cooked in crescent rolls (also known as pigs in a blanket)

Overall, throwing a birthday party – no matter your child’s age – shouldn’t break the bank. Honestly, I can’t remember the decorations from ANY of MY birthday parties, but you know what I DO remember?

Playing tag with my cousins in the backyard.

Meeting the newest additions to the family.

Listening to my crazy uncle rant about Reagan.

Ya know – family stuff 🙂

So while I very much encourage you to make use of your own thrifty skills (and hopefully your local dollar store!), don’t ever forget the purpose of these shindigs – to come together and celebrate life and love.

What are some of your favorite childhood party memories? Decorations or otherwise!