From the category archives:

living on less

Though we own several really nice pieces of clothing from Walmart, it's not typically the first store I think of when I need to pick up a specific item. More often, it's a happy accident encountered on my way to grab some fresh greens for the evening's dinner or the like.

And so it was the case last week. I needed to pick up a few items for Father's Day dinner, and on my way back from tracking down the prepared horseradish, I spied this adorable little black dress. Recalling that my oldest daughter had recently mentioned needing a new dress for our upcoming beach vacation, I pulled my cart off to the side for a closer look.

Imagine my delight when I realized that, not only did they have one size small left in stock, it was marked down to just $11! It's like it was meant to be... So I tossed it in the cart, hoping that it would meet with her approval -- because you know a preteen's taste in clothing changes with the breeze.

Luckily, she loved it as much as I did! It's fun and flirty, feminine without being too revealing, and loose enough that she can still wear some shorts or leggings underneath. 'Cause if there's one thing I know for sure, there's never a soccer ball far from this girl's feet!

And did I mention it was only $11??? You know my budget looooovvves THAT.

We did a little trial run to show it off, even curling her hair with this awesome curling wand for the occasion. I also let her borrow my much coveted Miss Zoe by Calinana necklace and bracelet. I'm telling you -- I have definitely gotten my money's worth and then some from this gorgeous jewelry. And there are still SO many pieces I want to order from the collection!

If you've been hunting for the perfect dress, Walmart has cute summer dresses for all ages right now. Check them out to find your own personal style steal!

Walmart Moms Disclosure

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Over the past year-and-a-half, I've noticed a definite change my kids' TV-viewing habits. Namely, they really don't watch cable TV anymore. Most of their media is consumed on their devices via YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, etc. And the same goes for me and my husband. Outside of Game of Thrones and the occasional live sports event, the TV is mainly a source of background noise.

I've been seriously tossing around the idea of cutting our cable package for the last few months, but the first few times I brought the subject up to my husband, let's just say he was less than enthusiastic. However, after mentioning during one conversation that we've been paying $50 a month just for cable boxes, he started listening a little more intently.

Here's an interesting fact... Did you know that the average cable subscriber gets around 178 channels, but only watches 17? You are probably paying for more channels than you really need. I know for sure this is true for my family. To get certain "premium" channels, we had to subscribe to a much larger package than we really needed, and we only watch a fraction of the channels.

Perhaps one day the cable industry will wise up and allow us to pick and choose, but until then, after much research and planning, we're taking the leap and cancelling our cable TV service.

How to Cut Your Cable

If you've been considering ditching your cable, as well, there are a few things that you need to consider. You may already own everything you need, or you may need to pick up a few additional items to make the switch, but in the long run, you should more than come out ahead of your current cable situation.

1. Check to see if your current ISP will support streaming media.
While we've been mostly pleased with our current Internet Service Provider, they recently updated their data caps. Unlimited data is only available if you subscribe to the largest cable package or pay an arm and a leg each month. Sneaky, sneaky, huh?

After investigating other local providers, I found another ISP that offers unlimited data at speeds 2.5 times faster than our current service for only $10 more a month. Sold!

To save a little more, we opted to purchase our own modem. Our new ISP gave us the option to rent one for $10 per month, but we'll save $50 over the course of a year by purchasing our own up front.

I should note that we already use an Apple AirPort Time Capsule as our Wi-Fi router (as well as for backups). If you don't have a router, you'll want to purchase a combination modem/router. Your ISP can provide you with a list of recommended modems and/or modem/routers, as well as assist you in determining which you will need to purchase.

2. Determine if you have a smart TV or need a streaming device.
If your TV has Wi-Fi access and a library of streaming apps, you're already set. But if you have an older TV, you might need to purchase a streaming device. I say "might" because, if you already own a newer gaming console, they have a library of streaming apps available for download. Our three boys will be using their Xbox One consoles to stream to their TVs.

Our other TVs will use a combination of Apple TVs and Fire Sticks, but there are a number of other options on the market. From Roku to Chromecast to Slingbox, you can check out the various options here.

