All Posts By

Brittany Cooper

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Guys Gift Guide 2018

This Gift Guide for Guys contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting Pennies Into Pearls by using my links at no additional cost to you.

I need you to know that a lot of thought has gone into this gift guide. I have been keeping a running list of gift ideas in my phone over the past 365 days!

Last year I was frantically searching the internet 72 hours before Christmas (thank goodness for Amazon Prime free 2-day shipping!!), trying to find something worthwhile and within budget for hubby. Only to end up buying something he courteously acted excited to recieve. But we both knew it was a flop…

I made it my mission to give him a gift this year that had thought behind it and I could be sure it was something he would actually be stocked to get!

You’re not going to find “Ties” or “Socks” on this gift guide for guys!

What’s more is that I LOVE that I got input from our Pearls for these gift ideas! I put it out there on Instagram last week asking for your best gifts ever given to the men in your life. Dads, hubbies, brothers, uncles, or whoever. If it was a win, I wanted to hear about it!

You guys had some brilliant ideas and I’m excited to have included them in this roundup to share with everyone! So thank you so much!

 Let me help you figure out gift ideas for your guy! This gift guide for guys is full of unique and thoughtful gift ideas that the guys in your life aren’t going to have to pretend they like. They will sincerely be stoked once they open it up! Not to mention, these are all very affordable gift ideas with nothing costing over $50! Need some gift ideas for this Christmas? You’re gonna want to watch this! Continue Reading →

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November 2018 Family Budget Update

It’s time for another Family Budget update! In these updates is where I share the nitty gritty details of our real life family finances. All the details of what has happened in our bank account over the last few weeks.

I have been doing these budget update videos for over TWO YEARS! It’s crazy to see how far we have come! 

When we started we were in over $20,000 in debt and living off one income. We figured out how to start and maintain a budget that was based off our goals. This way KEY in keeping motivated to keep going!

If you don’t know where you want your money to take you, then you most definitely will end up walking in circles. Or in other words, living that paycheck-to-paycheck life. The life that we are all trying to escape!

Intentional goal based family budgeting is a major topic that I cover in depth in my online course, 30 Day Family Finance Rescue! I want you to get excited every time you work on your budget. You’re going to get pumped because you know that your budget is helping you reach your goals!

Enrollment is currently not open yet, Coming January 2019, but you can sign up for my free email newsletter to be the first to find out more info when it’s ready for ya! I’ll leave a link for in the description box.

 

 

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In this month’s family budget update, I am going to walk you through all the numbers that went in and out of our family’s bank account. We share all the numbers in hopes of turning on some light bulbs to help you manage your family's finances and set financial goals based off what you guys value most in life! Continue Reading →

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Pesto Asparagus Tortellini Pasta Salad

Comin at ya with another super easy and crazy fast dinner idea! Plus, you can feel great about feeding this pesto tortellini dinner to your family because it is fresh and full of veggies (if you want!)

Tonight its a 5 ingredient dinner that will be on the table in under 20 minutes!

Tonight its a 5 ingredient dinner that will be on the table in under 20 minutes! You can count this as a healthy dinner idea because it is full of fresh yummy veggies! This cheap dinner idea will help you stay on budget and still keep all the flavor in the meal!

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Fast Pesto Asparagus Tortellini

(video)

 

This easy dinner idea is a family pleaser for sure! Leave the veggies cut into large pieces making it easy for your picky eaters to scavenge around.

This quick dinner idea is going to take you under 20 minutes to whip together and less than $5 to feed your family!

Tonight its a 5 ingredient dinner that will be on the table in under 20 minutes! You can count this as a healthy dinner idea because it is full of fresh yummy veggies! This cheap dinner idea will help you stay on budget and still keep all the flavor in the meal!

 

Tonight its a 5 ingredient dinner that will be on the table in under 20 minutes! You can count this as a healthy dinner idea because it is full of fresh yummy veggies! This cheap dinner idea will help you stay on budget and still keep all the flavor in the meal!

 

Pesto tortellini is perfect for busy nights where you feel like there is no time to cook but the drive thru is not on the meal plan!

Tonight its a 5 ingredient dinner that will be on the table in under 20 minutes! You can count this as a healthy dinner idea because it is full of fresh yummy veggies! This cheap dinner idea will help you stay on budget and still keep all the flavor in the meal!

The hardest thing you will be doing for dinner tonight is boing a pot of water! You can do it!

Oooh! This would also make a super good on-the-go meal idea!

 

My Favorite Cooking Tools

  • Bamboo Mixing Spoons that my brother got me for Christmas over five years ago and I still use them every day!
  • I use a Rubber Spatula in almost every recipe I am making.
  • We are still using the same Non-Stick Pot that my grandma got us for our wedding almost 12 years ago and we love it!
  • Insulated Carrier for On-The-Go Meals.

