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Becoming a WAHM: Prioritization and Organization – Part 2

Last week in our Becoming a WAHM series, I talked about how
working at home is just that—it’s work. If you are not prepared to put in lots
of hours and lots of effort, there’s likely no point in starting in the first
place since I can guarantee you that it won’t be easy. Building a successful
business takes time, diligence, and lots of plain ole’ hard work.

Once you are determined that you’re willing to exert the
energy it will require, you’re not ready to start working from home just yet. First, you need to
take some time to examine your life. Step back and ponder
how organized (or disorganized!) your life is.

Do you feel like things are running smoothly most days and
that you have extra time to devote to a new endeavor? Or do you feel like you
are running around like a chicken with your head cut off barely keeping your
head above water?

If the latter describes you, then now is definitely not the
time to be adding something like working from home to your plate. Instead, I
recommend that you take the next month and evaluate your priorities, schedule, and activities. Are you willing to cut activities from your life in order to
focus part of your time and energies to starting a business? If so, what can
you start cutting back on today to free up more time for entrepreneurial things?

Don’t just think about cutting back or paring down—do it! If you’re
really serious about becoming a WAHM, it’s going to mean some temporary
sacrifices in order to achieve your long-term goals.  You can’t do everything so in order to say “yes” to something, you invariably need to say “no” to something else.

I also highly encourage you to spend a few months
developing a good routine and solid organization into your life. Running a successful
business requires organization—not only
on business pursuits, but also when it comes to home management. Balancing
business stuff with your much more important priorities of being a wife, mom, and
home manager mean you must have a plan and you must have order in your life.
Otherwise, you’ll become slave to the tyranny of the urgent.  Ask me how I know. 🙂

If you are struggling with time management, I wrote a series
on this subject on my other blog which you can read here (I’ll warn you, it’s rather long–start at the bottom of the page to read the posts in order!). For those interested, I also recently did a series on Successful Home Management with Toddlers.

Please know that I’m
still sorting things out myself and we definitely have days when I run around
in circles and accomplish next to nothing besides putting out fires; however,
by purposefully committing to develop organization and routine into our home,
things run much more smoothly. And it’s most assuredly only the grace of God and purposeful organization that enables me to be a wife, mom, homemaker, and blogger.

Just for fun: For those of you who work from home or have quite full plates, what’s your biggest time management tip or helpful idea for those who feel like they are drowning? I’d love to hear!

Super Savings Saturday: “Small” shopping trip, Sears deal, and giveaway winners, too!

The winners of the Hanes for Kids $25 gift certificates are: Abbi Riner and Brandy (brandyu@) Congratulations!

I did a "little" grocery shopping this week. I was supposed to only spend $15 so that I’d have $65 to spend next week for a bigger stock-up trip, but alas, I didn’t quite stick with my self-imposed budget. Oh well! I’m still experimenting with this two-week grocery shopping thing. I suppose it will take me awhile to get the hang of it.

The good news is that we’ve been having more food in the house and I feel like I’m staying more ahead on groceries. Best of all, I’ve been enjoying shopping more. Where $40 was starting to feel like a bit of a stretch once we lost our Kroger stores and the great deals and super double coupon policy they had, this big-trip, little-trip thing now has me feeling like I’m able to buy plenty and not feel pinched. Maybe it’s just all in my head, but it seems like I have more breathing room now.

