How to Not Spend a Million Dollars on Food When You Travel

When planning a trip one of the biggest expenses you start to see while researching is how much you expect to spend on food. What some may not realize is you can cut out much of those unnecessary expenses by planning a bit ahead. Richard and I have made it a habit to pack nonperishable items that we would often utilize in our everyday lives. That or we plan time at the beginning of our trip to hit up the local grocery store for cheap, filling items that help offset those small and sometimes big purchases throughout the day.


One of our splurges! The Breakfast Bowl from Valerie Confections in Grand Central Market while we were in Los Angeles.

As you are out and about you WILL get hungry, but rather than stopping at every little market or food truck you see, having a granola bar in your bag can hold you over until you are ready to splurge on going out for a meal. While you don’t want to deprive yourself of trying out the local cuisine, you also don’t want your whole budget to go to food.

Some items we choose depend on the length of our stay and where we are traveling to. We are from the US so traveling within the states most items are ok. You will want to check for international travel what items are acceptable if you plan on packing anything in your bag.

Here is a list of items we usually gravitate towards:

  • Granola/protein bars
  • Peanut Butter
  • Cereal (can be eaten dry)
  • Canned soups
  • Nuts (peanuts, cashews, almonds are my go-to)
  • Bread
  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • Bananas
  • Fruit snacks (I have a notorious sweet tooth)
  • Chips or some crunchy snack of your choice
    If you have access to refrigeration and/or cooking appliances
  • Milk
  • Lunch Meat
  • Cheese
  • Eggs (hardboiled eggs pack well for a day out)

Create a budget. Figure out the cost of goods. Plan strategically. You want to find foods that are going to sustain you throughout the day. Remember to eat a good breakfast to start the day, carry snacks with you, and STAY HYDRATED! You can save money on bottled water by packing a reusable bottle. You will be able to fill up on water throughout the day at water fountains. Hydration is important because often times when you think you are hungry you could possibly just be dehydrated. You can also stave off feeling sluggish throughout your adventure-filled day by keeping hydrated.

One way we try to keep expenses down is by finding accommodations that provide complimentary breakfast for the price we are looking to pay. In most cases, you can find somewhere for the same price or just a couple dollars more per night. These few dollars should be less than or equal to what you would pay to buy yourself breakfast. We have even been lucky enough to find places that have provided dinner for us in the past, too!

Weigh your options but you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg on food when you travel. A key thing to remember is that whether you are traveling or at home you have to eat so it is an expense either way. Why not enjoy it experiencing somewhere new?
What are some of your favorite trip snacks? Til next time Pengminions!

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Your Wedding Decor For LESS

What seems to be the most daunting task is also in my opinion the most fun when it comes to weddings. The decor. From picking colors to theme to the little details. These things can also often come at a hefty price. It doesn’t have to however. If you plan enough in advance you can actually do most if not all of it yourself. I know there is the dreaded “Pinterest Fail” but fear not; there are plenty of easy to do craft ideas that will save you money.

When putting together your wedding remember that all inclusive or renting might seem like an enticing option and my guess is, it is easy, but I have found out that when purchasing the items you need like chair covers, table runners, decorations, place settings at a similar price as renting would be it is more cost beneficial for you. When you are done with those items you can turn around and sell them afterwards. The awesome thing about that is even if you don’t sell every piece after your shindig you could effectively not pay a dime or at the very least much less than had they been supplied for you. These items you could even save for later use. Maybe you like to host brunch or a party; you would be all set. The best part is you spend less on your wedding!

a centerpieceLet’s talk about flowers. Most brides can’t wait to have fresh flowers throughout but we all know that those truly cost an arm and a leg. If you can’t live without and are determined to have fresh flowers for your wedding I suggest finding simple arrangements that you could do yourself or just a couple single flowers for your table settings. Rather than calling up your local florist try your grocery stores or budget stores that do fresh flowers, Sam’s, Costco, just to name a few. You should go ahead of time to order the flowers in bulk for the day you need them. Discuss with them the state (bloomed or not and how long before they do) that your flowers will arrive so you can make a decision on when you need your order to arrive and the care to take so they will be beautiful for your big day. This one thing alone will save you hundreds!