3. Choose a digital antenna and/or streaming services.
If you live in an area that is capable of receiving over-the-air (OTA) broadcast signals and your local broadcast stations (ABC, NBC, FOX, CBS, etc) transmit a digital signal, you can actually watch HD digital television programming for FREE! You'll just need to pick up an HD antenna, and there are a ton of budget-friendly options available.

Plus you can choose from a wide variety of streaming services, such as Netflix, VUDU, Hulu, HBO NOW and more, to view cable TV shows, movies, and other exclusive programming. We've subscribed for Netflix for years, in addition to our cable TV service, and subscribed to Hulu a few months ago to watch their exclusive 11.22.63 series (so good!!!), so these are not new charges for us. The nice thing about all of these services is that they bill on a monthly basis with no contracts or obligations, so you can subscribe and unsubscribe at will.

Cutting the cable not such a radical idea these days. With the wide variety of options available on the market, there's a viable solution for just about any type of programming. But I have to admit, for this girl who's had cable access for as long as I can remember, it's still just a tad scary. I imagine there will be a few challenges to work through over the first few weeks, but we'll work through them as a family.

Walmart has everything you need to cut the cable, including some Cut the Cable money-saving bundles to get your started!

Have you ditched your cable bill, yet? What are ways that you save on your cable bill?

Disclosure: Sponsored by Walmart, all opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that support this site!

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5 Flat Iron Tips + Deal on Hair Care Dream Team

by Tara Kuczykowski on June 10, 2016 · 0 comments

Things are starting to heat up here in Central Ohio, and along with rising temperatures, we typically see an increase in humidity. Great for the skin -- but NOT so great for hair, especially for us wavy/curly girls. Am I right?

Whether I'm trying to work with my natural texture or want a sleeker look for a night out, frizz is the number one enemy. And I combat it with two tools... a good flat iron and argan oil!

Now, you might be a bit perplexed, but flat irons aren't just for straightening. My hair dresser showed me how to use it to curl my hair, as well. You just hold the flat iron vertically and pull straight out with the hair wrapped around it about one-and-a-half turns, maintaining tension as you pull. I know it sounds complicated, but it with a little practice it's very easy. And now I only need one tool to create smoother curls or to straighten my hair!

Whether you use your flat iron to curl or straighten your hair, these 5 tips will help you get the most out of it:

1. Start with a good quality argan oil product. I like to apply argan oil to my hair while it's still damp to hydrate and protect it against the heat. A few drops applied to dry hair when you're finished doubles as a shine serum. I love double-duty products!

2. Don't crank up the heat. Higher heat does not equal straighter hair. A good flat iron will have an adjustable heat setting on it. Keep it within the 300-degree range to preserve your strong, healthy hair. P.S. Lower is not better either. You risk having to go over a section multiple times to get it straight, which can be just as damaging.

3. Don't flat iron damp hair. Damp hair is more difficult to straighten, meaning you'll have to go over a section several times, and as we just discussed, this is a BAD idea. If you see steam or hear your hair sizzle while straightening it, stop and turn your blow dryer on for a few minutes before continuing.

4. Stick to small sections. The smaller the section, the easier it is to straighten on the first pass. Remember, we don't want to repeatedly go over a section. If you find you need to, then you probably need a smaller section.

5. Clean your flat iron frequently. Product and oils build up on the flat iron plates over time, which can lead to extra drag on your hair. Turn the iron off, let it cool down, and then wipe down the plates well with a damp cloth. Cotton swabs are effective at getting into any small crevices and along the edges of the plates, helping to get your flat iron squeaky clean.

If you're in the market for a new flat iron, it just so happens that I have an AMAZING deal for you this weekend! Get a NuMe Silhouette Flat Iron (ARV $139) for just $29 + shipping!!! Remember how I told you that you want to use a GOOD straightening iron with an adjustable heat setting? Well, this has it -- along with ceramic plates that are a dream for smoothing even the frizziest hair.

But that's not all... You'll also get a full size bottle of argan oil valued at $49 completely FREE! These two products together are my dream team of hair care, a $188 value for just $29 plus shipping.

Here's how to snag this deal:

  1. Click here and add the Silhouette Flat Iron to your cart (choose pink, turquoise, or black).
  2. The argan oil will automatically be added to your cart for FREE.
  3. Go to checkout and use coupon code DSM29 to knock the price down to just $29.
  4. Shipping will be $12, so your total should be $41 at checkout.