Here’s what we bought:

101_0216

First Stop – Hen House:
Lipton instant tea – used FREE coupon
EAS bar – used FREE coupon
4 boxes Blue Bunny ice cream bars – on sale $1.49, used $1/1 coupons – $0.49 each!
2 boxes (4pack) yogurt – on sale $1.98, used $1/1 coupons – $0.98
1/2 gallon ice cream – $2.48
1/2 gallon organic milk from a local farm – $3.19
Total: $11.22 (saved $16.79 with coupons and store sales)

Second Stop – CVS (This was a really bad trip–I needed diapers and couldn’t come up with anything to buy or any deal to work so I just decided to blow some ECBs):
1 package Pampers – $10.99
2 Colgate Total toothpastes – $2.99 each
Used $5/1 Pampers coupon and $1.50/1 Colgate coupon
Paid with ECBs and $0.49 out of pocket
Got back $4 ECBs

Total: $0.49

Last Stop – Aldi:
2 Grapefruit – $0.59 each
4 Apples – $1.40
2 bunches bananas – $2.55
Tortillas – $0.99
Carrots – $0.99
Flour – $1.70
2 packages (8 oz) cheese – $1.89 each
Bread – $1.19
Bagels – $1.39
Total: $16.20

GRAND TOTAL: $27.91

So, this coming week I have about $52 to work with to last us for another 10 days. There are some great sales going on and we’re quite well stocked up here on many things, so I don’t think it will be too hard. We’ll see. I’ll report back next week and let you know how it goes.

And, since I didn’t share this picture last week, here’s what we purchased for the Sears/Dockers deal:

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We did two different $100 transactions, since Jesse was really
in need of clothing. I think I figured out that we’ll pay about $70 out
of pocket (including taxes) after the gas gift cards for all of this.
Since quality men’s clothing is quite expensive, I’m thrilled to have
re-stocked Jesse’s wardrobe so inexpensively! He should be set on dress
clothes for at least another year. Yay!

——————–
How’d you do this week? Post about the deals and
bargains you were able to snag this week on your blog (with pictures,
if possible!) and then come back here and leave your link below.

Writing to companies = Free stuff and coupons!

I often receive emails from people thanking me for all the money I’ve helped them save. While I’m so glad to be helping save you money, I have to tell you that this blogging thing is a two-way street: I’ve saved so much more money myself since I started blogging on saving money.

Case in point: a number of you have mentioned writing to companies when you have a problem with a product. Honestly, the thought would have never crossed my mind to do so but with your encouragement I tried it twice in the last two weeks.

And guess what? Both times I scored free coupons.

First I wrote to Pampers because I recently bought a package of diapers that was cut funny and the tabs kept pulling off. We are almost exclusively a Pampers family and I have purchased who-knows-how-many diapers from them in the last four years I’ve been diapering babies, so I knew that this was not typical.

I shot off a simple emailing explaining what had happened, telling them how much we like Pampers, and asking if there was anyway they could send me some product coupons. In less than a week, I’d received an email back and a letter with two $5/1 Pampers coupons. Thank you, Pampers!

Armed with this success, I wrote to Lipton tea as I’d bought a box of tea a month ago which had mostly-defunct tea bags in it. When I’d pour the boiling water over the tea bags, they would explode and I’d have to throw out the now-tea-leaf-filled tea and try again.

Once again, I explained the situation, expressed my appreciation for their products (which I usually enjoy), and requested a coupon for a free product to replace the box of tea bags I was unable to use.
I promptly received both an email and a letter containing not only a coupon for a free box of tea, but a sheet of high-dollar coupons for other UniLever brands. Talk about going above and beyond the call of duty–I’m impressed!

So folks, it never hurts to write and ask. Don’t complain and don’t take advantage of companies, but if you sincerely encounter a problem with a product, drop the company a line. Your few minutes of effort might pay off with free stuff and great coupons!

The two-week menu for this week and last week

I’m a little late in getting this posted (only a few more days and we start on a new menu!) but I guess that means this menu is also more accurate since it’s more what we actually ate, not what we planned to eat!

To see our $76 grocery trip, go here. I kept things really simple for these two weeks as we had a lot of things going on and I was feeling the need to keep things simple.

Here’s the menu:

BREAKFASTS (I try to shoot for a combination of two servings of
whole-grains, one serving of protein, and one to two servings of fruit
for all of our breakfast menus.)

