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24 Aug 2009   ·   11
Money Saving Mom

Starbucks: Free drink on your birthday

Starbucks-logo

Starbucks sent out an email today detailing a new promotion they are running for those who have a Rewards Card–a free drink of your choice from Starbucks on your birthday.

To sign up to receive a free drink on your birthday, you just need to have a Rewards Card (i.e. a Starbucks gift card) and you just need to go here and add your mailing address and date of birth to your Rewards Card member profile and opt in to receive mail from Starbucks.

If you don't have a Starbucks gift card, you can get a $10 card from Swagbucks for 135 points.

Thanks, My Frugal Adventures!

22 Aug 2009   ·   1,148
Money Saving Mom

Super Savings Saturday: This week in groceries (and a $30 Kroger gift card giveaway!)

We're heading out the door early this morning to go to fun family festival in a nearby town, so I don't have time to break all the prices down for you. However, here's the groceries we purchased or were given to us this week:

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When we got home from vacation last week, my husband made a quick trip to Aldi and Wal-Mart to pick up some lightbulbs and milk, bread, cheese, and fruit since our refrigerator was pretty bare.

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Pictured above was my Dillon's trip on Tuesday plus some corn, cucumbers, tomatoes, and eggs from local farms/friends.

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Pictured above is my Target and Walgreens trip that I made on Wednesday. More details on my Walgreens deals are posted here. You can see more details on the Target deals here.

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I stopped at Dillons to hit the Mega Event and found these packages of beef sausage marked down to $1.59 each. So I stocked up with some of the extra "wiggle room" in our grocery budget.

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And finally, Kroger (in conjunction with MyBlogSpark) sent me a gift card for $30 with a challenge to see how much I could buy for that amount with the Mega Event specials they were running. I bought 40 items and split up my transaction into two orders so I could roll the $3.50 Nature Valley catalina to my next order.

I tried to mostly buy stuff we actually eat, but since 3 varieties of Hamburger Helper were marked down to $0.45 each (after the Mega Event discount) and I had coupons which gave me $0.33 off each of them, I went ahead and picked up nine boxes. We don't eat Hamburger Helper, but I can probably find someone to give it to, or else I can use the noodles in other recipes.

We also don't usually eat canned biscuits/crescent rolls, but if I can get them for next to nothing, I buy them and then make them into cinnamon rolls.

I'm pretty sure you can guess that we'll be eating lots of yogurt over the next few weeks! 🙂 My girls think the Yoplait Kids yogurt was the best stuff ever invented so I was so excited to surprise them with an abundance of it. You should have seen their faces when I came home from the grocery store with 8 packages of it!

You can check out more details coupon match-ups for the Mega Event here.

All totaled, we spent $55.59 on groceries this week, plus I used the $30 gift card that Kroger sent me. Since we only spent $5.04 on groceries last week, I had extra room to do a little stocking up on the great deals this week while staying within our $40/week grocery budget. I decided to include the $30 gift card purchases in my grocery budget totals, just to be fair. So I'm only going to spend $30 total on groceries next week, to even things out.

Would you like to win a $30 gift card from Kroger? They have provided an extra one for me to give away, so if you have a Kroger-affiliated store near you, just leave a comment on this post within the next 24 hours and you'll be entered to win it! One winner will be randomly drawn from all the entrants and posted shortly after the giveaway ends. Comments
will be closed on this post when the giveaway has ended.

——————————–
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.

20 Aug 2009   ·   35
Money Saving Mom

Whole-Wheat Blueberry Banana Bran Muffins

I promised in my menu post for this week that I’d post the recipe for the Blueberry Bran Muffins I was planning to make this week. Kaitlynn and I made them on Tuesday during our morning one-on-one time together.

I used blueberries I’d frozen from when they were on sale for $0.99 per pint and the bran and whole-wheat flour were from my recent bulk purchases. So I didn’t have to buy anything extra to make these–which is often how I cook/bake. I’m always on the lookout for recipes which utilize ingredients I already have on hand.

