Choosing to Be Thankful, Even When Life is Hard

Today is a day when we celebrate our blessings and reflect on all the wonderful things we have to be thankful for. It’s a good thing to stop and express our gratitude — we all have much to be thankful for.

However, some of you are probably really struggling this Thanksgiving. Maybe your husband recently left you, or your child has been diagnosed with a terminal illness, or you are battling an addiction, or your finances feel like they are in shambles and you are just digging yourself into a deeper hole because of unemployment and ever-mounting bills.

Life is hard and messy sometimes — and just because it’s Thanksgiving doesn’t mean that the pain and burdens are lifted. If this Thanksgiving finds you in a difficult place in life, may I encourage you to read my post on Hope for Women Magazine on Choosing to Be Thankful Even When Life is Hard?

Here’s a snippet:

My husband was rummaging through old financial statements not too long ago, and we were aghast to read some of the numbers. During the first year he was in law school, there were six months when we made less than $900 — and some months it was as low as $650.

I recall that season of our lives fairly vividly, but seeing those numbers on paper again after a number of years was a shock to our systems. I’m still not sure how we made it on so little!

During those years, we lived in a little basement apartment that only had four windows on one side. I could plug the vacuum cleaner into one outlet and vacuum the entire apartment without ever switching outlets…Click on over to read the full post.

Our struggles during the lean law school years pale in comparison to many of the struggles you are facing. But I hope that the words I shared might encourage some of you.

Don’t lose heart. Don’t lose hope.

Choose gratitude today — even when it feels impossible. It might not change any of your circumstances, but I promise that it will transform your attitude and lift your spirits.

A Heartfelt Word of Thanks to Each of You

By the way, can I just say thank you to each of you for everything you mean to me and how you bless me on a daily basis?

Thank you for your kind words, your encouragement, and your constructive criticism. Thank you for reading here, commenting, and emailing.

As those who know me well can attest to, my years of blogging have been a journey of growth, learning, and stretching for me. It’s not always been easy and I’ve made oh-so-many mistakes along the way, but God has taught me much through it and changed me from the inside out as a result of blogging.

It’s brought me from a place of insecurity, legalism, and being a people-pleaser to a place where I feel whole, free, and truly happy in who God has made me to be and what He has called me to. And you’ve been a part of that journey with me.

Whether you’ve read here for years or just weeks, THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart for reading here and being apart of the Money Saving Mom® Community. Words cannot express how much you mean to me and how much I’ve learned and grown as a direct result of each of you. I love each of you and am eternally grateful for you.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Why I Won’t Be Out Shopping on Black Friday

Why I Won't Be Out Shopping on Black Friday

It might surprise you, but I don’t go shopping on Black Friday.

I know, I know. That statement might sound a bit antithetic to my usually frugal, money-saving ways, but it’s true.

Here’s why: The Black Friday deals online are just as good, or even better, than the in-store deals.

Yes, seriously. And I’ve proven this theory throughout the past few years by meticulously comparing the prices online versus the prices in-store. In almost every case, the online prices were better than the in-store prices.

Plus, you don’t have to wait out in the cold for three hours, and you can avoid all the stampeding and shoving crowds at the stores. Instead, you can get up a little early on Friday morning, sit in your PJ’s, sip your cup of coffee, and browse online.

There are other perks to shopping online for Black Friday:

1) You Have More of a Selection When Shopping Online

Typically, online sites are stocked better and have more variety than you’re going to find in-store. However, do note that the deals still sell out fairly quickly online. So if you see a deal ahead of time you’re particularly interested, you may want to wait up until midnight to go ahead and get it, as it may be sold out by the morning.

2) You Don’t Have to Drive to Multiple Stores

One of the biggest headaches of Black Friday shopping is strategizing where to be when and how you’re going to be multiple places in time for the great sales. Save gas and time by just clicking your way to savings.

Tip: Set up an account the day before on the sites that have hot sales that might not last long online on Black Friday. That way, when you order, you can just login and go through checkout quickly.

3) You Can Use Online Coupon Codes

Many online sites will have coupon codes available for free shipping or 15% off that you can stack on top of their fantastic Black Friday sales. Before placing your order, check RetailMeNot.com to see if there’s an online coupon code available for the site you’re ordering from.

