2013: A Year in Review

Sundays are always a time I share good things to read on a suitably lazy Sunday, but since this is the last Sunday of the year I thought it would be a great time to look back at 2013 on the Centsible Life. If you’re a new reader you’ll find things that came before your time, and if you’re a regular reader you may find some posts you didn’t know about.

In addition to sharing this though, I’d love your feedback. If you come to the site for something different-let me know! I am always looking for ways to improve the blog to help you find what you need.

This post is going to be a long one-with both a top 5 list, and monthly recaps, so grab a cup of coffee (or tea) and read on.

Most Popular in 2013

It’s always interesting to look back on what posts and pages were the most popular on the blog, and I continue to be surprised that posts from a year or a few ago still do well every year. Below you’ll find the top 5 posts of 2013 with several exclusions. I chose not to include any giveaway posts in this list (they tend to be pretty high on the list), and I only included one page (the homepage and about page were both in the top 5).

#1: 365 Day Meal Plan and Printable Grocery List

We saved over $4,000 in 2012 by using a meal plan template, and this post from 2012 continued to be in the top 5 posts each month in 2013. Many people clicked through or find 2013′s update as well, and lots of you enjoy weekly meal plans I post on the blog.

For 2014 look for a new template, weekly menu plans, new recipes, and more ideas on saving big on groceries.

#2: 40 Free or Nearly Free Summer Activities for Kids and 50 Activities to Do When Kids are Off School

Another post that was popular throughout the year was this post on activities to do with kids. Even though the focus is on summertime and it’s from 2012 the ideas are pretty universal.

40 Free or Nearly Free Summer Activities for Kids


50 Activities to Do with Kids

 For 2014 look for more lists like this on ways to save big. I have a few other ideas about what to share, but if you’d like to see something beyond kid activities let me know.

#3: Centsible Printables

In January of this year I  created a ‘home’ for all the printables on the blog, the Centsible Printables page. The collection gathers up all the printables that have been created in one place. It has become a heavily used resource on the site and I’m happy when I hear from readers how much it helps.

Next year I’ll be sharing more printables, and will continue to update this page with new printables.

#4: Are gel manicures worth the price?

Beauty posts are becoming more popular on the blog, and this one astounded me by landing in the top 5 each month.

Gel Manicure Day One

Look for more budget beauty posts in 2014.

#5 Watermelon Sangria Recipe


Another surprise was how popular this post was. I have written other drink recipes (like this cranberry cider cosmo) but none have been quite so popular as this one.


In 2014 I’ll be sharing more drink recipes. I find it fun to try new recipes, and since I like cocktails (but don’t like their $8 price tag) it’s a great way to save too.

2013: A Year in Review

January 2013

January is a busy month in our house! Not only am I busy organizing us for the year, but we celebrate two birthdays! Our littlest guy turned 7 and had a birthday party at our local bowling alley-he even got to bring home a bowling pin signed by everyone! In addition our Emma turned 11 and celebrated with a day trip with just her and her Dad. That one on one time does wonders for the kids.

Emma also set up a donation drive for winter clothing at school and we collected bags and bags full of new warm stuff for kids in the local area. I love that she has such a big heart.

On the blog front it was a busy time with lots of posts from 2012 still getting lots of love, while I started all kinds of new content for 2013.

This wrap up of a year’s worth of ‘Best Time to Buy’ posts (from contributor Kelly Kinkaid) wrapped up with a printable you can use all year long. This was also Kelly’s last post as a contributor. She was an amazing content writer and a friend. She has moved on to other things but thankfully her content lives on. :)

Best Time to Buy

This adorable owl paper roll craft from Tonya was extremely popular as well. Tonya’s content is always amazing, and as you’ll see LOTS of folks agreed by visiting, sharing, and pinning everything she contributed.



February is always a challenging month-we’re past the hoopla of holidays and birthdays, but we aren’t into Spring quite yet. We stayed busy last year with lots of crafts, projects, and setting up desks in each of the kids’ rooms. There were also school performances, robotics competitions, and class Valentine cards mixed into the day to day schedule.

Another fabulous craft by Tonya was hugely popular this year–these LEGO friendship bracelets were a huge hit all year long. Many people made these for LEGO-themed birthday parties which is a unique gift idea!

LEGO Friendship Bracelets

Early in 2013 I started a Work at Home Series with posts from myself and other work at home moms (I need to find some WAH dads for this year!). This guest post about saving energy at home from Jessica Cohen was extremely popular with everyone since the tips work well whether you work from home, are a stay at home parent or work outside the home.

Work at Home Energy


March is another busy month in our house with two more birthdays (my husband and our youngest daughter, Audrey) and the start of spring which means tons of household chores to do both inside and out. Audrey’s birthday was a lovely little celebration at home with just the 6 of us. My husband and I also snuck in some date time for his birthday and a trip to Longwood Gardens.

In March I shared two very personal posts that were extremely well received. It’s a good reminder to me to get personal on the blog sometimes-since there is a person behind the website.

I try to maintain a certain distance-especially when it comes to my kids- so it wasn’t easy to press publish on these posts, but I’m so very glad I did.

