We Tried Shopkick… Here’s Our Verdict.

Interested in the Shopkick app but not sure if it's worth your time?  Here's my review!

 

Shopkick App Review… We Tried It For You!

I'm always up to try new apps that help me save money or even earn money while doing my grocery shopping.

While ShopKick has actually been around for some time, it was one I'd never gotten around to trying.  To kick off our series on ways to earn money before Christmas, I thought I'd give this popular app a try!

What is ShopKick?

  • Shopkick is a free app that lets you earn points for shopping
  • Use code PENNYPINCH5 to earn a $5 bonus for walking into a store within the first 7 days
  • Earn points (or “kicks”) for scanning and shopping for featured items
  • Redeem points for giftcards (Amazon, Walmart, Starbucks) or get paid via Paypal
  • Many stores give kicks just for walking through the door (i.e. TJ Maxx Walk-in = 50 kicks!)

This is Reagan – she's the baby of my bunch!

My daughter Reagan and I tried out the Shopkick app a few weeks ago (she's 12 and looking for ways to make a little extra moo-lah!), and we were able to earn $25 in gift cards (that you can use at Walmart, Amazon, or even Paylpal credit) without too much effort! We went into the stores, and right off the bat got $5 just for walking in.  We scanned several items, and then bought a few things at Walmart that specifically included Shopkick credits.  Once in the car, I uploaded the receipt and we got our “kicks” back in just a few days.

If you're not willing to purchase specific Shopkick items you'll earn more slowly – but you'll definitely still earn that first $5 doing practically nothing!  Just make sure to use code PENNYPINCH5 to get your $5 for a store walk-in 🙂

My friend Jamie tried it this past week too – here's what she had to say:

Getting kicks for walking into Target!

Jamie here! First of all, I was SUPER SKEPTICAL about ShopKick.  It seemed like one of those apps that was going to waste my time, without any real payout.  But after one week I just cashed in for a $10 Starbucks Giftcard, so I have changed my tune!

Here's how I earned my $10 in one week of barely trying….

  • Monday afternoon Idownloaded the app and used code PENNYPINCH5 so I could get the $5 Bonus
  • I pulled into CVS and made sure the app was on, so it would register that I was indeed “walking in”
  • I walked into CVS and made $5 🙂
  • While there I scanned some candy and magazines to earn Kicks and see how the app worked.
  • Between Friday and Saturday I went to TJMaxx, Target, Walmart and Publix to do some shopping.  I got walk-in bonuses for all those places.  Some I got just for walking by the front door!
  • I scanned maybe 15 items at my Walmart and earned about 300 more kicks.
  • One item I purchased, a box of Frosted Flakes, was an item that earns kicks.  I scanned my receipt, and I think I got 300 kicks for that.  (It only takes 1250 for a $5 giftcard – so I think I'll look out for more of those high-earning items!)

Yesterday I was able to cash in for a $10 Starbucks Giftcard.  That's it!

My verdict:

I will probably not use the app all the time, but anytime I'm heading into Target with my kids I'll turn it on and have them go scan some things for me while I shop.  Same with drugstores like CVS.  I think this is an app that you can either earn quite a bit on if you're highly motivated, or earn passively if you're just a little too busy to fool with it.

If nothing else – the $5 you get on your first walk-in is enough reason to make me recommend this app to everyone.  Whether you decide to keep using it or not!

 

 

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9 Secrets to Saving on Medical Expenses

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If you've been looking for ways to save on medical expenses, you're not alone!   The cost of office visits, prescriptions, and follow-up care can be overwhelming and disheartening – but there are several things you can do to lower your costs.   Check out these 9 tips and tricks to save money on your medical bills!

Ways to Save on Medical Expenses

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1. Be Honest With Your Doctor

It's normal to fear your upcoming medical costs before you ever leave the examination room.  Rather than wondering and worrying if there's anything that can be done – have an honest chat with your doctor before you go.  Ask if all the tests/procedures are necessary (especially if you have a high out of pocket deductible) and if there are any generics for the prescriptions he's writing.   Sometimes there might even be an over-the-counter medicine that's equally effective.

