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Mom On A Budget

with Ashleigh

Hello! I'm Ashleigh! I live in Michigan with my family of 3 girls (4 year old twins and a 2 year old), husband and abnormally large lab mix. Since I was little, I have loved to save money, but my bargaining skills were kicked up a notch when we found out we were having twins. I can spot a red clearance sticker from a mile away! I write tips and recipes on my blog Being Cheap is Easy and also on Recipes4Living. I love to cook, read, listen to music and watch anything on Bravo (so addicting!). Say hello on Twitter or Instagram!

Mom Beauty Must-Haves! {All Under $10!}

Categories: budget friendly, self care, shopping

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Since I’ve had kids, my beauty routine has drastically changed. Don’t you hate how that happens? I looked down yesterday and realized I was in dire need of a pedi, my eyebrows were crazy and only one of my legs was shaved last shower because chaos happened outside the shower curtain (why can’t the kids give me a 10 minute shower?! I put on Frozen!). Um, gross. Why is it so hard for us to take time for ourselves?!

I turned 30 in January and one of my goals was to get back on track by taking better care of myself. Obviously, it’s a work in progress, but I’m making huge steps! Since February, I’ve been working out 3-4 days a week, tracking all of my food using the MyFitnessPal and eating less cookie dough (I have an addiction, sir!).

Most of us are short on time, so I have some Mom beauty must-haves that are budget friendly AND easy to use! As Heather says on Real Housewives of NYC “ Hollllla!”.

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1. BB Cream. If you are short on time, BB cream is your go-to for awake looking skin. I wash my face and slather this on and I look halfway decent. I’ve tried quite a few varieties, but I have 3 favorites:

· L’Oreal Magic Skin Beautifier BB Cream. If you have combo skin, this is perfect! Some BB creams can be oily, but this is really light. It will match to your skin perfectly too! There are always coupons for this, I usually pay around $6!

· Garnier BB Cream. If you have dry skin, this is for you! I use it in the winter, but it’s a bit oily for my summer needs. Garnier has different types of BB Cream, depending on skin type but I have found all of them to be quite moisturizing. If you have super oily skin, you might want to stick with the L’Oreal version. There are always coupons for this as well, it’s usually around $8.

· Almay Smart Shade CC. Wait for a sale at Walgreens, and you can get this for under $10! I love this for a bit more coverage. It’s light and pairs well with powder. There were $4 off coupons in last Sunday’s paper!

2. Cuticle Oil. I use this before bed and put it all over my nails. Even if you don’t have time for polish, your nails and cuticles will look amazing. Just use with a q-tip and let dry for a minute or two. This also works OVER polish. I get this at Sally Beauty Supply for around $3.

3. Baby Oil Gel. Say buh-bye to dry skin by adding this to your lotion. Works best right after your shower! I usually focus on my legs and extra dry areas, like elbows. The lavender adds a slight scent. My kids use this gel too!

4. Quick exfoliating face mask. This is my go-to mask: 2 teaspoons honey, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon nutmeg. So simple! It exfoliates and helps smooth out skin. Aim for at least once per week! I mix it up and put it on while I’m making dinner. Leave it on for 20 minutes and wipe off with a washcloth.

5. WATER! The best beauty tip for busy moms? DRINK THAT WATER! It will help keep your skin glowing! If you’re not a fan of plain water, make infused water with lemon, mint, strawberries, watermelon, cucumbers or whatever floats your boat! Green tea is great too! I always carry a 24 ounce water bottle with me and I make sure to drink at least 8 ounces before each meal.

What are your go-to beauty products?

Mom on a Budget Style: Spring Edition {Everything under $25!}

Categories: budget friendly, budget skills, shopping, style

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Ahh, Spring has sprung! Okay, not really since I’m looking out my wind

ow at snow on the ground, but there is hope…right?

After a winter of comfy sweaters and boots, Spring is a time to freshen up your wardrobe with bright colors and fresh clothes. Even on a tight budget, many stores have some fun options—all under $25. I’ve scanned a few popular websites for deals…and most of these are available in stores too! Did you know TJ Maxx has a website now?!

From the stores I browsed: American Eagle, Target, Kohls and TJ Maxx, there were some major sales going on! This week (until March 29), Target has Buy 1, Get 50% off clothes and shoes! At American Eagle, they have free shipping on all shoes. Treat yourself this week, Mama!