4) You Can Get Cash Back

Set up a free account with cash-back sites like Ebates and Mr. Rebates and click through their site and search for the online site you’re shopping with before placing your order. You’ll usually get anywhere between 1% to 15% cash back for each online purchase. While it might only be a few dollars per purchase, these trickles add up to a nice check every three months!

If you love the thrill of the hunt and enjoy long waits and big crowds, be my guest and go out shopping on Black Friday. As for me, I’ll be snuggled up under a blanket with my mug of coffee and my laptop on Black Friday morning getting great deals from the comfort of my living-room couch!

Psst! Want to shop from home, too? Be sure to stop MoneySavingMom.com, where I’ll be live-blogging the best online Black Friday deals and coupon codes as they become available.

What about YOU? Are you planning to stay home on Black Friday or do you love the thrill of going out and bargain-hunting?

Trying to Decide Whether You Should Stay Home on Black Friday?

If you’re trying to decide whether or not to stay home on Black Friday, you can check out the links to some of the most popular Black Friday store ads below:

You can see all the latest Black Friday Ad Scans at BlackFriday.fm

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48-Hour Giveaway: $25 Lamplights Scripture Prints Credit (10 Winners)

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Lamplights Prints is an Etsy store dedicated to making fresh and beautiful designs of timeless truth. They offer Scripture prints for every room in your home!

Lamplight Prints

They have a large variety of Scripture prints — including Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms/Proverbs, and Holiday prints. Additionally, they also now carry both 8×10’s and 11×14’s in all of their prints. Plus, they just recently started offering Christmas cards!

Lamplight Prints

The folks behind Lamplights Prints wrote me and said: “Both of us so understand being on a budget and also wanting to (1) decorate your home and (2) bless others and so, while we already priced our prints to be affordable, we’ve lowered all of our prices through the end of the year and have also offered some bundle prices, making the prices even lower when multiple prints are purchased. Our hope is to help make Christmas shopping a little more affordable for everyone and to help to grace homes with more of God’s Word!”

Get 20% Off Any Order

Use coupon code MSM2014 to get 20% off any $20 or more purchase. This coupon code is good through December 5, 2014.

Also, Lamplights Prints will be offering Buy 2 Prints, Get 2 Free on Black Friday only. Find more details here.

Lamplight Prints

For more information about Lamplights Prints, check out their website, shop their Scripture prints on Etsy, or follow them on Instagram.

Would you like to enter to win a $25 credit to the Lamplights Prints store? Just click on the graphic below and type in your name and email address. This giveaway ends Thursday, November 27, at 11:59 pm, CST. 10 winners will be chosen and notified early next week.

Enter the Giveaway

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Enter to win a FREE Pure Echo Mattress from My Green Mattress!

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My Green Mattress is giving away a Organic Cotton Pure Echo Twin Size Mattress to one of my readers this week. And there are multiple ways to enter to win!

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Tim Masters founded My Green Mattress when he was inspired to create a chemical-free mattress as a solution to his daughter’s severe eczema and allergies. Their mattresses are handcrafted, and contain no flame retardants or chemicals.

My Green Mattress offers one-sided and two-sided Pure Echo Mattresses, as well as the Organic Dreams and the Everlast Natural. Their mattresses are handmade, made in the US, chemical free, and contain no flame retardants or chemicals.

My Green Mattress Giveaway

This holiday giveaway is open November 25 through December 1 until 11:59 pm CST.

>>Click here for your chance to win an Organic Cotton Pure Echo Twin Size Mattress from My Green Mattress.<<

(Note: This post was underwritten by My Green Mattress. Read our disclosure policy here.)

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Our $9 Thanksgiving Meal

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Guest post by Asheritah of One Thing Alone

Your Thanksgiving feast doesn’t have to break the bank to be delicious.

This year, to help us reach our monthly financial goals, I decided to keep our Thanksgiving meal simple. I asked each of our family members which traditional Thanksgiving food is most important to them, and then strategized ways to make everyone (and our budget) happy.

