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29 Apr 2009   ·   0
Money Saving Mom

Worth Reading: Balancing Computer Time and Family Life

If you are a blogger or a work-at-home mom, or if you are considering becoming either of those things, may I strongly encourage you to head over to my other blog and read some of my thoughts on the importance of prioritization and balance when it comes to the computer and family life?

I rarely do interviews, but I recently agreed to do an interview on on this very subject as it is something I am passionate about. I've struggled a lot with balance since my first days of blogging and working from home and I've learned a lot of hard lessons along the way.

As I said in the interview:

"If there is one thing I could encourage every mommy blogger or
work-at-home mom out there to remember, it is this: anyone can be a
pretty good blogger or pretty good business owner, but there is only
person who is mommy to your children and wife to your husband. Don’t
let all the good things out there take precedence over the best things.
You only have one life to live–make it count!"

Go over here to read the three-part interview, I share some of my thoughts and tips for having your priorities in order when it comes to blogging and computer time and what measures I take to make sure my family and home and community are my first priorities.

29 Apr 2009   ·   12
Money Saving Mom

Review: Feed Your Family for $12 a Day

I was recently browsing titles at the library when my eye landed on Rhonda Barfield's book, Feed Your Family for $12 a Day. As you can imagine, I quickly scooped it up and added it to my pile of books to check out.

Although the prices in this book were outdated and most of the recipes looked very uninteresting, bland, and even downright bordering on unsavory, there were numerous practical tips, hints, and ideas in this book making it every bit worth the read.

I appreciated the author's understanding that not all of her ideas would work for every family. We're all in different seasons and situations so what method of cooking and grocery shopping works well for one family could be completely unpractical for another family. Feed Your Family for $12 a Day acknowledges this and offers a plethora of ideas which can be implemented to lower your grocery budget.

The book also addresses many common misconceptions regarding eating healthfully on a budget and walks the reader through a full year of ideas on how to make little changes to not only eat more healthfully but to greatly reduce your grocery bill in the process.

If you are just beginning to attempt to lower your grocery budget, Feed Your Family for $12 a Day would be a very helpful book to add to your reading list. And even if you're like me and have been shopping on a small budget for years, I'm quite certain you'd find inspiration and fresh ideas in these pages as well. At least I know I certainly did!

Have you read any helpful books on frugality or money recently? If so, tell us about them! I'm always looking for new book ideas to add to my reading list!

28 Apr 2009   ·   0
Money Saving Mom

The Emotional Benefits of Becoming Debt-Free

This was such an excellent article by Simple Mom on "The Emotional Benefits of Becoming Debt-Free". Here's a little snippet:

Now, I’m not trying to paint a rosy picture that being debt-free
solves everything.  Economic setbacks still happen.  Layoffs still
happen.  And unexpected money pits still happen.  But being debt-free means those things don’t hit you like a mack truck – they’re an annoyance.
They don’t have to change our entire lifestyle – they can further
confirm our conviction that living without debt means having more
options, having more peace.

And while we may never be rich, we can be wealthy in those areas
where we want to be wealthy – in relationships, in experiences, and in
supporting causes that matter for eternity.  I’ll take that over depending on Master Card, any day.

It takes work and effort to stay out of debt. Believe me, I know.

It takes sacrifice, it takes commitment, it takes self-discipline. It means you have to forgo some things others might think you're entitled to, you have to stop worrying what the Jones family thinks, and you probably will come across as rather weird to a number of people.

But it is every bit worth it to be free from the bondage of payments. To not have to worry so much if you are hit with unexpected things like job loss (we've been there twice in the last few years), or a big medical bill (we've had that, too, more than once in the last few years), or an accident which totals your one reliable vehicle (yep, we had that happen to us last year, too!).

We've hit a lot of financial rough spots in the six years my husband and I have been married and life has thrown us a number of unexpected curve balls. But that's life, isn't it? No one is free from crisis or difficulty in some form or another.

There were many times along the way when pulling out a credit card to pay for an unexpected bill or taking out a loan to pay for a bigger expense would have been really easy to do. There have been times when we've both faltered and wanted to throw in the towel. But by the grace of God, we've stayed true to our commitment to stay out of debt–even when we didn't know how those ends were going to meet at the end of the month.

And you know what? Committing to stay out of debt from day one of our marriage has been one of the best decisions we've ever made. After years of scrimping and sacrifice, we're reaping the benefits now of being able to live significantly below our means because we don't have any payments. We're not only able to take care of the needs of our own family, save for our childrens' future, our retirement, and our first paid-for home, but we're also able to give abundantly to our church, to missions, to causes we believe in, and to those who are needy.

To us, that is what it's all about–"living like no one else, so we can live and give like no one else".

Enough said. Go read the article by Simple Mom here.

28 Apr 2009   ·   30
Money Saving Mom

Dolly Parton Imagination Library: Free book each month for children 5 and under


I have mentioned this before but I wanted to mention it again since some of you asked about reading programs for younger children yesterday. The Dolly Parton Imagination Library is a program available in many areas which offers a free book each month to children 5 and under.