The decorations throughout don’t have to be lavish. If you are willing to have similar but not identical set pieces thrift stores are your best friend. If you haven’t figured it out yet; I LOVE THRIFT STORES! Have an idea for theme and you can find some great pieces at fractions of the price that will fit your style. Craigslist is another great resource. Like you will hopefully be doing, other brides will sell off their pieces after their big day. Another fun personal thing you can do is place tiny photos of your relationship on the tables; this adds a nice touch to let your guests into some of your adventures as a couple. It is also relatively cheap to do at Walgreens. You can even make your own table ornaments by saving glass sauce jars and fashioning them to fit your style.

Each of these are things that Richard and I did for our wedding and it came out beautifully. What have you done to save on your wedding decor or have you tried some of the things we did? How did it turn out? Let us know in the comments! Til next time Pengminions!

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Finding A Wedding Venue

When starting to plan for your wedding one of the biggest choices you have to make is the venue. Venues come in all shapes and sizes and determine when, where, and how you get to celebrate your wedding day and reception. When picking a venue Richard and I knew we did not want to break the bank but since we were going to be inviting about 60-70 people we knew we needed space. We also knew that cost was our greatest concern. To start we definitely, for s’s and g’s, looked at your more traditionally utilized spaces for weddings. They were: $10,000, $15,000, $20,000 and often they didn’t include everything unless you want to pay even more!


So, once we reinforced our gut feelings we sought out alternatives. We knew that we were not looking for an all-inclusive venue because food, alcohol, decorations, cake, flowers, ect. we could and wanted to do ourselves; besides knowing we could find it much cheaper than if we had it included in the venue. We went with a basic, bare community center in Texas knowing we could turn it into something all our own. All for the great big price of, $350. There are many community resources out there that offer spaces indoor and outdoor to hold your event and for a fraction of the cost of most wedding venues.

Before: Venue

Some alternatives can be, depending on size and what you are wanting to do, are:

1.) A local or even destination park – You can often rent spaces at community parks for almost nothing. You might not even have to pay if it is super small.

2.) A beach – Just do your research early on for potential permit requirements or restrictions.

3.) Community centers -They offer spaces that are sometimes really basic and bare and other times quite beautiful. They almost always will be many times cheaper than a true wedding venue.

4.) Have a backyard wedding – If you, family or friends have a nice house that wouldn’t mind offering up their home for your big day you could make it an extremely budget friendly wedding.

5.) The great outdoors – Even some National Parks offer the ability to hold your event in beautiful locations. Check out some of these suggestions, here.

6.) Have your wedding on an off-peak day (during the week) or during the off season.

7.) Use your creativity! You can get married almost literally anywhere! Use venue search terms that don’t include “wedding” and you might find something perfect that you may have missed otherwise.

The greatest key here is start doing your research early. Some of these ideas fill up swiftly like normal wedding venues so getting the process started early is important. Some don’t require as much prep or any permits but you should make sure you find out ahead of time so you know what you are getting yourself into.

Find out the requirements and restrictions when you are researching so you know what you can and cannot expect from a particular site. You don’t want to have paid for particular elements like a band, decorations, alcohol, ect to find out the day of they are not allowed. Know what you want and what you are willing to do without. Not every THING is as important as it may seem. Save money and just enjoy spending time with the people you are sharing this all with.

Remember it is supposed to be an experience of a life time not an experience you end up paying for for a whole life time. What are some unique ideas you have for a wedding ceremony, reception, or both? How were you able to save money planning your wedding? Let us know in the comments; we love hearing about your experiences. Til next time Pengminions!

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It’s Wedding Season!


Not my actual wedding dress

It is that time of year, spring/summer, when the weddings seem to be never ending. Every where you look there is another white dress by a costly designer, extravagant venue, artistic masterpieces for cakes, guest lists that go on forever. Bridal magazines, Pinterest, and Instagram all perpetuate this idea of what we “need” for a perfect wedding. The average cost of a wedding in the US is $35,329! You read that correctly. That is minimum $10,000 more than the cost of my Subi!

