Money Saving Hacks & Budget Planner

Thursday, March 14, 2019
As a SAHM, I'm always discovering new ways to save money. Even if you are financially stable and your hubby is making good money, it always helps to save a bit of cash wherever you can. Overspending can put a strain on your marriage, pressure on the partner who works, and take a toll on your bank account. It can also keep you from taking that vacation you've been wanting, date night (even if it's once a month), or any other fun thing you can do as a family, or for yourself.

Nonetheless, I am here to help ease the load and help you save some 💵! In this post, you will find just a few of my favorite tips and tricks to help you spend your money wisely, let go of unnecessary things, and enjoy life. 😁
1. Toy Rotation
We can all get so caught up with buying new toys or have that Abuela that buys your child WAY too many things at the stores, right? This will help maintain a neat and organized play area and provide ONLY the toys they need at the moment. I usually put all of Aria's toys in a large clear plastic bin (so I can see what's inside) and put a few toys on display in her play area. I rotate the toys monthly so she does not lose interest in them and can play with "new" toys every so often. By rotating the toys, your child can find different ways to play with the same toys they've had year-round.
2. Dollar Store Learning
We are HUGE fans of any dollar store: Dollar Tree, Dollar General, even the Dollar Spot at Target! Most of our Tot School materials come from any of these dollar stores. You can reuse most of the materials and the craft supplies are very inexpensive. There is a plethora of activities that can be done so your child learns numerous educational concepts and skills throughout the entire year while spending very little money on materials.
3. DIY Gifts/Cards
Rather than going to the store and spending $5 on every card for each person in your family, simply make them one. You can use the materials you may already have at home, spend little to no money, and it's a heartfelt gift. It'll be such a warm thought and truly appreciated! You can also make gifts this way and use home-made materials to wrap and/or decorate them.
4. Essential Oils
Ok, this is for the ladies! How much money do we spend a year on candles, fragrances, incense sticks, etc.? I know I used to spend around $15/month... that's $180/year! There is a much cheaper solution to this problem and will leave your house smelling AHHMAZING all the time. I use an Essential Oil Diffuser in each room of the house. You don't necessarily need so many but this is a preference and I'm still saving money. When I turn them on, I add 5-7 drops of whichever fragrance I choose (sometimes I mix them) and water to the fill line. I then select the time length I want to have it on. The essential oils are about $9 for 6 bottles or $4 for 3 and can be found in any convenience store. This is an inexpensive alternative to candles and you don't run the same risk of anything dangerous happening.
      
5. Meal Prep/Plan
Meal prepping can save you so much money, if done correctly. Just because you're trying to save money doesn't mean you can't buy healthy food. Simply take note of what your family consumes each week, enjoys eating, should be eating, and try to plan each week's meals. This way, you are less likely to buy food that will sit in your fridge, freezer, or pantry and go bad. Also, take advantage of BOGO deals that your family will benefit from, not just to get the items but actually eat/drink them in a timely manner.
6. Pantry Organization
This may sound silly but pantry organization will actually save you LOTS of money each month. If you store your items in clear bins, you can see what you have, need to buy, and have too many/too little of. Along with meal planning, this will drive the groceries spending budget to a minimum and be effective. Be sure to not skip out on any emergency supplies and/or goods. Those are crucial and can be purchased little by little or in bulk to save money.
7. Library Pass
Aren't public libraries the BEST?! You can check out books, videotapes, electronics, museum passes, and so much more for FREE! I've recently changed to this option due to spending too much money on books from Amazon, Target and Barnes and Noble. After a few weeks, you simply take them back and select new books. You can even select books that are correlated to the themes you are teaching your little one(s) each month. Take advantage of those museum passes, too. They're amazing "FIELD TRIP" opportunities!
8. Gym Membership
How many of us say we're going to go to the gym? "Maybe I'll start on Monday." Well, the easiest way to save those $35+ a month on a gym membership you might not have time to go to anyway is to cancel it. There are tons of workout videos you can stream or check out online that can help you get those workouts in from home! Yes, the babies can do yoga with you at home, too! 😍
9. DIY Photography
This one is completely optional, but for the sake of GIVING you options, let's talk about it. Milestone pictures are so important and we all want the cutest, best, most adorable photos of our little ones while they are little, right? Does that mean we have to spend at least $150 on photography? Of course not! Can you, if you absolutely want some a particular year or event? Absolutely! For Aria's first birthday, we took her on a cruise, sat her on a beach, took these hand-painted letter signs I made the week before, and made our own photo shoot. The pictures were ADORABLE and now I have these moments captured for life. I spent about $5 for the letters, $3 for the paints, 10¢ for the paintbrush and yes, I did buy the hula outfit for $20 from Etsy but c'mon, who wouldn't?
10. Staycations
Last, but not least, take control of your self-care! This can mean getting a massage, mani/pedi, hair done, or any other expensive indulgence. Since we're discussing money saving hacks, you can try taking a hot bath at home with some luscious bath bombs, trying a relaxing foot soak with epsom salt, reading a good book, journaling, painting your nails, and so much more! You can also have a movie night, game night or s'more get-together. I'll be writing a Self-Care Tips post soon so stay tuned and in the meantime, go enjoy one of these relaxing ideas! 💝