Cereal, fruit x 6 (We usually have more variety but since I bought 15 boxes of cereal on our shopping trip? We’re lots of it right now. And did I mention how easy cereal is to serve for breakfast?!)
Juice, English muffins, yogurt
Strawberry smoothies, toast
Blueberry cream muffins, scrambled eggs, fruit
English muffins, scrambled eggs, fruit
Orange/carrot juice (made in our juicer), toast, yogurt
Whole-wheat waffles, yogurt, fruit

LUNCHES (I try to have a combination of a serving of protein,
one to two servings of whole grain/complex carbohydrates, and two
servings of veggies/fruit for our lunch menus.)

Chicken fingers, apples, rolls
Split peas, brown rice, cottage cheese
PB&J, oranges, broccoli
Leftovers
Turkey sandwiches, mixed vegetables
Quesadillas, carrots
Burritos, veggies
Scrambled eggs, spinach, mashed potatoes
Tuna sandwiches, carrots, apples, Chex Mix
Salad, homemade bread
Split peas, brown rice, fruit salad
Spinach/cheese/rice casserole, fruit
Leftovers
PB&J, apples, carrots
Turkey sandwiches, mixed veggies
Chicken fingers, bananas, mixed veggies, whole-wheat toast

DINNERS (Dinners are similar to lunches in that I try to have a
combination of one to two servings of protein, one to two servings of
whole grains/complex carbohydrates, and at least two servings of
fruit/veggies.)

Homemade mac and cheese, broccoli, homemade bread
Haystacks, rice
Waffles, fresh juice (we often have this on Sunday evenings and I make up extra waffles to use for breakfast and snack s throughout the week)
Lasagna casserole, green beans, bread
Hamburger mashed potato casserole, homemade bread
Leftovers
Italian chicken over brown rice
Dinner out (we had a gift card)
BBQ meatballs, mashed potatoes, corn on the cob, mixed veggies
Dinner at friends’ home (bring bread and fruit)
Hamburgers, mashed potatoes with basil, grilled onions, corn-on-the-cob
Lasagna casserole, toast, green beans
Beef hot dogs, fruit, pasta salad
Dinner out

SNACKS (We usually have at least two snacks per day–the fact
that I’m still nursing Kaitlynn means I’m often hungry and three meals
per day just doesn’t cut it for me! I try to serve at least one healthy
snack a day and then one snack is usually something less healthy like
Chex Mix or cookies.)

Fruit (apples/bananas)
Raw veggies (carrot sticks)
Cheese
Quesadillas
Popcorn
Chex Mix
Animal crackers
Cereal
Blueberry muffins
Homemade bread
Whole-wheat chocolate chip cookies
Ice cream

In celebration of $4/gallon gas

I’m in no way thrilled about the recent rise of gas prices and have even found myself falling into a panic every now and then about it. However, complaining won’t accomplish anything will it?

So, in an effort to keep a grateful spirit, I present to you four reasons I am celebrating $4/gallon gas:

Texpump

1) High gas prices have encouraged our family to slow down and stay home more. A go-go-go lifestyle isn’t healthy for

anyone, so I’m thankful for the motivation to reconsider outside activities and commitments and pursue a simpler, more relaxed pace in our life.

2) High gas prices have helped us get in better shape. We have added a lot more exercise into our daily lives as a result of the higher gas prices as we try to walk instead of drive as often as we can.

3) High gas prices have caused us to be more efficient. While we used to think nothing of driving to a destination and driving back, we now try our best to plan ahead and combine trips. We rarely go anywhere without consciously making an effort to work some other errands into the trip. This not only saves on gas money, but it also saves us time and effort as it’s much more effective to tackle four errands at once than to make four separate trips.

4) High gas prices have saved us money. I know it might seem like a misnomer that rising gas prices have saved us money, but when you factor in how many errands we’ve decided not to run, how many times we’ve opted to walk to the park instead of driving somewhere, or how many times we’ve just stayed home, in the long run I think it’s saved us money.

What about you? I’d love to hear reasons you have found to be thankful for high gas prices.