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Blueberry Bran Muffins

1 1/2 cups wheat bran or oat bran
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 Tablespoons ground flaxseed (I happened to have this on hand, but if you don’t, you could probably just substitute it with more bran.)
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup honey
1 ripe banana, mashed
1 large egg
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon vanilla (optional–I rarely ever use vanilla in recipes. It’s just a small way that we save money. And we never notice any difference. I’m sure that this breaks culinary rules, but we’re just weird like that!)
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

Heat oven to 400 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine the bran, flour, flaxseed, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. In another medium bowl, combine the milk, honey, banana, egg, olive oil, and vanilla until smooth.

Mix wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Gently stir in blueberries. Spoon batter into greased muffin cups and bake for 8 minutes. Cool on wire rack. Makes about 15 muffins.

Considering how healthful these are, I thought they tasted quite good. My husband wasn’t too excited about them, but I’ve been enjoying them for breakfast warmed with butter.

If you have another healthful blueberry or bran muffin recipe, do send it my way. I’ve got lots of both of those items in the freezer and I’d love to try out some more new and healthful recipes!

20 Aug 2009   ·   60
Money Saving Mom

Yesterday’s Walgreens trip

I made a quick trip to Walgreens yesterday since I found some more Huggies wipes coupons. I was trying to take advantage of the Spend $25, Get $5 Register Rewards deal, but I didn't quite work it right. However, I did get a great deal–at least in my estimation!

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Here's the breakdown:

7 Huggies wipes 64-count tubs–$2.79 each, used 2 $0.50/1 coupons, 1 $0.75/1 coupon, and 7 $2/1 Walgreens coupons (see more details on this deal here)

2 boxes Aluminum foil–on sale for $0.50 each

6 packages of BIC highlighters–on sale for $0.39 each, used 3 $1/2 BIC coupons making them free plus a small overage

After coupons and sales and adding in tax, I spent $5.68 for everything pictured. I was expecting to get a $5 Register Reward back, but somehow I didn't calculate it correctly. (I had all of my three little ones with me and no calculator, so can that count as an excuse?!)

At any rate, if you do the deal above, be sure to add in one more Huggies wipe container to throw your total above $25 before coupons. And then you'll get an even better deal than me!

By the way, I might be a Pampers diaper "snob", but after trying out these Huggies wipes, I'm sold on them. They are so thick that they last much longer than the cheaper wipes I usually use. And with three little ones, that's a huge plus!

The Thrifty Mama posted her Walgreens trip here. She bought similar items, but did a much better job of calculating things!

18 Aug 2009   ·   49
Money Saving Mom

Monthly Financial Check-up

Due to the wedding and our vacation last week, I'm a little behind in getting the Monthly Financial Check-up posted. But I couldn't skip it, because we had a really good month last month and I am thrilled to be able to share this update.

We began July at 50% of our house savings goal and we ended the month at 57.8%!

Yes, that's a big leap and we are ecstatic to be moving closer and closer to our goal of paying 100% down on a house. In fact, we've started looking at houses on a casual level right now–just to feel out the market–and it is so incredible to look at many of them and realize we're almost able to pay the full price for some of them in cash.

Every month recently when we've run the numbers, my husband and I are amazed. We well remember those difficult law school days when we could barely afford to put a roof over our heads and food on the table. We remember going without so many things, trying to make the most of the little we had, pinching our pennies, and praying heartily that God would somehow make the money stretch to the end of the month so we could pay all of our bills.

It was so hard to not know how we were going to be able to pay for our rent or to only have $17 to spend at the store for our entire week's worth of groceries. It required a tremendous amount of determination to not lose sight of our goal (to make it through law school without any debt) and to keep living like no one else–even when we were really tired of doing so.

But you know what? All that scrimping and saving has paid off in bigger dividends than we could have ever imagined. And by the grace of God, we are only months away from paying 100% down in cash on our very first home.

I share this with you all, not to set ourselves up on a pedestal. We've made plenty of mistakes and we will make plenty more in the future. I share this with you to encourage you that–no matter what financial position you may be in today–don't lose hope and don't lose heart.

Success requires sacrifice. You will never get
anywhere financially if you are not willing to do something: to get up,
get moving, set goals, and see them through.
It requires effort, commitment, dedication, and determination.

