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Get Free United Airlines Miles with Walmart Grocery Pickups!

The following tip was submitted by Kelsey of Orchard Reads

About a year before our 10-year wedding anniversary, my husband and I began dreaming about a celebratory trip to Europe for a few days — just the two of us!

With four kids and one full-time income, we knew we’d have to get creative in order to fund this trip, and we began by researching the best methods to earn points for free flights.

After significant research, we found that United Airlines offers most round-trip flights from the USA to many cities in Europe for 60,000 miles roundtrip. That is significantly less than the corresponding cash rates for both United flights and other airlines, and there are TONS of different ways to earn United Miles — you can go to restaurants, shop at certain retailers, and even take surveys in order to earn free miles.

One of my favorite discoveries about earning United miles is that you can get 450 miles every time you schedule and complete a Walmart grocery pickup order.

I always fill up my Walmart cart on my computer, but then I complete the order through the United MileagePlus X App on my phone. I often do Walmart grocery pickups once a week, which means I earn at least 450 miles each week!

We combined several different methods of earning United miles, and within about a year, both my husband and I were able to save over 60,000 miles each! The miles do not expire for 18 months, but each time I do another Walmart grocery pickup (or earn miles another way), the expiration date moves forward to 18 months from that date.

We are currently continuing to save United Airlines miles so that we can pay for several nights in a hotel on our Europe trip, as well!

Even if you don’t have a lofty goal to fly to Europe and back, United miles can be redeemed for gift cards, rental cars, and more. And if you already do Walmart grocery pickups regularly, you might as well earn 450 miles each and every time you do!

Kelsey is a pastor’s wife, mother of four, book lover, piano teacher, worship leader, and home economist. She writes about her family’s favorite books at Orchard Reads.

When The Thrill of The Hunt Lands You in a House Full of Clutter

Guest post from Julianna of The Simplicity Habit:

Do you love getting great deals? I do!

I’ve always been a frugal person. I was raised in a home where I was taught to budget and manage money well at a young age, and I’ve continued to hone my skills over the years.

It’s a running joke with my family that when anyone gets a great deal, they talk about how proud I will be. And I am! I don’t like wasting money nor do I like hearing when other people have spent too much on something.

The Thrill Of The Hunt

It’s thrilling when I can combine sales and coupons to spend as little as possible.

I once went to Kohls and bought 3 pairs of jeans and another pair of pants for a grand total of $1!

In case you’re wondering how, they were all 90% off combined with a coupon and a $10 gift card for it being my birthday month… and yes, I saved that receipt like it was a trophy.

Clutter Accumulation

While I still enjoy the thrill of the hunt and pride myself on finding deals, I realized these deals came at a cost.

I’d buy things I didn’t truly love or even want sometimes because they were a good deal. This was the first way I started to accumulate clutter.

The second way was from my creative endeavors. Over the years, I’ve tried a few different things including photography, sewing baby blanket sets, and furniture and thrift store finds flipping. Each of those came with a slew of supplies. I got everything on sale or even free.

In the end, it all became a stockpile of clutter in my home — to the point where I was no longer able to park even 1 car in our 3 car garage. Yikes!

Decluttering

Ironically, as I was stockpiling, I began reading books about decluttering my home and life. I had gotten to a point where I was so weighed down by the stuff that I knew things needed to change.

This journey brought me to my work now, which is as a professional declutterer and writer.

I learned a lot going through the process of decluttering my home, and while I still hold onto my deal-finding ways tightly, I’ve learned to be more mindful in what I purchase.

Before buying anything, I ask myself these 5 questions:

  1. Do I really want or need this?
  2. Am I settling?
  3. Will we be able to use this before it goes bad?
  4. Do I have the space to store this?
  5. What will it cost me?

1. Do I really want or need this?

It’s so tempting to buy something because it’s a great deal. There’s often scarcity with the product being on sale for a limited time or with limited quantities. and I don’t make the best decisions when I feel stressed.

If it’s something I already planned to buy then yes, I’ll snatch up that great deal. If not, I choose not to buy on impulse anymore. That landed me in a house full of clutter and I don’t want to repeat that mistake.

2. Am I settling?

Do you ever go shopping for a specific item and end up settling for something that wasn’t quite right because it was the closest thing you could find? For me, that always ended with money wasted and an item that became clutter.

