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Bookin’ It: January Update

I promised to share a monthly update with you on the books I’ve read this year from my rather-ambitious 2010 Booklist. So here’s what I read in January:

Still Growing: An Autobiography

This autobiography of child TV star, Kirk Cameron, is a fast, fascinating, and humorous read. I had trouble putting it down and read it from start to finish in a matter of a few days.

Bootcamp for Lousy Housekeepers

The author of this book sent me a free copy to read and review and the title immediately drew me in. I definitely have days when I feel like a lousy housekeeper and am always on the lookout for ways to improve as a manager of our home.

This book is very exhaustive and has lots of helpful ideas and information in it. If you are drowning and have no idea where to begin when it comes to keeping your home organized, this would be a great starting point for you.

However, I personally didn’t find it to be earth-shattering. In fact, I found it a little overwhelming for the type of homemaker I am. I much prefer the simplistic approach of a system like Motivated Moms where I don’t have to spend hours developing a personalized plan, but the plan is already succinctly mapped out for me.

Flipping the Switch…: Unleash the Power of Personal Accountability Using the QBQ!

I loved this book. In a day and age when personal responsibility is almost unheard-of and people are always looking for someone or something to blame, this book is an excellent wake-up call. This book contains principles which could very well chance one’s business, finances, and personal life. I was left highly motivated and inspired.

What books have you read the last month? Link up over at LifeasMom.

Q&A: What is your stock-up price on toilet paper?

I was wondering, what is a good price for toilet paper? I usually get the kind from Sam’s Club but lately their quality has really gone down. -Katie

Truth be told, I was able to get free 4-packs of Cottonelle toilet paper for so long that now that that deal is no longer available, I’ve been struggling to come up with a good toilet paper deal. I’ve purchased some from Aldi and also got a mega package for free with a gift card to Alice.com while holding out hope another free or almost-free toilet paper deal will surface sometime soon.

Aldi toilet paper is anything but quality toilet paper, in my opinion, but it works in a pinch when the deals are sparse. It is priced at around $0.25 per roll, so I’d consider any quality toilet paper priced at less than that to be a pretty good deal. However, free is always my favorite price when it comes to toilet paper. 🙂

What’s your stock-up price for toilet paper and where do you find the best deals on it? Help me out here!

Super Savings Saturday

After last’s week big shopping trip, we didn’t need to buy any groceries this week. Well, except for milk. But we decided to take our lessons learned from the Pantry Challenge to heart and went the entire week without buying milk.

And you know what? We survived just fine. The girls missed having cereal for breakfast and snacks, but we came up with creative alternatives and everyone was fine.

Next week, I’ll likely do another big stock-up trip since I’ve got some great coupons to use. Stay tuned for details on that.

(And yes, I know that some parents think that children cannot survive without milk. I completely understand where you’re coming from and respect your opinions. However, please don’t flip out over the fact that we don’t drink a lot of milk at our house. I’ve done a lot of research and don’t believe that milk is necessarily the best source of calcium or that one must drink an enormous amount of it for survival. So we choose to get our primary calcium from other sources. And we love you no matter whether you drink lots of milk or not!)

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Did you snag any great deals or bargains this week or save money in other ways? If so, be sure to post about them on your blog and leave your link below. Please remember that this weekly round-up is to share deals you personally got and/or money you were able to save this week. In order to keep this weekly round-up focused on helping and inspiring others in their efforts to save money, links which have little-to-no content other than promoting affiliate links, etc. will be deleted. Also, to make it easy for everyone to navigate quickly through the links, your link must link directly to your Super Savings Saturday post.

Q&A: Is it necessary to save every receipt?

Is it necessary to save every receipt once the expense has been recorded in the budget expenses?  I have grocery store receipts coming out my ears! -Julie

Is it necessary? No.

Or at least, let’s hope not, seeing as I currently don’t have a single grocery receipt saved!

I personally disdain clutter–especially paper clutter–so I would likely go crazy if I tried to save all my shopping receipts. Truth be told, I only save my grocery shopping receipts until I have time to post about my shopping trips and then I throw them out immediately. The only time I will hang onto a receipt is if I have a rebate or if there’s a possibility I might be returning the item.