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Let’s start off with accessories! I love to grab bright scarves and purses to make an outfit more exciting. Plus, you can find cheap earrings or necklaces anywhere! Little touches like that make a big difference—they can take your outfit to the next level. I also love fun headbands for rushed mornings. Big purses can get in the way, try a crossbody and only carry the essentials.

Links (from top to bottom): Target Dash infinity scarf $15, TJ Maxx Buckle Crossbody $20, Target Floral Stripe infinity scarf $15, TJ Maxx Crossbody $20, and American Eagle Striped Scarf $20

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I am so excited to wear flats again after 5+ months of boots! Even if an outfit is plain, a fun flat will really add character. All of the shoes pictured are under $25! Take advantage of the Target Buy 1 Get 50% off sale this week for extra savings. As much as I love flip flops, dressier sandals will make an outfit look more put together.

Links (from top to bottom, clockwise): Target ‘Lady’ Sandals $20, Target Laksha $20, Target Esma Sandal $15 (FYI: I’ve purchased these for the last 3 years and love them!), AE Braided Sandal $25, AE Chambray Flat $25, AE Cap Toe Flat $25 (I also have 3 pairs of these!), AE Printed Espadrille $25

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I am guilty: I love yoga pants and leggings. Hello! They are super comfy! I’ve searched high and low and shockingly, I found my favorite jeans at Kohls & Target…for under $25. Go figure! I love the boyfriend style jean from Target for running errands or school drop-offs…just cuff them and pair with a cute t-shirt and scarf. The skinny jeans from Kohls are Apt 9 and come in various washes. I usually can grab these for about $15 on a 20% off day. When it gets warmer, a maxi skirt is a perfect way to stay comfy, but avoid the yoga pants. Keep your eyes peeled for on Target Cartwheel for extra savings.

Links (from top): Apt 9 Skinny Jeans $25, Target Boyfriend Crop $25 and Target Maxi skirt $18

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I find it’s easy to save on tops: simply stock up on basic colors of a v-neck or scoopneck style at Target or Old Navy! Buy a few cute tops for date nights or other events and dress up the basics with fun accessories. All of the stores I browsed had cute tops under $20! Since it is still chilly, cardigans are great to have on hand…also they can be worn on chilly summer nights. I love the colors they have available of the Target boyfriend style!

Links (counter-clockwise from top): Target v-neck $10 (watch for sales!), TJ Maxx Slub Knit Tee $17, TJ Maxx Geo Tee $20, TJ Maxx Mixed Media $17, TJ Maxx striped shawl cardigan $20 and Target Boyfriend Cardigan $20 (these go on sale for $15 quite frequently!)

Obviously, I’m not saying to go out and buy everything…but Moms need to realize it’s okay to treat yourself sometimes! Watch for sales and coupons and buy a shirt or two–you deserve it!!

What is your seasonal budget?

Coupons 101: Your Budget’s BFF!

Categories: budget skills, coupons, shopping

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A huge part of being on a budget is coupons.  They save you TONS of money!  Not just in the grocery store, either…home and department stores too.

Since I’ve been clipping coupons for decades now (I started at 8…nerd alert!), I have quite a few tricks up my sleeve.

Top 3 sources for coupons:

1. Sunday Newspaper. I always suggest buying one paper per household member, unless there aren’t super great coupons in the paper.  How do you know what’s going to be in the paper each week? Check Sunday Coupon Preview each weekend. For us, that $10 each week equals $100s in coupons.
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16 Awesome Apps For Moms and Kids

Categories: apps, budget friendly, shopping

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I never wanted my kids to be dependent on technology, but last Christmas I reluctantly bought an iPad for the twins to share. Then I got a Kindle as a gift myself. From that point on, we have been obsessed with our devices. I love to use my Kindle and iPad for reading, shopping, looking up recipes and for playing Candy Crush (I’ve been stuck on a level for 3 weeks now!). My girls like to watch movies on Netflix, listen to stories and play games.
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Where You Can Score Free Treats On Your Birthday

Categories: budget skills, self care, shopping

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Today is my 30th birthday!  Woohoo and oh-no all at once!  I know that people keep saying my 30’s will be much better than my 20’s, but it’s just strange!

When I was younger, I was such a birthday diva.  I had weekends of partying to planned, all while wearing a crown.  Now, I just like to get all of the birthday freebies from local stores and restaurants.  Family time is much more fun!  I cannot wait to dig into some confetti cake tonight!

Here’s a list of my favorite birthday freebies:
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6 Tips Hitting Up That Holiday Clearance!