I am amazed at the amount of money people spend on their weddings. Why? Why are we spending so much money on these one day events? What does putting yourself in debt to start this brand new, beautiful adventure do for you? What is the meaning behind all of it? Are we really thinking about these things before we do them? In most cases I don’t believe we really ask ourselves these questions or give them much thought. This brings me to one of my favorite shows, Adam Ruins Everything, and I would like to share with you his comedic historical based video snippet on weddings.

When planning your wedding I implore you to question what you are spending your money on, ask yourself why, and whether or not it truly is important to you and your significant other. It is just one day, a special one but it shouldn’t put you back monetarily or be about things that don’t matter to you both. Spending more on your wedding makes it more likely to end in divorce, according to researchers at Emory University. Maybe think twice about the extravagance or pleasing others and focus on the things that are most important; the two of you.

These next few blogs I write are going to be about some of the decisions we made for our wedding day that might help you save or think a little differently and creatively when planning your special day.  Til next time Pengminions!

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Doing things Different Inspired by Grit

In our MBA class we just finished reading a book called GRIT by Angela Duckworth. When thinking about grit it really struck me that it is in many ways doing things differently. Not allowing your set backs to define your future and that you can persevere over your situation. Where many would give up you don’t; that difference has a huge impact. I’d like to share with you a few quips from my life’s story where I believe I persevered and hopefully inspire you in the process.

Growing up my family was pretty poor and my parents weren’t good with money. When I was young I remember going to the grocery store and my mom only being able to purchase food that was on the WIC list. One of the cool things about it though is I never remember her placing any shame around it. It was just a fact. We didn’t stay on them forever; but they were a necessity for a young family with 5 kids in order to work themselves to a place where they no longer needed them. It was accepted that it was where they were but not where they had to stay: a tool not a crutch.
I had another big lesson in high school when I learned that the government can take money from your bank account if you owe them. I decided that would never be (my parent’s account was where my working money had been kept.)

This happening canceled the senior trip I had planed on taking and had been saving for and though it hurt I decide not to allow that to crush me for long. It galvanized me to never make their same mistakes. I also resolved that just because this trip didn’t work out didn’t mean I would never travel.

My parents didn’t include me in the conversations about what had happened until they absolutely had to because they couldn’t come up with the money in time for me not to notice. I then decided that honesty will always be my policy. The truth can hurt but being lied to hurts worse. Those involved should always have a say.

After all this, when turning 18, I took charge and the first thing I did when I woke up that day was get the couple hundred dollars I had saved and opened my own bank account so I got to decide what happened to my money.

Going to college was ingrained in me from very early on, but my parent’s didn’t have the means to financially support me to go there so I had to find a way to make it work. So, I worked, went to community college, attend rehearsals, made time for friends, and eventually made my way to University. Not going wasn’t an option. Although it was slow, (I didn’t always take a full course load) and was without a doubt nontraditional, I finally finished 6 years later.

During my senior year of college I decide that the study abroad program was something I couldn’t miss out on. I didn’t let my small bank account, lack of a job because of the demands of the thearte, or the failure of my last senior trip dictate the pursuit of this one. I recruited friends, found support in my home town, and put together a plate sale to help fund the trip. And I went!

Without these happenings I would have missed out on a lot of learning:

If you allow them, harsh lessons can lead you to develop further and  hopefully inspire you to think of things different to accomplish your goals. In many ways I changed my narrative and so can you. Share with us some of your stories of perseverance or what is going on in your life and what you plan to start doing differently! Til next time Pengminions!

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Budget Chandelier for our Living Room

by Richard Furleigh

Come with me on a DIY/Home improvement story in electrical work!

*Disclaimer! I am not a professional electrician, I’ve acquired skills over the years through practice and learning from others that I feel confident enough to do these things and try to teach you. If at any point it feels like it’s too much call a certified electrician! That being said I promise this isn’t complicated and is about as simple as basic safety and color matching and can be done with very simple tools.