I’m quite opinionated so if I don’t love something, I don’t want it. I don’t want to wear clothes that almost fit. There’s nothing more annoying than having to constantly adjust clothing. Don’t settle for good enough.

3. Will we be able to use this before it goes bad?

I ask this question primarily for food, but it works for anything that can expire. It’s awesome to get great deals on produce. It’s less awesome when that deal is rotting in your fridge a week later.

Be realistic about what you can use in the amount of time you have before it will go bad. Some things can be frozen and other things can’t. Be wise so that you aren’t wasteful.

4. Do I have the space to store this?

Along with using it before it goes bad, don’t intend to freeze a ton of meat if you have a tiny freezer. Know your space limitations. This can happen for things that don’t expire as well.

You know it’s turning into a problem when you’ve installed racks in your bedroom to store your toilet paper overstock because you found such a great deal. If you ever watched that extreme couponing show, you know what I’m talking about.

5. What will it cost me?

When shopping locally, consider the cost of gas and your time.

Yesterday I bought some applesauce pouches that were on clearance. I briefly considered driving to additional locations to buy more, but realized it wasn’t worth the cost in gas or my time.

The things we own don’t just cost us money. Once you bring something into your home it takes your time and energy to clean, maintain, and store it.

If you’re feeling burdened by your home and are suffocating underneath the clutter, it’s costing you breathing room and your peace. In trying to find my balance between simplicity and frugality, I started shopping less and being much more intentional with my choices.

I will always be a deal hunter, but I’m more thoughtful in what I buy so that the thrill of the hunt will never again land me in a house full of clutter.

Julianna Poplin is a wife, mom, professional declutter, and writer at The Simplicity Habit. She writes to encourage moms who want to declutter and simplify their homes and lives.

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10 Ways to Save on Visiting National Park with Kids

If you love visiting national parks or have always wanted to visit some, then be sure to check out these great ways to save on visiting National Parks with kids!

{Looking for more budget-friendly tips on vacationing as a family? Check out our posts on Creative Ways to Fund Family Vacations, Tips to Plan a Memorable Vacation Without Spending a Fortune, and Money-Saving Vacation Tips.}

Save on National Parks with Kids

Guest post from Brigitte of BrigitteBrulz.com

Did you know there are over 400 National Park Sites in the United States?!

This includes national historic sites, national recreational areas, national sea shores, national monuments, and just over 60 national parks that you can explore with your family. Check out the National Park Service’s website to find one near you (or for your next vacation).

If you love traveling and adventuring as a family, then be sure to check out these 10 ways to save on visiting National Parks with kids!

1. Purchase or Sign Up for an Annual Pass

Families who frequent national parks that charge a fee may benefit from an annual pass, which is good for 12 months from the purchase month.

Seniors (ages 62+) can take advantage of an annual pass (or even a lifetime pass) aimed specifically at them for an even steeper discount. The senior pass will cover the cost of everyone in a non-commercial vehicle if the site has a per vehicle charge. Great way to enjoy some time with grandkids!

Families with a fourth grader can enjoy free entry at hundreds of locations from September through August by getting a free annual pass through the Every Kid in a Park program. Even homeschooling families with a fourth grader can take advantage of this opportunity!

Active duty military members (and their dependents) can receive free annual passes for many sites. Just ask for a U.S. military annual pass.

Even if your family has an annual pass, it is still advisable to parks ahead of time to ensure the pass is accepted at that location.

View from Effigy Mounds

2. Go on Free Days

If you don’t plan to visit the national parks multiple times in a 12 month span, an annual pass may not make sense for your family.

Instead, check to see if they offer any free days. It’s suggested to arrive early and be prepared for large crowds of people on these days!

(NOTE: Some national sites are free all year round.)

3. Check the Events Calendar

Junior Ranger days, astronomy programs, family days, historic days, nature walks, sled dog demonstrations, movies, archaeology days, and photography walks are just a few of the low cost or even free events offered throughout the year at national sites.

Schedule your visits accordingly by checking the events calendar.

4. Check out the Junior Ranger Program

Kids may enjoy participating in the free Junior Ranger Program where they can complete fun yet educational activities and earn badges at each national park.