And
it takes time.
Getting out of debt or saving up to pay cash for
something is not usually an instantaneous thing; it takes many months
or years of work and sacrifice. But it does pay off.

So set goals, stay focused, and stick with it and you, too, will reap the rewards of discipline, determination, and hard work.

If you want to read more about our lean law school years and a few of the lessons we learned through those difficult years, be sure to check out this post.

——————————————–
How did you do in July? Whether
or not you posted financial goals for 2009, please take a moment to
post about your financial successes and/or failures in July and, if you'd like, the areas
you hope to improve in August. Then, come back here and leave your link
below. If you don't have a blog or would rather share anonymously, feel
free to leave your update in a comment. Let's all keep each other
accountable to be better stewards of
our resources!

17 Aug 2009   ·   13
Money Saving Mom

This week’s menu plan

Mpmpencil

After a few crazy weeks of pulling off a wedding and going on vacation, we're ready for life to slow down here and move into a more normal routine. We do have a big garage sale planned for next week, but I'm having lots of help with that so I'm hoping it's not a huge amount of work to pull off!

We were blessed with some fresh-from-the-garden tomatoes, cucumbers, and corn on the cob so we'll be incorporating that into our menu for this week.

Here's what's planned for this week:

Breakfasts
Cereal, orange juice
Banana Strawberry Blueberry smoothies, toast
Blueberry Bran Muffins (new recipe which I'll be posting soon), scrambled eggs
Cereal, fruit
Oatmeal with brown sugar, fruit
Brown Sugar Biscuit Twists, fruit
French Toast, turkey sausage, fruit

Lunches
Homemade Pita Pockets with melted cheese, carrots
Baked Potatoes, broccoli, cheese
PB&J, cantaloupe, carrots, cookies
Spinach, brown rice, and cheese casserole, cucumbers
Leftovers x 2
Lunch at friends' house

Dinners
Lasagna Bake, Homemade Bread, Broccoli, Cherry Crisp (my mom made this for us–yum!)
Homemade Barbecue Beef Pizza, cucumbers and tomatoes
Layered Nacho Dip, chips, corn on the cob, cucumbers and tomatoes
Dinner out
Office Party–dinner provided
Grilled steak, baked potatoes, corn on the cob, fruit
Steak and Cheese Calzones, peas, fruit

Snacks
Protein bars
Blueberry Bran Muffins
Cheese/crackers
Fruit/Veggies
Chips/Salsa
Cereal
Popcorn

See a couple hundred more menus for this week over at Organizing Junkie!

15 Aug 2009   ·   10
Money Saving Mom

Super Savings Saturday: $5.04 Walgreens trip

Since we were staying in cabins equipped with kitchens on our vacation this past week, we all pitched in and brought food for the trip and then cooked mostly all of our own meals, instead of going out to eat. I brought extra food from our grocery stockpile so I didn't spend any extra on groceries for this week.

We did end up eating out three times this week–which is two times more than we normally do–but we used our vacation cash envelope to pay for it, so this also didn't cut into our grocery budget at all.

As soon as we got home from our vacation, we found we were completely out of baby wipes and laundry detergent so my husband made a quick run to Walgreens to do the Huggies wipe deal and pick up the cheapest laundry detergent they sold.

I didn't get a picture, but he got:

Off-brand laundry detergent–$2.99
3 64-count tubs of Huggies wipes–$2.79 each, used $2/1 Walgreens coupons, used 1 $0.50/1 manu. coupon–$0.29 for one and $0.79 each for the other two

Altogether, he paid $5.04 for all of that.

I usually try to stock up ahead of time on laundry detergent but I've apparently missed all the recent deals on it so we ended up paying $2.99 for a bottle of it–not too bad, but definitely about $1-$1.50 more than I usually pay per bottle. Oh well!

I'm excited about all of the upcoming deals available next week at our local stores and am hoping to have some great shopping trips. Stay tuned for details on those!

——————————–
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.

14 Aug 2009   ·   28
Money Saving Mom

Home sweet home!

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Kathrynne (my 4-year-old), Cadence (my sister's 2-year-old), and Kaitlynn (my 2-year-old)

Whew! After a busy week-long trip to Bull Shoals Lake in Arkansas with my entire extended family, we're home!

