Susan Shain

I’ve often dreamed of becoming a wedding planner.

I love weddings, and I love — love — making things pretty and organized.

So I’ve always wondered: What’s it take to be a wedding planner?

Is there some magical school where you enter as a normal person and leave as JLo in that Matthew McConaughey romcom?

If you’ve asked yourself the same questions (and really, who hasn’t?), keep reading. I asked two professionals for their best advice on how to become a wedding planner.

Unlike becoming, say, a nurse or an accountant, there’s no one way to become a wedding planner -- so read as much as you can, talk with planners in your area and then choose your own best path.

What Traits Do Wedding Planners Need?

First things first: Do you have the skills and personality to become a wedding planner?

According to industry pros, here are some key traits every wedding planner should have:

  • Organization: Juggling dozens of weddings -- and multiple vendors for each one -- requires you to be on the ball, all the time.
  • Communication: Not only will you need to communicate with vendors and clients before and during the event, you’ll also need to deal with guests in a chaotic environment.
  • Patience: Clients want their weddings to be perfect, which means they can often be demanding.
  • Stamina: On wedding days, you’ll be on-site, on your feet (with a smile!) for up to 15 hours straight.

“Many of us choose this career because we thrive on the excitement, the challenge and the madness that happens on the wedding day,” explains Debbie Orwat, founder and Chief Inspiration Officer at Planner’s Lounge, a community for event planners.

“We live to solve problems, keep everything on time and manage 20+ vendors without breaking a sweat. If you can handle stress and keep your cool, then this could be a good career choice.”

Should Wedding Planners Get a Degree or Certificate?

You definitely don’t need a college degree to become a wedding planner, but majors like business, communications, public relations, marketing or event planning could give you a helpful foundation.

And while certificates might make you more appealing to potential clients, they also aren’t necessary.

If you’d like to pursue one, Orwat hears “the most positive feedback” about North American Wedding Academy. Its online “Certificate in Wedding Planning” program lasts 12 weeks and costs $1,100 (or $1,350 if paid over 10 months).  

How to Get Experience as a Wedding Planner

More important than degrees or certificates? Experience.

Whether it’s an internship at an agency or simply planning a wedding for free, acquiring in-person experience is key to success in this career.

Angelina Colhouer of The Apostolic Wife got started by planning and designing her own wedding.  

[caption id="attachment_60968" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Angelina Colhouer talks to guests about her wedding planning business at a bridal expo in Tampa, Fla. Heather Comparetto/The Penny Hoarder[/caption]

Afterwards, “almost everyone I knew started to encourage me to start my own company,” she says. “I agreed to do a friend’s wedding, and it came out beautifully. As soon as that wedding was over, I immediately booked two more.”  

Even if you can’t get a wedding planner job, search for a position in the events industry. For example, Orwat recommends working for a caterer, florist or decorator.

“You’ll have the opportunity to work at many different venues, see how different vendors work and experience a lot of weddings,” she explains. “It’ll also give you an idea of how physically demanding it is to work weddings.”

Or, she suggests going in-house by working in the events or catering department at a hotel or venue.

Should Wedding Planners Work for a Company or Go Freelance?

The answer to this question totally depends on you, your preferences and your experience level.

If you’ve worked in event planning or project management, or have prior experience running your own business, you might be good to go freelance.

On the other hand, if you’re a fresh college grad or don’t have experience managing events, it might be smart to join a company first.

If you do choose to go freelance, here are a few tips:

  • Invest in a professional website: As Orwat explains, “Your website is your storefront and is the first impression potential clients see.”
  • Educate yourself: Orwat recommends taking online courses, attending conferences and even hiring a business coach.
  • Prepare for upfront costs: When Colhouer started, she needed to pay for an LLC, styled photo shoots and a promotional video.

What’s Life Like as a Wedding Planner?

If you’re looking for a wedding planner job description, there’s no one-size-fits-all.

But wherever you’re working as a wedding planner -- and whether you’re a freelancer or employee -- you can expect every day to be different.

You might spend your time answering emails from clients and calls from vendors. You might taste cakes one day, and choose flowers the next. You might have to juggle invoices, taxes and other business tasks.

Of course, you’ll also have to plan and attend many events -- so it’s imperative you’re OK with working on evenings and weekends.

And lastly? Don’t expect it to be easy. As Orwat warns, this job is “demanding both physically and mentally.”

How Much Do Wedding Planners Make?

Your wedding planner salary will depend greatly on your location and experience -- but Payscale reports the national median is $42,407 per year.

According to Orwat, here are some annual salary ranges wedding planners can expect:

  • As a side gig: $5,000-$10,000
  • As an experienced full-time planner in a major city: $75,000-$200,000
  • As a full-time planner in a rural area: $25,000-$75,000

Since she’s new to the game, Colhouer determined her rates by speaking with established wedding planners in her area. They charged $3,000-$5,000 per wedding, so she decided to charge $2,000 for her first one.

Now that she has a few under her belt, she charges $2,500 -- and once she takes her side hustle full time, she plans to increase her rates again.

Should You Become a Wedding Planner?

Ready to dive in and create your own wedding planner job? Hopefully this post has armed you with enough information -- and motivation -- to get going.

[caption id="attachment_60967" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Colhouer arranges plate settings for a styled shoot in Tampa, Fla. Heather Comparetto/The Penny Hoarder[/caption]

“If I were to start over from scratch, I would’ve encouraged myself to start this business earlier,” says Colhouer.

“I let my own fear and nervousness hinder me from starting what I've grown to love dearly.”

Because, although it’s hard work, wedding planners seem to truly love their jobs.

“Spending six to 12 months with a couple, then seeing it all come to fruition for a stunning celebration is unbelievably rewarding,” says Orwat.

Susan Shain is a freelance writer and digital nomad. She covers travel, food and personal finance (basically, how to save money so you can travel more and eat more). Visit her blog at susanshain.com, or say hi on Twitter @susan_shain.

When you think of Pinterest, you probably think of repurposed window frames and vintage wedding dresses.

But it’s actually an amazing place for career and business information -- specifically, for advice about how to work from home.

So, with the help of our very own Pinterest specialist Gretchen Lindow, I’ve compiled a list of 16 fabulous work-from-home Pinterest accounts and boards.

Each one is full of jobs and tips, and will inspire you to start your work-from-home journey today!

1. Color Me Frugal

Color Me Frugal focuses on living your best life while spending less.

We like her Making Money board best, since it includes lots of ideas for home-based and online businesses.

2. Financegirl

I met Natalie Bacon at FinCon last year, where she won the award for “Best New Personal Finance Blog.”

Clearly, she’s doing something right!

Her Pinterest game is also strong, and her Make Money board covers a wide range of money-making ideas.

