Monthly Budget Ideas: Template and Strategies to Stay on Track

by Savings Lifestyle: Andrea

Within the past few months, I've had a conversation with multiple people about budgeting. I don't think I'm an expert by any means, but we've been through a big debt payoff, a job loss, and other financial circumstances, and have managed by having a monthly budget in place.

Budgeting Spreadsheet - Monthly Expenses

Keep it Simple (KISS)

The advice I give to everyone starts with simplicity. Keep all your bills on a spreadsheet or in a notebook. List the name, due date and amount; you can add other information if you need it. Pay attention to the due dates so you never miss a payment and incur late fees.

I will be honest and say that I've paid more than my fair share of late fees. Not because we had insufficient funds, but because I was busy with so many other things. Consider adding items to a calendar so this doesn't happen to you.

Free Budget Worksheet

Create a Bill Paying Process

Pay all your monthly bills that have a fixed amount like your rent or mortgage first and then go in and pay your other monthly bills. Fixed bills are usually the most expensive and are always due on the same day every month. We have the fixed bills set to auto-pay which is super convenient if your online bill pay/bank offers this.

Pay your other monthly bills by the due date and in the order of importance. For instance, pay the electric bill before paying the cable bill. If something should go wrong, you at least have heat and lights. And if you're in debt payoff mode, just cancel the cable all together. There are lots of ways  you can watch TV for free.

6-simple-ways-to-save-money

6 Simple Ways to Save Money

Arrange any Overdue Payments

If for some reason you cannot pay a bill when it is due, don’t throw it aside and pretend it’s not there. Call the company and make arrangements to get it paid as soon as you can. The last thing you need is to have a bill turned over to collections, especially if you can make payment arrangements.

Create a Filing System

File your receipts as you go. Make files for all your categories like medical, donations and the like. After you pay the bill, put the receipts into the appropriate file folder. This only takes a few minutes and saves quite a bit of time come tax time.

While you are paying bills, it is a good time to sort receipts for items you may have purchased that month. File receipts alphabetically so you have instant access to them incase you need to use a warranty or return an item to the store.

Setting up your filing system and your account log whether it is on your computer or hard copy, takes time so definitely download the budgeting spreadsheet above to help in that department. Start now to get those files ready so you can make paying your next round of bills a little easier.

What budgeting tips do you have?

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Blanket Ladder DIY

by Savings Lifestyle: Andrea

Blanket Ladders, Shiplap, Gallery Walls, Oh My!

Hi, my name is Andrea, and I am obsessed with shiplap like the millions of others in the world now thanks to Chip and Joanna Gaines!

There, now that *that* out of the way I feel like this DIY will give you some insight into why I wanted this farmhouse blanket ladder DIY for the blog!

I am *that* woman who had her husband make a shiplap wall in their home. Well, it actually wasn't an *entire* wall like some of *those* people. {ahem} The shiplap is hanging on the walls on the side of our fireplace. And you know what?

These walls were clearly BEGGING for a Blanket Ladder!

If walls could talk, anyway. Or fireplaces. They would both surely say that. They wanted a rustic blanket ladder. And, by golly, who am I to let my walls down.

Enough of my hysteria with shiplap and blanket ladders, let's get right down to this DIY so you can make this one yourself. Or, ahem, have your hubby help make one, or five.

You know, just like a shiplap wall you can never have too many blanket ladders in the house. And, to be honest, when they are this simple to make why wouldn't you?! (or him…) :D

Blanket Ladder DIY Supplies

  • 2 Common Boards, 1 x 3 x 8 Size
  • 1.5” Wood Screws
  • Gorilla Glue (or any Wood Glue)
  • Screw Gun
  • Stain and Polyurethane Mix (your own color preference)
  • Paint Brush
  • Rag
  • Pencil
  • Measuring tape
  • T-Square
  • Orbital Sander and Sandpaper
  • Saw Horses

Always use safety precautions when using electric tools. Or, tell your hubby to be safe and have him look at you where his eyes are saying “Leave me be so I can finish this project and get to work on your next project.” Alrightythen. 