Moving into our most recent apartment we found the lighting situation to be lacking to say the least. No ceiling fans, no hanging lights, just an outlet that worked based on the light switch and a hook to suspend a light from. Kristen had wanted a simple hanging light and in previous explorations had found a Habitat for Humanity resale store that had extras they couldn’t use as well as donated materials to sell and raise money with.

We ended up coming across a rather nice looking chandelier that was small enough to fit and with a quick internet search saw it going for up to $100 new. So since it was $20? Score! The only small problem was that as a chandelier it was made to be permanently wired in, not plugged into the outlet we needed it to go into. Since I’ve worked lighting crew for some of my theatre shows as well as done other minor electrical repairs at other places I’ve lived this wasn’t particularly daunting (ask Kristen though, she was less than certain!). So along with the chandelier I picked up a $1 appliance that had a longer cable on it and headed home to get started.

Since nothing was already wired in or plugged in the safety check was already done, so using a pair of scissors I gently cut through the housing for the wire to expose a little more (they make special tools for this, but since I don’t do this often it would be a waste of money).

Second I matched up the wires from the chandelier and my cord according to color. Red to red, black to black, green to green, and twisted them together. Some wires aren’t color coded, but have ridges to indicate which one is the “hot” wire and which isn’t, and in my case the chandelier used this method. So for me it was ridged housing to red, smooth housing to black, and exposed to green. Check on the packaging of anything you buy as it should guide you if you aren’t sure.

Third I secured the twisted wires together one at a time with electrical tape back to the cord. Because this was a patch job in the middle of the cable it wasn’t pretty, but you have to make sure there is a good layer of electrical tape in between the wires so you don’t risk a slew of awful problems later.

Lastly for aesthetic I wrapped white duct tape around the whole thing to help the two different colored wires blend in with the wall better and cover the massive black lump in the middle.

So there you go! For $21 and about 20 minutes of work we got a very nice light for our living room area that we can take with us anywhere else we move to! As I said be careful when dealing with electricity, but simple steps mean you can make simple repairs or fix up your own place for a lot less than you might have thought!

Any questions on my steps here? Let us know below and I’ll try to clarify for you, and I hope this encourages you to try things out for yourself next time something around your place isn’t working too well. Until next time Pengminions!

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Gifts Made with Love: and sometimes blood, sweat, and tears

~Kristen Furleigh

Sometimes gift giving can be stressful “Ahhh, I have NO. IDEA. WHAT. TO. GET. (Insert person). Life is awful!” Other times gift giving can be brainless ex: Run to the store, pick up first item you see, purchase, leave. When it comes to gift giving, second to the experiences and time option from my previous blog post, DIY items offer a token of love unparalleled with every detail you put into it.

Don’t get me wrong it can get stressful at times especially if you feel as if you don’t have a creative bone in your body but trust me you do; well really its a muscle. In order to find it you’ve got to work those creative muscles in order to build a stronger set of skills. We all have to start somewhere and believe me YOU CAN DO IT.

Here are a few tips when trying to come up with a DIY that works for you and your gift recipient:

1.) Much like with experiences it means more when you can think of and incorporate their interests.

2.) Pinterest is AMAZING! All you have to do is type in key words and it populates links to numerous DIY projects.


3.) Start simple. Don’t overwhelm yourself your first go at it. This can be discouraging if you are trying to incorporate this into your repertoire of gift giving. It doesn’t have to be the hardest tutorial; what matters is the heart that is put into the project.

4.) As you go and get more comfortable with your homemade creations challenge yourself. You can’t improve your skill set without having a few Pinterest Fails under your belt.

5.) If you found something at the retail store that you think would make a great gift come up with a way to make it yourself; hopefully cheaper than retail. It is even more awesome when you find something that doesn’t come in the color or style you are looking for and can make it customized to fit their style.

6.) Just because it is homemade doesn’t mean that includes only arts and crafts there are a ton of DIY tech ideas out there too!

wine lights

Before you know it your skills will be Pinterest or even Etsy worthy!