3. FreebieFindingMom

Kelli Bhattacharjee loves working from home because it allows her “to spend more time with [her] little one” and “save money by not having to commute.”

If that sounds right up your alley, check her Make Money at Home board for tips and job leads.  

4. Frugal Fanatic

Addi Ganley might be best-known for her budgeting worksheets, but she also has some great boards for aspiring remote workers.  

Her Work From Home board features 245 pins with everything from blogging tips to full-time work-from-home jobs.

And if that’s not enough, check her Making Money! board, which has 1,800 pins (in Lindow's words: EVERYTHING).

5. Levo

You know we’re all about side hustles here at The Penny Hoarder.

So we’re big fans of Levo’s board Side Hustle: Ideas (and the site in general!).

“Levo is mostly dedicated to career advice, but this board has some great ideas you might not have already seen elsewhere,” Lindow explains.

6. Making Sense of Cents

Lots of people dream of making the big bucks as a blogger, but it’s harder than it looks. (Trust me -- I know!)

If you’re dedicated to #bloglife, check out Michelle Schroeder’s Make Money Blogging board.

She earned $72,000 in March, so I’m guessing she knows what she’s talking about!

7. My Stay at Home Adventures

Who says staying at home is boring?

Joyce, a mom of four, shares pins about parenting, frugal living and online business from her My Stay At Home Adventures page.

Our favorite part is her Ways To Earn Money board.

“It’s smaller,” Lindow says, “but it only contains ways to earn money that have been vetted.”

8. Proofread Anywhere

We’ve highlighted proofreading before -- and the subject of that post, Caitlin Pyle, has an awesome website and Pinterest presence.

Although Proofread Anywhere is useful for anybody who wants to work for themselves, it’s particularly sweet if you want to grow a proofreading side hustle.

9. Real Ways to Earn Money Online

As its name suggests, this site focuses on legitimate ways to earn money online.

Though its main Pinterest page has more than 50 boards focused on that topic, you’ll probably like the Work From Home and Work From Home - Expert Tips boards best.

10. Sarah Titus

Sarah Titus believes “every mom should have the option to stay home, regardless of income.”

She shares tips about everything from cooking to DIY-ing and working at home through her Pinterest account -- which has more than 100,000 followers!

“She doesn't have a dedicated board to making money, but she has tons of great individual pins backed up by tons of experience,” Lindow says.

11. SeedTime

SeedTime is the new name of the popular blog Christian Personal Finance.

While the name has changed, the mission hasn’t.

Its Pinterest page has a whopping 175 boards covering a variety of topics like Christian living, budget meal planning and, of course, working from home.

12. Single Moms Income

Alexa Mason may no longer be a single mom, but she still shares plenty of ways to make and save money with her followers.

Her Business Ideas board, for example, has more than 400 pins for current -- or wannabe -- entrepreneurs.

13. The Penny Hoarder

What, you didn’t really think we’d make this whole list and forget ourselves, did you?

Our site is already chock-full of posts about working from home, and Lindow has been working hard to ensure our Pinterest presence is just as prolific.

Two places to start? Check out our Make Money From Home board and our Make Extra Money group board!

14. The Work at Home Wife

The Work at Home Wife has 80 boards, divided into topics like “Home Business Marketing” and “New Direct Sales Companies.”

Bonus: If you sign up for her newsletter, she’ll send you a weeklong work-from-home email course.

Our favorite board might be Work From Home Ideas, which features gigs that “match every skill set, background experience and lifestyle.”

15. The Work at Home Woman

Holly Hanna is The Work at Home Woman, and her over 80 boards discuss everything from social media to coffee.

Her eponymous board is probably the most helpful.

“There is really something for everyone,” Lindow says. “And all the jobs have been verified to not be scams.”

16. Work at Home Mom Revolution

Viva the work-at-home revolution!

Many people visit Lisa Mills’ site for the work-from-home job leads she sends via email.

We like her Pinterest page because it’s all about business -- and there’s nothing like her Work at Home Jobs board, which has more than 26,000 pins!

Susan Shain is always seeking adventure on a budget. Visit her blog at susanshain.com, or say hi on Twitter @susan_shain.

Maybe you dream of going on an exotic vacation to Paris or Fiji -- or maybe you just don’t want to pay an arm and a leg every time you visit your out-of-state in-laws.

Whatever it is, you’re looking for a way to travel for free. You’ve heard of these mystical “frequent flyer miles,” but you don’t want to have to sign up for a bunch of credit cards to get them.

What’s a wannabe travel hacker to do?

Take heart: you can earn frequent flyer miles without signing up for credit cards. You just have to know where to look.

Before we get started, though, here’s one important tip: be strategic with your earning. Don’t earn miles haphazardly with a bunch of different programs. Choose one or two programs to focus on, since you can’t merge or switch between them after the miles have been earned. It’s much more useful to have 50K miles in one program than 10K in five different ones.

Here’s How to Get Frequent Flyer Miles

Now, here are six ways to earn frequent flyer miles without signing up for credit cards:

1. Shop Online

It’s an often-overlooked way to earn miles, and one of the easiest. Most major airlines have online shopping portals; by simply logging in through this website, then making a purchase at the store of your choice, you’ll earn bonus miles from that airline. It won’t cost you anything extra, and it’ll only take a few extra minutes of your time.

Let’s look at an example. Chances are, you’ve shopped at Target in person or online over the past year. Did you earn miles for it? If not, don’t kick yourself. Just read on and learn.

When you’re planning to buy something, surf over to ev’reward. This site should always be your first stop when you’re about to make an online purchase. It’ll tell you how many points you can earn in each program.

With Target.com, you earn two miles per dollar spent with American Airlines, two points per dollar spent with Chase Ultimate Rewards, and one mile per dollar spent with most of the other airlines.

Now it’s time to decide which program’s portal you want to use. (Consider which programs you already have miles in, and what you plan to use your miles for.) Click on the appropriate link, log into your account with that program, and then get redirected to Target’s main website.

Shop as normal -- only now you’ll be earning extra miles with your purchase. Say you logged in through American Airlines’ shopping portal and bought a $50 blender. You’ll now have 100 American Airlines miles, just for making a purchase you would have anyway. And if you pay with a travel rewards credit card, you’ll earn even more miles on top of it.  

2. Take Surveys

If you’ve got some spare time on your hands, earn miles by taking online marketing surveys.

Two of the most popular sites are eMiles and e-Rewards. Once you earn a certain number of points, they’ll deposit miles into your program of choice.

3. Eat Out

Most airline programs offer extra points for dining within their preferred network of restaurants. And it’s easy: just sign up online and link your credit card to the program, and you’ll earn extra miles any time you pay the bill at one of those restaurants.