DIY Blanket Ladder How To

  1. Purchase the 2 common boards, making sure to get the 1 x 3 x 8 size. If your hardware store will make cuts for you (our Home Depot does this for a small fee), ask them to cut the boards into the following sizes:
    — 4 boards at 17 inches (the rungs)
    — 2 boards at 5 feet (the sides)
  2. Set up the saw horses outside. Sand all sides of the boards using an orbital sander. You can use a sanding brick if you don't have an electronic sander but it will just take a little longer.
  3. Remove the dust with a rag or tack cloth. This is important to make sure there is no debris on any of the wood as you assemble and prep for staining.
  4. Now it's time to measure and mark the position for each ladder rung.
  5. The first ladder rung (17-inch board) will be placed 3 inches from the top of the 5-foot boards. Measure and mark each 5-foot board accordingly.
  6. The spacing in between each rung will be 12-inches. So, from that top rung, measure 12-inches below  (or 15-inches from the top of the 5-foot board) and mark the placement for the second rung. Do this again for the third and fourth rung. Be sure to keep 12-inches between each rung (17-inch board).
  7. Apply a small amount of Gorilla glue on the sides of the rungs (17-inch boards) and place in between the ladder sides. You want the rung boards to be angled so that the opposite corners are flush with the opposite side of the 5-foot blanket ladder sides.Look closely at the pictures and you will see what I mean for this position. They will look diagonal on the side boards. This position will give you more leverage for when you're drilling in the screws to keep the rungs secure.
  8. Carefully use a drill and 2 screws on each side to screw the rung boards onto the ladder sides.
  9. Repeat the steps until all rung boards are attached with screws and glue.
  10. Wipe off any excess glue.
  11. Mix your stain and use a brush to apply it evenly to the ladder, one board at a time. Wipe each side of the board with a rag after you brush on the stain and move to the the next board.
  12. Touch up the ends of the boards with stain, wipe and let dry overnight.

The biggest tip I can give you for this DIY is to have the hardware cut the board sizes. If you don't need to get a saw to cut yourself, it is worth the small fee the hardware store charges for this cutting.

It really is a quick process! Which is why this DIY lends itself to making multiple blanket ladders at once. You may as well make 5 since you already have the glue and drill out. :D

When I searched for a Blanket Ladder DIY for myself as we started to make these, there were lots of posts but they all were missing a piece or two in the process. Here are a few additional questions that you may find helpful as you tackle this mini project.

How to keep blanket ladder from sliding?

These non-slip pads are great to keep furniture from sliding around. They have the rubber grip on the bottom. You can cut them to size and easily stick to the bottom of the blanket ladder so it will stay in place.

Now these won't help *as much* if you overload your blanket ladder with heavy blankets, shelves, etc. Blanket ladders like these can be functional, but we use them primarily as decor with some added function.

How to decorate a blanket ladder?

Add blankets, baskets, wreaths, the sky is the limit! Get creative with your decor. As I mentioned above, just don't load down your blanket ladder since it doesn't have a square base like a shelving unit. It is more challenging to stay in place without a solid foundation with too many heavy items hanging on it.

How to stain a blanket ladder?

We listed this in the steps above. It's easiest to have your ladder completely assembled first (and the glue dried from assembly). The saw horses are great to use for this since you can easily get around all surfaces of the ladder and stain evenly.

How wide is a blanket ladder?

It can be as wide as you like, but our DIY has each rung being 17 inches wide exactly. It's easiest to just have the hardware store cut these for you so it's one less step to worry about when you're assembling.

What angle to cut blanket ladder?

So you're not worrying about stability of the blanket ladder while placed on the floor, you can cut the bottom board at a 10 degree angle. However, this may not be necessary if you add those non-slip pads I mentioned above.

How to secure blanket ladder to wall?

If you want to add the blanket ladder to a wall, make sure you hang with a nail into the stud. Once you add a few blankets, and any baskets or other accessories, it will be heavy. Having the ladder hung into a stud will be the safest thing to ensure it doesn't fall off the wall.

Blanket ladder with wire baskets?