Of course a deal this HOT can't last forever. You only have through Sunday evening to place your order, so don't put it off!

Get your NuMe Flat Iron Deal here.
This deal is valid through June 12, 2016.

Disclosure: Sponsored by NuMe products, all opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that support this site!

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TRESemme’s Beauty-Full Volume Reverse Wash System

by Tara Kuczykowski on May 27, 2016 · 4 comments

I'm always up for trying new haircare products, so when Walmart asked if I'd be interested in trying the new Beauty-Full Volume Collection from TRESemme, I was all for it. What makes this collection so unique is that it's a reverse wash haircare collection, meaning you condition your hair first and wash it second, leaving your hair with loads of volume and touchable softness.

Having never tried a reverse wash system, I have to admit I fully expected to hate it. My wavy/curly hair needs plenty of moisture to prevent frizz, and I was certain that such a system would leave my hair a tangled mess. So I was pleasantly surprised to find that after conditioning and then shampooing, I was still able to easily comb through my hair. And the products smelled absolutely amazing -- always a big positive in my book.

I did find that I needed to use significantly more than the recommended 2-3 pumps of conditioner to be able to work the product through my shoulder length hair. It's a good thing TRESemme products are relatively inexpensive (psa $4.94 each), because I'm fairly sure that I'll need at least 2 bottles of conditioner per one bottle of shampoo if I continue to use the system! If you have thinner hair, though, this may not be the case for you.

After using the conditioner and shampoo, I applied a generous amount of Beauty-Full Volume Mousse from roots to ends and let my hair air dry. My hair very soft and relatively smooth, as well as easy to style with a curling iron.

Unfortunately, it lacked the promised volume and was a bit lackluster, and I also felt like it looked greasy more quickly than with my regular shampoo and conditioner. I suppose this is due to the fact that I needed to use more conditioner than recommended, and TRESemme is very up front about disclosing that those with thicker hair may not achieve optimal results.

So while I probably won't continue to use the TRESemme Beauty-Full Volume Collection myself, I think it will be perfect for my 10-year-old daughter's long, fine hair. If you have hair that is similar in texture to hers, I think you'll love this collection. Save yourself some money when trying it by tracking down one of the B1G1 FREE Tresemme Beauty-Full coupons from the 5/15 RedPlum insert!

Have you ever tried a reverse wash conditioner and shampoo system?

Walmart Moms Disclosure

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Under $10 Preteen Easter Basket

by Tara Kuczykowski on March 11, 2016 · 0 comments

As I've mentioned in years past, Easter is a pretty low-key holiday for our family. My kids know the true reason for the celebration, but even so, we do like to treat them to a little something special. We typically keep it very budget-friendly, usually centered around some sort of theme. We did an outdoor activity basket one year and a Peeps taste test basket last year (HUGE hit! But typically we avoid so much candy).

This year, after perusing the wide assortment of Easter goodies at Walmart, I decided that I could budget $10 per child and still put together a pretty cute Easter basket filled with useful items. After all, who cares if something is inexpensive if it's junk that will never get used? It's the whole cheap versus frugal conundrum...

Anyhow, I was particularly happy with the basket I put together for my preteen daughter. She's 11, and that age is just SO hard to buy for! I know she's going to love it, so let me show you what I came up with for under $10.

In addition to the cute stuffed bunny rabbit ($0.98) and Reese's Pieces carrot ($1) pictured at the top of this post, I also picked up a colorful foam-covered notebook ($0.98), a dozen pencils ($0.98), and a sheet of pretty foiled butterfly stickers ($0.97). My girl loves to draw and write notes, so I know she'll appreciate these items.

This bunny tic-tac-toe set ($0.98) is really cute, and as long as we can manage to keep all of the pieces together, I suspect it will get a lot use on road trips. The bunny rabbit chalk ($0.98) should be a hit, as well, because drawing!

And finally, I tossed in a package of classic Peeps ($1), because even though they gross me out, my kids love them!

After picking up a plastic Easter basket and package of Easter grass (both $0.98 ea.), my grand total came to $9.83. Not bad, huh?! I'm so excited to see what she thinks about it on Easter morning.

What are you stuffing in your Easter basket(s) this year?

Walmart Moms Disclosure

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