I talked about my own struggles with depression (I’ll share an update on that soon) and wrote a memorial to a young man our family knew who we lost way too soon in this post In Memoriam.


April was a lovely month. Buoyed on the support of family and friends truly helped my depression issues, but sharing also allowed me to move on in an odd way and I found myself really enjoying everything again. I attended Type-A Parent’s Advanced conference in Philadelphia. Even though it’s my hometown I stayed over and had fun with friends from near and far-lots of learning, good food, and great conversation that helped my business improve.

Tonya created an amazing craft that readers (and pinners!) loved-play kitchen eggs.

Play kitchen food from plastic eggs

The post I shared that compared the differences between men and women as investors was also extremely popular. Men save $850,000 more than women-a shocking statistic.

We also finally replaced our broken dishwasher this month which was hugely helpful and such a time-saver! Of course I had to share more info about the process with you, so I shared a guide to buying appliances that was popular in April and throughout 2013.


May was a busy travel month. In the beginning of the month I took a short trip with my Mom and sister to Washington DC. We had never EVER done a girls’ trip and it was wonderful to spend time with both of them without our 8 children (yes, eight!) running around. We ate, talked, and ate some more. :)

Next up was a combo business/family trip. The kids knew we were heading to Disney World, but not when, and we surprised them by pulling them out of school for a ‘doctor’s appointment’ and gave them a puzzle to solve. In the end they figured it out right before we got to the airport (you can see the video here). We also surprised the kids by having my parents show up!

The first half of our trip we attended the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration-a magical conference devoted to all things Disney and social media. Then we extended our time after the conference to enjoy a once in a lifetime vacation at Disney World with everyone. It was AMAZING.

We came home from the conference to find tree work had begun on our yard-and after another day we had pressed reset on the backyard. We still have a TON to do in our backyard but this was a big start and I’m glad that those trees are gone since we have had some trees down in our neighborhood with ice and snow we’ve had already this year.

On the blog front I created a new summer activity list that once again became extremely popular with readers and pinners alike.

50 Free Summer Activities for Kids

I also shared a ‘funny-looking-back-on-it’ story about purchasing a large table/desk space for our living room and why furniture outlets are my go to place for scoring great pieces that last.

Desk closeup

I also sent Mr. Whalen to review After Earth with hilarious results. Hoping I can rope him in to write more reviews in 2014.


June meant the end of the school year, my 11 year old ‘graduating’ to middle school, and saying goodbye to my oldest for the summer. He went to stay with my parents (who manage a condo complex) and worked one day a week helping guests move into their rentals. The lucky duck had no idea how good he had it!

It was also Father’s Day (and my Dad’s birthday!) which meant time for gift ideas for dads including this DIY gift card holder for Father’s Day that Tonya created (but really it works for tons of occasions!).

DIY Gift Card Holder for Father's Day

We also spent a fair amount of time in June packing in all kinds of fun like beach trips, pool time, and movies.


July meant we were in full summer swing around here with me juggling kids in various camps and activities and working from home with summer fun like swimming at the Y and trips to the beach. It’s also my birthday month (I turned 37) so I spent some time reflecting on the last year and of course celebrating!

Strawberries are a summertime favorite and we made some fun recipes we used all summer long to keep us cool and refreshed.

Homemade Strawberry Lemonade

Tonya shared a fun and simple idea-natural hemp-wrapped jars she filled with succulents. These make great gifts or look lovely lined up on a table or shelf.

Natural hemp wrapped jar with succulents

We had a great discussion about how McDonald’s and the minimum wage is failing workers. when you add up the numbers it simply doesn’t make it possible to have basic necessities on a minimum wage income.

July also saw the end of Google Reader so I shared 5 additional ways you can subscribe to your favorite blogs post Google reader.

How to subscribe to blogs and websites



At the end of August the kids head back to school so I hold onto the last shred of my sanity by packing in fun and we also sprung for a week of day camp at our local Y. I took an impromptu trip to San Francisco the week the kids were in camp for a job interview. It was a lovely break, and I was hopeful about the job, but in the end it wasn’t meant to be. They hired someone else and I remembered why I love having a flexible schedule once the kids were back in school and I could take a nap or get some alone time in. ;)

On the blog Tonya wow’ed again with this fun way to create your own gift bags.

handmade gift bags from recycle materials


I shared a post about donating your selfies that was extremely popular-it’s such a simple thing to do to give back. :)

Donate a Photo Kelly Whalen


I also spent a full weekend without the kids at home to do DIY projects that are hard to do when the house is full out of the way. I used Grout Renew in our kitchen and months later it’s still holding up so well. It’s so much prettier to look at it now while we save up for a big kitchen demo.

How to Renew Grout for under $15


With school in full swing I was back to my regular work schedule, and found time to craft some fun fall posts.

Fashion Friday has become a regular feature, and this post on 10 fall fashion trends I adapted for everyday was a huge hit. It doesn’t hurt that the prices aren’t bad either. ;)

10 Everyday Fall Fashion Trends


For the first time I also created a roundup of craft ideas in this -Fall Craft roundup. It was great fun, got me motivated to try some new ideas, and everyone really loved having so many ideas in one place. Look for more roundups in 2014.