This quick dinner idea is going to take you under 20 minutes to whip together and under $5 to feed your family! There is no excuse tonight to mess up your meal plan! This cheap dinner idea will help you stay on budget and still keep all the flavor in the meal!

Share Your Dinner on Instagram!

I would love to see how your family likes your dinner! Share a picture of how your easy cesar pasta salad recipe turns out and tag me on Instagram @PenniesIntoPearls.

 

Thanks so much for stopping in and I will talk to ya soon! Xoxo

Pesto Asparagus Tortellini
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Ingredients
  1. 4 Red Bell Pepper (chopped)
  2. 2 lbs. Asparagus (chopped into 2 inch pieces)
  3. 2 cups Chopped Grilled Chicken
  4. 1 lb. Frozen Tortellini Pasta
  5. ½ cup Pesto (Costco is the best place to buy!)
  6. Optional toppings: chopped parsley, grated parmesan, bacon crumbs
Instructions
  1. Boil a large pot of water.
  2. Cook tortellini as package directs.
  3. Once tortellini is cooked and water is drained, in a large bowl combine all ingredients.
  4. Immediately serve and top with your favorite italian toppings.
  5. Enjoy!
Pennies into Pearls http://www.penniesintopearls.com/

 

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8 Disneyland Tips for Saving Money on Hotels That Will Slash HUNDREDS off Your Family Vacation Budget

There is a lot of costs to consider when planning your family Disneyland vacation. The good news is there is always a way to save on every single part of the trip! Today let’s dive into 8 Disneyland tips for saving money on your hotel!

Figuring out where and how to get the best deal on your hotel can be more complicated than you think. It’s not as simple as pulling up a price comparison website because they don’t take into account all the “small” things that can actually save you major cash!

To make sure you are absolutely saving the most money possible on your Disneyland vacation, follow these 8 easy tips!

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Planning your family Disneyland vacation on a budget you have to be sure and get the lowest price possible on your hotel! Use these 8 Disneyland tips for saving money on your hotel to make sure you save big on these 8 hidden costs!

 

8 Disneyland Tips for Saving Money on Your Hotel

There are always new hotels popping up around Disneyland and the prices are always changing. So instead of telling you exactly where to stay I want to equip you with the Pearl tools necessary to find the best prices on somewhere to stay during your Disneyland vacation!

1. Visit in the off season.

This is probably going to be a major factor into many expenses of your Disneyland vacation but has the highest impact on the cost of you hotel.

To take advantage of the lower hotel prices, shoot to schedule your family vacation sometime between January and Mid March or end of August through September. I know! That’s doesn’t leave many options but it can make a huge difference in the cost of your hotel!

It’s a great idea to always like to look at a Disneyland Crowd Forecaster like IsItPacked.com.

 

2. Make sure breakfast is included

It is really easy to find a hotel that includes breakfast. If you look at the cost of eating out for breakfast, having it included in your stay could save $10-$20 PER PERSON per day! That could save you around $50-$100 per day for a family of five!

There is always the option of packing your own hotel friendly breakfast food like milk, cereal, and fruit. That’s always a pretty cheap option!

 

3. You need a refrigerator and a microwave

Speaking of bringing your own food from home. Make sure that wherever you stay has a fridge or mini fridge! Especially if you are traveling with kids, you will want to keep some essentials on hand that you bring from home or grab at a nearby grocery store.

Buying items like milk, juices, string cheese, fruit, or applesauce pouches before you go into the park can save you over 50%!

 

4. Parking included

Another one of my key Disneyland tips for saving money is to make sure that your hotel stay includes the cost of parking. Sometimes if you book your hotel through a travel agency like Get Away Today you parking will be included but it might not be if you book directly through the hotel.

Hotel parking and even street parking in Anaheim can cost you upwards of $20 a night. If you’re staying an entire week, that’s another $100 that you are saving!

 

5. Free nights stay

Another great way to stack the savings is to find an offer to get a free nights stay. I see this all the time with Get Away Today! There is always several options of hotels that offer a third or fourth nights stay for free!

Planning your family Disneyland vacation on a budget you have to be sure and get the lowest price possible on your hotel! Use these 8 Disneyland tips for saving money on your hotel to make sure you save big on these 8 hidden costs!

6. Book early

The closer you get to your travel dates, the more likely it will be that the cost of each night’s stay will go up. So book your trip as soon as you have the cash!

 

7. Share a house airbnb

Yes, technically it’s not a hotel but it’s a lot easier to say “save money on hotels” rather than “save money on your place of lodging”. So… ya get me!

If you are able to share a vacation rental and split the cost with another family, this has to be one of the best Disneyland tips for saving money! Or if you have a large family and would need to rent two or more hotel rooms, this might be an excellent option as well. We are talking savings in the hundreds!!!