Here are links to a few major programs:

4. Monitor Social Media

Airlines and hotel chains often run promotions on social media. For example, you might be asked to watch a video about British Airways and like their Facebook page, and in return, you’ll get 500 points. If you’re already a social media junkie, this should be easy for you!

The best way to find out about these promotions is to follow airlines and frequent flyer blogs on Twitter. If you’re not on Twitter, just sign up to receive updates in your email or RSS reader.  

5. Sign Up for a Debit Card

I recommend that everyone has at least one travel rewards card to use for all of their everyday expenses. It is, by far, the easiest way to earn miles. If you’re not a fan of credit cards, or can’t commit to paying them off in full each month, get a miles-earning debit card instead.  

Though rewards debit cards are dying out, here are three options that remain:

A few other financial promotions exist -- such as investing money with Fidelity and Ameritrade -- but you typically need to put down a lot of capital to qualify.

6. Travel!

This may seem like a no-brainer, but many people still don’t take full advantage of this method of earning miles.

First off, you should never fly without putting in your frequent flyer number. And remember how we talked about earning miles in one or two programs? This applies when you’re flying, as well. Even if you purchase your ticket with Korean Air, you can earn Delta Skymiles, since they are partners. Make sure you put in the correct frequent flyer number when booking any tickets.  

Make sure you’re also earning miles through your hotel stays and car rentals. Check with your preferred programs to see who their partners are, and choose the best option for you.

Though those are the main ways you can earn frequent flyer miles without signing up for credit cards, the world of travel rewards is always changing. Keep an eye out for other promotions, such as those available when you sign up for Netflix, pay your insurance or get your taxes prepared.

Once you start looking, the opportunities to earn miles are everywhere.

Susan Shain (@TravlJunkette) has been working seasonal adventure jobs and traveling the world since 2008 -- all on a strict budget. Follow along on her blog, Travel Junkette, to learn how you can do the same.

The freelance writing life is wonderful, but it’s not easy.

You’re a business of one, responsible for marketing, writing and invoicing, as well as paying your bills each and every month.

Here at The Penny Hoarder, we have plenty of information about becoming a freelance writer -- and even lists of websites or blogs that pay -- but what about earning more from your writing?

If that’s something on your mind (and if you’re a freelance writer, it probably is), here are seven free sites that will help.

1. The Write Life

The first tool you need to arm yourself with? Knowledge.

And there’s no better to place to learn the ins and outs of freelance writing than The Write Life. It has information on everything from getting published to blogging, but its freelance writing coverage really shines.

Start with a post like How This Freelance Writer Made Six Figures in 2016, or check out its ebook Get Better Clients and Earn More Money.

2. Beyond Your Blog

One of the toughest parts of freelance writing is figuring out what editors want. And though no site is a crystal ball, Beyond Your Blog comes pretty close.

Offering articles, lists of writing opportunities and a Facebook group, it’s an all-around excellent resource for freelance writers.

Best of all, founder Susan Maccarelli often interviews editors from major websites to find out what they’re looking for from freelance writers. It’s a wonderful peek behind the scenes that will help fine-tune your pitches.

And when more of your pitches get accepted, guess what? You make more money.

3. Contently

If you don’t have a freelance writing portfolio yet, it’s easy to create one with Contently.

But your Contently portfolio won’t only be a repository for your previous work; it might also be a way to get future work. The platform works with brands that need content -- and relies on its network of freelancers to create it.

When editors have projects for which they need writers, they search through the profiles of freelancers. So be sure to include your specialties in your profile, as well as the phrase “available for freelance assignments.”

Although I don’t depend on the platform for regular work, it’s always a nice surprise when an invitation to pitch a new Contently client appears in my inbox. And because the clients are national brands with big budgets, the assignments have paid crazy well.

4. Who Pays Writers

Don’t waste your time pitching an outlet that pays pennies -- target ones that understand what good writing is worth.

Here to help is the crowdsourced database Who Pays Writers.

Just log on and type in a publication.It’ll bring up reports from other freelance writers: how much (and how quickly) it paid, plus whether they had an existing relationship with the editor and how much reporting was required.

Pitching outlets that pay more is a surefire way to increase your freelance earnings over time.

5. FreshBooks

Although it recently changed, FreshBooks is still my favorite online bookkeeping tool.

I first fell in love with the platform because it allowed you to invoice your clients via Paypal -- and it only took out a 50-cent fee. In the new version, that option’s no longer available; your clients can only pay via credit card, and the platform charges fees similar to Paypal.

But, here’s a little-known secret: If you already have a FreshBooks account, you can revert to the Classic version just by following these instructions. If you’re signing up for the first time, you’ll have to contact customer service to try Classic.

Whichever version you use, don’t forgo the option to track your time. Even if your hours aren’t billable, knowing how long projects take is a vital part of setting rates as a freelancer.

6. Careful Cents

Does the thought of doing your freelance taxes keep you up at night? I know the feeling.

That’s why I love reading Carrie Smith’s blog Careful Cents. As an accountant who later became a freelance writer, she’s been on both sides of the game. On her blog, she offers tons of helpful advice for managing your finances and making more money as a freelancer.

She even has a free mini-course called No More Job Boards that’s all about landing better-paying freelance work.

A few other sites that deserve an honorable mention? Writer’s Weekly, Make a Living Writing, The International Freelancer, Funds for Writers and the goodies on this resources page.

Work smarter -- not harder -- and the freelance writing gods might just reward you with an income you deserve.

Susan Shain is the founder of Where to Pitch, a free resource that helps freelance writers figure out where to pitch their stories. Just type in a publication or topic, and it'll suggest similar outlets. Pitch smarter, not harder!

You may have seen our lists of states where you could earn more money.

Or save more money.

Though interesting, those lists come with two caveats: States include many different regions, and depending on where you live, your salary doesn’t always reflect your buying power.

A new study from Pew Research Center, on the other hand, takes both those factors into account.

By adjusting average weekly wages for cost of living, Pew determined the 10 metropolitan areas where Americans earn the most -- and the 10 where they earn the least.

Keep reading to see the surprising results.

Where Americans Earn the Most and Least

For the study, Pew used Regional Price Parities (RPPs) -- which “measure local price levels in each of the nation’s 381 metropolitan statistical areas” -- to adjust each region’s average weekly wages.

“High regional price levels can erode the real value of wages, but relatively low prices can effectively offset low wages, at least to some extent,” it explains.

Here are the results:

[caption id="attachment_30289" align="aligncenter" width="640"]cost of living Source: Pew Research Center[/caption]

few surprises on the list, right?

I couldn’t believe Silicon Valley came out on top.

I knew wages there were great, but I figured they were offset by the area’s insanely high cost of living.

That said, the results also show you don’t need to move to California to find well-paying tech jobs.

