Gretchen’s Walgreens Shopping Trip: Spent $4.69 out-of-pocket

DSC_0054

Walgreens Shopping Trip

Transaction #1

1 Pull-Ups Flushable Wipes – $1.99 (Buy 1, Get 1,000 points)
Used $1/1 printable

Total with tax ($0.14): $1.13, Received 1,000 Balance Rewards Points (like $1)

Transaction #2

1 Windex & 1 Shout – $3 each (Buy 2 participating items, Get $2 Register Rewards)
Used 2 $1.50/1 printable
Submitted for 2 separate $1 rebates on Checkout 51

1 Felt Door Hanger – Marked down to $0.09 (My son loves doing crafts and I’ve been on the lookout for cheap things like this to keep him busy. You can’t beat $0.09!)

Redeemed 1,000 Balance Rewards Points from Transaction #1

Total with tax ($0.44) after coupons, points and rebates: $0.53, Received $2 Register Rewards

Transaction #3:

3 Garnier Fructis Hair Care – 3/$10 (Buy 3, Get 3,000 points)
Used 3 $2/1 coupon from the 3/1 RedPlum insert

1 Finger Paint Cards – Marked down to $0.29 (filler item)

Used $2 Register Rewards from Transaction #2

Total with tax ($0.74) after coupons and Register Rewards: $3.03, Received 3,000 Balance Rewards Points (like $3)

Total for all transactions: $4.69, Plus 3,000 points leftover

Share This:

Why I Can Never Complain About Doing Dishes or Cooking Again

Screen Shot 2015-01-27 at 6.31.45 PM

{These children usually just have pap to eat. We brought them some fruit and they were so excited to gobble it down!}

Of all the new and different things I experienced in South Africa, I think the thing that will stick with me for a very long time was seeing first hand just how significant the hunger problems there are in the world.

And I know they are not isolated to communities in Africa — or even in third world countries. Right here in America, there are children and adults who go hungry. There are children who go home from school and have no food at all over the weekends.

Screen Shot 2015-01-27 at 6.32.41 PM

{This JAM porridge is much more nutritionally dense than the pap that most South African children in the poorest communities eat. You can read more about it here. Take Action Ministries in partnership with Help One Now makes and feeds this porridge to hundreds of children every day in an effort to help fill children’s bellies with something that provides nutritional value.}

We want to change the world and make an impact, but sometimes, that starts with offering a bowl of porridge. When you have an empty belly, it’s hard to think of anything else. It’s hard to dream or imagine a life outside of the confines of poverty.

Those of us who have choices in what we eat each day are tremendously blessed. We worry about whether we’re giving our kids enough variety. We stress over whether we should buy more organic produce.

We wonder whether we should give our kids a different kind of vitamin or whether they should be eating more meat or drinking more milk or going off dairy or gluten…

Screen Shot 2015-01-27 at 6.33.03 PM

{Samp and beans — this was what they fed to around 100 kids at the Reagoboka Drop-In Centre the day we visited. It made me so happy for the kids to get something other than pap to eat. We got to eat it for lunch, too, and I thought it was quite tasty!}

And none of these things we worry about as parents are wrong. We should want to do our best to nurture our children and encourage them to develop healthy habits from a young age.

However, going to South Africa gave me a completely different perspective on life, including things like making food and washing dishes. I realized that there are many things that I’ve complained about in the past that seem so silly and inconsequential now when you think of them in the grand scheme of things.

Screen Shot 2015-01-27 at 6.33.45 PM

Screen Shot 2015-01-27 at 6.34.05 PM

Here are two things I will never be able to complain about again:

1. I can never complain about having to do dishes.

I’ve often grumbled over a heap of dirty dishes… wishing cooking and eating didn’t make such a mess, wishing there weren’t burned pans to scrub, wishing I could just go to bed instead of staying up conquering that mountain of plates and cups and bowls.

