Author Archives: Steve Economides

Christmas on a Budget? 30 Ideas to Make this Christmas Magical

A Magical Christmas on a Small Budget. 26 Creative & Out of Box Ideas!

How can you have a Magical Christmas on a small budget if your bank account is less than enchanted?

We all want to make Christmas a special time of year for our kids and other family members. But we don’t want to wake up in January with huge credit card bills and a large dose of Christmas regret.

It really comes down to time versus money. If you don’t have the money to buy every present you want to give, then you’ll have to invest some time to make the magic happen.

If you can involve your spouse or kids as elves, you … Read more »

Holiday Entertaining on a Budget – More Food, More Fun, More Festive!

Holiday Entertaining on a Budget doesn't have to be boring or costly!

Holiday Entertaining on a budget does not have to be boring! Does the cost of hosting a holiday party overwhelm you?

Here are 4 inexpensive ways to host holiday parties this year that are fun, frugal and full of holiday cheer.

Table of Contents


Holiday Entertaining on a Budget does not have to be Costly!1. Progressive Dinners – Save Money & Stress2. Plan a Simpler Meal … Read more »

Giving Money As A Gift: Is it Better to Give Cash or a Present?

Gift Giving presents under a christmas tree.

Gift Giving for Kids, it’s an age-old question. Should we give our kids money for Christmas or should we just give them presents? You might be surprised by our advice to this family!

Question About the Holidays and Gift Giving for Kids

I have your three books and have read about the MoneySmart Kids System that teaches kids to manage their own money; I have a question regarding giving money for holidays (to your children). Do you give money to your children for holidays or do you have a rule to not give money?

Our Strategy with Gift Giving for … Read more »

Is Swagbucks Legit, or is it a Scam? Our Review [Earnings Reveal]

Is Swagbucks Legit? It is a survey company, search engine, shopping portal, movie previews, playing online games, and trivia contests online!, and something for everyone!

When we first heard about the Swagbucks website, we had to ask ourselves, “Is Swagbucks legit? Or is it a scam?”

We had tried some of the other survey sites and were really disappointed. So we started researching this site to find out.

A blogger friend mentioned how she earned hundreds of dollars in gift cards through Swagbucks. We really doubted the validity of her claim.

We Googled “Is Swagbucks Legit or a scam?” and found some very interesting blogs. Some people didn’t like this website, but others praised it. The positive reviews also claimed to have earned gift cards and cashback through … Read more »

Stores Open On Thanksgiving Day – Black Friday Shopping [2018]

Thanksgiving Day Shopping Stores open and closed.

Are you wondering whether your favorite stores are opened or closed on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday, check out the list below.

How does the commercialization of the holidays make you feel?

You know we love getting deals and saving money, but where do you draw the line? When Black Friday was on the Friday after Thanksgiving we thrilled in getting up early to catch the sales. As retailers strategically moved their opening times earlier and earlier in the morning we cringed.

Then when the midnight opening started, we cringed some more, yet we were still attracted by some of the great … Read more »

7 Black Friday Secrets & Strategies

Black Friday Secrets & Strategies!

Are you looking for Black Friday Secrets and Strategies to jumpstart your Christmas shopping and savings?

Are you looking for the Ultimate Black Friday Cheat Sheet of Sales?

If so, keep reading – we’ve got lots to share with you.

it’s time to put our gift planning into high gear. One great way to do that is to make a list of all of the people you are planning on buying gifts for.

To find the Best Black Friday Secrets you’ll need to start researching early using sites like BlackFriday.info, BFads.net, BradsDeals, Hip2Save and Fabulously Frugal.com. Get the links below.

Then check some of … Read more »

Student Loan Forgiveness Programs: Get Loans Discharged Legally

Student Loan Forgiveness - Get Rid of College Debt Forever!

Do you have college loans? Are you looking for a list of student loan forgiveness programs? Are you wondering if you can get loan forgiveness?

Student loan forgiveness isn’t available to everyone, but it is a great way to pay off student loans that have already been accrued!

We’ve scoured the loan forgiveness landscape and found 9 different programs that might benefit you.

College Prices Have Skyrocketed:

Over the past 40 years, gas prices have increased by about 300% and Gold has risen more than 1200%. However, the cost of college has outpaced them both, skyrocketing more than 1600% higher than it was in … Read more »

Thanksgiving Activities for Families with Kids

Thanksgiving Activities for Families with Kids can be Fun & Frugal.

Are you looking for some fun Thanksgiving activities for families with kids? A few of these fun activities can really make the day special and memorable.

The activities we plan are some of the best ways to keep kids and parents engaged and looking forward to this holiday.

If everyone or most everyone participates, the fun memories created will last a lifetime.

Whether you are a kid, teen or adult, coming up with activities to share on Thanksgiving is a very doable undertaking.

Thanksgiving is a tradition-rich holiday for many families, but it doesn’t just have to center around delicious food only. As … Read more »

Paying for College With No Money or a Trust Fund

How to Pay for College with no Money - College graduate

A Reader asks How to Pay for College With No Money and without a Trust Fund.