Here's a Budget Planner I developed for you to help you track your spendings and list your groceries!
Click on the image for your FREE copy of this planner! ✅

Questions about the ideas on this list? Please feel free to comment below or email me at iteachfromtheheartblog@gmail.com.
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Reading Comprehension: Vowel Teams

Wednesday, March 13, 2019
I am so excited to share this new resource with you, all! It is something Kindergarten ELA teachers need and it is so incredibly helpful when teaching reading to your students. It targets the main components of reading: phonemic awareness, comprehension, fluency, vocabulary and phonological awareness. This is the Reading Comprehension Passages: Vowel Teams unit.
This set will be part of a Reading Comprehension Phonemic Awareness GROWING BUNDLE that will be added soon and will be on sale on my TPT shop until all 8 of the units are added. This bundle will include:
  • Word Families
  • Vowel Teams (as shown here)
  • Silent/Magic E
  • R-Controlled Vowels
  • Consonant Buddies
  • Double Consonants
  • Digraphs and
  • Diphthongs
Ok, let's get started! This unit is comprised of a total of 15 reading comprehension passages focused on vowel teams. It includes 10 different vowel teams (as shown below) and 1 review assessment for each vowel (a, e, i, o, u). This packet can be used to teach word families and reading comprehension in:
  • Whole group
  • Small groups (centers, DI)
  • Independent work
It can also be used to reinforce concepts for homework. I recommend using this packet over a 5-week period when the students are learning to build their fluency with vowel sounds.
You can make learning to read fun and exciting without the hassle of prepping any activities. These engaging NO PREP - PRINT & GO activities contain ELA skills that are aligned with CCSS. This unit contains a plethora of fun-to-read passages that can be split into 5 weeks or tailored to your students' learning pace!
Each section of this unit contains B/W options allowing easier printing at schools and coloring opportunities for students.
What's Included?
* How to Use This Product
* Scope & Sequence
* Photos in Action (as seen on this post)
* ELA Standards
* 15 reading comprehension passages
* TOU

Targeted Word Families:
* Week 1: ai, au, Review
* Week 2: ea (short), ee, Review
* Week 3: ie (short), ie (long), Review
* Week 4: oo (short), ou, Review
* Week 5: ue, ui, Review

These activities are PERFECT for ELL, ESOL and/or ESE learners. This packet also includes differentiated levels of content in ELA so they can be used to differentiate instruction in small groups and/or homework. ANSWER KEYS are included!
I hope this unit creates a load of fun in your classroom and that you AND your students thoroughly enjoy it! If you've already purchased this product, please drop a comment below on how you used it in your classroom and all the fun things your students did with it! 💖

Questions about this product? Please feel free to comment below or email me at iteachfromtheheartblog@gmail.com. Stay tuned for more reading comprehension units coming soon! 👏
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