Simply knowing you're in a bind might prompt your doctor to offer you options, or a helpful tip.

… and be sure to ask for SAMPLES!

Doctors offices normally have a supply of various drug samples that are up for grabs – if you know to ask.  By requesting a sample of the drug you need, you may save yourself a few weeks off the purchase of the prescription.

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2. Get Some Prescriptions FREE

Before you run out to fill that new prescription, check around to see if you can get it for free. Some pharmacies (like Publix) have a list of prescriptions they offer at absolutely no cost – while Walmart & Target have a similar list of $4 prescriptions.

Here are some examples of what prescriptions are routinely offered for free or at a value price:

  • Blood Pressure Medication
  • Common Antibiotics
  • Diabetes Medication

 

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3. Make Sure to Get the Best Prescription Price

Unfortunately – only a handful of prescriptions are part of the free or cheap group above.  When you're faced with a pricier prescription, arm yourself with the tools to find the absolute lowest price in town.  It could mean BIG savings for you over time!

One useful site is GoodRX (they also have a mobile app).  GoodRX  lists the costs of your prescription at pharmacies in your area.  The nice part is, you don't need to drive all over town to get the best price – just show the cashier at your pharmacy and they'll match the lowest price around!

*Read more details here

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4.  Check for Manufacturer Coupons

Anytime you have a new prescription, it's a good idea to search the internet for coupons.  Manufacturers will sometimes have printable coupons, rebates or copay discount cards available!

5. Call the Company and Ask for Help

It never, ever, ever, EVER hurts to try – right?

There may come a time when the prescription that you need is just completely unaffordable.  That's an awfully scary place to find yourself – and people do every day.
Often, a simple call to the company that makes the drug in question, can be the first step to HUGE savings.  While there's no guarantee, if you call the company to explain the situation, and ask if they offer a drug assistance card – you could receive phenomenal discounts out of sheer goodwill.  I know of a woman who's worried phone call to a drug company brought her $2000 prescription down to only $10 a month ~ it never ever hurts to ask!

6. Pay the Bill Up Front for a Discount

You can often get a discount if you offer to pay off the full bill up front for a medical expense.  While that's not always possible – getting the bill paid in full can leave a lot of extra money in your pocket over time.  Of course that requires budgeting for medical costs…

Just getting started budgeting?  Check out How Real Budgeting Looks In Our House and print out my Free Printable Budget Spreadsheet.

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7. Review Your Bill for Mistakes

You guys . . .  this tip might seem a little silly, but wait until you hear the stats.  While researching how to save on medical expenses, my mind was completely blown when I read in an article that 9 out of 10 hospital bills contain overcharges (9 out of 10!!)  If that's the case – we should all be reading through our medical bills to make sure there are no add-ons or discrepancies.

 

8. Take Advantage of Employee Health Savings Plans

Does your job offer a health savings account like an Flexible Spending Account (FSA)?  If so, learn all you can about it!  These are great ways to help you save if you have a high-deductible plan.

An FSA is basically money you set aside for the year's out of pocket medical costs and whatever you put aside will not be counted as taxable income.  The only thing to remember here is that whatever you don't use by the end of the year – you LOSE (watch the cut off date for when you lose that money – typically March of the following year).  Here are some things you can spend your remaining FSA cash on so you won't lose it:

  • Sunscreen (be careful not to overstock – this does expire after awhile!)
  • Breast Pumps
  • Contact Lenses
  • Reading Glasses
  • Over the counter medicines (time to toss out anything that's expired!)
  • Teeth cleaning
  • Chiropractor visits
  • Diabetes testing kits
  • Blood pressure monitor
  • Canes, Walkers, etc

Whatever you spend it on – don't let it go to waste!

 

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9. Staying Healthy

We've all heard the saying prevention is the best medicine… and in many cases it's SO true!  Staying in shape, eating healthful foods, and avoiding health risks are all ultimately saving you big money on future medical expenses.

