Our weekend kind of started – well beginning Friday – started off pretty busy. We went to the Cubs game via some free tickets Nicole scored from work, along with a parking pass. We’re South Side fans in actuality – White Sox fans for those of you not familiar with Chicago – but it’s hard to pass up free tickets to any sporting event. We ended up only spending $12 grabbing lunch to bring into the park with us. Pretty nice outing for the price. Of course, that doesn’t include the hour drive to and the two hour drive home from the park. Thank you, Chicago traffic.

Enjoy your weekend!

Ikea Visit

Monday Dinner Recipe

How We Have Fun On A Budget




No matter how tight your budget is, you still have to make room for fun or life would be miserable. Of course, you shouldn’t put yourself in debt or bust your budget in the process if you want to meet your financial goals. We’ve always been frugal when it comes to our entertainment expenses, but here’s some of the things we’ve been doing lately to minimize entertainment spending while still having fun on the weekends.

Utilize our cash back rewards from our Discover card
We charge everything we can to our Discover so we can earn rewards to get free gift cards. There’s a ton of different stores available, but we primarily stick to restaurant gift cards so we can go out to eat without guilt.

Buy discounted certificates is a decent option to obtain discounted restaurant certificates. We bought a few $10 certificates recently when they were only $2 and made sure the minimum purchase amounts weren’t above what we’d normally spend. Keep those minimums in mind before placing your order!

Groupon is a fantastic source for discounted restaurant certificates as well as things to do. Even better, we can cash in our Discover cash back for Groupon bucks so we never pay out of pocket.

Take advantage of previously purchased memberships, events, and gift cards
Last year we purchased memberships to Cosley Zoo and Morton Arboretum which we plan to visit as often as possible this year in order to get our money’s worth. We’ll also pack a lunch so we’re not tempted to stop somewhere.

In December we bought gift cards to Lou Malnati’s, Noodles & Company, and Red Robin when they were running promotions so we’ll be using those cards to dine out and not have to pay out of pocket. In addition, I went through our gift card stash and found one for Buona Beef as well as a gift certificate for Bahama Breeze. I think it’s safe to say we have plenty of options for dining out without opening our wallets.

Hosting game nights
We have an extensive board game collection and love having people over to play. This one isn’t always the cheapest since we like to make sure our guests have plenty of snacks and drinks, but it’s still cheaper than going out to dinner and/or an event.

Free admission places & events
There are several forest preserves in our area we plan to visit, plus there’s free upcoming events in the area we plan to attend (I posted a list here).

We also have access to free museum passes (as well as Brookfield Zoo) via our local library’s Museum Adventure Pass.

Before Joe was laid off we purchased tickets to see my favorite band in the whole world, The Cure, in concert in June so that’s a guaranteed fun night out that has already been paid for.

With all the above options we definitely won’t be bored even if we can’t afford more expensive outings.


I thought I’d have a little fun on a Monday morning to start the week off. While they may not have taught me how to calculate the payments on a 30 year fixed mortgage, these movies taught me (a little) something about business. This list started out as only 5 movies, but then my list grew to 21! I went with the middle of the road, so in no particular order, I give you 10 of my favorite business related movies.
Read More →


Another busy week. Here we are coming into April and opening day for Major League Baseball. Go Sox! And let’s not forget about hockey. The Blackhawks are once again playoff bound!

Laid Off Or Fired? Now What?

The “New” Retirement Number?

Joe’s Latest Addictions

Free Magazine Fridays

I also added a new Recommendations page giving a few apps and websites worth a try. We don’t endorse anything we don’t already use AND most importantly like!

14-0809_2016 Opening Day


Here we are, April 1st. Signs of spring here in Chicago are everywhere, finally! Baseball season is right around the corner. Now we just need the warm weather. And in true Chicago fashion, there’s a chance of snow showers tomorrow.

I enjoy the mornings, sitting at the kitchen table enjoying a cup of coffee and reading a magazine. I like reading magazines. I have a few I receive digitally, and a good handful we receive in the mail each month. I always have people look at me funny when I tell them we receive 5 or 6 magazines a month at home. When they ask why so many, I tell them well, because I enjoy reading and I get them for free. They stop looking at me so funny when they find out I receive them for free.