We had a wonderful time swimming, skiing, tubing, snorkeling, laughing, cooking, talking,
reminiscing, poking fun at one another (something we're exceptionally
good at!), trying to keep up with all the little ones, and enjoying a
break from our normal life.

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Cadence and Kaitlynn

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I wasn't sure what I'd do as far as blogging went while we were on vacation, but I was able to
sneak in a little time to update here everyday until Thursday
morning when the internet went out unexpectedly and never stared working again at the cabins where we were staying. It was nice to have an unexpected 36-hour
media fast, but I missed you all and am glad to be back.

Expect an avalanche of posts over the next 24 hours as I have lots of catching up to do here now that we're home and we have internet again!

8 Aug 2009   ·   42
Money Saving Mom

Super Savings Saturday: Changing things up in my shopping routine

Since we’ve started officially homeschooling, I’m finding that doing one big shopping trip per week has become more of a challenge to fit in. I’m trying to have a consistent daily schedule, but working in a once-a-week 2-hour shopping trip around naps and nursing and homeschooling is just not working for us.

So I’m considering breaking up my shopping into 2 or 3 one-store trips throughout the week. Depending upon how good the deals are each week, I’m thinking it might work something like: one night I’ll go out and do a quick trip to Dillons after the little ones are in bed, on Tuesdays I’ll take one of the girls to Aldi with me while my Mother’s Helper is here, and, if the deals are really great at Target or some other store, I’ll take all three little ones with me after afternoon nap time one day each week.

That’s just what I’m tentatively thinking might work right now. I know it flies in the face of my previous stance to only go shopping once a week, but I’m also a person who tries to keep an open mind and never say “never”. Different things work at different times and different seasons of life, right? And since we live where all the stores are so close to us right now, there aren’t really any added fuel costs to split things up.

We’ll see how it goes. I’m known to easily change my mind so if I try this for a few weeks and it’s worse than before, I’ll put my thinking cap on again and see what I come up with!

At any rate, I split up my shopping trip this week into two parts. I took all the children with me to Aldi on Monday and here’s what we bought:

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And I did a quick shopping trip at Dillons on Tuesday night after the children were in bed:

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I spent a little over $36 at Aldi and $5.44 at Dillons (see details on that trip here) bringing my total for groceries this week to right around $41.50. I had a little leftover money from a previous week that I was under-budget which I used to cover the extra $1.50 so we’re still within our $40/week grocery budget right now. I’ve actually surprised myself that this low budget is still cutting it for our family.

We’re still using meat from our freezer and meals from our After-The-Baby-Freezer-Stash so I know that helps. We’ve almost cleaned our freezer out, though, so I’m gearing up for re-stocking it soon. I’m considering trying Once-A-Month Cooking but I haven’t decided yet whether or not I’m going to take the plunge or if that’s feasible for our budget. I’ll keep you apprised.

We’re headed to Arkansas tomorrow for our annual week-long family vacation at the Bull Shoals Lake with all of my extended family so I won’t have to do too much cooking this coming week. We’re all sharing the cooking load, but I didn’t have to buy anything extra as I’m only bringing food I already had in my stockpile. The benefits of using coupons and buying ahead are practically endless, aren’t they?

——————————–
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.

7 Aug 2009   ·   45
Money Saving Mom

Guest Post: Lessons Learned from Unemployment

Guest Post by Jessica from Utah Deal Diva

Like millions of other Americans, I hadn’t anticipated my husband suddenly being out of work. We’d always lived within our means and had little debt, but we didn’t have much in savings either.

How were we going to pay our bills? Would we lose our house?

Those were the thoughts running through my head as the reality of our situation began to sink in. I am a stay at home mom for our three young children; my husband was the sole breadwinner and then suddenly he was without a job.

How were we going to make it with no income? I was overwhelmed with our sudden change of circumstances.

Thankfully, my husband and I quickly resolved that we would not let this situation break us. We had worked too hard to let this ailing economy make victims out of us. We made a plan and prayed hard that God would help us. Little did we know how abundantly our prayers would be answered.

Here are some lessons we learned while my husband was unemployed:

1. Being unemployed is hard work. My husband and I are both hard workers, but never before have we worked so hard to stay right where we were at. Our only goal at the time was to pay our bills and stay in our home.