Hopefully these tips were helpful. I know we enjoy coming up with different creative ideas for gift giving and putting our personal touch on what we compose for others and each other. We would love to hear some of your favorite DIY gifts both given and received! Need some help coming up with an idea after these tips?  Leave us a comment we would enjoy brainstorming with you.  Til next time Pengminions!

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Buying our Subi: Tumbleweed

By: Richard Furleigh

“Buying a car is fun!!” – no one ever

When searching for our latest vehicle here in Reno we began with not a list of vehicles, but with a list of things we wanted out of our vehicle and the whole time we were focused on making the car buying experience work for us for a change. Our criteria were primarily driven by our adventures we wanted to have in camping, skiing, road trips, etc so it was important to get pretty close to these things.

This led us to look primarily at the compact SUVs since most of the vehicles in that category meet what we were looking for. While researching specific models we made a rather robust Excel spreadsheet detailing everything from ground clearance to MPG to avg price to horsepower & torque. It was intense to say the least. Now since we weren’t looking to buy new (because unless you have more money than you can spend the general consensus is: NEVER BUY NEW!) we then had to begin looking through the local dealerships for the few we had narrowed down to.

Getting behind the wheel and reevaluating led us to narrowing our choice to one standout, the Subaru Forester XT. This was where our brains started working harder to see what we could do differently to find exactly what we wanted. For weeks we couldn’t find a car that fit, so our search range began to expand more and more. We found one in town that was close-ish to our range. Oddly enough was the same day we stumbled onto an out of state dealership that had a couple vehicles perfectly in our range for less than the dealer here had listed.

When we went down to the dealership here in town the vehicle wasn’t quite a perfect fit, but was close. After an hour of negotiating some manager came out. He chuckled some at the 21k price we wanted saying that he “could get more for the vehicle at auction” and “you’d never get that kind of vehicle anywhere in the Sierras at that price.” So we showed him the quote from the dealer we had been looking at in New York that had a 2014 for $21k. He laughed at us. “You’re going to fly to New York and buy your car there? Then what? Drive it back?”

So we bought the car there and Kristen drove it back across the country! We were headed to New York for the Nevada Global Business program anyway, and Kristen met up with her Mom who was on a separate trip for the drive back here.

Factoring gas, hotels, and Kristen’s missed flight we saved about $3,500. Kristen got to check a few more states off her list, visit a few friends, and go on a road trip that she loved to boot!

So let this inform you, if you’re looking to buy a car any time soon find out what part of the country has the lowest prices for that kind of vehicle. Make contact with a couple options there, and you can get your new car at a LOT less! The option to combine a trip with it just means it’s that much more of an adventure for you!

If you have any bigger purchases or plans coming up give some serious thought to a different way to execute that makes it better for you. It was fun getting to do something so different with our experience. If you have any deeper questions about our process or have a few ideas you’d like to bounce off someone let us know down below! Until next time Pengminions!

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The Magic of the Thrift Store Pt. 2: Housewares

~Kristen Furleigh

Thrifting part dos! Richard and I have been able to furnish our rental primarily with finds from the thrift stores around town. It takes time and you have to be patient. You have to be willing to go without for a little bit when what you are searching for isn’t readily available. The pay off for you patience is grand!

Some of your finds will take a bit of elbow grease to turn it into something you will like in your home but the upside is you won’t pay nearly as much as a brand new item and you can tailor it to your specific home decor. Here is an example of a couple of my favorite pieces I happened to find separately.


$7 thrift store dresser

I had found the dresser for around $7 and when I stumbled upon the night stand for a whopping $2.50 I had to have it. The styles were just too similar. Both were originally a cream and gold color when I bought them and I was able to turn them into what you see now for an additional $10 in re-purposing materials.


night stand



The savings compared to new are astounding. You can find pieces like this too if you take the time to go look and are willing to put in a bit of elbow grease!