If you need some motivation for living frugally while managing to eat well and get in shape – you might also enjoy these tips for how to save on organic food!

What other tips do you have for saving on medical expenses? I'd love to hear your thoughts ~ leave a comment to share!

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DIY Pumpkin Succulent Planter

Wondering how to make those beautiful pumpkin succulent planters? Passionate Penny Pincher has you covered.

DIY Pumpkin Succulent Planter

I've been just a little (ok, a lot!) obsessed with making these DIY Pumpkin Succulent Planters over the past few weeks.

Pumpkins + Succulents = ❤️ (or Pucculents, ha!)

Seriously what's not to love???

DIY Pumpkin Succulent Planter

Here's what you'll need to get started: 

I started by giving my pumpkins a bleach bath.

You can do this by filling your sink with water and adding a 1/2 cup bleach. Just splash them around so the whole pumpkin is covered with the mixture. This will preserve your pumpkins so they last a bit longer.

You can skip this step, just make sure to clean all the debris off the pumpkin before adding the moss.

How to Make a DIY Pumpkin Succulent Planter

DIY Pumpkin Succulent Planter

Next, remove the stem and spray a small amount of the adhesive over the top of the pumpkin, gently adding enough moss to cover the top of the pumpkin. A 1/2″ of moss is perfect! 🙂

You'll want to do this outdoors as it's kinda messy.

DIY Pumpkin Succulent Planter

Next, you actually take the succulent out of its pot and cut off the roots (I promise, it'll be ok!😊) Gently shake off the excess dirt so you have a clean stem to glue onto your pumpkin.

DIY Pumpkin Succulent Planter

Finally, using tacky glue or hot glue (the succulents don't care) start gluing the succulents onto your pumpkin. I started with the taller ones first a little off center and then came down with the smaller plants to fill in the holes.

DIY Pumpkin Succulent Planter

I loved the first one so much, I made a few others… 🧡

DIY Pumpkin Succulent Planter

If you use between 5 or 6 succulents on each pumpkin it will help keep the cost down. My total per pumpkin was around $15.

Our local Kroger had a variety of succulents at decent prices, but buying flower pots with several groupings of succulents was really the best bargain. 🌵

DIY Pumpkin Succulent Planter

 

Don't you just LOVE them??

 

DIY Pumpkin Succulent Planter

 

The baby ones cost $3.50 to make and is such a sweet centerpiece if you're hosting Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving this year. 🙂

 

DIY Pumpkin Succulent Planter

How to Care for Succulents

To care for your pumpkin succulent simply spritz the moss and the succulents with water once a week.  Keep you pumpkin in indirect sunlight.

 

If you want to figure out how to plant succulents, I didn't do that with these pumpkins but you can if you're SUPER adventurous. Just carve out the pumpkin and set the succulents in a flower pot with good soil. Just add moss to cover the soil.

 

If you're wondering how long your succulents will live, with proper care these DIY Pumpkin Succulent Planters will last several weeks!!

 

DIY Pumpkin Succulent Planter

 

If you're looking for additional frugal fall projects, take a peek at 17 of our most popular ones below! The DIY Fall Paper Garland and DIY Wood Bead Garland are two of my favorites. 🙂

DIY Fall Decor on a Budget

Check out these 12 DIY Fall decor ideas you can make on a budget!

More DIY Projects and Ideas

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Laurie’s Kitchen Update: Amazing what a few minutes can do!

 

I realized yesterday when doing a few big tasks around all things PPP, that I haven't given you an update on our home in just about forever-and-a-day. 🙂 

 

It's not that I've really updated anything at all, just a quick-happy-tidying and peek inside the world I hang out in every day.

 

So, here's a quick look around.

 

I start most mornings at the gym, then on Monday, Wednesday and Friday work from home. I'm usually at my desk by 8AM, prepping for Facebook Live which I try to keep up with those days.

 

Being real honest I hate Facebook Live because video is still pretty intimidating for me, but I so love connecting with you there!

Well, this morning I did some serious scrubbing thanks to the Grove & Mrs. Meyer's on Facebook Live. (Remember, you can get your free cleaning supplies from the Grove right over HERE.)