Categories: budget skills, shopping

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I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season!! Didn’t it fly by?! Yesterday, we just relaxed at home and I made a turkey.  It felt amazing to be lazy bums!

Now that the holidays are over, you’re probably thinking “whew, no more shopping for a while!”  Not here.  Aside from hitting up the amazing sales right now for the rock-bottom prices, I have SO many birthdays in the next month and a half to shop for.

Here are some other things you should scope out when browsing the holiday clearance.  (Target is my favorite!)

1.       Non-holiday gift giving items

  • Look for plain white shirt boxes, solid color tissue paper or non-holiday bags
  • Gift sets! I always look for shampoo, men’s shaving kits, body washes. You don’t need to keep them in the given packaging if it’s too holiday themed. Makeup kits are always super cheap too.

2.       Paper goods

  • Napkins, paper towels, plates or baggies. I stocked up last year and have enough for another whole holiday season.

3.       Craft Kits

  • I love the foam winter or snowmen themed stickers to keep the kids busy all winter long. Also, kits can be stored for next holiday season!

4.    Food items

  • Check the expiration dates on cookie mixes and frosting. Most will last through next year. It’s always handy to have extra sugar cookie mixes in the house!

5.      Christmas decorations for next season

  • We are kind of obsessed with the holidays, so I always stock up on lights and decorations once Target hits 70-90% off. Also think about garland and winter themed items that can be used through March.

6.       Clothes!

  • My favorite! Aside from sweaters, think socks, pajamas or outdoor wear: scarves, hats and gloves. With kids, you can never have too many gloves! Old Navy and American Eagle always have awesome clothing deals.

I always wait a day or two for everyone to return everything and for clearance percentages to go down before shopping.  (If you have items to return, do it ASAP though and get store credit to use later when prices keep getting lower).

What clearance finds have you scored lately?

Why You Should Dust Off Your Library Card!

Categories: budget friendly, budget skills, family activities, parenting, shopping

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When I was little, I was such a book worm.  I grew up in a small town and was able to walk to the library whenever I wanted…I couldn’t miss a new Baby-Sitters Club book!  Once I was in college, reading became a chore and the library was for cramming sessions before exams.  It wasn’t until after I had the twins that I started to love reading again.  If you have a family who loves to read or watch movies, the library can really save you tons of money!

I know that you can probably get movies quicker with Redbox, but who remembers to return them on time?  We always pay like $5 for a “free” movie.  With our library, I just put movies or TV shows we want to watch on a hold, even before they are released, and they will alert me when they’re ready.  Yes, we do have to wait for more popular ones…but it’s not a big deal for us.  In the winter, we tend to binge watch a new TV show (we’re on 24 now!) and you can check out whole seasons at a time.

Trying to workout at home?  Before you go off buying every Jillian Michaels DVD at Target (they are all amazing, though!), check them out at the library first!  Our library even has P90X and Insanity!  You can try them out for 3 weeks before investing tons of money.  Plus, it’s good to switch up your routine.  After you return it, get a new one for a well-rounded (and free!) at home workout!  Aside from DVDs, you can also try the Zumba game.  The Wii one is so much fun!
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How to Save on Baby Goods

Categories: budget skills, shopping

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When we found out I was carrying twins, I was already 20 weeks along.  Trying to stay on top of things, we had registered a bit before we found out the sex of the “baby”.  That whole registry went out the window once we knew we had TWO babies to buy for!  Enter panic mode.  Once we took a deep breath, we realized that we needed to learn how to save on baby goods STAT!

If you just found out you’re pregnant (especially for the first time), it can be overwhelming!  It’s a whole new world with stores dedicated exclusively to your little bundle(s) of joy.  I remember the first time I stepped into Babies ‘r Us and I thought I was going to scream.  What were these crazy devices?  Do I really have to spend $20 on socks?!  Trust me: you don’t need half of that crap…nor do you need to spend your life savings.

We bought a stack of baby books at Half Price Books and started reading.
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How To Save On Kids Clothes

Categories: budget friendly, budget skills, parenting, shopping

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I have never been too crazy about brand names.  Don’t get me wrong, if someone gave me a pair of Louboutins, I wouldn’t hate them…but I’m more about fit and quality, not the label.  Whether it’s at Target, Kohls or Macys, if I like something and it’s the right price, I’ll buy it.