Thrift store finds

Not all items need work though. I found this red piece for under $5 and felt the vintage look was perfect and now we use it as a bar/liquor cabinet. It also keeps my candy too but that’s another story…


When you allow yourself to open up to all the possibilities thrift stores can offer you there are thousands that can be saved by buying used items. Outside of furniture you can buy many other housewares if you can get out of the mindset of needing brand new things or needing things to come in perfectly matched sets.

Silverware and kitchen items can be found at pennies instead of dollars. Do your forks, knives, and spoons really need to match??? You need them to transfer food from your plate to your mouth and whether or not they match honestly is trivial. If someone is going to judge you for not having matching plates you can just wave your plane ticket at them as you jet off on yet another adventure with all the money you save by thrifting.

Now not all thrift store furniture is under $10 bucks, but their prices will be a fraction their traditional cost. Our couch was the most expensive purchase, it was a 5-piece sectional in exceptional condition for $150, but had we bought that same exact couch new it would have cost over $1,000 easily.

It takes patience and a long term outlook to get exactly what you’re looking for, but that will be worth it for your bank account and as we talked about in our previous blog the environment since you will be utilizing things that would otherwise end up at the dump.

The next time you need a new dresser or something small like a food processor I challenge you to check out your local thrift store first and see what you can save! Are there any questions you have about thrifting? Leave us a comment below and we would love to answer them for you. Til next time Pengminions!


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The Magic of the Thrift Store Pt. 1: Clothes

~Kristen Furleigh

How much do you think you spend on new clothes? Where do you get them? In my experience clothes can get really expensive, really fast, even if you shop at clothing discounters like Ross, Marshalls, or T.J. Maxx. Most people don’t shop there though. They shop at Target, department stores in the mall, or even outlets.

Thrift stores have become my best friend. You can get clothing from top end designers at a FRACTION of the cost. There are plenty of times where I find brand new clothing with tags still attached!

When I got hired on as a Graduate Assistant at the University of Nevada-Reno for the College of Business I had to purchase a brand new business casual wardrobe; for some reason yoga pants weren’t acceptable attire. So I spent about $100. This might seem like a lot of money but I bought enough attire that it will last me my career here at UNR. Jackets, button up shirts, blouses, skirts, slacks. I even bought a couple new pairs of shoes to boot. For the same brands of clothing I would have spent well over $500 at any regular retailer brand new.

Why spend such an exorbitant amount of money on things you can find used at a much lower cost? Bonus, you are helping out the environment by keeping these items out of landfills and giving them a new life!

Two of my favorite places here in Reno are any of the Savers in town and the Bargain Bin Goodwill on Oddie Blvd. Savers thrift stores are a bit more pricey compared to other thrift stores but the quality of the clothes they sell is higher as well. One of the coolest things about Savers is when you donate your unwanted items they give you a discount card that you can earn up to 30% off at checkout. When you are done with them give your old things an opportunity to find a new home you could even save some extra bucks.


Decked out in Thrift Store finds!


The Bargain Bin Goodwill store is a special resale shop because they sell their clothing not based on a price for each individual item but by weight. You buy clothing for $1.49 per pound. You read that right! Since their clothing is sold by weight, in most cases it is extremely cheap; especially for women’s clothing which is often made out of lighter materials. You do have to search through because just as the store’s name implies everything is piled into large bins. I’ve found everything from basics and casuals all the way up to formal dresses.

If either of these don’t strike your fancy you can try your traditional Goodwill, SPCA, Salvation Army, St. Vincent’s, and Thrift Depot to name a few.

This is mostly about clothing but you can even find great quality shoes for amazing prices if you are willing to take the time to look. My favorite purchase was a pair of hiking boots that looked as if they were used less than a handful of times; when I price checked them online they retailed for $150 and were being sold for $15. Score!

For some it might seem weird wearing clothing that someone else wore but all you have to do is give them a good wash in the washing machine or take the fancier items for dry cleaning before wearing and you are good to go.  I challenge you to go out and find a thrift store near you the next time you are in need of some new clothing; you just might be surprised at what you can find. There are times you will strike out but the hunt is a fun game you can play. Share with us what you think or some of your favorite thrift store finds! We look forward to hearing your thoughts. Til next time Pengminions.

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