There are some cute baskets you can hang onto the blanket ladder. I saw these coming with the blanket ladders in the store. Since this is a DIY, here are a few good options to consider if you're planning to make your own:

  • This basket has hooks so you can hang the basket onto a rung.
  • This basket is inexpensive and can be nailed into a rung.
  • This basket is also inexpensive and would need to be nailed into a rung to be used as a storage option.

Blanket ladder with storage?

The baskets are great to add to the blanket ladder for additional storage. When I was originally looking for a blanket ladder to purchase many do come pre-made with storage built into each rung on the ladder. However, that wasn't the look I was going for but I'm sure it could be built onto each rung as well. Hmmm….another idea for hubbby!!

Blanket ladder for living room?

Our blanket ladders are in the living or family room, and I feel like they are the perfect size with the 4 rungs. Not too tall, or too short where you can accessorize a bit.

Can't you just buy a blanket ladder from Ikea, Crate and Barrel, Target, Joss and Main, Pottery Barn, Hobby Lobby, {fill in the blank store name}?

First off, are you my husband asking this question?? And, why aren't you getting that honey-do list of mine done instead of commenting on this blog post?! JUST KIDDING!

I live about 15 minutes away from an Ikea where they sell these pre-made and they are *inexpensive* there too (but that is relative). I'm also close enough to visit and purchase from the other stores as well. When I first got the *itch* to get one (or a few), I priced them at those other stores and said, thanks but NO thanks!

This DIY cost around $10, and that's IF you don't have all of the materials already (which we did since I love to repurpose old furniture). So, nope, spending that kind of money just wasn't gonna happen.

My motto is to: save on what you need so you can spend on what you want. This blanket ladder was a want, for sure. However, when I knew that I could save on a DIY, that was an easy way for me to save on what I wanted too!

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Blanket Ladder DIY

  • Author: Savings Lifestyle: Andrea
Scale

Ingredients

  • 2 Common Boards, 1 x 3 x 8 Size
  • 1.5” Wood Screws
  • Gorilla Glue (or any Wood Glue)
  • Screw Gun
  • Stain and Polyurethane Mix (your own color preference)
  • Paint Brush
  • Rag
  • Pencil
  • Measuring tape
  • T-Square
  • Orbital Sander and Sandpaper
  • Saw Horses

Instructions

  1. Purchase the 2 common boards, making sure to get the 1 x 3 x 8 size. If your hardware store will make cuts for you (our Home Depot does this for a small fee), ask them to cut the boards into the following sizes:
    — 4 boards at 17 inches (the rungs)
    — 2 boards at 5 feet (the sides)
  2. Set up the saw horses outside. Sand all sides of the boards using an orbital sander. You can use a sanding brick if you don't have an electronic sander but it will just take a little longer.
  3. Remove the dust with a rag or tack cloth. This is important to make sure there is no debris on any of the wood as you assemble and prep for staining.
  4. Now it's time to measure and mark the position for each ladder rung.
  5. The first ladder rung (17-inch board) will be placed 3 inches from the top of the 5-foot boards. Measure and mark each 5-foot board accordingly.
  6. The spacing in between each rung will be 12-inches. So, from that top rung, measure 12-inches below  (or 15-inches from the top of the 5-foot board) and mark the placement for the second rung. Do this again for the third and fourth rung. Be sure to keep 12-inches between each rung (17-inch board).
  7. Apply a small amount of Gorilla glue on the sides of the rungs (17-inch boards) and place in between the ladder sides. You want the rung boards to be angled so that the opposite corners are flush with the opposite side of the 5-foot blanket ladder sides.Look closely at the pictures and you will see what I mean for this position. They will look diagonal on the side boards. This position will give you more leverage for when you're drilling in the screws to keep the rungs secure.
  8. Carefully use a drill and 2 screws on each side to screw the rung boards onto the ladder sides.
  9. Repeat the steps until all rung boards are attached with screws and glue.
  10. Wipe off any excess glue.
  11. Mix your stain and use a brush to apply it evenly to the ladder, one board at a time. Wipe each side of the board with a rag after you brush on the stain and move to the the next board.
  12. Touch up the ends of the boards with stain, wipe and let dry overnight.

Disclosure: This post contains a link to an affiliate and support this site. See my Disclaimer Policy for additional information.