Within two days of being out of work my husband secured a part-time job working retail. When he wasn’t working there, he was spending hours and hours every day searching for a new job. I helped him search before the kids woke up and after they went down for naps. We worked with recruiting firms and friends to find new employment. In one word I would describe it all as exhausting.

2. The companies you pay your bills to are more willing to help if you ask. Within a week of being unemployed, I called all of the companies our bills were through, telling them our situation and asking what they could do. I was so grateful to find that every company I called was more than willing to help us. We switched phone plans, downgraded our cable, and canceled services. Suddenly our meager income was stretching a lot farther.

3. I didn’t miss luxuries nearly as much as I thought I would. Right after my husband lost his job, we declared a spending halt. We bought nothing unless it was absolutely necessary, and even then, we most often bought second-hand.

We re-discovered the value of family time and truly enjoyed spending it together. We made meals from scratch and had a new-found appreciation for the items we already had. Our lives became very simple and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it.

4. Meal planning and cooking from scratch saves a lot of money. This is something I’d known for a while, but I learned anew just how true it was while unemployed.

We had built up a nice food storage thanks to using coupons so I regularly assessed the items in our pantry and planned meals accordingly. We made our own bread and found joy in creating yummy treats ourselves.

I also got very creative in seeing how far some food items could stretch. A member of our church dropped off a whole ham one night and I stayed up late slicing and packaging it so as to use the entire thing. I even boiled the ham bone in soup! We were able to feed our family over 7 meals with that one ham!

5. Using less of everything really didn’t affect our way of life. And when I say everything, I mean everything! One of the areas we made a real effort to use less of was gas and electricity. We wore sweatshirts instead of adjusting the heater and used the warmth of the oven to heat the house after we baked something. 

We were mindful of even the little things from the length of showers we took to how much shampoo we used. We turned our water heater down and adjusted our dishwasher to the lowest settings. As a result of changing our actions, we didn’t freeze, our clothes and dishes were still clean (as were we!), and we ended up shaving 25% off our utility bills!

6. We didn’t really need many of the items we already had. I regularly walked around the house assessing what our family could live without and I sold the items online. I sold books, clothes, and electronics. Anything we didn’t need that I thought might have value was suddenly on the market!

My husband scoured the garage and cashed in a load of scrap metal. I’d been couponing for years and had quite a supply, so I assembled coupons and sold them in groups. We spent $20 to cosmetically fix up an old car we’d had for years and hung the “For Sale” sign on it, unsure if we could even sell it in this economy. We sold it for our full asking price a month later.

Each time I sold something I’d calculate what bills that item could pay for or how long it would enable us to live in our house. Tens of dollars turned to hundreds, and hundreds turned to thousands. It was incredible and we felt so blessed.

7. Our trials give others the opportunity to serve. As difficult as it might be to be on the receiving end, it’s necessary at different times in our lives.

We saw the Lord’s hand in so many small acts of service given to us by neighbors and friends. People wrote us kind letters with thoughts of encouragement. Others sent small amounts of money anonymously. It was all very much appreciated and we are grateful for the services rendered.

After only a few months, my husband was able to find a new job–for which we are very thankful! The truly amazing thing is, due to the changes we
quickly made in our lives, not only did we not have to touch our
savings, but we added to it!

If I can pass on one piece of advice for others who find themselves suddenly unemployed it’s this: even in this economy, you have more influence on your personal and financial situations than you think. Never forget the power of prayer and hard work!

Jessica blogs about all the deals, steals, and freebies available in Utah at her blog Utah Deal Diva.

6 Aug 2009   ·   40
Money Saving Mom

My $5.44 Dillon’s shopping trip–94% savings!

I snuck out to Dillons (Kroger affiliate) on Tuesday night after the all the little ones were in bed. It was a sort of spur-of-the-moment shopping trip and I didn't have but a few minutes to plan it.

I had gotten a hot tip from a friend earlier that day that the ThinkThin bars were on sale for $1 each and I had a bunch of $0.50/1 coupons from organic coupon booklets which would make them free after they were doubled. I wasn't sure if the bars would still be on sale when the new ad came out on Wednesday so I decided to just run to the store and buy those and see what other deals I might be able to pick up, too.

