Category Archives: Finances

Tips for shopping thrift & consignment stores

Tips for shopping thrift & consignment stores


I discovered consignment and thrift shops in college when my husband and I were newlyweds.  Now that we have two little boys, saving money has been equally as important as it was then.  It took me a little while to get the most out of my shopping trips, but I finally have it down!  Here are a few tips and tricks I follow as I shop:


Make a list.  When trying to save money, there’s nothing worse than spending extra money on things you don’t need.  Make a list of the items you are in need of and colors to keep an eye out for (especially for home decor).  You will often find deals you have a hard time passing up, so remember your initial goal – to save money!


Visit often.  The selection changes on a daily basis at most secondhand stores.  And if you plan to go back for an item, don’t hold your breath because someone else may have picked it up already.


Keep an eye out for sales. Some of my local thrift stores have “color of the week” sales where the tags that match the color advertised are 50% off.  Another has a $0.69 sale on Saturdays, along with other unadvertised sales.  You can look up your stores’ phone numbers online or in a phone book and call ahead of time to find out what the sale is today.  Many stores often have a Facebook page or other social media they post their deals to…and even some of their favorite new items! 


Price check.  I have occasionally found items priced at or higher than new retail price.  If you have a smart phone, you can Google the item to determine whether that seems to be a reasonable price or not.  Consignment stores also run higher prices than thrift stores so make sure you only pay the amount you are comfortable with.


Check the items!  Always check for stains, holes, missing pieces or other damage.  Sometimes employees miss something that could be detrimental to the product.


Stay open minded. If you can make simple changes to an item of clothing that doesn’t fit absolutely perfect, don’t toss it aside.  There are hundreds of ideas on Pinterest for upcycling, mending, or modifying clothing, furniture, or other odds and ins.  There are some amazing ideas out there!


Have patience!  The selection depends on the donations or consignors.  Maybe you didn’t find what you wanted today, but keep trying!  The organization of many secondhand stores is also difficult to get used to as a new shopper, as each item is different and you will have to thumb through clothing and take some time to look through.

Teaching Music from Home: A Challenging Yet Rewarding Path

Teaching Music from Home: A Challenging but Rewarding Path


As a stay at home mom, I’m always looking for sources of supplementary income.  For some it is a necessity, for others it is simply to afford the “extras” in life.  But what are the best ways to work from home?  It really depends on your skills.  Today, we’re talking about musicians!

It’s no secret: Earning an income as a professional musician is no easy task. Your dream of filling concert halls or stadiums may keep your passion alive, but it is still important to keep the lights on and food in the fridge.

Many talented musicians – even well-established ones – turn to teaching as a means of paying the bills, or just to acquire supplemental income. In addition to the financial benefits, teaching music is a rewarding opportunity to help students improve their skills. Watching your pupils progress and make breakthroughs in their studies is a real joy, but this requires a great deal of patience and hard work on the part of both the student and teacher.

Are you a musician who needs extra income? Teaching may be a smart option, but before you start handing out flyers and posting ads on Craigslist, you should investigate the options for teaching online classes. This way, you can reach a broad audience of music enthusiasts from the convenience of your own home.


Where Do I Find Students Online?
There are a number of referral services on the Internet that match students and teachers. Many are based in a specific location or region, and you will want to search for such services in your area. Those associated with colleges generally only list alumni of that school, and if you attended college, you should check to see if your institution has an alumni listing.

There are also several nationwide listing services. One of the better-known and recognized music teaching platforms is

LessonRating has been praised in a number of blog reviews, including this editorial entitled “Learning an Instrument: Yes You Can” at With LessonRating, you can get your name out there and set the foundation for long-term success as a music teacher.


How Do Online Music Teaching Platforms Work?
This varies from site to site. For example, in the case of LessonRating, you simply go to the website at

There are varying tiers that you may sign up for, and some of them have a fee attached. Fees range from free to about $100.