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Easy Playdough Recipe – Just 3 Ingredients!

by Savings Lifestyle: Andrea

This homemade playdough recipe is super easy and safe for kids. If you're looking for a cooked playdough recipe to try, this one is a good recipe to start with.

I can't even count how many containers of playdough I have purchased for our boys throughout the years. Granted, when you're in the thick of “mommin all day errday” you don't want to fuss with making something that you can easily purchase.

However, when you see how easy this playdough recipe is, you will make this one time and time again! The best part is that it's super simple so the kids can help out! It's always nice when they're old enough to participate in the process as well.

This fun snowman theme is great for parties – the kids can make his face themselves as part of the craft. Less work for you and the kids will love it!

Easy Playdough Recipe Ingredients 

  • 1 cup, Flour
  • 1 cup, Water
  • 1 TBS, Cream of Tartar
  • 2 TBS, Vegetable Oil

To make the Snowman-Themed Playdough, you will also need:

How to Make Playdough

  1. Mix together your flour, water, cream of tartar, and vegetable oil in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Scoop the mixture into a sauce pan and cook on medium heat for 2-3 minutes while stirring constantly until your mixture turns into dough.
  3. Once your dough forms, place it to the side to cool off.

That's it to make a basic cooked playdough recipe! Now to make this cute Snowman playdough, you will also need to follow these steps:

  1. Add your white glitter and knead the dough. This step is also where you would add color if you wanted to make other variations.
  2. Lay a sandwich bag on the table and use a black sharpie to draw two circle eyes and about five circles in the shape of a smile for a mouth.
  3. Use a orange sharpie to draw a triangle carrot shaped nose.

Store your playdough in airtight ziplock baggies. When you flatten the playdough you will have little snowmen!

Get creative and make all sorts of themed playdough depending for each holiday or theme. For Easter, you could make this exact playdough into a bunny rabbit by drawing a nose and eyes. Rudolph could easily be done by adding some brown coloring to the playdough, and adding a red nose with a sharpie.

You could make sports playdough designs! This white dough could easily be made into a soccer ball  just by adding the black lines. I'm also seeing cute baggies of basketball and football playdough now! Let your littles get involved and use their imagination with what they want to make!

We have gotten a few questions about homemade playdough since we have another popular uncooked playdough recipe. Here are a few FAQ's to help you in advance as you try either recipe for your littles!

How do you make homemade playdough without cooking?

This is a common question we get, since some people want an uncooked playdough recipe and some want a cooked cooked version as above (you know, in case the kiddos wanna eat it). The uncooked recipe can be faster to whip up too.

Check out this DIY Playdough recipe, that doesn't involve any cooking and has common ingredients. Try both and let us know which homemade playdough recipe is the best!

How to make a scented playdough recipe?

To create scented playdough, you can easily add in any therapeutic grade essential oils to the mix while cooking. The holiday-themed snowman DIY above would be super festive with this specific kid-safe essential oil blend (it smells like cinnamon and cloves and this is my favorite essential oil brand too).

Our uncooked playdough recipe calls for a different ingredient, which has a scent (and you can choose whatever scent you like). So, either way you can easily add a scent to the playdough.

How do you color playdough?

There are a few options. The one that's most common is by adding food coloring drops. Another more natural option is to use cosmetic Grade Mica Powder to the playdough when you are kneading the dough together.

By adding the coloring slowly at first, this will allow the coloring to get mixed throughout evenly. You will want to add additional food coloring as you go as well so you have you have more control over the final color of the playdough.

How to make playdough without color?

The process we've used in this recipe will do it for you! If you follow our other playdough recipe, just make sure you choose the main ingredient without any color.

What is the best playdough recipe?

Ours, of course! :D There are several ways to make a playdough, and I've given you a few. Honestly, it's truly your preference. Either recipe comes out great!

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Easy Playdough Recipe – Just 3 Ingredients!

This homemade playdough recipe is super easy and safe for kids. When you see how easy this playdough recipe is, you will make this one time and time again!