When considering vacation rental there are a few things you need to consider when comparing the price.

  • The cost of breakfast that would have otherwise been included in your hotel stay
  • Cleaning fee (Usually $150-$300)
  • Service Fee (Usually $150-$180)
  • Distance to Disneyland (Disneyland parking is currently $20 per car per day)

 

8. Distance to park to save on shuttle and/or parking

The entire reason you are looking for a place to stay is so you can go enjoy your time at the happiest place on earth! So a another one of my Disneyland tips to save money is to take into consideration for your vacation budget is the cost of parking, shuttle, uber, or however you plan to get there.

The very best option is to find a hotel that is close enough to the park that you can walk. This could save you the cost of parking at the park or taking a shuttle from the hotel.

If a close hotel isn’t a budget friendly option, look into the cost per person of using the hotel shuttle versus ordering an Uber. (I have to give credit to my hubby for this idea!)

If there are just a couple of you in your party then the shuttle is probably the way to go since the cost is usually around $5-$8 per person each day. BUT if you have a party of three or more an Uber might work out to be cheaper since a ride from a hotel within 2 miles of the park will cost you about $8 each way and that cost can cover several people!

If you haven’t used Uber before, you can use my Uber CODE: brittanyc16157ue and you can get your first ride for FREE! (value amounts vary by location)

 

BONUS! Mock Scenario – Hotel Cost Breakdown vs. Vacation Rental Cost Breakdown

To help give you a better visual of what the cost break down of hotel costs versus AirBnB costs, I created this worksheet for you to take a look at.

Make sure to watch the video to get a better explanation of how I got the numbers for the cost comparison.

 

Planning your family Disneyland vacation on a budget you have to be sure and get the lowest price possible on your hotel! Use these 8 Disneyland tips for saving money on your hotel to make sure you save big on these 8 hidden costs!

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November 2018 Meal Plan & Grocery Haul

This post about our family budget meal plan contains affiliate links at no additional cost to you. Thank you so much for supporting Pennies Into Pearls by using my links!

November is the start of the holiday season! It’s the time when things can get out of control with your meal plan and food budget if you’re not careful. Family gatherings, treats at the kids school, or parties with friends, it can all add up!

This month, I am committed to sharing with you how my family deals with all of these  “unforeseen” events and plans for them as much as possible.

Use this family budget meal plan this November and feed your family for under $520! You will start to save money on groceries as soon as you use this family budget meal plan! Continue Reading →

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7 Steps for Making Christmas on a Budget Amazing Even When Money is Tight

Going into debt for Christmas is not an option for us Pearls! Christmas on a budget is the opposite of a bad thing! It means that you will have strategically told your money what you want it do this Christmas rather than wondering where it went.

CNBC.com reported last January that on average most Americans went into over $1,000 in debt for Christmas alone. It will take those families month’s to pay it off and will end up paying a ridiculous amount in interest. So much for that “black friday sale”!

If only they took 30 minutes to sit down and write out their Christmas budget…

 

Christmas on a budget is a good thing! Take the Debt Free Christmas challenge now and stick with cash this holiday season! Use these 7 tips to make Christmas on a budget the best Christmas your family has had yet! Continue Reading →

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Racing Across America in 6 Days! – Payments Race USA 2018

You know those times in life when you have to take a chance?

When there are a million reasons why you shouldn’t do something but it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity, you close your eyes, hold your breath, and jump in!

That’s what I’m doing this Thursday! Yikes!!! I am crazy nervous but out of my mind excited!

I am one of five racers in The Payments Race 2018 USA! Racing from NYC starting THIS THURSDAY and ending in Vegas on Tuesday. The racer with the most points wins!

Racers earn points by completing different challenges each day as they journey from state to state using only one form of payment each!

You can watch my video about the race here that just went live today!

  Continue Reading →

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7 Savings Accounts Your Family Will Be Lost Without!

Did you know that your savings goals could be pointless if you don’t have more than one savings accounts? Mass financial destruction is caused by unorganized savings accounts!

This doesn’t have to be you! There is a simple solution to help you start reaching your financial goals! It’s as simple as separating your savings into multiple savings accounts!

Our family currently has 7 and counting…

Did you know that your savings goals could be pointless if you don’t have more than one savings accounts? Mass financial destruction is caused by unorganized savings accounts! This doesn’t have to be you! There is a simple solution to help you start reaching your financial goals! It’s as simple as separating your savings into multiple savings accounts! Continue Reading →

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Meal Planning for Beginners – October 2018 Meal Plan & Grocery Haul

This post contains affiliate links at no additional cost to you. Thank you so much for supporting Pennies Into Pearls by using my links!