It is not available in our area so I have no personal experience with it, but I have heard from many different readers that the books they send are good quality and that it's definitely worth your while to sign up if your area offers this program.

Check to see if this program is available in your area and read more details here.

Thanks for reminding me to post about this, Kimberly!

24 Apr 2009   ·   17
Money Saving Mom

Super Savings Saturday: A “splurge shopping trip” and the menu for this week

Well, the head cold I came down with last week morphed into an awful sinus infection/head cold this week and I ended up being very sick all week long. (Did anyone notice that I didn't post anything of substance this week aside from deals? That was because my brain was too shot to even consider forming a substantive post!)

I had hoped to go to KMart for their Double Coupon Event and I'd also hoped to hit Walgreens, Dillons, and Aldi for another two-week shopping trip. But instead, I didn't even make it out of the house all week except for an appointment at the birth center. In fact, I didn't make it out of bed much most days.

However, even though I was too miserable to cook this week, we still managed to avoid getting carryout all but once. We used a few meals from the freezer, my sister cooked us dinner one night, and some friends brought us dinner another night. I can't even begin to describe how thankful I am to not only have our freezer full of good food, but also to live in a community of such helpful family and friends! We're truly blessed.

Since I'm still not well enough to be out and about, my husband kindly offered to do a shopping run for us tonight. I know he would have willingly gone to multiple stores, but he's been so helpful to me this week while I wasn't feeling well, that I decided to just keep it simple and make up a quick list for him for Dillons.

I wanted to get the cheese (on sale for $1.28), the Frosted Mini Wheats ($0.60/box after coupons), the Pillsbury brownie mix ($0.50/box after coupons), and we needed milk and juice and a few other things, but that was about it. So I told him to not worry about getting the best bargains and to just take $50, buy what was on the short list, and then spend anything leftover on whatever else he wanted to.

Here's what he bought:


You want to know what he spent the extra money on? Treats for me and the girls for after the baby is born (including my all-time favorite Milano cookies!!). I tell you, I love that guy! He is constantly spoiling me!

And the total? He spent $47!

(And in case you are wondering, we still have a lot of fruit and veggies in the refrigerator and freezer so I didn't have him buy any of those. Since I can't eat fruit and many vegetables right now due to my heartburn, we seem to go through them much more slowly. I can't wait until I can have a nice big fruit smoothie and fruit salad once this baby arrives!)

I am so thankful to be on the mend now and I look forward to getting to possibly get out to do a little bargain shopping before the baby comes. Though I'll willingly take having a baby over bargain shopping any day! If we don't have a baby before the end of this week (which I'm really not planning on, since I'm guessing I'll go late), I plan to do a big two-week shopping trip on Friday.

By the way, in case you wonder what we're eating this week, here's our planned menu for the week. I'm keeping things super simple right now, as you'll be able to tell:


Cereal or pancakes (from the freezer) and juice
If I have enough energy, I'm also hoping to make homemade cinnamon rolls one day since I've been craving those!

Leftovers or sandwiches with veggies or fruit
I have some spinach I need to use up so I might also concoct a spinach and rice casserole one day.

–Hamburger/onions/peas/corn/potatoes sauteed in the skillet served with homemade bread and salad
–Breakfast Pizza (I'm going to make my own biscuit dough and use leftover Easter ham from the freezer.) and fruit
–Macaroni and Cheese, homemade bread, green beans, oranges
–Chicken Salsa Pizza, peas, fruit
–Meatloaf, twice baked potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans, grapefruit
–Ham and Cheese Stromboli (again, using up leftover Easter ham), fruit
–Turkey Sausage, sweet potatoes, muffins, fruit

Granola Bars

And that's that!


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.

Note: 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

24 Apr 2009   ·   0
Money Saving Mom

Town Hall for Hope Recap: Change Begins With Me


Wow! If you missed the Town Hall for Hope tonight, you really missed out!

If you've spent any time at all on this blog, you know good and well that I'm a big fan of Dave Ramsey. I've listened to him countless times on the radio, watched some of his television show on Hulu, read his books, gone through Financial Peace University twice, attended two of his live events, and even met him in person (okay, so it was all of about thirty seconds at a book signing, but I have shaken his hand and had my picture taken with him and his wife!).

So, I was expecting tonight to be good. But it far exceeded my imaginations. In fact, Dave's message of hope and personal responsibility was an out-of-the-park home run!

I could write twenty different lengthy blog posts on things he shared tonight, and maybe you'll see some of those over the next few weeks and months. The biggest takeaway from tonight for me was the reminder that change begins with me.

It's easy to want to blame others for our failures and mistakes, but we need to own up to our own actions and take personal responsibility for them. We need to stop expecting hand-outs or expecting the government to be the solution. Change begins with me.

I read a book earlier this week called Do Hard Things and one of the quotes from that book really stuck out to me: "What each of us will become later in life largely depends on what we become now."

What are you doing now to be where you want to be next year or in five years or in twenty-five years? Don't just wait around for a lightning bolt to strike you and change your life. Start setting goals, start taking steps, and start seeing results. Change begins with you.