  • Author: Andrea Deckard
Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 cup, Flour
  • 1 cup, Water
  • 1 TBS, Cream of Tartar
  • 2 TBS, Vegetable Oil

Instructions

  1. Mix together your flour, water, cream of tartar, and vegetable oil in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Scoop the mixture into a sauce pan and cook on medium heat for 2-3 minutes while stirring constantly until your mixture turns into dough.
  3. Once your dough forms, place it to the side to cool off.

Disclosure: This post contains a link to an affiliate and support this site. See my Disclaimer Policy for additional information.

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Candied Pecans on the Stovetop – Perfectly Caramelized in 4 Easy Steps!

by Savings Lifestyle: Andrea

The smell of caramelized pecans just make the holidays come alive to me! They are always sold at the malls near me. Since that where we seem to be during holiday shopping, I guess that's why the smell correlates to holidays. And spending money. HA!

You can whip up a delicious batch of these candied pecans in 4 easy steps! The ingredients are items that are already in the pantry and fridge, so you can start right now. Yes, right this minute!

This recipe explains how to make caramelized pecans on the stovetop. However, I include the oven recipe suggestion as well since so many people have asked. Either way, they turn out great!

Candied Pecans Ingredients

  • 4 cups, Pecans
  • 1/2 cup, Brown Sugar
  • 2 TBS, Butter
  • 2 TBS, Water
  • 1/2 tsp, Cinnamon
  • Pinch, Salt

Candied Pecans How To

  1. Add your brown sugar, butter, water, cinnamon and salt to a large sauté pan.
  2. Mix your ingredients over medium-low heat and mix in your pecans.
  3. Cook and toss for 15 minutes.
  4. Pour onto a sheet on parchment paper to cool and enjoy.

It's super fast to prepare a small batch of candied pecans on the stovetop, especially when a craving hits (and you don't want to fight the crowds at the mall). Over the years, I have gotten questions on how we make our candied pecans that I also want to share to help as well!

Why are my candied pecans sticky?

If you have this issue, there could be a few issues. First, make sure you don't have too much brown sugar mixed it. I know, I know, it's so easy just to add without topping off the excess, but this can be the problem.

Secondly, make sure you're tossing the pecans so they cook evenly throughout the pan. The heat will help to caramelize the pecans so they are hardened more and less sticky.

How long are candied pecans good for?

Well, they don't last long around here! However, they would be good to keep refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.

How to store candied pecans? 

I always store them in a mason jar and keep refrigerated.

Do candied pecans need to be refrigerated?

The pecans should be caramelized and hardened, however, if they get in a warm environment they could become sticky. I always stick them in the fridge.

How to make candied pecans in the oven?

Yes, you sure can! Depending on how large of a batch you have this is a great alternative. Bake at 250 for around 1 hour. Toss every 15 minutes so they don't stick together. This also allows the pecans to get evenly caramelized.

Are candied pecans gluten free and vegan?

Yes, these pecans are gluten free! However, they would only be vegan if you used a butter substitute.

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Candied Pecans on the Stovetop – 4 Easy Steps!

This recipe explains how to make caramelized pecans on the stovetop. However, I include the oven recipe suggestion as well since so many people have asked. Either way, they turn out great!

  • Author: Savings Lifestyle: Andrea
Scale

Ingredients

  • 4 cups, Pecans
  • 1/2 cup, Brown Sugar
  • 2 TBS, Butter
  • 2 TBS, Water
  • 1/2 tsp, Cinnamon
  • Pinch, Salt

Instructions

  1. Add your brown sugar, butter, water, cinnamon and salt to a large sauté pan.
  2. Mix your ingredients over medium-low heat and mix in your pecans.
  3. Cook and toss for 15 minutes.
  4. Pour onto a sheet on parchment paper to cool and enjoy.

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Tater Tot Casserole

by Savings Lifestyle: Andrea

If you're looking for an easy and quick dinner, look no further! This Tater Tot Casserole is super simple to make and can even be done in a crockpot if you're short on time! I have also included the slow cooker instructions below.

There are veggies in the casserole, however, you can easily swap out green beans or any other green vegetable of your family's liking. It's easy to “hide” the veggies into a casserole.

