I often get asked for recommendations on products and services I use, so I decided to put my favorite things all in one place. Although some of the links are affiliate or referral links, they are all products or services that I own or use myself and highly recommend. Signing up or purchasing through these links may generate a small commission that helps support this site at no extra cost to you.
We love the simplicity and flexibility of budgeting with YNAB. They have a fabulous methodology and free online classes, not to mention awesome software. The online classes will change the way you think about budgeting and really help whether you purchase the software or not. You can try it free for a month, then when you are ready to purchase it, come back and grab my referral link and you’ll save $6 on YNAB budgeting software. You can read about how we switched our budget from Mint to YNAB, how we use YNAB for our zero-based budget, how we maximize our debt payment at the end of the month with YNAB and how YNAB is the safest way to use credit cards.
For years we used Mint as our primary budgeting tool. I do love having all the numbers from all our accounts automatically appear all in one place and seeing all the transactions and balances at a glance. While we use YNAB for our budget now, Mint is still a great tool for tracking spending and for seeing your account info all in one place. And it’s free!
For almost a decade we have used Capital One 360 accounts, although before Capital One took over they were called ING Direct accounts. I love having a completely online bank. We can easily create multiple accounts to make a virtual envelope system. When we have a few different savings goals, it’s nice to keep the money in a separate account. Capital One 360 accounts don’t have fees or minimum balance requirements. They also offer sign-up bonuses for new accounts.
Gift cards and other rewards are great, but we really love getting cash back and using it to put toward our student loans! I did a write up on the cash back sites and apps that we use and love for online shopping and in-store shopping. Each site includes the minimum payout and method of payment.
When we were faced with getting a new cell phone to replace my $10/month dumb phone that I had on my parent’s plan, we found Republic Wireless. They have a 30-day money-back guarantee, so giving Republic Wireless a try was a no-brainer. Now I have a smart phone for $10/month with unlimited talk, text and data on WiFi. I’m loving it. Here’s my Republic Wireless review and our update on our experience one year later! UPDATE– Now you can get a refund for unused data.
I wrote a whole post on the subject of Saving on Shaving, but in summary, we are thrilled with the value we get from Dollar Shave Club. With a husband who has to shave daily, shaving can get expensive. Dollar Shave Club is convenient and saves us money!
After making green smoothies for nearly a year in a standard blender, we got a Blendtec Total Blender (Reconditioned). It is amazing and I cannot recommend it highly enough. Our young children will eat just about any vegetable when it is in a smoothie. Regular blenders can’t handle raw veggies like the Blendtec. It also blends nuts and grinds wheat! They are expensive, but you can get a great deal on Blendtec Factory Recertified Blenders!
We bake all of our own bread, so we use a lot of flour. We grind our own wheat using the WonderMill. It is pretty much amazing! I love that it doesn’t make a mess and that it is quiet (for a wheat grinder). It has a lifetime guarantee too! Before I got my own, I used my mother-in-law’s WhisperMill, its predecessor, which is still going strong!
Anything that can be canned in a water bath canner (most everything except green beans and meat) can be canned in a steam canner. A Steam Canner requires less water and is much less cumbersome to use. If you’re planning canning your garden harvest, I can’t recommend a steam canner highly enough.
We we love home-canned applesauce. Every year we sauce hundred of pounds of apples. Without this amazing Sauce Maker this would not be possible. It is easy to put together and simple to use. You put your steamed apples in the hopper and with a few cranks of the handle applesauce comes out one side and the peel and seeds come out the other side. If you plan to make more than a quart or two of applesauce, this is a wonderful investment. It also handles other fresh fruits and veggies.
My experience with other food dehydrators has been that they don’t have enough capacity and don’t dry foods evenly or efficiently. Those problems have been solved with the Excalibur. When it’s apple and pear season, we use it to dehydrate them for snacks and lunches throughout the year. When our garden is overflowing with squash we dehydrate zucchini to use in stew during the winter. We also love fruit leather made with the Excalibur.
For more of our favorite frugal kitchen appliances see this post.
We started cloth diapering with our third little one. I had never seriously considered cloth diapers until we moved to the boonies, but now I am completely sold. We have saved so much money using cloth diapers! We mostly used Alva (pocket diapers) and Econobum (pre-folds and covers), but have used many different brands. Diapers also hold their value surprisingly well, so you can re-sell them when you’re done with them. You can get a 30-day test drive at Diaper Junction. If you’re interested in cloth diapering, but don’t want to spend much, see my post: How to Get Cloth Diapers Free or Cheap.
This may seem like a random tidbit to share here, but over the years we have gained a reputation for being super potty trainers. We have successfully potty trained one girl and two boys, all right around their second birthdays. While it’s not our only tactic, one of our secret weapons is the Potty Power DVD. If potty training is in your future, I highly recommend adding this DVD to your arsenal.
We are all about potty training young and quick around here. I have quite a reputation for it, in fact. Friends and friends-of-friends are always asking me for advice and then telling me I should write a book. I haven’t taken the time to do that, but I found a great ebook that says what I would say! Becky Mansfield will teach you the ropes of potty training quick and young in her ebook Potty Train in a Weekend!
While I’m giving away all of our potty training secrets, I may as well tell you about our favorite potty seat (who else admits to having a favorite potty seat?). We love the Bemis Built-in Potty Seat since it means we don’t have to deal with cleaning out a kids potty chair or finding somewhere to stash (or have to clean) a removable potty seat. When the lid closes, the child-size seat magnetically hides away in the lid, so adults don’t have to even know it’s there, yet it’s easy enough for a kid to pull down to use.
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