Two lesser-known tech hubs -- North Carolina’s “Research Triangle” and Huntsville, Alabama -- joined NorCal on the list of highest wages.

Thinking about moving? Here are a few other posts that might help:

Susan Shain is always seeking adventure on a budget. Visit her blog at susanshain.com, or say hi on Twitter @susan_shain.

You’ve probably heard of Airbnb, the platform that lets you rent temporary accommodations to travelers from all over the world.

You may have even been tempted to get involved -- extra money sure sounds nice -- but thought you couldn’t because you don’t have a spare room.

The thing is, though: You don’t need a spare room.

To host on Airbnb, all you need is a friend, a backyard or even a couch -- plus a sprinkling of creativity and hospitality.

Here’s how it works…

How to Make Money on Airbnb -- Without a Spare Room

No spare room? No worries. 

If you look outside the box (or bedroom), you’ll discover plenty of ways to earn money on Airbnb.

Here are a few ideas:

1. Split Hosting With a Friend

Do you have a friend you trust? Or maybe a boyfriend or girlfriend you don’t live with?

List one of your apartments on Airbnb. When you get a booking, stay with the other person and split the profits. Win-win!

I’ve been a guest at several Airbnbs with this arrangement (like this one in London listed for $141 per night), and it always seemed like a brilliant idea to me.

2. Ball Out Your Backyard

[caption id="attachment_58736" align="aligncenter" width="911"]Airbnb host "Asheville's Romantic Tent Glamping Getaway," run by a woman named Brookes in Asheville, North Carolina, lets people glamp (stay in a luxurious tent) in her backyard. Photo Courtesy Airbnb[/caption]

Got a nice yard? Then you’ve got a potentially killer Airbnb listing.

Just take a look at these hosts in San Francisco who charge a whopping $275 per night for their treehouse.

Or this woman named Brookes in Asheville, North Carolina, who lets people glamp (stay in a luxurious tent) in her backyard.

Brookes charges $125 per night with a two-night minimum, plus a $50 cleaning fee. She also provides fresh breakfast each day.

So she grosses about $300 per stay -- and is booked nearly every weekend for the next three months.

When I talked to Brookes, she said the business is doing “really well” -- so well, in fact, her husband’s going to be able to retire early!

3. Use Your Couch

Even if you don’t have a reliable friend or a spacious backyard, you probably at least have a couch.

And that’s good enough for Airbnb, too; even the CEO himself used to list his for $50 per night.

This New York City couple did even better: They listed their couch on Airbnb for $65 per night -- and used the listing to pay half their $2,250 rent!

This strategy probably works best in big cities where accommodation is expensive, but it’s certainly an option anyone can try.

How to Make Your Airbnb Listing

As you can see, there are lots of ways to earn money on Airbnb. So why not give it a shot?

Here’s how to get started:

1. Create Your Airbnb Account

Make a hosting account on Airbnb.

Or, log in to your existing account, and create your first listing.

2. Make an Airbnb Listing

Make a listing for your apartment, tent, couch, spare room, treehouse, hammock, whatever.

Be sure to spend time on your description, and add high-quality photos with lots of natural light

3. Complete an Airbnb Reservation

Now, all that’s left to do is start hosting.

Here are a few tips:

  • Make your space available during high-demand times in your area. Think: concerts, conventions and sporting events in your area.
  • Be a good host, and make sure your place is stocked with the toiletries you’d expect at a hotel — toilet paper, soap and towels.
  • Be personable. A lot of travelers turn to Airbnb for the personal touch they won’t find at commercial properties.

Here’s the link to sign up as an Airbnb host.

(Hosting laws vary from city to city. Please understand the rules and regulations applicable to your city and listing.)

 

Susan Shain, contributor for The Penny Hoarder, is always seeking adventure on a budget. Visit her blog at susanshain.com, or say hi on Twitter @susan_shain.

Say goodbye to being a starving artist.

We just found a way you can work for a creative and artsy company -- from the comfort of your own home.

Museum Hack, a startup that runs quirky private museum tours, is hiring a customer service representative.

How to Get an Artsy Job With Museum Hack

As you can read in our interview with the founder, Museum Hack is turning the traditional museum tour on its head. It offers “highly interactive, subversive, fun, non-traditional” tours of museums in major cities such as New York, Washington, D.C. and San Francisco.

Right now, it’s hiring a remote customer service representative whose duties will include answering questions and closing sales via email and sometimes over the phone.

You must be a detail-oriented, quick learner with excellent customer service skills, “nearly perfect written English” and high flexibility.

Previous experience with web-based services (Google Docs, Gmail, Google Calendar, Slack, Xero, PandaDoc, Base CRM) is also desired; if you’re familiar with them, be sure to mention it in your cover letter.

This is a part-time position that has the possibility of becoming full time. You’ll start off working between 20 to 30 hours per week.

You must be based in the U.S. and able to work flexible hours between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. EST, plus a few hours on weekends. Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. EST are required hours.

Not only does this sound like a fun gig with a cool and growing company, but it pays $12-$15 per hour, with occasional “performance-based rewards and incentives.”

It also sounds like you’ll have opportunities to advance your career.

“Most of our customer service representatives stay with the company for years, and move up to do really exciting things with us,” the job description states.

Want in on the action? Click here to apply.

Susan Shain is always seeking adventure on a budget. Visit her blog at susanshain.com, or say hi on Twitter @susan_shain.

A toaster. A set of plates. Some bath towels.

If you’re attending the wedding of close friends or family members, chances are you don’t want to get them some impersonal household item.

But you also don’t want to spend a ton of money OR give a gift that doesn’t have meaning.

So, the obvious answer: Make something.

And the tough question that follows: But what?

To answer that, we scoured Pinterest to find 10 affordable, handmade wedding gifts.

Not only will these options keep your budget under control, they’ll be something the couple will cherish for their whole marriage -- which, hopefully, is a long time!

1. Photo Collage Letters

[caption id="attachment_30061" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Diy wedding gifts Photo source: House on the Way[/caption]

These photo collage letters from House on the Way are super easy to make. You could use the first letter of the couple’s new last name, or the first letters of their first names plus an ampersand.

All you need are wooden letters, Mod Podge, scissors, a paintbrush and photos. (Personally, I love the black and white!)

2. Relationship Map  

[caption id="attachment_30062" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Diy wedding gifts Photo source: High Walls[/caption]

I don’t know about you, but I think maps are the coolest. And this cartography heart set from High Walls could highlight where the couple met, got engaged, got married or currently lives.

If the hearts are a little much, you could simply cut the maps into squares or circles instead.

3. Personalized Recipe Book

[caption id="attachment_30063" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Diy wedding gifts Photo source: Savvy Eats[/caption]

As Savvy Eats says, a personalized recipe book really is “one of the best gifts you’ll ever give.”