Even kids who don’t have an opportunity to visit many national parks can earn badges at home! They can complete booklets about bats, archaeology, caves, the Underground Railroad, and more.

National Parks Junior Ranger Badge

5. Create a Webrangers Account

Kids (and even interested adults) can earn virtual badges and rewards as they complete activities while learning about people, history, animals, nature, science, puzzles, and parks through the Webrangers program.

Registration is free and simple- just create a user ID and password. Once an account has been created, all of the completed activities are saved so progress can easily be tracked.

Kids can even have fun personalizing their own virtual ranger station! They get to choose a theme and customize the walls, shelves, chair, desk, floor, picture, and window view. What a great way to get kids excited about visiting National Parks and learning more!

6. Carpool

By carpooling with others, you can split the cost of the entrance fee if the site charges a per vehicle fee.

7. Stop by the Visitor’s Center

Visitor’s centers often provide free maps, guides, suggested tips, exhibits, and even videos to ensure you get the most out of your visit.

woods in a national park

8. Talk to Park Rangers

Park rangers are often quite knowledgeable about the area and can offer additional suggestions and information about the site.

You may even be able to get a personal tour if you ask (particularly on a non-busy day)!

9. Plan Ahead

Be sure to ceck out the site’s “plan your visit” section! It’s full of great information about fees, hours, things to do, suggestions, and more to make the most out of your visit. It’s helpful to have an idea of what you want to see ahead of time since some parks are so big!

Also, check the weather to ensure you are wearing weather-appropriate clothing for the day.

Walking Stick in a national park

10. Bring Supplies

Besides wearing weather-appropriate clothing, comfortable footwear, and a hat, it may be beneficial to bring water, a camera, sunglasses, bug spray, and sunscreen.

Finally, don’t take a bag for collecting specimens since it is illegal to remove items from national sites.

Instead, bring a bag for any trash you may have. And take pictures of all of the neat rocks, shells, and leaves if you want a record of them!

What other tips do you have for visiting National Parks with kids?

Brigitte Brulz is a homeschooling mom, creator of the Adventure Writing Prompt Journal, author of the book Pickles, Pickles, I Like Pickles, and freelance writer. She offers free coloring pages, activity ideas, and more on her website at BrigitteBrulz.com.

More Budget-Friendly Vacation Tips:

6 Ways to Save Money at Culver’s

Love Culver’s? Don’t miss out on these 6 easy ways to save money at Culver’s!

{Also be sure to check out 16 Ways to Save More at Restaurants and our Master List of Restaurants Where Kids Eat Free!}

6 Ways to Save Money At Culver's

Guest post from Brigitte of BrigitteBrulz.com

Ask anyone in my immediate family what their favorite restaurant is and Culver’s is the answer! It’s something we all agree on!

What’s not to love about ButterBurgers and fresh frozen custard? Well, if you are on a tight budget… possibly the price.

On the rare occasion my family does go out to eat, we often end up at Culver’s. As a result, I have learned a few tips to save money on those Culver’s visits.

1. Buy kid’s meals.

One of the easiest ways to save money at Culver’s is to eat kid’s meals.

Even adults can purchase a kid’s meal at all of the Culver’s I have visited. Less calories, less cost, and enough to fill my belly (but not my husband’s who does order from the “adult” menu).

Each kid’s meal automatically comes with a coupon for a free scoop of custard and a Scoopie token. Just don’t forget to take the coupon and token off the side of the kid’s meal bag before throwing it away!

You can save ten Scoopie tokens to get a free kid’s meal later. You can also save the free scoop of custard coupon for a future visit. It’s nice being able to go out as a treat for just custard and not having to pay anything! I keep the coupons and tokens in an envelope in my purse (along with gift cards) until I am ready to use them.

If you are automatically charged for a drink with the kid’s meal but prefer water, you can ask for a cup for water (free) and bring the carton of milk (included in the meal) home to use later.

2. Sign up for their e-mail list.

If you want to save money at Culver’s, be sure to sign up for their email list!

Those signed up for a free MyCulver’s account receive coupons, updates, a monthly flavor forecast, and coupons for free custard on each family member’s birthday by email.