Screen Shot 2015-01-27 at 6.34.35 PM

But how can I complain when I realize that those same dishes represent the blessing of food? Food that is readily available in our fridge and cupboards to cook and eat and, yes, dirty our dishes.

Dirty dishes mean that little people at my house have food in their bellies. That none of us know the ache and pain of a seriously empty stomach or the fear that must come when there is nothing to eat and no money to buy food.

Screen Shot 2015-01-27 at 6.36.03 PM

{The kitchen where the Reagoboka Drop-In Centre cooks food for over 100 children every day. And you thought your kitchen was too small for your family!}

2. I can never complain about how much time it takes to plan & prepare meals.

So many times, I’ve thought how easy it would be if we could just skip eating — or at least stick with really simple meals. I’ve sometimes dreaded the fact that it’s getting close to dinner and I need to make yet another meal.

I’ve had times when I’ve wished my kids weren’t hungry yet again. (Didn’t they just eat a few hours ago??)

But here’s the thing: I’ve never known what it is like to see my kids go hungry. To desperately wish I could give them something to eat and have nothing to give them. To see them suffer from hunger and be literally helpless to do anything about it.

Screen Shot 2015-01-27 at 6.41.50 PM

{Visiting the Maubane Community. While we were there, Take Action Ministries arranged a special treat — lunch for all the kids in the community! They had pap and Walkie Talkies — which are chicken feet and chicken beaks!}

Yes, we’ve had very lean years, but we always had food to eat — even if it meant eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches almost every day. We’ve always had a roof over our heads, blankets to cover up with at night, enough clothes to wear, coats to keep us warm in the winter time, enough money to buy gas to drive where we needed to go, clean water to drink and bathe with.

How can I complain about things like “having to cook yet again” when there are mothers all around the world who would give anything just to have something to cook for their starving child? To have even one small bit of food once a day to quell their baby’s empty stomach?

Screen Shot 2015-01-27 at 6.40.44 PM

From here on out, I hope that I look at that pile of dirty dishes, that messy kitchen, that refrigerator needing to be cleaned out, and the meal that needs to be made with completely new appreciation. Truly, we have so much more to be grateful for than we often realize.

P.S. If you feel called to help the children in some of the poorest communities in South Africa, we’d love to have you join us and over 100 others as part of the Ten Dollar Tribe. You can read all about this group and how you can get involved here. And thank you, thank you to each of you who have already joined. We are incredibly humbled and grateful that you’d join us in this!

Share This:

We LOVE the LEGO Club Magazine (+ sign up for a FREE 2-year subscription!)

Free subscription to LEGO magazine

As I was thinking about what topic to write on for this week’s How I Saved post, I saw my kids huddled around the latest issue of LEGO Club magazine that just came in and knew I had to share about this for the few of you who don’t know about or maybe have forgotten about it.

My kids have been getting a free subscription to LEGO Club magazine for the past few years and absolutely love it. In fact, it’s one of their very, very favorite magazines to get in the mail!

Free subscription to LEGO Club magazine

There’s truly no catch to this free subscription. It’s 100% free. Of course, LEGO is smart because there’s definitely some marketing and advertising built into each issue as they talk about the new kits coming out and all things LEGO-related.

However, we’ve found that it doesn’t incite much coveting in our children and moreso encourages their creativity to build new things with the bricks and kits they already have. The contests are especially fun as they give kids specific types of LEGO creations to “invent” on their own and then enter these into the contests to win LEGO sets and more.

Free subscription to LEGO Club magazine

The magazine is filled with stories, comics, contests, creative LEGO ideas, and more. The magazine is aimed at children ages 7-12. They also have a LEGO Jr. magazine for youngsters who are 6 and under.

Every single issues is pored over by all three of our kids and is read from cover to cover more than once by Kathrynne. This magazine has resulted in hours of entertainment for all of our kids and we’ve never spent a dime on it.

If you have LEGO-lovers at your house, be sure sign them up for a free 2-year subscription to LEGO magazine here.