Instead of just including your favorite recipes, you should request them from the couple’s friends and family as well. Ask them to type up their favorites, plus a note to the couple, then compile them into a cute book.

Trust me, it’s worth the effort!

4. Photo Coasters

[caption id="attachment_30118" align="aligncenter" width="640"]hands-woman-photography-children Photo Source: Ryan McGuire under Creative Commons[/caption]

These photo coasters from The Frugal Girls are another project I’ve completed successfully. They’re simpler than they sound, and are also quite affordable.

Use high-quality photos of the couple or maps of meaningful spots, and you’ll have a beautiful (and useful!) gift.

5. Year-of-Firsts Basket

[caption id="attachment_30064" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Diy wedding gifts Photo source: Spool and Spoon[/caption]

This year-of-firsts basket from Spool and Spoon is perfect for the couple who loves wine.

Buy a bunch of their favorite bottles and label each with a “first” they’ll have during the next year: beach trip, dinner party, anniversary, etc.

6. Hand-Painted Song Lyrics

[caption id="attachment_30065" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Diy wedding gifts Photo source: Swiish[/caption]

If you know the couple’s wedding song (and have legible handwriting), this song-lyric canvas from Swiish would make a stunning gift.

That’s one thing I’d hang on my wall for sure!

7. Wooden Photo Hanger

[caption id="attachment_30066" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Diy wedding gifts Photo source: Heels In The Mud[/caption]

Who doesn’t want a shabby chic photo display in their home?

Though Heels in the Mud doesn’t go through each step, it looks pretty easy to figure out -- especially if you bring a photo of the project into your local hardware store.

To make it more wedding-y, you could paint the couple’s names and wedding date onto one of the boards.

8. Handwritten Plates

[caption id="attachment_30122" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Photo Source: Tiffany Terry under Creative Commons Photo Source: Tiffany Terry under Creative Commons[/caption]

Did you know Sharpies are magic? So magic, in fact, you can create personalized plates like these ones from Orthodox Mom.

You could make them into “giving plates” like she did, or decorate a few with your favorite recipes.

9. Personalized Cutting Board

[caption id="attachment_30067" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Diy wedding gifts Photo source: The Neely Grange[/caption]

This personalized cutting board from The Neeley Grange requires a wood-burning tool (around $20), so it’s a bit more expensive than the other projects.

But it looks so beautiful (and professional) that I had to include it!

10. $3 Photo Display

[caption id="attachment_30068" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Diy wedding gifts Photo source: Shanty-2-Chic[/caption]

In contrast to the prior project, this rustic photo display from Shanty 2 Chic only costs $3 to make.

At that price, you could make several for the couple -- perhaps with their names, or with different quotes about love and marriage.

After discovering all these projects, I’m confident I’ll have beautiful gifts for all the weddings I’m attending this summer.

Now, I guess it’s time to start making ‘em!

Your Turn: Which of these handmade wedding gifts is your favorite?  

Susan Shain is always seeking adventure on a budget. Visit her blog at susanshain.com, or say hi on Twitter @susan_shain.

Editor's note: The job listing for the tour bus driver/tech is no longer open.

Can you hear that?

It’s the sound of my coworkers crying, as they realize their wildest dreams have finally come true: You can get paid to travel the country with a crew of kitties.

The Acro-Cats, a troupe of former orphan and stray cats, travels from city to city performing live shows to “sold-out audiences.” (Yes, we’ve written about them before.)

And right now, they’re hiring both a tour assistant and a bus driver/tech.

Does that sound like your cup of catnip? Then keep reading.

How to Work for the Cat Circus

The Acro-Cats show is “devoted to promoting cat-training awareness and supporting feline adoption and rescue,” so it travels across the country in -- what else? -- a custom cat bus, fostering and finding homes for its animals.

As well as performing what sounds like an intriguing show…

First off, it features an “all-cat band” called the Rock Cats. (Wut.)

[caption id="attachment_36406" align="aligncenter" width="600"]cat circus via circuscats.com[/caption]

Second, the cats do tricks with hoops, skateboards and other props. (I’ve never met a cat that would do what its owner said if its life depended on it, so this is a MUST-see.)

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, the show involves something called a “cat vs. chicken bowling show-down.” (I can’t begin to fathom what that is, which means it alone is worth the price of admission.)

Here’s how to get your paw in the door.

Tour Assistant

The company is looking for a tour assistant whose responsibilities would include “cat wrangling,” moving props, selling tour merchandise, caring for “Rock Star cats” and coordinating volunteers for all performances. It’s a bonus if you can drive a 45’ bus.

The listing states pay is “commensurate with qualifications and experience” -- and I’m assuming it means experience with tours, and not cats. Because no amount of experience with cats prepares you for everything that is cats.  

Tour Bus Driver / Tech

In this position, you’d be responsible for driving and maintaining the cat tour bus, which is actually a 45’ bus that tows a 14’ car.

The other portion of your job would be doing sounds and lights for the show. You must be able to lift and carry 50 pounds, as you’ll have to load equipment in and out of the vehicles.

No pay is listed; rather, the company states it’s “taking bids/offers for this position.” A resume, plus a check of your background and driving record, are required.  

Not into cats? Then check our open positions here at The Penny Hoarder.

I have a feeling we’re going to lose more than one staff member to this traveling troupe of tabbies…

(H/T to DNAInfo for finding this fun gig.)

Your Turn: Do you want to join the cat circus?

Susan Shain, senior writer for The Penny Hoarder, is always seeking adventure on a budget. Visit her blog at susanshain.com, or say hi on Twitter @susan_shain.

Miranda Stamps and her husband Jay Albany had great jobs. They had healthy 4-year-old twin boys. Some might say they had it all.

But they weren’t fulfilled.  

“We were doing what we thought we should be doing for an unknown payoff, and it felt stressful and not free,” explained Albany. “I don't want to say we weren't happy, but we didn't feel like we were in touch with what we really wanted.”

So, unlike many people in their situation, they took the time to think about what they wanted -- and then they made it happen.

Stamps and Albany decided to travel the world with their kids, and they’ve now been on the road for more than two years, supporting themselves and teaching their twin boys about the world. Although their lifestyle certainly isn’t attainable for everyone, their outlook might be…

Why They Decided to Leave

[caption id="attachment_55247" align="aligncenter" width="1200"]Travel the world with kids Photo from milesfrombrooklyn.com[/caption]

They lived in New York City, and like many people, Stamps and Albany had talked about leaving for a while.

“In New York, with the exception of sitting in a wonderful but busy park, you're always involved in commerce,” explained Stamps. “You're always either shopping or sitting at a restaurant, or buying something.”

That wasn’t a life they wanted for their sons.

“We wanted to be in a place where they got to be outside without us wondering what might be going on in the woods, whether it was a good idea to let them be climbing and exploring.”