 

Cleaned out our seriously disgusting corner lazy-susan (GROSS.)

Tidied up our poor waffle iron (this is the second one I've had of these in 22 years. I love it and clearly we  use it all the time.) 

And decided poor ole' Mrs. Potts needed a serious deep clean too.

 

(I shared these over on Instagram. You can click this link to get yours.)

 

(And in case you're curious If you're curious, these are the things I personally recommend . . . I'm in LOVE LOVE LOVE with that Mrs. Meyer's Cream Cleaner. I'm 99% sure you will love it too.) 

 

Then got everything put right back in place.

 

Started dinner in my freshly-cleaned-and-sparkly Mrs. Potts,

 

had an early lunch . . . (I should have taken a pic of lunch ~ eggs and spinach + a banana pb low-carb tortilla wrap fromour free Back-to-School menu plan. It's like dessert + a banana to be healthy. So simple and so. so. good.)

 

And wiped down the kitchen sink one more time.

Dinner is done. Sinks are cleaned. And for this very second, all feels right in the world.

If you need to catch your breath today just a wee bit, I encourage you to clear the clutter, tackle your home, and love on the things you care about most for just a few minutes today. I promise just spending 30 minutes to care for your home, food and family might just totally brighten your little corner of the world too.

 

I'm right over on this side of the screen cheering for you!

 

 

Just in case you're interested, here's how to try out the Grove for free if you'd love some motivation to freshen up for fall too:

  • Start HERE
  • Choose your freebie scents (I picked Pumpkin Spice since I can't get that one anywhere else – I can't wait to try it)!
  • Get SIX FREE ITEMS: FREE hand soap, FREE dish soap, FREE multipurpose spray, FREE cleaning caddy, FREE 2 pack of sponges (And some readers are getting a FREE Glass Spray Bottle!)
  • When the Grove automatically adds extra suggestions to your cart, delete it unless it's really what you want
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Be a Beautiful Reaction.

 

  Note: I wrote this right after my dad passed away a week ago, but have been hesitant to share it (and very well may take it down!) I don't want you to feel discouraged by this if your finances are different than our family's, but I DO want to encourage you (especially if dreaming big has been on your heart for awhile!) No matter where you're at, I'm right here on this side of the screen cheering for you!   ❤️

 

In the last five days I've been to my favorite beach on the planet.

Decided on a major business decision.

Um, and my dad passed away.

 

And … just to keep things interesting, my husband and I paid our house off completely too. (Keep reading. The house being paid off had absolutely nothing and absolutely everything to do with dad passing away too.)

Good. gravy.

 

It's been quite a week.

 

Last Friday, I got a phone call that I needed to come see my dad in the hospital ~ he wasn't doing well.

I'd been with him the weekend before (to give my stepmom a few hours off), as dad had been struggling with dementia for quite awhile.

(They've been married since I was four, and bless her sweet heart, the woman is a saint and an amazing gift to our family. And a wonderful grandma to my kids, beyond what I could ever ask for!) 

 

While we were there last weekend he just was off, and I knew things didn't look good.

 

So I headed to Kentucky Friday where he'd been hospitalized, stayed the night with him there, and felt when I left the next morning his future looked bleak.

 

Mercifully, he passed away Sunday night. 

 

I'm not gonna lie. (I truly don't believe he'd ever expect me to.) Our relationship has been okay these last few years, but he'd made some choices along the way that has made my life a wee bit more difficult at times.

 

And these last few weeks as I've watched him struggle, for whatever reason I've questioned my own value, and Whose I really am over and over each day

 

I've questioned my own parenting decisions, our family's financial decisions, and my business decisions. But more than anything, I've struggled way way deep down questioning my own self-worth. (Something I'm pretty sure I've struggled with since the very day I was born. Anyone else?)

 

I've watched my parents make a lot of decisions over the years. Some good, some not-quite-as-good, and I've learned so very much from them. 