Meal planning for beginners might sound complicated and overwhelming at first, but give it a try and use this free meal plan to help make the process a lot easier!

 

Eating healthy on a budget is totally possible! How does $350 to cover your monthly grocery haul sound! This monthly grocery haul is going to show you how to eat healthy on a budget and help your entire family do the same thing! Costco and Target healthy grocery haul 2018.

Last month hubby and I completed our first ever Whole30 and it was awesome! We pretty much just ate meat, eggs, fruits, and lots of veggies for 30 days. The process is to help us figure out what foods our body can use best. Along the process we are also developing a lot healthier lifestyle!

We have learned a lot in the past 50 days but my favorite thing is we are learning how to balance organic eating with a small budget.

This month’s meal plan is another one full of whole nutritious meals that are easy, fast, cheap, and family friendly. Last month was another Whole30 meal plan if you want more healthy meal ideas.

You can read more about the Whole30 lifestyle change here.

Questions About Monthly Meal Planning for Beginners?

Pearl! I got you! Make sure you read this article on how to meal plan for beginners. In there you will find all the tips you need to make sure that you plan to the best of your ability and stay on budget!

 

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I’m also always sharing our daily frugal living tips for back to school survival over on my Instagram stories! It’s super fun over there so don’t forget to follow along!

 

My Favorite App for Grocery Shopping on a Budget

Did you guys know that Ibotta and I share the same birthday month!? It’s like our grocery bond was meant to be before either of us even existed here on this earth!

Because it’s their birthday (and I’m going to pretend like they are celebrating my birthday too…), between October 2-7 they are going to be giving away $1,000 a day to a lucky Ibotta shopper!

To be entered to win, post on Twitter or Instagram why you love Ibotta and how it’s helped your life, using the hashtag #IbottaversaryGiveaway. Visit the Ibotta blog for more details, and in the meantime, keep earning cash back with the free Ibotta app.

 

Helping your family eat healthy is about to get a lot easier! FREE PRINTABLE MEAL PLAN to cover your healthy eating habits for an entire month! It includes 16 healthy dinner ideas, 8 healthy lunch recipes, and 10 healthy breakfast recipes. All these healthy recipes are Whole30 and Paleo compliant!

Remember how our family used to spend over $1,000 a month on food? Remember how when we were spending that insane amount of money each month it was just for hubby and I? As in, “party of two”. Crazy!

Once I finally realized how much money and food we were wasting, I made it my mission to save as much money as possible on our grocery budget. That is when I first fell in love with Ibotta.

My qualifications for cash back apps to save money were as follows:

  • Must be easy & fast to use
  • Must save me money
  • Gift card or cash (Paypal or Venmo) opportunities to redeem cash back

Check. Check. Check!

My very favorite app to us is Ibotta! I have done an entire tutorial on how to use the app to maximize your savings. But in a nutshell this is how I do it, I do my normal grocery shopping first.

Then once I get all my groceries home, I will quickly open the app and search the two stores that I just went shopping at to see if there are any rebates that apply to my groceries. There are usually 3-4 that I can claim. This saves me around $5 each time I use the app.

If that doesn’t sound like much, trust me! The three minutes that it takes me to save $5 is 100% worth it! These small savings add up quick and once you hit $20 you can cash out in PayPal or Venmo, or choose from a bunch of really awesome gift cards! I usually choose Target and treat myself to a well deserved “mom’s only” snack!

If you are new to Ibotta, sign up using this link and you will automatically get $10 after you claim your first rebate! So easy!

This week the rebate I am most excited about has to be $4.00 cash back on a tri-tip steak or roast! I mean, how often do you get to save money on buying meat!? Great opportunity to save! Whenever Ibotta has cash back offers on meat, I claim them ASAP!

All offers were valid as of publish date. Don’t forget to check your app for details as offers change frequently and may not be available in all areas.

 

October 2018 Monthly Meal Planning for Beginners PRINTABLE

Do you want to get my monthly meal plan printables earlier?  If you sign up for my weekly newsletter, you will get them the week before the new month starts! Pretty handy right?

You can download this month’s budget friendly meal plan here.

Eating healthy on a budget is totally possible! How does $350 to cover your monthly grocery haul sound! This monthly grocery haul is going to show you how to eat healthy on a budget and help your entire family do the same thing! Costco and Target healthy grocery haul 2018.

 

October 2018 Grocery Haul

Eating healthy on a budget is totally possible! How does $350 to cover your monthly grocery haul sound! This monthly grocery haul is going to show you how to eat healthy on a budget and help your entire family do the same thing! Costco and Target healthy grocery haul 2018.

Take a peek at what it looks like to buy all non-perishable or freezable groceries for this exact meal plan.

I’d love to hear any questions you have! Leave them down in the comments below!