You can conduct lessons in your home, the student’s home or via Skype. Be aware, though, that there is an art to working from home successfully. Here is a great resource on this topic: How to Find Your Work at Home Groove.

Once you’ve been listed and have managed to attract some students, they have the opportunity to rate your abilities as a teacher. Building a good reputation on these sites can help you attract more business and may allow you to charge extra for your services.

How Much Will I Make?

This varies from service to service, and it largely depends on your abilities and qualifications. But you should be able to bring in a minimum of $20 per hour – sometimes significantly more.

If you feel that teaching music is a good way to earn a living, get your name out there and give yourself a little time to build a clientele. This can be an immensely rewarding opportunity both for yourself and for those whom you will teach.


Ways to Save on Healthcare Expenses

Ways to save on healthcare expenses - pin and save for later!


Healthcare is expensive and it’s not getting any cheaper. It’s a sad reality, but some people spend thousands every year just on healthcare. Between monthly premiums, deductibles, prescriptions and office visits, the cost of staying healthy might be equivalent to the cost of rent or a car payment.

Unfortunately, healthcare is something we all need — it protects us from “financial hardship due to unforeseen illness or injury,” says USHealth Group. However, protecting yourself and family doesn’t mean you have to go broke. There are steps you can take to save money and reduce how much you spend out-of-pocket.


  1. Compare health insurance rates

Not all health insurance plans are created equal, and health insurance premiums vary greatly by provider. So don’t get an insurance policy from the first (and only) company you contact. Compare rates with at least three to four health insurance providers, and you should also compare different plans within a company.

Some health plans cover everything, but you’ll also pay more. You can save by only getting the coverage you need. For example, a single guy doesn’t need a maternity rider. And if you have dental insurance provided by your employer or a discount dental plan, you can skip the dental rider when buying health insurance and save.


  1. Get a higher deductible health plan

The deductible is what you pay out-of-pocket each year before your insurance kicks in. Some people choose a plan with the lowest possible deductible, but this also results in paying a higher premium. This is a smart move if you don’t have a lot of cash saved up. But if you have several thousand dollars in your savings account, it might be better to choose a higher deductible plan to get a lower premium. For example, a family of three might pay $700 a month and have a $2,000 deductible. However, a plan with a $4,000 deductible might drop the monthly premium to $500 a month.


  1. Get preventative care

Under the Affordable Care Act, you don’t have to pay for preventative care like annual physicals, colon cancer screenings, mammograms, etc. Early screenings are one of the best ways to diagnose illnesses early and prevent illnesses, which can reduce long-term medical expenses.


  1. Don’t ignore symptoms

Some people ignore unusual health symptoms for as long as they can. But the longer you wait to bring a problem to your doctor’s attention, the more complicated the problem can become. If ignored, a health issue that started off as an easily treatable condition can quickly become a costly burden. Complications might trigger more testing, surgery, ongoing follow-up care or a more expensive treatment plan that hits your pocket hard.


  1. Maintain a healthy lifestyle

The healthier you are, the less time you’ll spend in a doctor’s office. For a healthier lifestyle, it’s important to exercise at least three or four times a week. Getting as little as 20 to 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week can reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Also, eat a healthy diet. This includes fruits, vegetables, lean meats and whole grains. Reduce your sodium intake to no more than 2,500 mg a day, and make sure you’re drinking plenty of water. It’s also important to stop smoking and limit your alcohol consumption. Men should have no more than two alcohol beverages a day, and women no more than one alcohol beverage per day.

Health insurance is something we all need, and there’s no denying the security it brings. USHealth Group insurance “provide peace of mind in keeping the promise of financial protection afforded by our insurance coverages.” Nonetheless, healthcare can drain our pockets and leave us broke. But if you take preventative measures, compare health insurance plans and maintain a healthy lifestyle, you can potentially reduce how much you spend out-of-pocket on health expenses.


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