Obviously, I haven’t yet prepared the meal, but here’s what we’ll be having:

  • Turkey breast: $3.49
  • Peas: $0.89
  • Corn: $0.49
  • Mac & Cheese: $0.49
  • Sweet potatoes: $0.07
  • Stuffing: $0.69
  • Corn muffins: $0.47
  • Pumpkin pie (homemade): $1
  • Butter: $0.80
  • Eggs: $0.50
  • Milk: $0.20

TOTAL: $9.09

In all, the meal will cost us less than $10 for 3 adults and 1 child. I’d say that’s a win!

Here’s how you can do it, too:

1. Simplify the meal.

Ask your family members what’s one item they each really want, and feel free to let go or downsize those foods that are never a big hit anyway.

My husband wanted stuffing. I wanted corn muffins. Our daughter wanted mac & cheese, and my father-in-law wanted something sweet. I felt like we HAD to have turkey, but we’re not really a fan of the big bird, so the little turkey breast tenderloin fit the bill without hitting our wallet.

We also simplified the sides. Since we’re loading up on carbs, I added some veggies to make our meal healthier but opted out of the typical casseroles.

2. Shop sales at discount stores.

I bought most of my ingredients at Aldi, but I also scored cheap produce at a local discount store that offers incredible deals (like two 10-pound bags of sweet potatoes for $1.69).

I also try to shop sales whenever I can, especially if they’re cutting already-low prices. I bought the turkey tenderloin when it was on sale a few weeks ago and stuck it in the freezer for the future. I also got the butter on sale awhile back and keep a stash in the freezer. By buying sales in bulk year-round, I can stock up and save on staple pantry items.

3. Cook what you can from scratch.

Most pumpkin pies cost around $5 in grocery stores. By making it at home, I’ll be saving 80%. I’m using a small pie pumpkin a friend gifted me for fall décor, a $0.65 can of evaporated milk, and a homemade crust that will cost a fraction of what ready-made crusts cost in-store.

Cooking from scratch means I can afford more variety because I’m paying less for raw ingredients.

At the end of the day, it’s not the Thanksgiving meal that matters but rather a thankful heart. Whether you have a table overflowing with the richest foods or a simple meal shared with those you love, the important thing is to come together with gratefulness and express our appreciation for each other.

How to you keep your Thanksgiving celebrations frugal and fun!

Asheritah is a writer, speaker, and blogger at One Thing Alone. She helps overwhelmed women find joy in Jesus through devotionals, videos, and Scripture art. She’s also the author of “Unwrapping the Names of Jesus: An Advent Devotional.”

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Gretchen’s Walgreens Shopping Trip

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Walgreens

I had a whole trip planned out but when I got to Walgreens I discovered that several items I was going to purchase as part of my plan were sold out. I had to re-work my original plan and ended up spending more than I hoped. At least I have $6 Register Rewards leftover to spend on Black Friday!

Transaction #1

1 Urgent Headache Relief to Go – $1 (Buy 1, Get $1 Register Rewards)

1 Reach Toothbrushes (3 pk) – $3 (Buy 1, Get $3 Register Rewards)
Used $0.50/1 coupon from the 8/17 SmartSource insert

1 Scope Mouthwash – $3 (Buy 1, Get $2 Register Rewards)
Used $1/1 coupon from the 11/23 SmartSource insert

Total with tax ($0.50) after coupons: $6, Received $6 Register Rewards

Transaction #2

1 Colgate Optic White Toothpaste – $3.49 (Buy 1, Get $2.50 Register Rewards)
Used $0.50/1 coupon from the 11/23 SmartSource insert

1 Relief OTC Antacid – $3 (Buy 1, Get $3 Register Rewards)

2 Russell Stover Candies – $0.29 each (filler items)

Used $6 Register Rewards from Transaction #1

Total with tax ($0.51): $1.08, Received $5.50 Register Rewards

Transaction #3

1 Therapeutic Scalp Treatment – $6 (Buy 1, Get $6 Register Rewards)

1 Russell Stover Candy – $0.29 (filler item)

Used $5.50 Register Rewards from Transaction #2

Total with tax ($0.45): $1.24, Received $6 Register Rewards

Total for all transactions before coupons and Register Rewards: $29.59

Total for all transactions with tax after coupons and Register Rewards: $8.32, plus $6 Register Rewards leftover

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