Both 37 years old, they’d been saving for a house since getting married 12 years earlier.

They had good jobs -- Albany worked in finance and startups, Stamps in education and technology -- and together, had managed to save $100,000.

They considered moving to different suburbs, but couldn’t settle on a place… so they started thinking bigger.

A decade earlier, they’d fallen in love with Australia. And once that idea entered their minds, it never went away.

“It was easier to make the decision to go to Australia than to choose which New York suburb we wanted to move to,” said Stamps.

“Yeah, it was Australia or New Jersey,” quipped Albany.

Although confident in their decision now, this initial step -- the leaving, the letting go -- was the the hardest thing they faced in their entire journey, Stamps recalled.  

What It Cost to Move to Australia

[caption id="attachment_55249" align="aligncenter" width="1200"]Travel the world with kids Photo from milesfrombrooklyn.com[/caption]

Their upfront monetary costs were huge, as well. Here’s a breakdown:

  • Living expenses: AU$4,000 (about US$3,000 in 2015)
  • Car: AU$38,000 (about US$29,000)
  • Camper: AU$28,000 (about US$21,000)

They say they probably could’ve found the car and camper for cheaper, but they wanted new, reliable vehicles that would serve them well while off-roading. And because their research showed both vehicles had a high resale value, they felt comfortable with the massive investment.

Stamps and Albany left with enough savings to travel for six months -- but now, two-and-a-half years later, they’re still on the road. That’s thanks to Albany’s ability to earn money remotely.

Drawing on his years of experience in startups and finance, he works as a business consultant for young, growing companies -- both for new clients he’s met while traveling (mostly in co-working spaces), and for former colleagues.

He started out working only a few hours a week, but quickly realized if he found more business -- enough to work half time -- it would cover the family’s living expenses, which were significantly lower than in New York.

“That was really an epiphany moment for us,” said Stamps.

Albany soon attained those hours, and more. He now works full time, which even allows the family to put some money in the bank.

But… What About the Kids?

[caption id="attachment_55254" align="aligncenter" width="1188"]Travel the world with kids Photo from milesfrombrooklyn.com[/caption]

Although few of the leave-it-all-behind-to-travel stories we hear involve kids, Stamps and Albany have met “tons” of families on the road. And they’ve found their own experience to be quite rewarding.

“It's not the same as a trip you do without kids, but it's wonderful to experience the world the way they're interested in exploring it,” said Stamps. “Their excitement in going to new places and trying new things is really inspirational for us.”

“It also really allows you to move more slowly and engage more thoroughly, because with kids you need to make sure you're eating enough meals and finding playgrounds and taking life at a reasonable pace,” she continued.

As for tantrums or other issues, Stamps made a valid point: “To the extent that kids are challenging, they're challenging at home or on the road.”

And even though they’re not in school, the boys are learning.

“My goal for our first year was to make sure they learned to read, because that's what they would’ve been exposed to in school,” said Stamps, who has a background in education.

The twins quickly became avid readers, and since then, their curriculum has followed their curiosity. “As they expressed interest in something, we gave them more opportunities to explore it,” explained Stamps.

They’ve investigated everything from addition, subtraction, division and square roots to Greek myths and Native American history. Stamps encourages their continual learning by providing books, conversation, documentaries and real-world learning opportunities.

“It definitely is untraditional,” she admitted. “And had I not seen it happening for myself, I never would’ve believed it [worked].”

For Stamps and Albany, the twins’ thirst for knowledge has been the biggest surprise of the entire adventure.  

“It's been really wonderful to see how travel has helped them unfold as human beings, and how different things they've been exposed to have triggered their curiosity to learn more,” said Stamps.  

“I always pictured learning being about school. I knew they’d get life experience from travel, but I didn't really imagine the way it would create the passion for learning academically that we've seen.”

Their 3 Best Travel Savings Tips

[caption id="attachment_55248" align="aligncenter" width="1200"]Travel the world with kids Photo from milesfrombrooklyn.com[/caption]

After traveling for more than two years, Stamps and Albany were eager to share some of their best budget travel tips:

1. Have 2 Bank Accounts

First, set a monthly budget; then, open two bank accounts.

Keep your savings and paychecks in one account, and set up a monthly transfer (in the amount of your budget) into the other. That’s all the money you’re allowed to spend that month -- once it’s gone, it’s gone.

“A lot of travelers have set a monthly budget,” explained Stamps, “but they don't have tools in place to prevent themselves from overspending.”

Taking this step forced their family to be disciplined -- and even if they return to a traditional life, Stamps predicted they’ll stick with the practice.

2. Learn to Cook

While traveling in Australia, Stamps said they rarely went out to eat. Instead, they cooked most of their meals in their camp kitchen.

That way, she explained, “we could buyer nicer ingredients and have treats -- without going out to a mediocre meal and spending $100 of a $400 monthly budget.”

To spice things up, she also learned to cook other cuisines -- like Korean, Japanese and Indian -- by downloading lots of cookbooks.

“It was a fun project on my own, but also allowed us to eat a really wide variety of things without paying someone else to cook it,” she said.

3. Buy High-Quality Clothing

Although it might seem counterintuitive, Stamps suggests paying upfront for high-quality clothes.

“Buying better quality clothes that can go through terrible washing machines a million times is much more cost-effective,” she says. “The clothing we brought that wasn't as high quality, we ended up having to replace more frequently.”

She recommends end-of-season sales from brands like Patagonia, Boden and Hanna Andersson.

What’s Next? It Doesn’t Matter

[caption id="attachment_55255" align="aligncenter" width="1200"]Travel the world with kids Photo from milesfrombrooklyn.com[/caption]

The family has since left Australia and traveled in Asia and Canada, and Albany said: “What our future plans look like is always a question.”

They’re hesitant to put too much value on the future -- and instead deliberately choose to focus on what’s happening right now.

“The good thing is we don't have to decide, because we're in a situation right now where we can continue to do what’s working for us as a family,” explained Stamps, “and when that stops working, we'll do something different.”

For a couple whose lives used to revolve around planning, the shift in perspective has paid off.

“By keeping ourselves open… we've had so many opportunities to go places, to meet people, to do things that we couldn't have imagined,” said Stamps. “When you have plans all the time, you miss opportunities you might not have considered as a possibility.”

“It's been so much more fulfilling to live our life without being focused exclusively on what happens next.”

You can follow along with their adventures through their blog Miles From Brooklyn.

Susan Shain is a freelance writer and digital nomad. She covers travel, food and personal finance (basically, how to save money so you can travel more and eat more). Visit her blog at susanshain.com, or say hi on Twitter @susan_shain.