We keep detailed tracking of our bills and other expenses which change somewhat each month (my husband track these  in Quicken), but for the items we pay for with cash using our envelope system, believe it or not, we don’t keep detailed track of each of these expenses. Yes, that might seem shocking to some of you who like to account for every penny!

We have found, however, that it works great for us to just put a specified amount of cash in our envelopes for each of our different spending categories for the month. When the money in the envelope is gone, it’s gone. We’ve used the envelope system almost all of our married life, so we’ve gotten pretty accustomed to being able to divvy up the money so it lasts the whole month.

If you want to have detailed reports of all your purchases each month, this system wouldn’t likely work for you. Bt works for us right now–and best of all, it’s very simple!

Do you save your receipts? Why or why not? What’s your system for tracking your expenses? I’d love to hear!

photo credit: Functoruser

Whole Foods in a Hurry

Would you like to feed your family healthier foods but you feel like you don’t have time or money to do so?

I had the privilege of meeting Jessie from Vanderbilt Wife at the Savvy Blogging Dinner last week and she told me about her current project of cooking a once-a-month menu with only whole foods (no processed foods at all). I knew that many of you would be really interested in hearing about how she’s pulling this off, so I asked her if she could share a little bit of her adventure with you all. Here’s what she wrote:

I’ve been fairly convinced our family needs to go to a whole foods way of eating for quite a while. But it seems that every time I make one baby step forward, something comes around to hinder the path yet again.

There’s cost, of course. Currently living on a high-school teacher’s salary with both a mortgage and a rent, it seems implausible to raise our grocery budget. Maybe after we sell the house. After I am bringing in more freelance income. When…

Time is always another factor. Until a month ago, I was a full-time working mom with a toddler, and my husband lived two hours away during the week. I was feeling blessed to feed my daughter something hot for dinner (and even more happy if she’d actually eat it). And yet every time I’d hand her baby puffs or graham crackers, I’d cringe at the fact that these were processed foods, laced with soy and who-knows-what-else.

As someone who struggled with getting pregnant because of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, I try to be cautious about the amount of artificial hormones in our diet. I don’t want my daughter to have to worry about this like I did. I’ve also always battled my weight, and so I hope to teach her healthy eating habits the best that I can.

When my cousin Tricia, author of Once a Month Mom, asked me to partner with her on an upcoming contest on her site, I knew exactly where I wanted to take once-a-month cooking. I’d done some freezer cooking in the past, but many of the recipes included ingredients like cream of mushroom soup, white pasta, or instant stuffing. I wanted to jump start my whole foods eating by creating what I call “Whole Foods in a Hurry“–a once-a-month cooking menu of only “real food.”

It’s been very exciting to create my menu and think about how I’ll be budgeting it, planning it, and cooking it. And of course, eating it! I’ve picked a variety of recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner that will help my family get on the bandwagon with real foods. Cooking it all at once will save me time and money as well as allowing me more time for baking bread and trying other kitchen experiments.

You can see Jessie’s first menu plan here. To follow along with Jessie’s Whole Foods in a Hurry Challenge, be sure to subscribe to her blog for weekly updates, menu plans, and recipes.

Meeting Dave Ramsey

While at the blogging conference last week, we had the amazing privilege of going with a group of bloggers to the Dave Ramsey Headquarters.

As I’ve shared in the past, Dave Ramsey has had a significant impact on our lives–both in our finances and in how we run our businesses. My husband and I have been to a few live events before and shook Dave’s hand at a book signing, but to get the opportunity to see behind-the-scenes at Financial Peace Plaza was a huge treat!

We were thoroughly impressed with their offices and staff. Everyone went out of their way to be friendly and helpful, to answer questions, and to make us feel at home. We also loved the cappucinnos and delicious homemade goodies they serve in their coffee shop–where everything is free!

The credit card art on the walls was fascinating.


And the quotes on the wall were so inspirational!

But the best part of all was most definitely the time we got to spend with Dave Ramsey while he was on commercial break. He came out and got pictures with us, answered questions, and even let us do two video interviews with him on advice for bloggers and entrepreneurs (see those videos here and here.)

All in all, it was an incredible time and we are very thankful to the staff at the Dave Ramsey headquarters for helping to coordinate this opportunity for us.