The same goes for shopping for my kids.  Since I have three little ones in almost the same size, I tend to shop online when I can.  Most likely, they won’t have enough of the same size at a store, but online I can easily add 2-3 of the same item to my cart.  With the twins, it’s hard to find two of the same size…I tend to buy coordinating items in every color so they can mix and match (they are obsessed with dressing alike right now).

Since I’ve been bargain shopping for clothes since I can remember, I have quite a few tricks up my sleeve.  With kids clothes, shop out of season for stock up items.  In the fall, I buy swim suits, tanks and shorts in the next size up (or whatever size I’m assuming they’ll wear).   In the spring, I’ll grab 80% off long sleeved shirts, snow boots or leggings.  Right after Christmas, I try to snag holiday dresses for next year.  Try to stay with basics, nothing too trendy.  If I see a pair of cute shoes a size or two up at a great price, I’ll buy them also.  Since kids fly through clothes as they get older, it’s nice to have the extras on hand.

I have found that Macys has the best sale prices for kid’s clearance.  Since they always have an extra percentage off, you can score some amazing deals.  When the twins were 1, I scored enough $2.99 jeans to last until they were 3!  Children’s Place and Target are next on my list for clearance, especially after the holidays.

Do you have a junk email?  It’s seriously a lifesaver!  I hated all of the store and deal emails filling up my personal email, so I made a “junk” one.  When I know I’m going to be shopping somewhere, I’ll flag the emails that might have discounts for me to use.  I make sure to sign up for emails from every store I shop at.  Best deals: Kohls, Children’s Place, Gymboree and Old Navy.  Most of the time, you can just show your email in the store on your phone for the discount, no need to print everything! During the holiday season, I make sure to check my junk email daily for flash sales at our favorite stores.

When you’re shopping online, make sure you use Ebates for cash back on your orders and Retail Me Not for updated coupon codes.  For in-store shopping, Target Cartwheel is my favorite.  Before I shop at Target, I print off their online coupons (heads up: they frequently have apparel coupons!) and then while I’m in the store, I scan Cartwheel for extra deals.

Store Brand Clothes I Love:

  • Target Circo & Cherokee
  • Kohls Jumping Beans
  • Kmart Wonder Kids (great for leggings and plain tees!)
  • Meijer Fall’s Creek
  • Babies R Us

I like to try every store brand I see and after a few washes and wears, I’ll judge whether or not we like it.  For the twins, Circo shirts have been great, but Gabby has a longer torso and they end up too short for her.  It will vary by child!  I love Old Navy for trendier pieces, or dresses.

Another hidden clothing gem: Costco.  Don’t buy Carter’s clothes anywhere else!  Nice fleece pajamas are $7.49 right now.  Even with a sale and coupon at Kohls, you can’t beat that.  They also have the 2-piece outfits for super low prices. Did you know that you can buy a Costco gift card to shop there (meaning, you don’t need to be a member!)?  For our family, it’s essential to shop at Costco every month, so we have a membership…but some families might not need the bulk.

As with grocery shopping, I set price goals.  For basic tees, I try to spend around $5, jeans $5-$10, etc.  By watching sales and clearance, you’ll know what a good price is.  When I first had the twins, I had no clue and I would buy Carters items for full price!  Never, ever pay the sticker price for Carters!

What are your shopping tips?

How To Stock Up Your Pantry {On A Budget!}

Categories: budget friendly, budget skills, grocery shopping, shopping

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We lived in an apartment until after Gabby was born, so we never had a ton of storage space…especially in the kitchen.  After moving into a house, I was so excited to stock up our pantry.  Fewer trips to the store were my top priority with 3 kids!

I know a lot of people see those crazy “extreme couponing” shows and look at their pantries.  They are stocked to the ceiling with food and bathroom products.  I really don’t think that’s necessary (who has 8 hours a day to clip coupons and go on those crazy shopping trips, anyway?!).  When I’m stocking up my pantry, I try to aim for 1-2 months of stock-up…if it’s an amazing freebie or deal, maybe enough to use up before it goes bad.  Cooking becomes easier when you have a well-stocked pantry, since it gives you options for a quick dinner!

Here are a few tips to keep your budget low while stocking up!

1. Keep an on-going list of what you use & need. I have a dry erase board on our freezer in the pantry, which has my stock-up list.  When I grab the last of something, I make sure to put it right on the list.  Since I like to keep about a month’s worth of something, I also note how many I should pick up.  Example: pasta sauce we usually get 4 bottles for quick dinners throughout the month.  
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