While planning their wedding, Kacey Yates and her fiance discussed what would make it the “perfect day.” Since they were on a budget, they needed to determine their priorities -- and cut costs everywhere else.

The first thing that came to mind? The invitations.

Yates thought about how she felt when she received a wedding invitation: “Did I keep it? Did it shape my opinion of the couple? Did it shape my opinion of the day?”

Since the answers were all “no,” Yates and her fiance determined that wedding invitations weren’t high on their priority list and were a prime place to cut costs.

So she decided to make DIY wedding invitations. Not only did she save a significant amount of money -- spending 50 cents per invitation, as opposed to the $2.50 she’d seen online -- she felt like her invites were “very personal.”

If you’d like to save money on your wedding with DIY invitations, keep reading. From template options to paper choices, here’s everything you need to know.

The Wide World of DIY Wedding Invitations

When it comes to DIY wedding invitations, there are two basic levels of DIY.

The first is purchasing a template (more on those below) that you fill in, print and embellish yourself.

The other is doing everything from scratch: You create the design, then print, cut and package the invitations yourself.

When Katie Nathey couldn’t find invitations she liked within her budget, she decided to go this route and handcraft her own rustic wedding invitations.

Although she spent $150 on supplies for her 50 invitations, she used the leftover materials to create drink tags, wedding wands and s’more kits.

“This amount was around $100-$150 less than purchasing pre-made invitations, and those didn’t include any embellishments,” she says. “Designing our invitations was one of the best decisions I could have made.”

Before deciding how DIY you want to go with your invites, do your research and think about your preferences (your true preferences -- not the preferences of the Pinterest princess you wish you were).

Do you enjoy crafting? Or are you just trying to save a little money? How much time can you devote to the project? Would you rather spend time on your invites, or, say, custom centerpieces?

Ready to take the plunge? Here are your options for DIY wedding invitations.

DIY Wedding Invitation Templates

[caption id="attachment_55193" align="alignnone" width="1200"] Katie Nathey/mountainmodernlife.com[/caption]

As mentioned above, one of the easiest options is to use print-yourself DIY wedding invitation templates.

They’re plentiful online -- and many are even free. You simply add your details, download the template (usually as a PDF) and then print the invitations at home or a copy shop.

Here are some places to start your search:

  • Etsy: Search “DIY wedding invitation templates” and tons will pop up; this shop has some cute designs

Nathey, whom you met earlier, found that her rustic DIY wedding invitations were so popular, she created a free template for readers to download.  

“The good news is you don’t have to design your own invitations to save money,” she says. “There are more printable options available online, making it easier to customize your invitations on even the tiniest of budgets.”

Besides templates, another option is to order a customized wedding stamp with all the pertinent details on it. Rather than printing out the invitation, you simply stamp the info onto a piece of paper.

Want to see what they look like? Here’s an Etsy store that sells partially hand-lettered wedding invitation stamps for $80 and up.

Designing Your DIY Wedding Invitations

[caption id="attachment_55189" align="alignnone" width="1200"] Alexandra Vincent/The Penny Hoarder[/caption]

If you enjoy art, graphic design or calligraphy, then you might want to take it a step beyond the template and design your own wedding invitations.

First things first: The words are the most important part, so make sure you get a second pair of eyes to proofread!

Then, to create the basic layout of your invitation, you can use a free trial of Adobe InDesign, Photoshop or Illustrator; a free online program like Canva or PicMonkey; or a word-processing tool like Word or Pages.

Important design elements to consider include fonts, line spacing, alignment, colors and theme.

Yates, for example, added an image of a golden snitch to allude to her Harry Potter-themed engagement, while Nathey went rustic to match her cabin wedding.

When it comes to fonts, you can download them for free at DaFont. Or, you can buy them -- here are several suggested font pairings for DIY invites.

As a rule of thumb, you shouldn’t mix more than three fonts and should stay consistent throughout the invitation suite (including other inserts like RSVP cards or maps).

Choosing Paper for Your DIY Wedding Invitations

[caption id="attachment_55188" align="alignnone" width="1200"] Alexandra Vincent/The Penny Hoarder[/caption]

Although it might seem unimportant, don’t skimp on the paper -- it can make or break your invitation.

You should try to buy cardstock that’s at least 65-pound, though 80-pound is even better.

“I would recommend printing on the heaviest cardstock paper you can find and afford,” writes Nathey. “The thicker the invitation, the better it will look and feel.” For her invitations, she used 110-pound heavy cardstock, which resists both bending and bleeding.

If you’re printing from home (more on that in the next section), she says you should make sure your printer can handle whatever cardstock you choose. You can find this information in your printer’s manual, or by searching online for your printer’s “max paper weight.”

You can also choose different finishes for your paper; for wedding invitations, popular finishes include cotton or linen, which are beautiful but more expensive.

For her golden snitch invites, Yates used premium linen cardstock. She felt it “really added that something special to the wedding invitations, making them look elegant and sophisticated as opposed to normal card paper.”

Alternatively, recycled paper is also a popular option -- especially for rustic or boho invites.

You can order cardstock online at Amazon or specialty shops like LCI Paper, Paper and More, Paper Source and Paper Presentation. Or you can go to your local Jo-Ann's, Walmart or office-supply store.

Other options worth considering? Pocketfold invitations, which you can order online from sites like Cards and Pockets, or DIY wedding invitation kits, which include paper for the invitations and RSVP cards, and envelopes for both.

That being said, one easy way to keep costs down is to forgo the RSVP card. (Less paper and fewer stamps!)

Instead, ask your guests to RSVP on your wedding website. If you have relatives who don’t use the internet, you can include a small card asking them to RSVP by phone.

Lastly, don’t forget: You need one invitation per address -- not per guest. So don’t make the mistake of ordering double the paper you need!

Printing Your DIY Wedding Invitations

[caption id="attachment_55196" align="alignnone" width="1200"] Meagan Hearne/meaganhearne.com[/caption]

Whether you’re using a DIY wedding invitation template or designing the whole thing yourself, you’re going to need to print it somehow.

The most penny-hoarding option? Print your invitations at home. As long as you have a decent printer -- and use nice paper -- this will probably work fine.

Both inkjet and laser printers are up to the job; just be sure to select the highest-quality print setting. (Here’s an example of a woman who printed her invitations using an HP Officejet Printer.)

To save money, use black ink only; if you want a splash of color, use colored paper.

When it comes to cutting out your invitations, try to get the most out of each sheet. If you’re using 12-by-12-inch paper to print 5-by-7-inch invitations, here’s one bride’s strategy:

[caption id="attachment_53889" align="aligncenter" width="360"] Caption: Image courtesy of Craftaholics Anonymous[/caption]

Alternatively, you can get your invitations printed at a local copy shop or office-supply store. It’ll be more expensive, but it might be worth it for the time you’ll save, as they can also cut the invitations for you.