Share This:

10 Things I Learned From Downsizing Our Life

10-things-i-have-learned-by-downsizing-my-life

I posted about Small House Living earlier this week and introduced you to Lori and her family of six who are currently living in an RV. The comments on that post were quite lively and there were lots of pros and cons shared for both living in a small house and having a larger house.

Lori posted a follow-up post yesterday called 10 Things I Have Learned By Downsizing Our Life. I think you’ll find it very interesting and insightful — at least I know that I did. Head over here to read it.

Share This:

Small House Living: Could you downsize in house?

timthumb-xln-lgn

I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of Small House Living recently. My blogging friend, Lori, has shared about their family’s fairly radical decision to downsize to an RV and travel around the country as a family.

This in and of itself is impressive. But it’s even more impressive when you find out that they are doing this with four kids in tow.

Part of the idea of voluntarily downsizing appeals to me in a big way because I don’t like extra clutter and stuff. On the flip side, the thought of living out of a really small space sounds like a recipe for lots of tension. Namely, I like to have quiet places to retreat and living in such a small space might make me feel like I’d go crazy after awhile. :)

tiny-victorian-painted-lady-lgn

There can be a lot of benefits to downsizing, though, if even for a short period of time.

When I was 10 years old, my parents sold our house and moved all 7 of us (there were only five kids at the time!) to a single wide trailer for 7 months while we built a home in the country. Since our living space was very limited, we put most of our household items in storage and only kept out the essentials.

We have so many memories from that summer in the trailer, most of them good memories. And we discovered a lot of benefits to living in a small space. Such as:

  • We hardly spent any time cleaning. My mom divvied up the household chores amongst all of us and with only 6 total rooms in the trailer, that meant very few chores to go around!
  • It fostered togetherness. We couldn’t really go off by ourselves because there wasn’t a lot of space, so we had to learn how to get along even in tighter quarters! I have many fond memories of nights spent all together in the living room reading before bed.
  • We made our own entertainment. We weren’t able to bring many of our toys/things along, so we had fun using what we had for forms of entertainment. We built an elaborate tree “house” using things left in the old barn. We experimented in the kitchen with new recipes that only used the microwave, crock pot, or electric skillet (we didn’t have an oven in the trailer). And my older sister did a lot of sewing since she was able to bring her sewing machine.
  • We became more grateful. My parents were investing most of their money into the house-building project so there wasn’t a lot of extra cash that summer. I distinctly remember it being the first time in my life where we had to do without and I remember how much contentment and gratefulness this helped me develop.
  • It taught us the difference between a need and something that’s nice to have. There are many things we had to put in storage that summer that we’d always assumed you needed to live. But we realized that, if you can survive without it for 7 months, it’s probably less of a necessity and more of something that’s nice to have. It’s good to learn from a young age that there are very few real needs in life. I’m grateful for the conveniences of things like ovens and dishwashers and dryers, but you can survive just fine without them, as we did for those 7 months.

windriver-house-lgn

I was reading Kathi Lipp’s new book called Clutter Free recently and she talks about their decision not to move up in house, but rather to downsize in stuff.

She lists off a number of benefits for living in a smaller house, including:

  • Smaller houses are less expensive to furnish than larger houses.
  • Smaller houses are less expensive to heat and cool compared to comparably built larger homes.
  • Smaller houses force you to use all of your home.
  • Smaller houses force you to be intentional about your possessions.

I love her conclusion that, much of the time, we don’t need a bigger house, we need less stuff. If you’re feeling cramped in your space and like your family is bursting at your house seams, make sure you’ve eliminated all the unnecessary clutter and extras first before you starting shopping for a bigger house.

Have you ever downsized before — even for a short time? Do you think you could do what Lori’s family is doing and downsize your family to an RV? Why or why not? I’d love to hear!

For inspiration, check out this article: 12 of the Most Impressive Tiny Houses You’ve Ever Seen

Share This: