Honeymooning At Disney

What’s romantic at Disney? What can a non-Disney fan enjoy at Disney?

I get this question ALOT. Especially when Chase (my husband) and I decided to go on a honeymoon to WDW. Sure it’s a more popular idea than it was in 2015, but some folks still don’t get it.

Chase doesn’t dislike Walt Disney World, but he also isn’t the Disney super fan I am. He doesn’t enjoy meeting Characters, a portion of the rides aren’t his thing. So what keeps him coming back? (No it’s not just me begging)

Today is our 10 year dativersary. I interviewed Chase last week to get his perspective on what a non Disney fan enjoys at Disney, on what made our Honeymoon romantic. Here’s what he said.

Walt Disney World is more than just theme parks. It’s a true resort.

When you choose to go on a honeymoon, or any sort of adults only romantic trip at WDW. You can live in a bubble, you do not have to deal with the real world.

That’s what made our first trips to WDW memorable. If you’ve met my husband you know he works a lot (all the time). WDW became a place we could shut out the real world, no driving, no traffic, no errands. Just us.

Disney is home to some amazing restaurants.

Sure theme park food gets a bad wrap, but the restaurants at Disney Springs and the Resorts are some of the best in the world.

• Maya Grill- Coronado Springs

•Trattoria- Boardwalk Resort

• Citricos- Grand Floridian

•Toledo- Coronado Springs

• O’Hana- Polynesian Village Resort (this one has fireworks views)

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All romantic restaurants that don’t require a park ticket.

Speaking of skipping park tickets I recommend at last 2 park free days on a romantic trip. Spend time resort hopping, rent a surrey bike or a boat and explore the property. Ride the skyliner at night. Hang by the pool. Explore your hotel room 😉

For the most romantic (and least crowded) experience book a moderate or a deluxe resort. These are the most romantic resorts at WDW.

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  • Coronado Springs
  • Port Orleans Riverside
  • Animal Kingdom Lodge
  • Grand Floridian

So what does a non-Disney Fan enjoy about the theme parks?

Say hello to Epcot

Epcot is the most romantic park. I will die on this hill. Try delicious foods, explore the festivals, walk around the world showcase, get a cocktail. This is the adult park. I love walking around the showcase with a drink in my hand just chatting with Chase. Epcot is so beautiful at night! Pick a spot. Split a dessert and enjoy Spaceship Earth as she lights up the sky.

If your partner is worried that a celebration spent at Disney will lack romance, send them this blog. We’ve celebrated our honeymoons, engagement, and every anniversary except one at WDW. Each time we come home feeling relaxed and connected.

Fill out the form in my homepage to get a free vacation quote and use my romance expertise to plan the perfect getaway for you and your partner!

Bottom line: there is way more to WDW than it’s 4 theme parks.

XO, Tara

Must Read Before Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo!

⭐️4 ways to make the most out of your reservation at Bibbidi Bobiddi Boutique

Best Day Ever for both of us.

1) Arrive about 10 mins early. This gives you and your child time to look through the book and pick a package and a hairstyle. No matter how much you look online you should leave time for this. Sharkie chose a different style day of. This 10 mins always gives your child time to calm down and get ready to relax before their appointment.

So many options

2) This one is unpopular but bring your own dress! Especially if you plan to spend all day in the parks. The Disney parks dresses are beautiful, but they be HOT.

I recommend @taylorjoelledesigns. I purchased Sharkie a dress and surprised her with it at our appointment.

Don’t worry. She still got to shop for shoes and accessories.

3) You can only bring 2 adults to the appt. If you have more in your party they will let y’all swap in and out.

4) Afterwards, head over to Sir Mickey’s for the Royal Portrait Studio. It’s free with @disneyphotopass and you WILL NOT regret it.

Bonus tips: don’t worry about touch ups or how to get the hair down. They provide you with a baggie of clarifying shampoo, makeup remover, plus extra makeup and nail polish.

Use a travel agent like me to book this amazing experience. I’ve dreamed of doing this with Sharkie since I found out she was a girl in January 2018.

It was everything I dreamed of…

And more.

XO,
Tara💙

disneyworld #disneytips #disneytricks #disneykid #growingupdisney #cinderella #disneyprincess #waltdisneyworld #disneyblogger #disneycreator #orlandomoms

Guess who’s coming to town?

Guess who’s coming to town?

Did you guess Santa? While that might technically be true. Someone else is coming beforehand!

Disclaimer: In exchange for this post I have received complimentary tickets to a performance.

Disney On Ice is coming to Orlando! September 2-4, 2022.

Hit the road to adventure when Disney On Ice presents Road Trip Adventures skates into your hometown! Exciting twists and turns await as Mickey Mouse and his Disney friends embark on a wild ride to your favorite Disney destinations. Travel with Moana to the sun soaked Motunui, set off on a safari to the Pride Lands with Simba. Discover a whole new world as you’re swept up in Aladdin’s princely parade. Play at a larger-than-life carnival with Woody and Forky. Join us for a fun-filled getaway, jam-packed with unexpected hijinks and magic at every turn at Disney On Ice presents Road Trip Adventures.
Disney on Ice is the perfect show for the whole family!

Are you local to Orlando? Don’t miss these showtimes.

Amway Center
Disney On Ice presents Road Trip Adventures
Amway Center – September 2-4, 2022
Show Information
Friday, September 2 – 7:30pm
Saturday, September 3 – 11am, 3pm, and 7pm Sunday, September 4 – 1pm and 5pm
** Doors open one hour prior to show time.
** Any child who has reached their 2nd birthday needs a ticket.

Don’t miss the fun!

Save 20% off on select seats when you use code MOM22 online at www.DisneyOnIce.com.
Offer valid on select price levels and performances.

Offer valid only on the following performances: Friday, September 2 at 7:30pm; Saturday, September 3 at 7pm; Sunday, September 4 at 5pm. No double
discounts. Service charges, handling and facility fees may apply. Tickets are subject to market supply and demand. Offer expires 9/1/22.

Throwing a Birthday Party at Walt Disney World

Birthday Girl!

This was actually our second time hosting a birthday party in a WDW resort lobby. If you were following back in February we had my 30th birthday at Riviera Resort!

Rule number 1: To throw a WDW party you need to be a guest of that particular resort.

Party City will delivery balloons to any Disney World Resort

I recommend ordering online 3-4 days in advance. Make sure you select the Kissimmee store for delivery. You’ll be able to select a 2 hour delivery window at checkout.

Don’t know your resort address? You can find the exact address on your “my plans” page in the Walt Disney World app.

Let’s talk about cake!

Both our party cakes have come from The Naked Cupcake. I recommend ordering at least 6 weeks in advance if you want a custom design. They delivery to Walt Disney World and allow you to choose a 2 hour window. You can use code “mouseears” to save 10% on a custom cake order from The Naked Cupcake. Order here!

So how does it actually work? Well we pick a 2 hour window and set everything up to arrive during that time. Your friends will be able to come visit on at the resort. They just give your name and room number at the gate.

We always tell the lobby cast members what we plan to do, you can’t reserve a section of the lobby, but all the CM’s have been amazing at finding us a great spot to celebrate.

I always bring party items with me, but if you’re not local it may be easier to order plates, napkins, candles, utensils, etc from Party City. They will deliver it all! Don’t forget a cake knife and a lighter. (We always forget the lighter).

If you have a WDW birthday celebration tag me! I’d love to see it!

We celebrated at Disney’s Carribbean resort this year!

Your Next Disney Trip should be to Disneyland

My first visit but definitely not my last.

As a Walt Disney World local I was so worried I would be disappointed by Disneyland. I need this all the time from avid WDW fans.

“It wasn’t as big and I was disappointed”

I’m here to tell y’all that the intimate feel is what I enjoyed most. Disneyland only has two parks. Park hopping at DLR (Disneyland resort) takes 3 minutes. Everything is close together. There aren’t tons of dining options, but still enough to satisfy.

Matterhorn at Disneyland

A large part of the reason I became a travel agent was because I got tired of seeing people on the verge of tears at Walt Disney World. It feels like you need a degree in WDW to enjoy it. There is so much to remember and so many options to choose from.

At Disneyland you can still benefit from tips and tricks, you can book a trip with me in the link on my home page. But you get that intimate casual feel. More importantly you get to spend time family instead of stressing over getting across the parks or maximizing Genie +.

Avengers Campus

No more needs said. Avengers Campus is amazing. It’s only a year old but the most immersive experience I have done at Disney. Due to copyrights with Universal it’s unlikely the Avengers will ever been represented at WDW. Go to Disneyland! Break the Guardians out, meet Captain America, eat food at Pym’s. I’ve been dreaming of Avengers Campus for a year and it lives up to the hype.

Cars Land

Another cute land you won’t find at WDW. Cars land has the cutest vibes especially at night.

So bright!

Meeting characters is super informal at Disneyland. You just happen upon them!

But the biggest reason you need to plan your next trip to DLR is the price. I just quoted a family of 4 at the Grand Californian for 3 nights. 4 day ticket with park hopper for under $5k. I was shocked and am currently planning a trip for my family this December.

I’m an avid WDW fan, but Disneyland was magical. The two are more different than the same and you should definitely check out Disneyland!

Pixar Pier

No Candy Easter Baskets

Candy and Easter baskets go together like peanut butter and jelly. But at our house every year we have more candy than we know what to do with and it is always wasted.

This year I decided to go a different way. Although I will be putting one chocolate bunny in Sharkie’s basket, the rest of her basket will be candy free.

I tend to put taller items in the back. Sharkie loves books and American Girl just came out with a great line of early readers.

Shop Here
Chalk is always a great Easter present and Target has some of the largest and most colorful packs.

These markers last forever and they provide hours of entertainment. Amazon has tons of choices.

I tend to collect small items in the months leading up to Easter to fill the space. Five Below is a great place to stock up.

Five Below currently has Bluey toys. Always a hit with the preschool crowd.
I am so excited about Sharkie’s big Easter gift this year. It’s so cute and fosters learning and nurturing.
You can shop Sharkie’s entire basket here.

Celebrating Mardi Gras: Preschool Edition

Celebrating Mardi Gras: Preschool Edition

We didn’t celebrate Mardi Gras growing up. I’ve never even been to Louisiana. But I’ll take any excuse to celebrate.

Sharkie and I are always looking for ways to add Disney to our celebrations. So for us, Mardi Gras always becomes a celebration of one of our favorite princesses: Tiana.

Sharkie’s Tiana jumpsuit is from last season, but you can get this seasons here.

First we had to get into character. Shop Disney has a large selection of Tiana dresses.
Rounded up my favorites.

Cinnamon rolls make an easy substitution for king cake. We cover ours with green and purple sanding sugar for an extra festive touch.

We always split ours in half to make Mickey ears. This is popular year round with Sharkie.
Rounded up some of our favorite Tiana toys

Are you doing a Tiana Mardi Gras if you’re not cooking?
We made Tiana’s green bean casserole. We used a Disney Christmas cookbook, but any green bean casserole will do.

We always finish our day with a showing of Princess and the Frog, while wearing Mardi Gras masks. You can typically pick these up at Dollar Tree.

Ours is super low key as far as Mardi Gras celebrations go, but it’s the perfect fun day for a young child, or anyone who loves Tiana.

Happy Mardi Gras!

Decorating for Obscure Holidays

As the kid of a teacher and someone who has worked in and out of the school system. I’ve always celebrated the minor holidays.

Then I became a mom…

Sharkie was born extra.

I thought I loved holidays but this girl LOVES holidays. She asks about them all the time. Recites their calendar order. She will tell anyone who will listen what her favorite holiday is and asks them what they’re doing for… (insert next holiday)

She knows what my favorite holiday is. So I’m peppered with different questions. Like…mommy when are we decorating for St. Patrick’s Day? Mommy can I help decorate? Mommy can we go buy more St. Patrick’s day decorations?

With the rise of social media and home decor in general it’s easier to find St Patrick’s (or New Years, 5th of July) decor than it used to be.

Still it’s not easy. So this year I’ve rounded up some decor links and ideas.

I adore this custom Disney banner and she makes them for every holiday. You can buy yours here.
Tablescapes really brighten up the dining room

Bullseye’s Playground is a great place to stock up on obscure holiday decor. I picked up both these planters there for $3. You can also repurpose everyday green items, like this vintage green vase. Find a similar one here. Top it off with green silk flowers.

Tabletop signs are such an easy way to decorate. Another easy find at Bullyeyes Playground but I’ve linked some here.
Repurpose any rainbow decor you may have. Perfect for St. Patrick’s day and general spring decor!
Seasonal Books

In addition to being a decor lover, Sharkie also loves seasonal books. In store prices for seasonal books are sometimes high, but you can usually pick up some for less than $5 on amazon. Linking Sharkie’s here.

Looking for an easy activity for your preschooler to do on March 17th. Keep it simple by grabbing a box of Lucky Charms and sort/count the marshmallows. It’s always a crowd pleaser at our house.

Decorating for St. Patrick’s is always the first sign of spring in our house! I hope this helps you create a little magic!

What a Year!

Trigger Warning: The following post will discuss health issues such as infertility and weight gain.

Every December I set one lofty goal for the next year and one realistic. When I think of my goals I always say a silent prayer for gratitude for my health.

Born a little over 2 months early with a heart murmur I know how very lucky I am to have always been fairly healthy. The only other long term complications I have from being so premature are crooked fingers and lungs that take longer to heal after a cold etc.

Baby Tara

When you’re 29 years old you begin to think you’re in a good spot health wise. Too old for develop anything hereditary, too young for chronic health issues to develop.

Or so I thought.

My Nana had endometriosis, my mom had undiagnosed fertility issues, when it took a long time to conceive my daughter I wasn’t surprised. But the majority of the pregnancy went well. I had some issues in the last month and right after she was born that led us to close the door on having more children. But otherwise things were good.

Early this year I developed debilitating cramps, cystic acne, unexplained weight gain, and a tiredness all the time. For around 6 months I didn’t tell anyone. I’d always heard PMS is worse after childbirth.

In August I finally told Chase and made a doctors appointment. My doctors in Lexington did some minor blood work and sent me away with a diagnosis of painful periods and of course a prescription for birth control.

Instagram is definitely a highlight reel

I knew it was more than that. So the minute we moved I made a follow up appointment at a new GYN and primary. Fortunately doctors in Florida were more through. After tons of visits to the doctor I have endometriosis and high cholesterol. (They aren’t related, but I have both lol)

I feel like a stranger in my own body. I’m in pain almost all the time. Earlier this month Chase and I had to make the decision to lock the door on having more kids. I had an IUD implant put in. Supposedly this will lessen the symptoms. So far I still feel horrible, but it’s early.

Aside from the pain this has been a confidence destroyer. Gaining weight has been super hard. I don’t know how to dress anymore and my clothes don’t fit. It’s superficial, but it’s so frustrating. The cystic acne is no fun either.

The internet is a great place to highlight our successes and the goodness in our lives. So much so that we start to think no one struggles but us.

Every person you meet is going through their own battle. Be kind.

And stick up for yourself. Doctors may be experts but they don’t know you better than you know yourself.

I hope that 2022 is your year. I hope it finds you happy and healthy.

Happy New Year!

Make Elf Season Easier

If your the parent of a young child chances are you’re moving an elf on a shelf nightly this month.

Our Elf Lilly flies in with mouse ears because what else…

Just take a quick look around Pinterest and you’ll see tons of elaborate scenes of constructed mischief these guys are getting into.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. I’m gonna give you three methods of elf magic that take less than 10 mins a night.

On 12/1 Lilly always brings the advent calendar

1) Hanging Garland Method: our elf is pretty well behaved. I’m pretty anti mess, so Lilly doesn’t create messes. (Know what you can and can’t live with mamas) I can’t live with leaving a mess out all day.

So when I want Lilly to be a little mischievous I use a cheap $1 garland from Dollar Tree. I just get one and reuse it. We hang here from windows or light fixtures and secure with tape.

2) One Spot Toys: This easy peasy method takes up 1/4 of my elf days. Lilly brings a Christmas themed toy or item from Bullseye’s Playground with a quick little note. Definitely save these for when you’re busy or sleepy.

These play packs are $1 at Target and I always have some laying around.
Rubber Duckies are always a fun toy and also $1 at Target.
Target also had these $1 costumes this year!