 

But over and over this last week as I've struggled through 43-years-of-deep-seated-self-doubt, the words “be a beautiful reaction” have been right at the front of my mind.

(A friend of mine took me to hear Bob Goff a few months ago where he talked about being a beautiful reaction to whatever life hands to us each day. I've posted it on my computer. Said it out loud to my husband.  And muttered it to myself over and over recently in times of uncertainty.)

 

Fast forward 4 days. 

 

Because the services aren't until early next week, my girls and I snuck away to the beach yesterday since we'd already had the trip planned.

Today we put our toes in the sand.

 

Jumped a few waves.

 

Got more sun that a few cute blonde girls could ever possibly need.

 

And had just the most lovely day.

But it gets better (keep reading!)

 

My husband called me tonight and was almost giddy with excitement.

 

He paid off our house today.

 

WE PAID OFF OUR HOUSE TODAY.

 

OUR WHOLE HOUSE. 

 

The garage.

 

The basement.

 

Allllll the things.

 

They're all paid for. 

 

We've been working towards this crazy-obnoxious-goal for the last few years, but over the last few months we kind of just got crazy.

 

And when dad passed away just a few days ago, I was reminded that I wanted to live this life knowing full well we were completely financially cared for.

 

So my sweet husband wrote the check today, giving us true financial peace that is beyond just crazy to me.

 

Now I'm not going to lie about this one either.

That financial peace has come at a steep cost.

 

For the last ten years I haven't gone on vacation once without my laptop.

 

While other folks sleep in, I'm up almost every morning at 4:45AM so I can get started for the day and still (somewhat!) manage my family and home.

 

I haven't had a day off 100% fully from work except Christmas Day since September of 2009. 

 

(That being said, I have an AMAZING TEAM and I'm now sometimes able to only work for a few hours while they handle so much of the rest. I am so crazy thankful for each of them and could never-ever-never do this on my own!) 

My kids don't know though that other families discuss things besides business strategies, coming up with Facebook growth plans, and email marketing ideas around the dinner table at night. (Bless them, they tell me other stuff in their lives, but business talk always takes over the table. EEK!)

 

I wake up at least 3 mornings a-week-almost-every-week and do Facebook Live videos for a few thousand folks that are willing to watch.

 

(YOU GUYS. I HATE FACEBOOK LIVE AND I HATE VIDEO IN GENERAL WITH EVERY SINGLE OUNCE OF MYSELF. IT IS CRAZY PAINFUL FOR ME. But I know it works and is the only way I know to get “seen” in an awfully noisy world. So I do it despite the huge level of frustration I feel against it every day!)

 

And I watch other moms be normal moms, attend Bible Study, volunteer, and grab coffee or get their toenails done just for fun. I sometimes watch with a tinge of jealously, wondering what that must be like. But (at least most of the time?), I feel so strongly that what we do here on PPP might add true value for the million-or-so-folks who choose to stop by, that I keep right on typing.

 

Whew. 

I've chosen instead of coffee and long vacations and sleeping in, that at least for this season, my beautiful reaction to my parents good and sometimes not-good-at-all choices, I will figure this whole business thing out.

 

And today was oodles of proof that sometimes the hustle truly works. 

 

I think my dad would have been plenty proud. (He'd always been super proud of me, and for that I'm forever thankful!)

 

I don't know much about what kind of past you've had either. 

 

I don't know what kind of regrets you've seen.

 

And I don't know if you've ever been given something to deal with that just felt so much bigger than something you could ever tackle yourself.

 

But I do know this.

 

Today.

 

This day.

 

You and I get to choose to be a beautiful reaction to whatever life throws our way. 

 

Although my heart has hurt more times than I ever would choose, I'm incredibly thankful that even in that hurt God has orchestrated so many unique opportunities for me to beautifully react each day.

 

And I have full faith that if He cares enough to do that with this mess-of-a-momma,

 

He absolutely cares enough for you to do the exact same thing too. 

 

Don't give up on your crazy dreams.

 

Don't ever think once that something's way too big for you.