Although, I swear my kids could find a tiny piece of {insert the veggie name} in their dish that they dislike (and wouldn't be able to taste). Yet, they still struggle finding their shoes that are literally smacking them in the face. Ah, the joys of motherhood! :D

Tater Tot Casserole Ingredients

  • 2 10.75 Cans, Cream of Mushroom Soup
  • 8 oz, Sour Cream
  • 8 oz, Frozen Peas and Carrots
  • 1 Small Onion (diced)
  • 32 oz package, Frozen Tater Tots
  • 1 lb, Ground Beef
  • 2 Cups, Cheddar Cheese (shredded)
  • Salt & Pepper (to taste)

Tater Tot Casserole Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9×13 baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Brown the burger and onion and drain off the grease.
  3. Combine all the ingredients except the shredded cheese.
  4. Pour the mixture into the baking dish and evenly spread.
  5. Sprinkle the shredded cheese on top.
  6. Cover the baking pan with foil and bake for 35-40 minutes or until heated through.

This would also make for a great dish to make in advance for when you have a bazillion things going on in the evenings! As soon as you come home, pre-heat your oven and throw the dish in to start cooking.

To prepare in the crockpot instead of the oven as noted above, just put all of the ingredients into a greased slow cooker and cook on high for 2-4 hours (depending on your slow cooker). The ground beef is already cooked so you're really just heating up the other ingredients, and melting them all together with the crockpot.

Also, totally random, do you spell it tater or tator? I wonder if that's a regional thing for how one spells the shortened version of potato. I find myself spelling it both ways, actually!

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Tater Tot Casserole

This Tater Tot Casserole is super simple to make and can even be done in a crockpot if you're short on time! I have included the slow cooker instructions below in the post.

  • Author: Savings Lifestyle: Andrea
Scale

Ingredients

  • 2 10.75 Cans, Cream of Mushroom Soup
  • 8 oz, Sour Cream
  • 8 oz, Frozen Peas and Carrots
  • 1 Small Onion (diced)
  • 32 oz package, Frozen Tater Tots
  • 1 lb, Ground Beef
  • 2 Cups, Cheddar Cheese (shredded)
  • Salt & Pepper (to taste)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9×13 baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Brown the burger and onion and drain off the grease.
  3. Combine all the ingredients except the shredded cheese.
  4. Pour the mixture into the baking dish and evenly spread.
  5. Sprinkle the shredded cheese on top.
  6. Cover the baking pan with foil and bake for 35-40 minutes or until heated through.

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DIY Dog Bed No-Sew

by Savings Lifestyle: Andrea

The cost of owning a dog doesn't have to break the bank! When you welcome your sweet furbaby home, I will fully admit, it is seriously hard to resist all.the.dog.things!! Our Ollie was spoiled before she even stepped her little paws in our home. You know what, I don't regret being *that* dog owner for one single second!

However, let's be honest here. Some of the dog accessories can be ridiculously priced! As I mentioned in ways to save money on your pet, I got super lucky finding some amazing pet supplies at a local garage sale! I truly did hit the pet parent jackpot grabbing dog clothes, beds, chew toys and even the clippers (absolute best grab, hands down)!

In saying all of that, since the cost of having a dog can get steep really fast, I'm gonna try to DIY anything that I can! I certainly plan to trim our next puppy's hair and nails myself (maybe not at first, but it's on my list). And, I will definitely be grabbing some fabric and pillows to make this super simple No Sew Dog Bed!

DIY Dog Bed No-Sew Supplies

  • 1 Yard, Fleece Fabric
    You can also do 2 yards of different fabric, 1/2 yard cut at counter will not work because of width.
  • 1 Large Pillow
  • Scissors

Be sure to take take your coupons to any of the popular craft stores before go! Remember, they will take one another's coupons since most accept competitor coupons.

DIY Dog Bed No-Sew Instructions

  1. Fold the fleece fabric in half width-wise and cut down the fold line.
  2. Place a pillow on top of one piece of fleece and place the other piece of fleece over the pillow.
  3. Make sure all sides of fabric are even around the pillow.
  4. Carefully feel the corners of the pillow over the fabric and cut a square out of each corner of doubled fleece.
  5. Carefully cut strips of fabric along each side about 1 1/4” wide, one side at a time.
  6. Tie each strip (top and bottom) together in a double knot.
  7. Start on your next side of the pillow and work your way all the way around the pillow until each side has been tied.