The monthly flavor forecast gives you a calendar of the “flavor of the day” for each day of the month for your local Culver’s. Just keep in mind those flavors are only for your local Culver’s. If you are traveling, you can find the flavor of the day for any other Culver’s on the Culver’s website or the Culver’s App.

3. Purchase Culver’s gift cards during the holidays.

Culver’s typically runs a promotional deal on gift cards just before Christmas. For each gift card you purchase (at the amount required), you receive a free value basket coupon.

You can keep the free value basket coupon for yourself and give the gift card to someone else for Christmas. You can also purchase the gift cards for yourself to use throughout the year (and still keep the free value basket coupons)!

4. Use expired coupons.

One of my tricks to save money at Culver’s is to not throw away my expired Culver’s coupons!

You may want to ask your local Culver’s if they will accept expired coupons, but all of the ones I have asked have accepted them.

The birthday coupons for free custard typically state they expire in two weeks. The free value basket coupons received with the gift cards at the end of the year typically state they expire at the end of February. BUT, since my local Culver’s accepts expired coupons, I don’t have to use them (or throw them away) until we are ready to use them.

5. Fill out the survey on your receipt.

Sometimes the receipts will have information about taking an online survey. If your receipt does, you can go online, answer the questions about your recent visit, and receive a code for a free scoop of custard.

Write the code at the bottom of the receipt and bring it in the next time you want a a scoop of custard (possibly on a day that has your favorite flavor of the day).

6. Only go if you have coupons and/or gift cards.

I typically purchase a set number of gift cards at the end of the year (when Culver’s has their gift card promotion) using money set aside for that.

We also get Culver’s gift cards as gifts from others who know we enjoy Culver’s. Those gift cards and coupons last us for the entire next year of Culver’s visits.

If we don’t have a gift card or free custard/free value basket coupons, we don’t go!

What are your best tips to save money at Culver’s — or your favorite restaurant?

Brigitte Brulz is a homeschooling mom, creator of Reading Journals for kids, author of the book Pickles, Pickles, I Like Pickles, and freelance writer. She offers free coloring pages, activity ideas, and more on her website at www.brigittebrulz.com.

How to Homeschool for Free or Cheap

Interested in homeschooling but afraid it might break your family’s budget? Read this post for some really great tips on how to homeschool for free — or very close to free!

{Don’t miss our weekly round-up of all the best FREE homeschool curriculum & resources! And you can also check out my Top 10 Favorite Free Homeschool Sites here.}

How to homeschool for free

Guest post from Jessica of Where’d My Sanity Go:

Yes! It is possible to homeschool for free or cheap!

Once you dig into all the homeschool curriculum products available, it can be overwhelming. When you check out the prices on those bad boys, it can get scary.

Don’t worry though, there are a lot of ways to give your child a great education at an affordable price. Some of the homeschool lessons and curriculums we use are completely free!

So if you’re wondering how to homeschool for free, here are my top tips…

Use what you’ve got:

Search your home for any books you may have forgotten about.

When I started out, I had no idea how I was going to afford all the things I thought I needed.

Luckily, my son had a ton of nature and science books already. I used these to build a few of my lessons for him, and we had a set of dictionaries we used for spelling lessons and other subjects.

Borrow:

If you already know of other homeschool families in your are, ask them if they have any old schoolbooks or homeschooling curriculum books they aren’t using and that you might borrow for a while.

If you’re not familiar with any other homeschool families in the area, look on Facebook for local homeschool groups or ask your friends and family, your church, or even your local schools.

When I pulled my son out of public school, they were kind enough to give me some information about local homeschool programs.

Shop for used books:

Check local garage sales, used bookstores, and other local stores for discounted items.

Join a few Facebook groups where people are selling their used homeschool books for dirt cheap. I have saved so much money by doing this and hardly ever purchase anything brand new. Before buying anything, I always first search for used homeschool supplies or books.

Utilize free homeschool resources

There are tons of free online homeschool curriculum options out there. You don’t have to stick with just one either, you can take different lessons from multiple online curriculums to fit your educational outline.

A few popular free curriculums:

  • Easy Peasy – All In One Homeschool – 180-day lesson plans for PreK-8th. (this is one of our favorites)
  • Khan Academy – Free online lessons for just about any subject.
  • K12.com – Independent teacher-led courses for homeschoolers.
  • YouTube — there are a ton of educational YouTube channels out there that are perfect for supplementing your homeschool curriculum. You can find different channels that range from preschool to high school subjects.