 

Know instead that if you're really willing to make a few sacrifices along the way, those small daily sacrifices might just add up to a whole heaping pile of success, turning your biggest dreams into reality too.

 

Whatever comes your way today, 

 

be a beautiful reaction as you head along your way. 

 

 

 

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Retail Price Cheat Sheet

Retail Price Cheat Sheet

 

 

I'm sooooooo excited about our new awesome cheat sheet for retail prices!!

 

If you missed my FB Live you can watch it here.

 

If you struggle with knowing what really is a good price on Crocs, Converse, Instant Pots, Kitchenaids, Apple products, TVs, or Eno Hammocks . . . 

 

then this sheet is just for you.

This will give you help you know all the time whether or not you're getting a REAL deal, or just what the stores are telling you is a deal. (Ever seen the “retail price” at Kohl's and Amazon but think it seems way to high? Yup, me too.)

 

Just like groceries, if you don't know your target price for everything you buy retail you can easily overspend, so this is an awesome way to know when something's really worth picking up, and when it really isn't all that much of a deal.

 

I love that!

 

Hurry over HERE to print your free list (if you don't get it immediately, check your spam folder and email us at contact@passionatepennypincher.com if you have any issues at all.)

 

Happy shopping!

Here's some other FREE printables you might like:

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5 Best Things to Buy at Brandless (When you’re not sure if it’s worth it)

Wonder what are the Best Things to Buy at Brandless?  So were we!  Here are some good things to try on your first order….

 

 

We've been hearing a lot about Brandless lately.  This everything-for-$3 online store is cutting out the brand-tax by making quality products for less.  It's like a Trader Joe's or an Aldi – but with one price point and delivered to your door.

 

 

Here are our recommendations for the best things to buy at brandless - with Target house brand comparisons to help you know if brandless is worth it.

The idea is really intriguing, but it got me wondering: Is Brandless worth it?

After browsing the site and reading several reviews – here's my thought…..

The key thing to remember if you're trying out Brandless for the first time is that SOME items are going to be good deals and SOME items just won't.  For instance, pasta sauce, which we know can be as low as $1- $1.50, will be better to pick up at the grocery store instead.  Of course, convenience always plays a role in shopping – so that might even the playing field for you!

Here are 5 good items to try out on your first order at Brandless I've compared these against Target's house organic brand (Simply Balanced) to get a good price comparison and they all came out WINNERS!

5 Best Things to Buy at Brandless

Organic Blueberry Flax Granola 12oz – $3 – vs – Simply Balanced Blueberry Flax Granola 12 oz $3.99

**25¢ vs 33.25¢ per ounce

Blue Corn Tortilla Chips 8oz – 2/$3 – vs – Simply Balanced Blue Corn Tortilla Chips 12 oz $2.79

**18.75¢ vs 23.25¢ per ounce

Organic Peanut Butter 12oz – $3 – vs – Simply Balanced Organic Peanut Butter 16 oz $4.89

**25¢ vs 30.5¢ per ounce

Organic EVO 8.5oz – $3 – vs – Simply Balanced Organic EVO 16.9 oz $7.89

**35¢ vs 46¢ per ounce

Organic Olive Oil/Sea Salt Popcorn 4.6oz 2/$3 – vs – Simply Balanced Organic Sea Salt Popcorn 5.5 oz $2.70

**32.6¢ vs 50.72¢ per ounce

———————————————————————————————

If those aren't enough reasons to get you to try Brandless – right now they're also offering FREE shipping on your first order!

 

Brandless carries items in just about every category – from organic pantry staples, to notebooks and pens, to bath tissue and beauty products.  I'd love to hear if you try out some of the other items on the site, and what you feel was a good deal.  (And what wasn't!)

After your first order, shipping runs $5 per order (no matter how much you have) or FREE on a $39 + purchase.  In addition to the great deals available – Brandless donates a meal to Feeding America when any order is placed. 🙂

 

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DIY Lego Tray Table

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DIY Lego Tray Table

 

My friend Jamie is sharing this AMAZING Lego Tray Table idea today, and I'm completely obsessed with it! Such a great idea for traveling and just a fun little project that I love. Thank you so much for sharing Jamie (this one makes me so happy and I might just make Reagan one for the summertime!) Jamie is mom to 4 cute Lego-loving boys, and has been helps out behind the scenes here on PPP. I love her and know you will too!