Can you not see yourself making several of these easy DIY dog beds for your pup to have in every room of your home?! Because, that's exactly where my head is going! #dogmomprobs

The adorable pup you see is a friend's pooch (who helped with the pics and the post). How cute is she though?! Seeing her sweet little face makes waiting for our next puppy sooooo hard! I can't wait to share pics with all of you when she is here though in just a few months. I'll be making her very own bed (or multiple beds, LOL) and share that with you too!

Have you made anything for your pets? I'd love to hear about your favorite DIY projects so please leave a comment and let everyone in on what you've been doing!

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DIY Dog Bed No-Sew

The cost of owning a dog doesn't have to break the bank! Before you grab any pet supplies online, grab the supplies to make this super simple No Sew Dog Bed! Your sweet furbaby will be living the good live! You can join me in being *that* dog owner!

  • Author: Savings Lifestyle: Andrea
Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 Yard, Fleece Fabric
    You can also do 2 yards of different fabric, 1/2 yard cut at counter will not work because of width.
  • 1 Large Pillow
  • Scissors

Instructions

  1. Fold the fleece fabric in half width-wise and cut down the fold line.
  2. Place a pillow on top of one piece of fleece and place the other piece of fleece over the pillow.
  3. Make sure all sides of fabric are even around the pillow.
  4. Carefully feel the corners of the pillow over the fabric and cut a square out of each corner of doubled fleece.
  5. Carefully cut strips of fabric along each side about 1 1/4” wide, one side at a time.
  6. Tie each strip (top and bottom) together in a double knot.
  7. Start on your next side of the pillow and work your way all the way around the pillow until each side has been tied.

Notes

Be sure to take take your coupons to any of the popular craft stores before go! Remember, they will take one another's coupons since most accept competitor coupons.

Easy Ways to Save Money on Your Pet Expenses

Affordable Pet Insurance Options

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7 Easy Ways to Save Money on Your Pet

by Savings Lifestyle: Andrea

We waited so long before our family added our first pet, Ollie. A large part of the wait was because our kids are in so many activities that require us to be away from home quite a bit. Another large part was that pets are an added expense. While I knew it wouldn't break the bank for us, I wanted to make sure we were in a position to be able to provide emergency care if needed (and as it turns out, we did need to).

I knew that many expenses could add up if I didn't find ways to save, as I always try to do. Pets are a part of the family, and with every member in our family, that means food, shelter, haircuts, medicine, etc. So, those things can add up fast unless you try to find ways to save money in those areas as well. And, why wouldn't you, ya know?

If you are looking for ways to save money on your pet, you are in the right place! Here are seven simple ideas to save money on pet expenses from a new-ish dog mom.

Our sweet pup, Ollie. <3

Dog Grooming

Consider grooming your pets yourself! Trips to the groomer can get costly. Instead of relying on someone else to bathe, groom and trim your pets nails do it yourself. It is generally fairly simple to groom your dog, you just have to devote a little extra time.

These Andis clippers came highly recommended from many of the doodle Facebook groups I'm a member. If you do purchase a pair of clippers to do your own grooming, make sure your clippers comes with appropriate blades that are for your specific breed of dog. They aren't all the same. Things you learn once you become a dog mom. Also, many groomers in those groups also suggest that you don't skimp on the clippers' purchase. 

I was thrilled to find a very nice grooming set at a garage sale this summer for just $1! Even though I wasn't grooming our pets at the time, I knew it was something that I wanted to do eventually. And for $1, it was a no brainer even if it was only used for sanitary trims!

I plan to peruse YouTube to learn some tips for grooming when I tackle that with our next pup. I'm sure there will be some bad hair jobs, but it's all part of learning.

Make Your Own Dog Food (Recipe)

Save Money on Pet Food

Healthy pets are happy pets. Each food has a recommended feeding schedule based on age and weight. However, always check with your vet to see if that suggestion is valid for your pet.