3) Have your elf bring something you were already gonna do for your kid.

We make cookies every year, but letting Lilly take the credit for it helps me out.
Have your Elf bring gingerbread houses! http://liketk.it/3tSIo

Doing the elf doesn’t mean you have to drive yourself crazy this season! There are super simple ways to make it fun for your little and easy on yourself.

Cotton Balls make it easy to set up a bath time or a snowball scene.
Have your elf bring a new book and set up a quick toy story time
This is my favorite to do each year

Hello Again!

Happy 50th WDW!

It’s been a long time since I had time to write. We’ve officially be Florida residents 3 months and it feel like a lifetime. Everything with our house was the absolute cluster we expected it to be. The dust has settled and we’re enjoying our house more. Being close to Disney is a dream. There is so much to do in Orlando. I can’t wait to share it with you all!

Hello house!

I can’t wait to start blogging again for y’all. In the meantime please enjoy these scavenger hunts I created for Sharkie. Each park has golden statues for the 50th anniversary.

You can save them images and print off at 88% for a full page. We use star stickers Favorites

Hope your littles love as much as mine does!

Dealing with the Death of a Pet: Toddlers

Sharkie and Jacque: Christmas 2019

Last month we lost our Guinea pig Jacque. He was five years old. I knew he would probably be Sharkie’s first heartbreak, but I thought we had a couple more years with him.

They’ve been the best of friends her whole life.

It’s hard because she’s old enough to know he is gone, but not old enough to really understand death. She’s had a hard time time with it, but here are some things that worked for us.

1) If you can let your child say goodbye. I took Jacque to the emergency vet right after Sharkie’s bedtime. I had a feeling he wouldn’t be coming back home from the emergency vet, so I made sure she said goodbye and snuggled him before I put her to bed.

2) Don’t hide the truth. I didn’t get back from the vet until after 1 am. Sharkie had been restless so she was up when I got home and asked about him. It would have been easier to say let’s talk about it in the morning, but I couldn’t lie to her. So I told her the truth.

3) Decide what you want to tell your child before talking with them. Try to deal with your own emotions first if you can. This way you’re calm when talking with your child. We decided to tell Sharkie that Jacque was very very sick and the doctors couldn’t help him, so he went to Heaven to be with his brother Gus Gus (our other Guinea pig who died in 2018). That he loved her and he’s watching over her. No matter how many times she asks to talk about Jacque we tell her the same things.

4) Be prepared to have the same conversation over and over. Try to be patient. Even though they’re asking the same questions over and over, they’re just trying to deal with their grief.

5) Help them heal. We sent Sharkie flowers from Jacque. We got a couple books on dealing with the loss of pets. Now a month later we’ve worked up to going to look at Guinea pigs at Petsmart. She wants another one, but I’ve been explaining just because it’s a red and white pig it’s not him. For now she just enjoys going to see them.

These are the books we read.
Looking at pigs at Petsmart

Losing a beloved pet is hard for anyone. Really the only thing that helps is time. But these tips helped Sharkie. If you’re in this unfortunate position. I hope they help you too.

Until we meet again sweet pig boys.

What We Loved About Our Trip to Charleston, WV

Downtown is so carefree and fun

Is West Virginia on your travel list?

To be honest it was only on mine in a “see all 50 states way”, but surprisingly we had a great time in Charleston, WV over the 4th.

5 reasons to put the Mountain State on your travel list.

1) The people are so incredibly nice. I mean nicer than Disney Cast Members. Everyone we met from people in the service sector to random folks on the street was so nice. Honestly, dealing with pleasant people is the best. Everyone was so friendly and so very kind to Sharkie.

2) The Weather! It’s been hot as hades in Lexington. It felt like summer, but enjoyable in WV. Warm, but not hot and no humidity. When I got out of the car back in Lexington I wanted to melt.

We enjoyed such nice weather.

3) Cute and Walkable downtown, we stayed at @embassysuitescwv which was beautiful and super clean. We were in walking distance of pretty much everything we wanted to do. We never got back on the interstate once we checked in. We walked to @charlestontowncenter, we were in walking distance of several amazing restaurants, and some cute stores. The whole vibe I got walking through downtown was very 70s. Which my vintage soul enjoyed.