I been using Reward Survey for years. Just with signing up and completing some surveys and profile information you could be eligible for credits that can be used on magazine subscriptions. They do have a limited selection of magazines but add new ones from time to time. For me, every Friday I receive an email with another survey to complete for a $20 credit towards magazines. The weekly surveys I complete are quick, literally just a couple minutes. If you’re interested, click the picture below.




Spring has sprung, and this post is for all of you who live in the Western Chicago suburbs. I spent a few hours this past weekend looking for free festivals and events coming up in the next three months. Now, obviously it’s up to you whether these events end up costing you anything since there are vendors selling food and other items. We are perfectly happy to bring our own food and just walk around the festivals window shopping.

April 30th & May 1st – Elmurst, IL
Art in the Park – Welcome spring at this free annual event that celebrates art and community. Browse fine art, craft & designer items at the 20th Annual Art in the Park. Featuring over 125 artists from across the Midwest, the event will also include music, food from local vendors and children’s activities.

Lilacs at Lilacia Park in Lombard, IL

April 30th – May 15th – Lombard, IL
Lilac Time – Lilacia Park comes alive with fragrant blooming lilacs, not to mention tons of beautiful tulips. It’s not to be missed! (Note: The photo above was taken by me last year; we love packing a picnic lunch and spending a couple of hours in the park).

May 7th – Wheaton, IL
Go Fly a Kite – Go Fly a Kite is a free event held in Wheaton’s Graf Park that encourages the community to come out and enjoy spring and fly kites!

May 19th-22nd – Glen Ellyn, IL
Taste of Glen Ellyn – The Taste of Glen Ellyn is a Family Event featuring LIVE Entertainment, Great FOOD, COLD Beverages, Carnival Rides, The CRAFT Festival, and a Business EXPO.

May 21st – Carol Stream, IL
JustPlay! is exactly what its name suggests – it’s just about playing. It’s about forgetting about work, bills and stress, and just having fun! JustPlay! offers dozens of free activities to thousands of participants. All designed to encourage people of all ages and backgrounds to get active, have fun, try new activities and have a memorable weekend in the Chicago suburbs.

June 2nd-5th – Wheaton, IL
Taste of Wheaton – Free entertainment (music, performances), food booths, and an arts and crafts fair are the highlights of this festival.


It’s that time of the year again where many companies offer bonuses when you purchase a gift card. We end up spending a lot of money at once to ultimately save money throughout the year on places we’d be visiting anyway. So without further ado, here’s this year’s list:

Classic Cinemas – Free movie ticket when you purchase a $50 gift card (this is available to Classic Reward members, so sign up now and you might get an email as you need to bring that in to get the deal).

Culvers – Free value basket for every $25 gift card. Value Basket certificates expire February 21, 2016. This deal can’t be beat since those value baskets are typically worth $8+! We end up buying several $25 cards since Culvers has delicious burgers.

Half Price Books – $5 bonus when you buy a $25 gift card. The $5 bonus card is only valid in-store 1/1/16-1/31/16.

Lou Malnatis – Free $10 certificate when you purchase a $50 gift card or a free $25 certificate when you purchase a $100 gift card. We always get the $100 gift card which pays for four deep dish pizzas throughout the year and the $25 certificate is the same as getting a fifth deep dish pizza for free. The certificate is good through June 30, 2016.

Noodles & Company – $5 bonus card for each $25 card purchased. $5 bonus card valid 1/1/15-1/31/15. Since the bonus card is only good for a month, and we don’t eat at Noodles & Company very often, we plan on purchasing just one card since we know we’ll be eating there in January for my birthday. Did you know if you sign up for their eclub you get a free bowl of noodles for your birthday? No additional purchase required!

Red Robin – $5 bonus buck reward with every $25-$45 gift card. The $5 bonus buck reward is good from 1/1/16-2/29/16. This is another one we might take advantage of since we’ll be visiting Red Robin in January to redeem my free birthday burger.

Speedway – Free Speedy Rewards points with a Food & Merchandise card purchase. I couldn’t find the details online, but if you belong to Speedy Rewards, you get extra bonus points (which can be used towards coffee and other items) for purchasing a gift card. Joe learned that the fuel only card doesn’t qualify for the extra points, so beware!

If you know of any other deals, please share them in the comments.

I’ve also added a link to a larger list posted by Deal News here.