Finding affordable or free homeschool educational materials or curriculum is not as hard as you think!

I recommend scouring the internet to find out what’s available. Join local homeschool groups, find local Facebook groups, etc.

Several of our local homeschool families often get together for different field trips — many places even offer homeschooling families a discount on tickets!

Do you have any other advice on how to homeschool for free? I’d love to hear in the comments!

Jessica Fuqua is the owner/editor of Where’d My Sanity Go, where she often writes about family, parenting, and homeschooling.

5 Unique Ways To Make Money Cleaning Your Home

Are you looking for unique ways to make money from home? Did you know that you can make a nice chunk of change just by taking stock of what you already have, staying organized, and decluttering regularly?

{Looking for other unique ways to make money? Check out our list of over 40 different income-earning ideas!}

Make Money Cleaning Your Home

Guest post from Rebekah of The Tex-Mex Mom:

I’ve never really loved cleaning. I love a clean room for sure, but cleaning? It’s not really my favorite.

One thing I do love, though, is finding ways to make money from home!

Did you know that you can make money cleaning your own home? Yes, you can! How’s that for cleaning motivation?

Here are some of my favorite ways to make money cleaning your own home…

1. Collect spare change

As you clean your home, make it your goal to see how much spare change you can find.

Good spots for finding random change in my home are:

  • under the couch (along with who knows what else!)
  • at the bottom of the purse and diaper bag
  • in the laundry room
  • in random pants and jacket pockets

I’ve even found a few stray bills on occasion – that’s always a big win! You might be amazed how much spare change you can collect when you intentionally look for it.

2. Make the most of your receipts

If you’re like me, you probably have way too many old receipts that need to be cleaned out. Before just throwing them all out, scan some of your recent ones into a shopping app like Ibotta or Fetch.

Take Fetch for example: You can usually get between 2-4k points just for downloading it and using it the first time. Quickly scan a couple receipts and you’ll have enough points to cash out a $5 gift card (5k points) right away!

I will say that the amount of points or dollars back that shopping apps give you tend to decrease after using the apps awhile, but they’re definitely worth downloading at least for the beginning bonuses.

3. Clean out your closet

Closets have a way of starting to overflow after a while!

Take some time to clean out your own or your kids’ closets. Pull out any clothes you no longer need and set aside the nice pieces to take to a consignment store.

I have earned an easy $10 to $25 multiple times by selling clothes we are no longer wearing!

You can also sell online through places like ThredUp or through the Poshmark app.

4. Say goodbye to books you never read

While you’re dusting your bookshelf, pull out the books you know you’ll never read again and post them for sale on Amazon.

My husband did this a few weeks ago and was amazed how many books he sold. You may not make big bucks, but every little bit helps!

5. Sort through your DVDs and Blu-rays

Ready for my favorite tip to make money from home while cleaning? (I’m pretty proud of this one.) My husband and I took some time last week to clean out and organize our DVD collection. We decided to put them all in an album and get rid of the cases. I don’t know why it took us so long to do this — it saves so much space!!

As I was organizing the DVDs I realized we had several Disney movies that came with both a DVD and a Blu-ray disk — and we’d never even touched the Blu-rays. We stuck the Blu-rays back in their original cases and posted them on Facebook Marketplace (obviously with the disclaimer that they did not include the DVD.) They all sold right away. Score!

6. Take stock of what you already have

This is more of a tip for saving money, but that’s just as important right?

When you’re cleaning out the space under your kitchen and bathroom sinks, take careful stock of what you already have. If you’re like me you probably have more spare toiletries and cleaning supplies hidden in there than you realized!

Taking stock of what you already have and organizing it will keep you from spending money unnecessarily!

While I still don’t love cleaning, finding ways to make money from home has definitely given me more motivation to clean!

Have you found ways to make money from home while cleaning? I’d love to hear them!

I’m Rebekah, wife to Pablo and mom to three little kiddos. I enjoy staying home with my kids, teaching English online with VIPKID, and reading new books when I get a chance. I love to write about motherhood, frugal living, and everything else that pops into my head on my blog, The Tex-Mex Mom.

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