Here's what I came home with:

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1 Healthy Choice Frozen Meal–on sale for $1.65, used the $2/1 coupon
which was available for a brief time earlier this week,
FREE-plus-overage after coupon

1 Tropicana Orange Juice–$4.99, used free product coupon which was available a few weeks ago for a limited time, FREE after coupon

1 Starbucks Ice Cream–$3.49, used free product coupon from the Facebook promotion–no longer available, FREE after coupon

1 Kellogg's Rice Crispies–$3.69, used free product coupon sent to me recently from Vocalpoint, FREE after coupon

1 Chiquita Apple Bites–$1, used free product coupon here, FREE after coupon

1 Chiquita Pineapple Bites–$1, used free product peelie, FREE after coupon

20 ThinkThin bars–on sale for $1 each, used 20 $0.50/1 coupons from Mambo Sprouts coupon booklet (doubled), FREE after coupons

4 bottles of Sobe Life Water–on sale for $1 each, used 2 B1G1 coupons,
$0.50 each after coupons (my hubby loves these in his lunches so I've
been buying them whenever I can get them on a decent sale)

1 Vanilla Soy Milk 1/2 gallon–on closeout for $2.68, used $2/1 coupon here, $0.68 after coupon

My total before coupons and sales was $65.28. After coupons? I paid $5.44–a savings of 94% according to my receipt.

Now, of course, I'd never pay full price for pretty much any of those items, so the savings is quite inflated, but it's still fun to see!

If you're new at the whole coupon thing and wondering if it really works, I hope my shopping trip above encourages you that signing up for the free coupon offers and printing the high-value coupons really does result in big savings for minimal effort.

It takes time to learn the ropes of couponing, but if you keep at it, it will begin to pay off in big savings dividends over time. Plus, one of the side benefits of using coupons and shopping the sales is that you get to try some new products you might not try otherwise! After all, who can beat free when it comes to groceries?!

I'll share more about our other grocery savings this week when I post Super Savings Saturday.

5 Aug 2009   ·   96
Money Saving Mom

Buying in Bulk on a Budget

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I always give myself some slack in the healthful eating department at the end of my pregnancies and after a baby is born. I know some of you can pull off six-course, from-scratch breakfasts, lunches, and dinners when you have a newborn or are 10 months pregnant, but I'm just not that ambitious.

So for the past few months, we've stuck to pretty simple meals and had more convenience foods than usual. We've haven't gone over-budget and we've not been living on total junk food by any means, but there's been a lot more white flour, sugar, and processed foods consumed in our home than normal.

Now that life has settled down a bit more and we're more adjusted to
homeschooling and having three little ones, we're working on getting back
to more healthful eating around here. We're slowly using up the extra processed foods we've accumulated and going back to cooking and baking from scratch.

One of the things I'm especially ready to add back in again is using freshly-ground whole wheat flour. However, my dilemma has been how to afford buying wheat kernels.

When we were living in Kansas City, I was purchasing wheat kernels for around $0.69 per pound at Whole Foods. Now that we've moved and no longer have a Whole Foods store nearby, though, I've been on a search for a new and inexpensive source of wheat kernels. The health food stores here allow you to purchase small quantities of wheat kernels, but they are over $1.50 per pound–which adds up really quickly when you bake as much as I do!

I found that buying wheat kernels in bulk was going to save me a large amount of money but my only problem was that buying in bulk meant I'd also have to pay a larger amount of money upfront. I thought about just using some extra non-grocery money to buy a big bag of wheat kernels, but then I decided to challenge myself to see if I could set aside a little bit from our $40 per week grocery budget and, over time, save up enough to be able to afford this bulk purchase.

By staying under-budget and mostly skipping shopping one week, I was surprised to find I had enough leftover after only one month of saving to purchase a 50-pound bag of wheat kernels last week!

I was planning to make a trip to a nearby town which has a bulk foods store to pick these up, but my older sister lives near an Amish Bulk Foods Store which has incredible
prices so she offered to buy some for me and bring it with her
when she came down for our little sister's wedding last week.