This DIY Lego Tray Table is probably the “coolest” thing I've made in a long time.  The boys rarely get excited when I break out my hot glue gun (weird?), but this time I definitely the words “Whoa!” and “Awesome!”.

 

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Recently we redid our basement and decided it was time to remove the three (I kid you not – THREE!) bulky Lego tables, in favor of being able to see the floor.  This was a problem, because with four Lego-obsessed boys, we've accumulated about 18 million Legos that no longer had a home.

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After mulling it over, I figured I could turn an old tray and a few baseplates into a “Mini” building station that could be stashed away or carried from room to room.  This DIY Lego Tray Table is a PERFECT place to build at home or on the go – and it's super easy to make!  Here's how….

First, you'll need a tray (with legs) and 3 baseplates.  I used this bed tray, however I kind of love this one because it's prettier AND has handles. 🙂

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Measure the tray to see how many base plates you need.  (You can use real LEGO baseplates OR this 4pk of generic ones works just as well – it's what I ended up going with!)

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Most baseplates come in 10″x10″ squares.  My tray was 19″ x 12″, so I needed 3 – two to fit across the tray and one extra to fill in the gap. I should have known I wouldn't get lucky and have two cover it perfectly….

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Next, use a box cutter to trim the baseplates to fit.  I really didn't think this would actually cut through the plastic – but it did!  Once you measure and mark where you need to cut, snap Legos onto the baseplate in a straight line to guide your cutting.  This is SO helpful to cut in a straight line.

Press down and guide the box cutter along the line to slice through the plastic.  Make the slice over and over and over until it's ready to bend and snap off.  This took me a good five minutes probably.

pppdiylegotraytable6

 

Check your progress by peeking at the opposite side of the plate once in awhile.  When you can see a white line clearly along the entire length of the bottom you know it's weak enough.  Bend it back and forth a few times until it breaks cleanly.

To attach the baseplates to the tray, get a hot glue gun ready.  This part is a little bit tricky.  The problem is, in the time it takes to cover a baseplate in hot glue, half of it gets hard.  Or in my case – I squeezed hot glue into a big square shape on the tray, and then tried to stick the base plate on, but it was mostly hard already.  (FYI – you could totally avoid this dilemma by using this glue!)

UGH!  Luckily I was able to peel it off and try again.  This time I glued each baseplate down in increments.

 

pppdiylegotraytable2

Stay with me here – because this is extremely scientific. 😉  Starting at one side of the tray, squeeze out several globs of hot glue (Enough to cover about half of a baseplate) and press a baseplate down onto it.  Now lift up the edge that doesn't have any glue under it yet, squirt some more hot glue under there real quick, and stick it back down.

I *wish* I had a picture of this step to show you – but my hands were all tied up trying not to get my skin hot glued off!

 

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Repeat with the other plate and the remaining sections until the tray is covered.

TIP:  Click a couple Legos onto the two baseplates to connect them before the glue gets hard.  This is just a good way to make sure all the little studs are lined up with each other.

Press around as it dries to make sure everything lays down nice and flat.

If you have a Silhouette like Laurie, you could make your tray SUPER cute by adding your child's name.  And – oh my gosh – how cute would this be as a gift???

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In our family, this little table gets used ALL the time, especially by my 9 year old.  I tucked a big comfy reading pillow into a corner of the family room – and it's become his happy place.  🙂

Now that I've made one for my guys – I'm thinking of making one for my nephew for Christmas.  If you get a chance to try this DIY Lego Tray Table – I'd love to hear how it turned out!  Especially if you have any tips or tricks that you did to personalize your tray – or anything that made it easier along the way!

Check out more Penny Pinched DIY Projects here!

