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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:


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


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:


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.

Reader Tips: Best Buy, Half Price Books, Ace Hardware, EBates, Pampers Gifts to Grow

Best Buy: Free Gift Cards for Report Cards* – From Stacie:

Our local Best Buy store is offering "gift cards for scholars". It
breaks down like this:

1 A= $5 BB gift card

2 A’s=$10 BB gift

3 A’s= $15 BB gift card 

4+A’s= $25 BB gift card.

We went
last night and got some great FREE goodies!! I have also heard that
the clothing store Limited Too does the same.  Do you know of any other
chain or franchise stores participating in a program like this?

(*Note from Crystal: The Best Buy deal might only be a local deal available at Stacie’s Best Buy store. Anyone know? If you know of any other great report card offers, please share them in the comments section!)

Half Price Books: Make A Profit Off the Free Magazines – From Catherine:

As I’ve been going to Half Price Books once a week
to get the kids’ the summer reading program sheets and free books
, I have
been taking in some books we don’t need anymore and haven’t
successfully sold any other way.

One week I noticed that our Half Price Books has a
magazine section, so this week I took in several of the magazines I
have already flipped through but didn’t want to save (now that I get
tons of free magazine subscriptions I’ve found out about through Money
Saving Mom!).  They gave me a great price for them, between 50 and 75
cents each.

Given that I didn’t spend anything on the magazines in the
first place, I thought that was a pretty good deal, and it more than
paid for my gas to get over there (although fortunately for me, HPB is
on my usual errand route anyway). I just thought I’d pass that along,
as other people may have basically new magazines sitting around the
house. Getting money for them is better than throwing them away!

ACE Hardware: Rebate Sale This Weekend – From Renee:

I just wanted to let you know that
Ace Hardware is having a huge rebate sale this weekend. They have many free items after rebate and many items
that are just $0.99 cents after rebate. More details can be found here.

Ebates: Refer a Friend and Make $5 – From Becky:

Did you see the
tip in the AllYou magazine this month?  Apparently, if you refer
someone, you and they get $5.

(Note from Crystal: For those who haven’t signed up to EBates yet, I highly recommend it. You only have to spend an initial $5.01, and you get $5 back for signing up. And then you can encourage your friends to join and earn an additional $5 for each friend who signs up with the promotion going on right now. Sign up here.)

Pampers: Gifts to Grow Program – From Jessica:

I know you mentioned Pampers recently on your blog and I wanted to be
sure that you knew about Gifts to Grow. We use Pampers too and I just
recently discovered what the stickers on the packages are. You can
find out about it at Every Pampers product comes with a code that you can enter into your
profile on the site and you can use the points to earn free toys, gift
cards, etc.

(Note from Crystal: I have not used this program yet–bad me for all the Pampers I’ve purchased (well, I got them mostly free at CVS, but that still counts!) in the last two years!–but I just bought another package and can’t seem to even find the code on it. Where should I be looking? And how many packages do I have to buy in order to earn anything of value? Just curious.)

What’s your best money-saving vacation tip? (24-Hour Giveaway, too!)

It’s Summer and that means that many of us look forward to special memory-filled vacations with our families. Our family is planning a short vacation this Summer and we’ve been saving a little bit each month for the past six months in order to fund it. By the time August is here, we should have plenty saved up to be able to enjoy a simple and fun few days at a lake in Arkansas. We’re so excited about it!

Do you take a trip or two in the Summer? If so, what are your best money-saving vacation tips or great ideas for an inexpensive family vacation?


Leave a comment by Friday evening with your idea or suggestion and just for fun, you’ll be entered to win one of two $25 gift certificates from Hanes for Kids! (Winners will be posted late Friday evening.)

By the way, did you know that Hanes for Kids has teamed up with Disney World and they will be giving away entire vacation packages to seven families this Summer? Every time you purchase a Hanes® product, you could be one of seven winners of a Walt Disney World®
vacation. And you don’t even need to buy Hanes products to enter to win! You can go to official rules to see how you can get a free code. It’s your chance to experience
The Year of a Million Dreams in Hanes comfort! 

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!

Blog problems–ideas and help requested!

A number of you are still mentioning you can’t get this site to load right. The blog loads quickly and perfectly in both IE and Firefox for me so I don’t know what the issue is nor can I see what could be wrong to try and fix it.

I’ve tried deleting every widget that could be causing the problem,
re-formatting things, and a multitude of other fixes–none of which
seem to be changing things as I continue to get email after email from people saying they can’t get the site to load. I’m honestly at a loss as to what to tell
you and Typepad didn’t seem to have any answers either.

Does anyone have any ideas for me? I certainly do not want to cause difficulty for people trying to visit here; the last thing you need is to experience frustration over trying to load this blog!

I’d appreciate any input or thoughts from those of you more techie than me. We’re working with a designer to have the site re-designed so that it will be more professional-looking and more organized, but I want to get these problems resolved before we switch over to the new format.

Any help or ideas? Thanks so much!

Update: Someone mentioned perhaps I need to get my own hosting? Does anyone know if that might be the case or at what point I’d need to do that? My site is currently receiving around 18,000-23,000 visitors/day–at what point does one need to make the switch?

Update #2: Thanks for all the input. If anyone wants to send me a screenshot of what they are seeing on their end (well, if it’s messed up, that is!), that would be extremely helpful as I try to determine what the issues are. I’m also thinking perhaps switching to dedicated hosting would be a good thing to do.