Listia: Trade in stuff you no longer need & earn free gift cards!

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Have you tried out Listia before? It’s a site where you can list items you have that you no longer need or use and then you can earn free credit that you can cash in for gift cards — including Amazon gift cards!

Read more about how Listia works here.

Have you tried Listia before? If so, I’d love to hear about your experiences!

(Note: The links in this post are affiliate links. Read our disclosure policy here.)
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5 Frugal Ways to Show Love on Valentine’s Day

5 frugal ways to show love

Guest post by Abby Winstead Wandering

Valentine’s Day is a polarizing holiday. On one side, you have Team “every day should be a celebration of love.” Those people argue that February 14, is a “Hallmark holiday”, a day manufactured by greeting card companies and chocolate makers to boost sales. They say that, if you really love someone, you’ll spend all 365 days each year showing it.

On the other side, you have Team “Valentine’s Day is a day for you to lavish me with all the presents I didn’t get at Christmas”. That team asserts that… well, I’m not sure what their reasoning is.

I fall somewhere in the middle. In no way do I think V-Day should consist only of the obligatory exchange of gifts. I also don’t think it’s necessary to skip the day altogether. I think that, like Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day should serve as a reminder to treasure the things and people we should be grateful for every day.

For those of us who want to find a way to our love to the special people in our lives without breaking the bank or giving into the commercialization of the holiday, I have 5 ideas to help you out!

1. Write a love letter.

There are a hundred little things about my husband that I’m thankful for each day. From his patience with the kids during bath time to his enviable laundry skills, I’m constantly reminded of why I love him.

While we both say “I love you” on a daily basis, we rarely expound on the reasons why. Annual birthday and anniversary cards are about it. I know both of us would be thrilled to receive a handwritten letter from the other identifying all the reasons we’re still so happy to be a part of this marriage.

2. Do something they love.

My husband and I have divergent interests. He loves playing golf and watching futuristic TV shows, and I love spending time in the kitchen and watching cheesy dramas. Shock your spouse this year by planning a day dedicated to something he or she loves!

3. Give the gift of alone time.

I love my husband. I love our children. But from the time I was young, I’ve occasionally needed time alone to recharge. I’d guess that many parents are the same way. As much I love being with the ones I love, sometimes it’s necessary to have a break from questions and diapers and being “on”.

I never want or need much time to myself; I usually only last a few hours before I begin to miss the noise and the sloppy kisses.

This Valentine’s Day, giving the gift of alone time can be a thoughtful no-cost or low-cost gift. Consider allowing your spouse to get out and about alone, or maybe with a friend. A few hours sipping fancy coffee or browsing a favorite store might be the perfect gift. Or, if possible, take the kids out or to visit family while the other parent hangs at home, napping or catching up on a favorite show.

4. Take a walk down memory lane.

If your relationship is anything like mine, it has evolved over the years. The new and exciting affection of the early years has been replaced by a deep, steady love born out of confronting the raw realities of life together. That transition is natural and necessary.

I wouldn’t trade the lessons we’ve learned or the way we’ve grown with each other for anything, but it’s easy to get caught up in the details of day-to-day life. Sometimes it’s nice to remember the people we were when we fell in love nearly ten years ago (or more!) This February 14, dig out those old photo albums and love notes. Remind yourselves of the reasons you fell in love.

5. Prepare a special meal.

Tastes and smells have the power to take us back in time the same way sights and sounds do. Think back over the course of your relationship, particularly the beginning, and focus on the meals you enjoyed together.

What stands out in your mind? Maybe it’s the cuisine you enjoyed on your first date, or the first time he made you breakfast in bed. For dinner on Valentine’s Day, recreate that special meal in your own kitchen.

What are your favorite frugal ways to show your love?

Abby is the wife of a patient man, mom to their two baby bears, and teacher of some cool kids. She loves dark chocolate and pretty napkins; the kitchen is her happy place. She lives in Mississippi and blogs at Winstead Wandering, where she shares the wandering thoughts of one who is not lost.

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How We Saved This Week: Eating leftovers for dinner

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As we were eating leftovers for dinner last night, I realized that making a habit of eating up leftovers a few meals each week instead of forgetting about them at the back of the fridge is one way we save a little money every week.

It saves time, because we don’t have to plan a dinner or make dinner or clean up the dishes from dinner. And it saves money, because we don’t have to buy the ingredients for another lunch or dinner.