In addition to the wheat kernels, she also picked up a big bag of wheat germ and wheat bran for me–two items which were much less expensive at the Amish Bulk Foods Store than they are at the grocery stores here.

Altogether, the total for all of those items was only $30! I'm guessing the wheat kernels will last me close to a year and the wheat bran and wheat germ should last me at least a few months.

I was so excited to be able to find a way to creatively afford a bulk purchase like this without going over our $40/week grocery budget. And now the wheels are turning in my brain and I'm contemplating saving up for some other bulk purchases.

Since I'm new to buying in bulk, I'd love to have input from those of you who are more experienced at this. What items do you routinely find are better deals to purchase in bulk? Are there any websites or companies you would recommend for bulk purchases?

**************************

Edit: For those of you who have asked, I have this grain mill.
My dad bought it for me for Christmas two years ago. I usually grind up about 5 pounds of wheat kernels at a time and use what I can immediately and store the rest in the freezer until I use it. If you do this, it helps preserve the nutrients in the flour.

I usually use straight whole-wheat flour in much of my baking and at least half whole-wheat and half white flour in most of the rest of my baking. Here's our favorite Whole Wheat Bread recipe and here's our favorite Whole Wheat Waffle recipe. I hope to share more of our favorite whole wheat recipes soon.

3 Aug 2009   ·   48
Money Saving Mom

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At the wedding rehearsal

Well, we survived the Whirlwind Wedding Weekend and my little sister is now married! It all turned out beautifully–despite some minor last-minute hiccups–and I'm thankful for how everything fell into place, even when it felt like it wasn't going to.

After a four-day break, our homeschool schedule begins again today and I'm excited to dive back into "normal life". I have literally 101 posts to share on here (the deals certainly didn't take a break while I did!) so I'll try to get caught back up over the next few days.

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My sis and I at the reception

31 Jul 2009   ·   13
Money Saving Mom

Super Savings Saturday: The “Weekly-Report-Postponed-for-a-Wedding” Edition

As most of you know, my sister is getting married tomorrow so blogging has been on the very back burner the past few days as I’m knee deep (or maybe up to my eyeballs?!) in helping with wedding preparations, decorations, and so forth. I’m loving every minute of it, though!

We just got home from the rehearsal, rehearsal dinner, and last-minute decorating/organizing and I’m heading to bed since I need to have myself and two of my little ones at the church bright and early tomorrow morning to get ready for pictures.

I had planned to write about a big purchase we were able to make from an Amish bulk store this week using the money we saved by not doing our regular grocery shopping trip, but I’m going to save that to share early next week in favor of getting a little bit more shut-eye tonight.

Stay tuned for my full report on our savings from this past week after the whirlwind wedding weekend is over! I’m also hoping I can have my sister guest post on how she pulled off a beautiful wedding on a dime–but I’ll let her life settle down a bit first!

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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.

31 Jul 2009   ·   17
Money Saving Mom

Frugal Fun: Grocery Ad Playtime Menu (Guest Post)

Marie from Make and Takes shared this fun (and frugal!) idea for a way to recycle your old grocery ads into playtime menus for your children:

Grocery Ad Playtime Menu

Supplies for Grocery Ad Menus:

  • grocery ads – the kind that come in the mail
  • scissors, glue, color pencils, art paper

Menu Supplies

First, gather all your grocery ads. Let the kids look through and see what items might be good to have in their menu, then cut them out. If your child is ready to use scissors, go for it but with supervision if they're small. Or you can have them point to the items they want and you can cut them out.

Cut Grocery Ads

Next, fold a piece of art paper in half vertically. Glue the cut out food items onto the paper in a line. Now write in each price.

Write Menus

My son loved making up how much everything cost. He wanted to make the steak "1 Free" and the ice cream is $20 because it's sooo good. We even named our restaurant, LeBaron's Family Restaurant, with "Todays Special" as Shrimp, my son's favorite food. Have fun playing Restaurant!

Inside Kids Menu

Marie is a crafter, foodie, and mother of 3. She loves running, reading, and eating candy. Check out her blog Make and Takes for more Ideas and Crafty Tidbits for Home, Family, and Fun.