Lauren Lanker, for example, got 200 invitations printed and cut at Kinko’s for $32, which seems like a pretty good deal. Just be sure to do a test run, so you don’t end up with smudgy invitations like she did!

Making Your DIY Invitations Shine

[caption id="attachment_55187" align="alignnone" width="1200"] Alexandra Vincent/The Penny Hoarder[/caption]

If you can believe it, so far we’ve only covered the basics of DIY wedding invitations. Once you’ve designed and printed them, there are countless ways to make your invites shine.

You could add embellishments like:  

  • Or whatever else tickles your fancy!

For example, Nathey used a combination of hole punches, buttons, lace, ribbon and twine to embellish her rustic wedding invitations.

“We spent roughly $150 on our wedding invitations, with a big chunk of our budget going towards the craft supplies to create the embellishments,” she says. (But don’t forget: She used the leftover supplies to make other wedding goodies.)

The sky’s the limit here. Don’t be afraid to browse the internet for inspiration and let your imagination run wild.

Don’t Forget the Envelopes

[caption id="attachment_55330" align="alignnone" width="1200"] boho-weddings.com[/caption]

One final way to make your invitations stand out? Killer envelopes.

Envelope liners are a popular option. If purchased from a site like Minted, they’d run you a whopping 76 cents per liner -- but you can make them yourself with fabric, pretty paper, an engagement photo or even a pencil eraser (though I don’t want to think about how long that would take!).

As for the addresses, you can hire a calligrapher, but that’ll cost you a whopping $2-$5 per envelope. It’s much more affordable to enlist your friends to help you, or just print pretty labels like these.

Don’t forget to include your return address, using a label or stamp.

The Final Step: Mailing Your Invitations

[caption id="attachment_55336" align="alignnone" width="1200"] stacey_newman/Getty Images[/caption]

Next, it’s time to visit the post office to weigh your entire invitation and see how much postage it’ll require. (Note: Square envelopes cost more to mail, so unless you’re really attached to that shape, rectangular is the way to go.)

As for postage stamps, you can purchase custom versions with your face on them -- but it’ll cost you more than $1 per stamp. Instead, here’s how to save money on Forever stamps.

When it comes time to finally -- blissfully!!! -- mail out your invites, it’s a good idea to physically bring them to the post office.

That way, you can ask the postal worker to “hand cancel” them (rather than put them through the machine and potentially damage the envelopes). Some post offices will do this for free, while others charge up to 20 cents per envelope.

When in Doubt, Just Customize the Design

[caption id="attachment_55191" align="alignnone" width="1200"] Invitationsbydawn/Facebook[/caption]

If, after reading all this, it turns out you’re not as crafty (or don’t have as much time) as you thought, remember there are still ways to get creative with your wedding invitations -- even if you don’t go the DIY route.

When you order invites from your local stationery store or sites like Wedding Paper Divas and Minted, you still get to choose the design and colors.

But, unlike with DIY invites, the company takes care of the rest. (Minted will even address the envelopes for you.)

Amy Gagnon, for example, used a company called Invitations by Dawn.  

“I filled out information as to what I was looking for in terms of look, style, theme, etc,” she says. “They then sent me a folder full of sample paper, color palettes, text samples and so on.”

Once she’d chosen the perfect combo, she ordered it from the site. It arrived as a single sheet she folded up to mail.

Gagnon “loved” her invitations, which cost about $1.50 each. “My hand touched every part of them,” she says. “And then these two little hands went out in a snow storm on Valentine's Day to send them out because it was cute, darnit.”

That’s it! Now you know how to craft your DIY wedding invitations. Now all that’s left to worry about is the band, the food, the cake, the dress, the honeymoon…

Ready for a glass of wine? I certainly am!

Your Turn: Did you make your own wedding invitations? Was it worth it?

Susan Shain is a freelance writer and digital nomad. She covers travel, food and personal finance (basically, how to save money so you can travel more and eat more). Visit her blog at susanshain.com, or say hi on Twitter @susan_shain.

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Though -- contrary to common belief -- today is not Mexico’s Independence Day, it’s still an excuse to celebrate.

And here at The Penny Hoarder, you know how we celebrate: with deals.

So here are 10 of the best Cinco de Mayo specials we could find… Vamos!  

1. Bahama Breeze

Get your drink on with $5 handcrafted classic margaritas at the Bahama Breeze nearest you. If you’re planning ahead, this deal is valid May 1-5.

2. Moe’s Southwest Grill

Happy #CincodeMoes!

This quick-service Tex-Mex chain is offering $5 burritos all day at select locations -- and if you’re one of the first customers of the day, you might even get a free T-shirt!

3. Tijuana Flats

Get three days of $2 deals on Cinco de Mayo weekend. Grab $2 Mexican drafts on Friday, May 5. “Recover” on Saturday May 6 and Sunday, May 7 with $2 drafts, plus $2 churros, tacos and chips and salsa.

4. On the Border

Drink specials abound, with margaritas on special for $5 each. To get the fiesta started, many locations will also have live music!

5. Beef ‘O’ Brady’s

Grab the pub’s Cinco de Mayo deal — two tacos with chips and salsa for $5.99 — on Friday. Tax and gratuity not included.

6. Charlie Brown’s Steakhouse

Head to the bar all week long for $4 Coronas and $5 margaritas.

7. Chuy’s

Austin, Texas-based Tex-Mex chain Chuy’s starts the celebration early. Stop by May 4 for a $1 floater (a half-ounce of your favorite liquor poured over your beverage) or $1 off Corona beer. On May 5, enjoy all-day happy hour specials, plus the previous day’s drink offers. On Saturday, May 6, Chuy’s will serve $5 bloody marys.

8. El Pollo Loco

Head over to this chicken joint’s coupon page to print out deals you can use all weekend. Choose a $5 chicken tostada combo, a $5 two-piece leg and thigh combo, or $5 off a 12-piece family meal. Looking for catering deals? Take $10 off a 24-piece catering meal or $20 off a 48-piece catering meal. Talk about a party! You can show these coupons on your mobile phone, too.

9. Marie Callender’s

Stop by Marie Callender’s all weekend for $4 house margaritas and $6 “ultimate” margaritas. Home-style dishes and marg specials? Heck yes.

10. Tio Juan’s Margaritas

Stop by before 4 p.m. on May 5 for $5 house margaritas and $5 all-you-can-eat nachos. Select locations will have live bands or DJs, along with giveaways and other entertainment.

Be sure to check out your local restaurants to find more deals for Cinco de Mayo!

Your Turn: Where will you celebrate Cinco de Mayo this year?

Susan Shain is always seeking adventure on a budget. Visit her blog at susanshain.com, or say hi on Twitter @susan_shain.