It’s such a simple, no-brainer thing, but saving money in simple ways on a regular basis adds up over time!

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We’ve also found that serving leftovers for dinner on busy nights cuts down on the temptation to grab carryout. So on busy nights, I’ll often set out all the odds and ends in the fridge and declare it a Leftover Buffet night.

For those of you who wish you had leftovers but it seems like your hungry teens or growing kiddos eat everything you make, consider doubling a casserole or soup recipe you’re making a couple times per week and sticking half the recipe in the fridge or freeze before you eat dinner that night.

That way, you’re guaranteeing you’ll have “leftovers” to eat later in the week! :)

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My favorite part of eating leftovers for dinner? Less kitchen clean-up!

What’s one way that your family saved this week? Leave a comment and tell us about it!

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Silas and his self-imposed “budget” (AKA: Yes, your children are watching you!)

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We were at Cracker Barrel last week to celebrate Kathrynne’s 10th birthday. (I still cannot believe I have a daughter who is 10 years old. How did that happen?? I still feel like I’m 17!)

After we ate dinner as a family, we went out to the store to window shop for a bit. (My kids think Cracker Barrel is just about on the same level as the LEGO store! They love that place and I don’t blame them; they have such fun kid’s toys and games!)

I noticed Silas was on a mission in the toy section. He kept picking one toy up, looking at the price, and then putting it back. As he did this over and over again, I started following him around to try to determine what he was doing!

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It was then that he picked a toy up and triumphantly exclaimed, “Yes!! This is in my budget!”

I about burst out laughing right there in the store. First, because I hadn’t heard him use the word “budget” before. And secondly, because it sounded so grown up and funny to be coming from the mouth of a 5-year-old.

But I held my laughter in and instead asked him more about this budget of his. He explained to me that he has $30 at home in his piggy bank — money he’s collected from doing chores, birthday gifts, etc. — and he decided that he had a $10 budget to spend on something from Cracker Barrel. He didn’t want to spend all of his money, so he’d set the $10 budget to make sure he didn’t spend all his money.

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He said he hadn’t brought his money this time, so he was just looking to see what he could buy in his budget. Next time, he’d bring his money and buy the $10 or less toy.

As he recounted all of this to me, you can imagine how much I was grinning from ear to ear. I love that he’s learning money management skills from a young age.

But more than that, I was reminded of how much our kids are watching and learning. We’ve talked about basic money management with Silas (spending and saving, etc.), but we’ve never actually gone over what a budget is or why you should have one. So Silas has picked up the idea of budgeting from watching us and hearing things we’ve told to Kathrynne and Kaitlynn.

Silas and his "budget"It also reminded me of how important it is that I set a good example before my kids. Because it’s not just the words I’m saying that they are paying attention to; the life I’m living before them is what they are paying the most attention to.

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How to Save Money by Taking Pictures at Home

baby-pictures-button-MSM

Liz emailed the following tip:

As a new mama, I worked outside of the home and had a very nice income, so I took my daughter to a professional photographer for all her first year pictures without blinking an eye.

Once I started to stay at home and we added three more kiddos to our family, professional pictures were no longer the rule, but a very rare exception.

Although, we couldn’t afford professional pictures of our kids all of the time, I still wanted to have some sweet, quality pictures to hang on the wall. So, I began to experiment and research great ways to get high-quality photos of my kids, without breaking the bank.

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Here few tips for taking great pictures in the comfort of your own home:

  1. Set your baby up a few feet off of the ground. This puts your child at an easier level for you to photograph. I always have someone there to help in case the babe begins to roll or squirm — safety first!
  2. Grab some cute blankets, quilts, fabrics, or even a simple sheet. In this shot, I had a vintage quilt that was a family heirloom, a black and white striped blanket, and a fuzzy, white bathrobe that I used for the base prop. It is always good to use texture below the baby if you are doing a naked-baby shoot. If your babe was clothed with color and pattern, go with a simple, solid base blanket.
  3. Gather a few simple baby props. I used a baby bonnet in this photo shoot. I have used hats, headbands, wraps, and even kept a bare head before. Again, the key is to not have too much texture, but to also have enough to add interest.
  4. Make sure you have good lighting. In this example, we are in our nursery next to the window.  This ensures that I don’t have to use the flash and my camera can gather enough light to make the picture crisp and clear.

I hope you enjoyed these tips and found inspiration to take your own photos at home! Once you take the leap, you’ll never go back (or at least not very often!)

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