Halloween Crafts and DIY projects

The new iPhone 5s came out in September, and I shared a post on how to upgrade to a new iPhone without spending a dime. We’ve done this a number of times and have often earned money by upgrading!


Halloween is our family’s favorite holiday, but this year October was so busy we barely had time to prep. Mostly this was due to the kids bring home nasty germs from school that kept us all sick for most of the month.

Tonya crafted this ‘BOO’ed’ idea which I love!

You've Been BOOED Ideas and a Free Printable #Halloween

Whenever I wasn’t coughing up a lung I was finally wrapping up Emma’s closet makeover. You can read more and get a budget breakdown in the post. It’s still one of my favorite projects I’ve ever done!

Before and After Tween Closet

Another DIY project that was super popular was our railing makeover. We took it from drab oaky finish to a deep ebonized railing and white spindles. I STILL have to makeover the stairs-but doing so with the family at home is challenging to say the least!

Railing Makeover

I also shared my secret for saving big on snacks with this stock up tip. Buy snacks in large bags (the bigger the better!) and split them up into portion sizes. It’s great for school lunches and portion control.


Just last month we purchased the latest Xbox system, but that should read “purchased” since we didn’t spend a dime! By taking advantage of trade-ins we were able to get the system for free!

Get Xbox ONE free

These Thanksgiving cookies from Tonya are not only ADORABLE and tasty, but they’re gluten-free!

Gluten-free Turkey Cookies using leftover Halloween candy

Last month I also shared how we make bedtime easier. It was a long process to get our kids to learn their routine as toddlers and preschoolers but now they have it down pat and it makes our day so much easier.

Bedtime Routines


This month has been full of fun-my oldest turned 16 years old, and we celebrated the holidays in a variety of ways. We’re looking forward to a final celebration with my parents next week and lots more fun to come in 2014.

These paper plate shakers are all the rage on the blog right now!

DIY New Years Eve shakers for kids

It seems lots of you are like me and prepping for 2014 already! I have lots of posts and printables to share in the coming weeks, but this post about ways to wrap up 2013 is extremely important to read. It could save you $1,000s!

end of year

And that’s all, folks! 

In 2013 the blog and my social accounts saw huge increases in following and readership. I’m forever grateful for each and every person that stops by the blog, shares a piece of content, leaves a comment, or sends me an email (email me anytime–kelly@thecentsiblelife.com). The reason I have this little slice of the internet is because of you, so I would like to extend a personal and hearty THANK YOU! I hope to see you back here in 2014.


About Kelly Whalen

Kelly Whalen is the founder of The Centsible Life, a blog where motherhood and money meet. Her goal is to help readers live well on less. Kelly is a mom to 4, and loves that she can stay at home with her kids, and still pursue her passions for writing, personal finance, and social media. You can often find her on twitter and Facebook talking money and motherhood.

  • http://www.musingsofahousewife.com Jo-Lynne Shane

    So much great stuff here! Thanks for linking up!

  • Barbara Hoyer

    I’ll be back to read the 365 menu planner series. My menu planning fell by the wayside this fall. Fortunately, my dh has been picking up the slack. However, I know having a plan will help our time and the budget.

    • http://www.thecentsiblelife.com/ Kelly Whalen

      It’s great that he’s been able to pick up the slack! My husband and kids do the same-sometimes my 9 year old cooks brinner! It’s definitely a team effort.

  • http://www.aninspiredyou.com/ Aida Ingram

    This is a great post. I can’t wait to print out the 365 planner. I can see why these were some of your most popular postsa

    • http://www.thecentsiblelife.com/ Kelly Whalen


  • Jessica @FoundtheMarbles

    What a fabulous and successful year!

    • http://www.thecentsiblelife.com/ Kelly Whalen

      Thank you for your contribution to it!

  • Lauryn

    Kelly I SO enjoyed reading this recap! What wonderful content from the last year. I loved clicking on some of the posts that I missed!

    • http://www.thecentsiblelife.com/ Kelly Whalen

      Thank you. I’m glad I put it together-that’s exactly what I was hoping for. :)

  • Jennifer O

    Wow Kelly! Your content is so varied and womdeful! Great year in review! Now I have to go back and read ALL of these!

    • http://www.thecentsiblelife.com/ Kelly Whalen

      Thanks Jennifer. :)

  • Trish Adkins

    Love the Owls from paper rolls and I cannot wait to give your 2014 meal planner a whirl!!! Happy New Year!

    • http://www.thecentsiblelife.com/ Kelly Whalen

      Thanks Trish! Tonya is just AMAZING with her craft projects-and they are always made from things most of us have just laying around.

  • fourth st payphone

    You have so many awesome posts in your busy year!

    • http://www.thecentsiblelife.com/ Kelly Whalen


  • Heather

    I loved those LEGO friendship bracelets!

    • http://www.thecentsiblelife.com/ Kelly Whalen

      So fun!