So many murals!

4) Speaking of food, we were pleasantly surprised to find so many dog friendly restaurants. We traveled with Tia and sometimes it’s hard to find places, but @blacksheepwv and @piesandpints both are. Several others are as well, but these are the ones I called. We are ate Black Sheep and the food was really good! I recommend the Nashville Hot Chicken Burrito.

I really enjoyed Black Sheep. Would totally go back.

5) The Capitol is beautiful. I love historic and state buildings and the WV state Capitol is one of the prettiest I’ve seen. It’s definitely worth the walk around and across from the river which is beautiful as well! I harbored my own prejudices about WV being a backwater. But I was glad to be wrong.

So pretty! I loved it.
Beautiful water across from the Capitol.

We did a ton in our 36 hour trip to Charleston, but the atmosphere still made it so laid back and relaxing. We had a great time. It’s a very affordable city to visit, perfect for a long weekend.

Dollywood with Toddlers

Here’s what you need to know

*Disclaimer* This was a hosted experience, but all opinions and experiences expressed here are my own.

Here we go!

I grew up semi local to Dollywood. Being from Asheville I knew tons of people who had been. From what they said I was under the impression the majority of the park was thrill rides.

I’m thrilled to report that nothing could be further from the truth. Dollywood is so much more than rides and there was no shortage of activities for Sharkie.

Ride measuring station

The ride measuring station is the most genius thing I’ve ever seen, and I’ve only seen it at Dollywood. Once inside the park head to your left. Just past the Emporium gift shop you will see this area.

An attendant will measure your child and provide them with a color coding wristband. This completely eliminates measuring at the beginning of each ride. Saving so much time and toddler sanity.

Sharkie’s wristband

The bands are color coordinated so you know exactly which rides to look for. The attendant also gave us a chart to carry around with us so we knew where everything was.

I kept this with me all day. Helped me make sure we didn’t miss anything.
Did you know Dollywood has an app?

I didn’t! We downloaded the app when we got there and from ride times to food options it was super helpful! Don’t worry about battery drainage. There are tons of recharging stations throughout the park!

Black Bear Trail

Let’s talk about rides. There were so many options for Sharkie, but her favorite area was Wildwood Grove so that’s where we stayed.

Themed to nature and the mountains the entire area was geared toward younger children. Sharkie who measured in the lowest (grey) height category could do almost all the rides in this section.

  • Treetop Tower
  • Great Tree Swing
  • Black Bear Trail
  • Frogs and Fireflies
  • The Mad Mockingbird

Sharkie’s top 5 recommended rides. The wait times are very toddler friendly as well. We didn’t wait longer than 10 minutes for anything.

Don’t worry if your little isn’t ride ready yet. There is plenty of other stuff to do. There are a couple of options to get wet throughout the park like the Wildwood Creek area so I recommend bringing a swimsuit or a change of clothes.

Have an animal lover?

Sharkie loves birds, so Eagle Mountain was right up her alley. She’s enjoyed looking at all the beautiful birds.

I’m pretty sure “Tuck” posed for us.
So many fun photo opportunities!

While not ever toddler can enjoy a museum, Sharkie who is a fashion lover, loved the Chasing Rainbows exhibit.

I’m pretty sure she loved all of Dolly’s Costumes.
50’s themed yes please!

We chose to eat at Red’s for dinner and this was the one experience we had that was lacking. The service was average. 3/4 of the soda fountains were broken. The condiment bar was empty. We were pretty disappointed by our dinner, although the food was decent I can’t recommend this restaurant.

We did enjoy the classic cars though!

You can’t take a toddler to a theme park without getting a little treat and a souvenir or two. We finished our day with a visit to the candy shop and it didn’t disappoint. I came home with a bag of taffy.

Chocolate covered Oreos: beautiful and generous with the chocolate. We gave them a 9/10!
When we didn’t find a plush Dolly doll, Sharkie went with the obvious second choice: a pop gun. She was thrilled.

I was pleasantly surprised with the gift shop prices! Very affordable for a theme park!

I hear the cinnamon bread is out of this world. We didn’t try because of my GF diet, but I can vouch that it smelled amazing.
For my nursing mamas: the nursing station is at the front of the park.
Sharkie had a great time! She’s been talking about it for days.