Question: My daughter is a senior in high school and is preparing to head off to college. We have no money saved for her college expenses and feel like loans are the only option we have. What should we do?

MoneySmartFamily: You have more options than you realize.

1. Get Government Grants

Fill out a FAFSA application – it’s the Free Application for Federal Student Aid – StudentAid.ed.gov

Do this even if you don’t think you’ll qualify for any student aid. FAFSA weighs many … Read more »

College Savings: 10 Out of the Box Ways Cut the Cost of Education

10 Out of the Box Ways for BigTime College Savings!

Are you’re looking for college savings when trying to get a university education? This blog will give you plenty of out of the box and unconventional options for college savings.

If you take to heart just a few of these ideas it could save you $10,000 or more.

The college landscape is changing so rapidly that savings can be found in the most unusual places. Especially if you’re willing to research and question conventional thinking and dig a little deeper.

This is blog #5 in our College Savings Series. Scroll to the bottom of this page for links to the entire series.

College Prices … Read more »

What Are Health Share Plans? Is Medical Cost Sharing for You?

Mom holding a baby's hand - medical cost sharing.

Many people have asked what the difference is between Health Share Plans and traditional Health Insurance.  We’ll answer many questions about the medical cost sharing industry in this article.

Things like:

What’s the Difference Between Medical Cost Sharing and Traditional Insurance?
How Long Has Medical Cost Sharing been around?
What types of things do cost-sharing programs cover and not cover?
How much can you save with Medical Cost Sharing programs?
Who are the biggest players in Medical Cost Sharing?
See an example of what a large medical expense would cost you with a cost-sharing account.

It happens over and over again. People crying at appointments as they sit … Read more »

Free Scholarships & Grants: Find Gold on the College Scholarship Rainbow!

How to find college scholarships/ Scholarship Hacks/ University Scholarships

Are you looking for free college scholarships and grants? We have tips and tricks to land tons of college money.

This blog presents lots of proven ways to find more scholarship hacks. It shares how to prepare for them and how to win more awards. It’s time to start gathering in scholarship winnings!

What if there really was a pot of scholarship gold waiting for you at the end of the scholarship rainbow.

And what if you KNEW that with some effort, discipline and organizational skills you could find the path that leads to that pile of money. And then, of course, take … Read more »

How to Get The Most FAFSA Money and Pell Grant Awards (2019)

Maximize FAFSA and Pell Grant Money.

If you want to legitimately get the most FAFSA money for your college education, follow these tips and tricks. You’ll get maximum federal student aid in Pell Grants from following our research when you fill out your FAFSA application.

Debt-Free College Series # 4 – FAFSA and Financial Aid

We have  5 kids who have attended college, and we have filled out FAFSA applications with every single one of them.

As a matter of fact, we’ve filled out the FAFSA application several times with each of them.

In the process, we’ve learned several tips from our own experience and from financial aid experts.

In this blog, … Read more »

Top 25 Sites Like Craigslist: Alternatives for Buying or Selling FAST!

Sites Like Craigslist. #SellUsedItems #SellSafelyCraigslist #FlipUsedItems #SellStuffMakeMoney

If you like buying and selling things online, you need to know about other sites like CraigsList. There are a growing number of websites that are Craigslist alternatives for listing items for sale, classified ads, freebies, and advertising services.

Craigslist offers great opportunities to buy and sell your stuff. Back in 1995 the platform started as a classified advertisements website and has remained one of the best ways to buy and sell things.

Although Craigslist may have been the first site to connect buyers and sellers in a community-centered way, it is no longer the only way that you can buy and … Read more »

Soup from Leftovers: Garbage Soup – A Frugal Recipe that Failed

Tapioca Garbage Soup - an attempt at frugality that failed miserably.

Soup from Leftovers and Garbage Soup are usually really delicious. Out of the thousands of meals Annette has prepared over the years, fewer than five have gone uneaten.

This is the story of an infamous one that has become a family legend.

The Concept of Soup from Leftovers / Garbage Soup

That’s right, Garbage Soup. It doesn’t sound appetizing, but in reality, it can be.

Several years ago, Annette read about the concept of saving small portions of leftovers to make soup and decided to incorporate the practice into her money-saving habits.

Whenever she had less than one serving of green beans, corn, mixed veggies, … Read more »

How Can You Afford to Pay Cash for a New Cell Phone?

These days a cell phone is an absolute necessity. But the price of some phones is enough to make you crazy.

And having monthly lease payments on a cell phone is simply something we’re not willing to consider.

We only pay cash for quality used cell phones. If you want to live debt-free, you might want to consider doing the same thing.

People who know us, know that we simply don’t pay retail for much of anything. So we’re asked regularly, where are the best places to buy used cell phones online or in-person.

Question — How Can You Afford A New … Read more »

Reduce College Costs: Things to do in High School to Prepare for College

6 Things High School students can do that will crush the cost of college.

There are six things a teen can do in high school that will help to reduce the cost of a college education. We’ve done many of these with our 5 kids and they graduated college without any student loans!