It is unnecessary to leave a bowl full of food down all day, refilling it as it gets emptied. We had our pup on a strict schedule of twice a day meals. I found that she would graze all day if I left the bowl down, not really finishing her first bowl.

When I changed it (after talking to my vet) to two separate meal times (morning after potty break and then evening dinner time), she would eat all of her food and not get filled up on treats. Feeding on a set schedule will not only save you money on extra food that your sweet furball does not need, but it will also help them from gaining excess weight, which can lead to other health issues.

We always kept her water bowl full so she could drink anytime she wanted. Since she was potty training I knew I had to take her out every hour anyway so the additional fluid was fine with me until she learned to “hold” it. She got her treats throughout the day as well for going potty. She was content and full.

Here are some other delicious looking homemade dog food recipes to try:

I was totally that dog mom who made her furbabies food fresh every morning and evening. She was a happy and well-loved puppy!!

Dog Pill Pockets Recipe

Pet Meds Coupons

Look for pet medicine online. Flea medicines can be pricey from your veterinarian’s office. Save by purchasing it cheaper online, a farm supply store, or a warehouse club. Many online retailers will price match one another, or even price match your vet's prices, so definitely seek out those other options.

Also, don't forget to look for coupons online! You can use a printable manufacturer coupon many times to save on those meds as well.

Invest in Appropriate Pet Toys

Animals need entertainment. Especially puppies! If they are not provided with the proper toys, your belongings will soon become their toys. RIP to all my shoes that I lost (sometimes a shoe is just way more appealing than a Kong toy for some reason)!

With that, it's important to purchase or make toys to keep your animal babies from destroying your belongings. Cat scratch posts are perfect for kitties. When it comes to dogs, spending a little more money on quality and durable toys that will last, will save money in the long run.

There is nothing worse than having to continuously buy pet toys. These were some of Ollie's favorite toys:

I was also very fortunate to purchase some toys at that garage sale I mentioned!

Homemade Rainbow Marbled Dog Treats

Homemade Pet Treats

Consider making your own pet treats. A box of Milk Bones is good for helping clean your puppy's teeth, but they generally are not cheap and not always the healthiest option.

Instead of forking over your hard earned money on store bought treats, make your own dog treats homemade with just a few simple ingredients. Here are a few easy options:

Free Printable Dog Clothes Patterns

If you've never made your pet wear clothing, are you really a pet parent? :) Instead of spending a small fortune, try to make your own clothing!

Not only will you have a larger selection of fabric to choose from, but you can save a fortune by sewing up an entire wardrobe yourself. Here are a few cute designs:

And, I love this one to learn how to make dog clothes from baby clothes! You can find lots of used baby clothes at your local thrift store.

I also lucked out at that garage sale and got a few outfits. I did hit the garage sale jackpot for pet parents!

Finding a Good Veterinarian

I wouldn't consider this a mistake, but this is something I didn't do more checking into before we chose a vet's office. I would suggest calling around before you decide upon which vet will care for your pet. Not only for happy customers, but for prices from a basic checkup, an emergency visit (different hourly rate), bloodwork, spay and neuter fees, anesthesia charges, hospitalization charges, etc.

Most often prices aren't listed on websites (which is typical). Just because there is an office right down the road from you, it does not mean that they are the best option for pet care.

Also, another thing to consider, many Humane Society locations can be of great assistance when it comes to finding affordable vet services, especially for a spay and neuter procedure. It's worth a call to determine if there's a low-cost option to consider.

I'm not suggesting your pet isn't worth it, please believe that. I want you to find the best possible care at the most comfortable price for you. That means making a few calls so your gut and wallet are happy!

Also, if you have not looked into affordable pet insurance options, please do! I shared about our experience and it helped our family save thousands as we faced devastating health news on our precious Ollie. It is worth the peace of mind!

While I was a pet parent for a brief period of time, I learned a lot of ways to save the most possible! I am excited to welcome a new furbaby to our family again. I'm sure I'll have new ways to save and will share with you as well!

Affordable Pet Insurance Options

DIY Dog Bed No-Sew

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