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7 Items You Should Always Look for at the Dollar Tree {Before Paying Full Price}

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I soooo love a trip to the Dollar Tree when it comes to gathering supplies for DIY projects and crafts ~ it's amazing all they have to offer!  You can find some really cute stuff there, as well as crafting basics to have on hand when the Pinterest bug bites. 🙂

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A DIY project shouldn't cost you more than buying the real deal at a home decor store, and a trip to the Dollar Tree before paying retail can save you a bundle. Check out these 7 items you should always look for at the Dollar Tree {BEFORE paying full price!}

 

 

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1 . Floral Picks & Berries

These come in handy for making inexpensive wreaths or front door arrangements as the seasons change, or a fresh centerpiece for the table.

 

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While there definitely are a few tacky flowers in the bunch, watch for a few that may work perfectly for your project. (Look for flowers or berries that look as close to real as possible.)  The smaller flowers and berry picks tend look to be a little more upscale than the big blooms.  (And what about those ADORABLE little faux succulents in pots?! I love those!)

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2 . Mason Jars, Glass Vases & Glass Jars

One of the things I use most often in changing up the mantle or table decor are small glass jars. In fact, every time I walk in the Dollar Tree I make a beeline for the glassware aisle (I'm like a kid in a candy store when I'm there!)

 

How to Decorate for Fall at the Dollar Tree

 

Place a tall candle in the center of the vase or jar (you can even sneak a can under your candle to beef up a $1 Dollar Tree candle) and on the outside, layer with whatever seasonal decor you like (like corn for fall, Valentine candy in February, peppermint sticks at Christmas) ~ the possibilities are endless.

 

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Tie on some Dollar Tree ribbon and Dollar Tree decor, and you've got a super cute centerpiece for just a few bucks. 🙂

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Mason Jars are handy for all kinds of stuff . . . especially gifting goodies, like this simple Dollar Tree Easter Craft.

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Or add a little spray paint for Spring vases too. 

And they make expensive-looking containers for birthday party favors too. (I love those!)

 

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3 . Pots & Tins

Use pots and tins to organize a desk area and cut down clutter.  Do you have a silhouette cutter? (I love mine!)  Customize a pot or tin with a monogram  ~ chalkboard stickers work great too.  These candy-colored guys will add a little splash of color to a shelf display, or make them match your decor with spray paint.

Flower pots with a plant inside make great gifts too.  Let the kids paint a flower pot for Grandparent's day and plant some seeds in it for an inexpensive gift.

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4 . Frames

Inexpensive plastic frames are easy to transform with spray paint to coordinate with your wall collage – and no one will be able to tell those frames are just a buck.

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You can also place a cute piece of fabric behind the glass to make a simple dry erase frame.  Use it to display your weekly menu plan or to-do list.

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5 . Project Boards

This is my favorite thing to buy at the Dollar Tree. 🙂 

I'm always shocked at how much some stores charge for project boards or foam boards – definitely stock up on these for $1 when you get a chance!  They're great for making signs and kids craft projects, and you can't beat snatching them up for a buck.

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6 . Craft Foam Wreaths & Balls

I could only find the floral foam wreaths this trip, but watch for craft foam and even small grapevine wreaths too.  (In a pinch – a pool noodle can work as a wreath base as well!)

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Build on them by adding your favorite floral or berry picks, spray painted Easter eggs, or  a monogram in the middle.

 

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7 . Ribbons, Twine, Glue Guns & Washi Tape

A pretty ribbon or twine bow can make the perfect finishing touch – but craft stores can charge $3 or $4 for a spool of ribbon.

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Gather a few colors you like to have on hand at the Dollar Tree – you might even get lucky and find some burlap ribbon (woot!) which is useful for all sorts of crafts.

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Bonus tip . . .

Watch the Dollar Tree for aluminum containers ~ while these are great for baking and taking meals in, I love them for easy clean up when working on a crafting project. Fun!

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Do you love shopping the Dollar Tree as much as I do? 🙂 Check out these extra saving secrets (they even take coupons ~ love that!), and leave a comment to share your favorite Dollar Tree finds.

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