I’m so glad we got the chance to experience Dollywood. It’s not just for the thrill rider. It’s for anyone in your family and it truly is a blast! We recommend going if you get the chance.

Paying Down Debt: You can be financially responsible and still be extra.

Disclaimer: This is what worked for our family, every situation is different.

Chase and I both come from poorer backgrounds. Money management wasn’t a strength for us in the beginning, because we had never had money to manage. We were also very young when we got together.

During the first 3 years of our relationship we racked up debt. Chase was relocated to Minnesota and we spent a lot of money traveling back and forth to see each other. In 2015 we got married, another expensive endeavor, and we still didn’t make a lot of money.

Best. Day. Ever.

In 2016 Chase was relocated to Kentucky and we were thrilled. Not only would we be closer to family, the cost of living was so much cheaper than Minneapolis. We knew our debt had to go before we could have a baby or buy a house. So we set out to pay off our debt.

The first thing you need to do is get a clear idea of how much debt you have. Including separate accounts your partner may not know about. This can be a difficult conversation, but it’s important to be honest and open.

Make a list. For us we had a credit card with a small amount, two with larger amounts, two car payments, one medical bill, and two student loans.

It can be so overwhelming.

We used the snowball method. Paying the minimum amount on all debts until paying off the smallest one, then applying that money to the next smallest one. Any extra money we received, like for selling something or as a gift was also applied to the first debt.

Everyone has different situations.

Not everyone gets a Christmas bonus. But Chase gets them with his company. We always picked a debt to pay with them. Once bonus money goes into the account it’s easy to spend it. We discussed before it came exactly what we wanted to do with it. Once it was deposited it immediately went to debt.

Paying off debt is a long process it doesn’t happen overnight. We started doing this in 2016. We paid off our last debt: one of Chase’s student loans in 2020. Keep chipping away and don’t get discouraged.

No groundbreaking secrets there, but that’s how we paid off our debt. We cut back on shopping and dining, but mostly lived our life as normal.

Now for my tips that are more unique to my family. I’m an “extra” person and I love to shop. I spend money on gifts, themed play dates, and other extras. But that all adds up and we didn’t want to fall right back into debt. I also didn’t want to give those habits up. They bring joy to myself and others.

So I sought out ways to be extra on the cheap side and here’s what I do.

1) I started a side hustle. This isn’t going to be something everyone can do, but it’s more accessible than you think. I started a blog and a reselling business on Poshmark. But it can be something as simple as selling old items on Facebook marketplace and saving that cash for fun stuff.

2) Speaking of Facebook Marketplace. I make our items work for us. If we’re done with something I always sell it. Whether on marketplace, eBay, Poshmark, consignment , the local mom page, or at a yard sale I always sell the items we’re done with.

3) Shop Used. Not only is this more economical. It’s so much better for the environment. We recently redid Sharkie’s room. I shopped on Facebook marketplace and Goodwill and was able to re-do the room for 1/3 of new.

  • Goodwill
  • Ebay
  • Poshmark
  • Mercari
  • Facebook Marketplace
  • Yard Sale Pages
  • Local Consignment

These are all great places to start looking for great items.

4) Shop Off The Wall Places. I know some people are off put by places like TJ Maxx. They can be disorganized, but I find the best stuff for the best prices.

  • TJ Maxx
  • Marshall’s
  • Ross
  • Home Goods
  • Burlington
  • Ollie’s Bargain Outlet
  • Big Lots

5) Shop Ahead. This one requires a little extra room and money but if you have both this one will save you a lot money in the long run. When I see sales or find something great but maybe seasonal I go ahead and get it and hang onto it.

I snagged these items recently, but plan to save them for Fall. I got them at Ollie’s so they were cheaper than buying craft kits this Fall.
I also snag items for major holidays like Christmas and birthdays. Saving these Sharkie’s stocking.

Every family is unique, but this is what helped us pay off our debt. The other tips help me maintain my “extra-ness” without breaking the bank.

Currently the only debt we have is our mortgage. Hopefully we can keep to our plan and remain debt free. It’s so easy to get into debt; but getting out is 100% worth it.