How can a high schooler start to reduce college costs?

College is a monumental expense for parents and students alike. Who among us is prepared for paying out tens of thousands of dollars over a 4 or 5 year period? However, with any large expense, the more you and your child prepare, the more manageable the expense can be.

We have helped five of our … Read more »

Tips to Freeze Milk and How to Thaw it Safely

Tips to freeze and thaw milk

How can you save money on milk purchases? For years we’ve frozen milk that we bought on sale in our deep freezer, and then defrosted it when we were ready to use it. Freezing milk is not that hard to do if you follow our tips. Learn how we freeze and thaw milk safely and quickly.

1. The Smart Way to Freeze A Gallon of Milk

To freeze milk, pour a little off the top to allow room for expansion. Stand the carton upright in your freezer and then wait about 12 hours. To thaw milk, set it in a microwave for … Read more »

How Long Should I Keep My Car? (2019)

How long Should I Keep My Car? - Should I Keep My Car or Sell It?

“How long should I keep my car?” is a question we are often asked. When things start breaking on a car many people think the only solution is to replace it with a new car. 

But is there a point in time when keeping your current vehicle becomes more expensive than selling it.

Making the decision to keep a car and repair it or sell it and buy another one is always tough. But if you follow our 3 step evaluation system, you’ll know the answer to whether it’s time to sell or keep your wheels.

How Long Should I Keep My Car … Read more »

A Grocery Budget Makeover?

A Budget Makeover with Groceries is the fastest way to find cash!

If you’re looking for a Budget Makeover – start by changing how you shop for groceries.

Because most of us go to the grocery store several times each week, making a few changes in how you shop is one of the fastest ways to rehab your finances.

How can I lower my grocery bill so I can get ahead on my budget?

Question from an Email Subscriber:

I want to start rehabilitating my finances that will include a budget makeover with groceries. So following your advice, I’m revamping my grocery shopping. I homeschool our 4 young children and they tend to drink a … Read more »

Used Car Buying Checklist: 7 Things to Do When Buying from a Private Seller

Use Car Buying Checklist

We created this used car buying checklist to help our young adult kids evaluate their next car purchase.

We’ve always bought used cars from private sellers in Arizona. Our state doesn’t charge sales tax on cars purchased from individuals and this saves us 8.6 percent on the purchase price.

But we’re always careful when dealing with private party sales and follow the tips in this article. We also use the checklist at the bottom to make sure we don’t buy a lemon

MoneySmart Family Used Car Checklist: This easy to use, Used Car Checklist shows you the things you should check when you … Read more »

Buying Used Stuff: 7 Reasons We Love Buying To Save & Make Money

Buy Used Things - 7 Ways to Find the Best Deals!

If you buy used stuff, it’s a great way to keep money in your pocket. It also increases your buying power further than you imagined. And it can also be a great way to make money.

Buying used things is a great benefit to you, your budget and the environment.

We’ll share why we love buying used things, and where we find the best deals.

We’ll also share how we sell used things we no longer need … and the sites we use to do that.

You’re going to save a ton of money reading this article.

If we’ve missed a resource that you love, … Read more »

Pay Off Your Mortgage Early – Mortgage Free in 9 years Calculator

Pay Off Your Mortgage Early and See How We Paid Off Our Home in 9 Years!

One of the pinnacles of financial stability and security is to Pay off your mortgage early. Owning your home free and clear may seem like a fantasy. But if you follow the 5 steps we took, it can be your reality too.

Some people pay their home off in 30 years, others 15. But there are a group of people who simply hate having a mortgage pay it off quicker.

We paid our home off in 9 years.

Our efforts to pay down our mortgage debt started with just one dollar extra each month . . . but quickly grew to much more. … Read more »

Entitled Kids: 7 Things You Can Do to Stop Spoiling and Start Raising Self-Sufficient Kids

Are You Entitling Your Kids? We Share 7 Ways to Stop Entitlement and Raise Self Sufficient Adults!

Is it possible that our good intentions and generosity could end up entitling our kids? No parent intentionally sets out to create dependent children who expect to be given everything they desire.

If you want to raise kids who aren’t entitled but are empowered – keep reading. We have 7 ways we helped our kids to become Financially strong, fit and independent.

Kids are kind of funny. If we offer to pay for something, they’ll gladly let us do it . . . forever and ever. If we don’t pay, they’ll carry on about how “mean” and out of touch with reality … Read more »

5 Secrets to Surviving a Financial Crisis or Economic Downturn

5 Ways to Survive a Financial Crisis.

Are you going through a financial crisis or cut in pay?

If your income were to dramatically drop tomorrow, would you survive?

Would you spiral into a financial crisis or would you be able to keep your head above water?

Many financial experts say that Americans who live paycheck to paycheck could be 3 months from homelessness.

We’re going to give you 5 Secrets that we’ve used to survive job layoffs, cuts in pay and a nationwide financial downturn. 

How are you doing Financially?

If you were to ask ten different people in your town, “How are you doing financially compared to last year,” you’d probably … Read more »