Stop participating in this recession by letting the fear-mongering talking heads bring you down. Get up and get busy living your life, pursuing your goals, and making a difference in your future and in the lives of those around you.

And remember, that the greatest hope and change you can ever have is found in Jesus Christ.

If you missed tonight's broadcast, you can read Passionate Homemaker's live-blogged post here. Also, be sure to check out the Three Things You Can Do to Choose to Commit to Hope.

23 Apr 2009   ·   31
Money Saving Mom

Reminder: Tonight is the Town Hall for Hope!


When just about every media outlet and
talking head out there would have you think our world is coming to an
end, Dave Ramsey is here to sound a message of hope–something we could all use a good dose of right now.

Tonight (April 23, 2009) at 8 PM EDT, Dave Ramsey will be hosting a free nationwide Town Hall for Hope:

Town Hall for Hope is your opportunity to sit
down with people in your community for a nationwide town hall
meeting led by Dave Ramsey. Thousands of venues across the
country will host the event, broadcasting Dave's live
presentation. In the opening half hour, Dave will offer straight
talk about the economy, recession, foreclosures and more.
He'll carefully explain where we've come from, where we are now,
and what we should be doing with our money during this time.
Then, Dave will spend an hour answering your questions

Go here to see what venues in your area are hosting this event. 

Will you be attending? I hope so!

I am so disappointed because my head cold (yes, the same one I had most of last week!) has gotten worse instead of better this week and morphed into the most awful sinus infection I've ever had, so I'm not going to be able to go tonight unless I have some miraculous recovery in the next few hours. However, my hubby is going and I'm hopeful he'll be able to take it all in so he can come home and tell me all about it!

I've been searching high and low to find a webcast of it, but so far I've been unsuccessful. Anyone know if there is going to be a live webcast available online for this event?

18 Apr 2009   ·   165
Money Saving Mom

Anyone have an incredible homemade macaroni and cheese recipe?

I was making my menu for this next week and was suddenly hit with the urge to make homemade macaroni and cheese this coming week. Not only is cheese is so inexpensive right now, but I'm pretty sure homemade macaroni and cheese constitutes a "quick, easy, and frugal meal".

There's only one problem: I have yet to come across a winner recipe for homemade macaroni and cheese. I've tried a number of them and they either turned out soggy or dry or not cheesy enough or something or other.

But I'm not convinced its impossible to make yummy homemade macaroni and cheese. In fact, a few times in my life I've tasted some that was exceptional but I was never able to get a hold of those recipes.

So help me out here with my pregnant cravings, will you? Do you have a blue-ribbon homemade macaroni and cheese recipe? I'd love to get my hands on it and try it out. Post the link to the recipe in the comments section or email it to me. I'd be immensely grateful! And I promise that when I find a really good recipe, I'll be sure to share it here.

18 Apr 2009   ·   33
Money Saving Mom

Super Savings Saturday (and what are your quick, easy, and frugal meal ideas?)

This was my week off from shopping since I'm currently doing the shopping-every-other-week experiment so I spent no money on groceries. And do you know how nice it was to have plenty of food on hand and not have to worry about shopping? I haven't felt well most of this week (a bad head cold combined with being 38 weeks pregnant has left me fairly exhausted most days) so I was so thankful we were just able to stay home and eat from our stockpile.

Before I came down with my head cold, I did have a chance to have a Baking Day (you can read about that here, in case you missed it). I'm so glad I did that because not only did we finish filling up our freezer with snacks and meals for after the baby comes, but it also meant we had some quick and easy snacks on hand for the girls and Jesse to eat while I haven't been feeling well. Also, having chicken cooked up meant I could easily whip up a simple casserole or pizza this week without a lot of effort so we didn't fall back on carryout–something which I find easy to do when I'm not feeling well and haven't prepared some things for the freezer.

One thing I've really been finding recently is that having frozen veggies, muffins and rolls, and cooked chicken and ground beef in the freezer, along with some fresh fruit in the refrigerator, and a number of staples in the cupboards guarantees I'm able to put together a very simple and healthful dinner in minutes, all for a fraction of what we'd pay for picking up something at a restaurant.

Two of our favorite quick and easy meals:

Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole–I cook and freeze up rice ahead of time and use cooked and chopped chicken from the freezer and then add in frozen broccoli, shredded cheese, cream soup, salt and pepper, and maybe butter and an egg or two. Using pre-cooked rice and chicken from the freezer, I can put this together in five minutes or so and then bake it for 350 degrees for 30 to 45 minutes. While it's baking, I add some rolls or muffins from the freezer, some green beans, and some fruit and you have dinner in less than 20 minutes of preparation time!

Homemade Chicken Salsa Pizza–I use frozen homemade pizza dough and cooked and chopped chicken from the freezer. I just set it out around lunch time and then 30 minutes before dinner roll out the pizza dough, spread on some salsa or barbecue sauce, and then sprinkle on the cooked and chopped chicken, and generously sprinkle with shredded cheese and bake it (more detailed directions here). While the pizza is baking, add some fruit salad and some veggies and dinner is done in less than 30 minutes.

By not shopping this week and by having a plan for simple dinners to fall back on instead of carryout, we saved quite a bit of money this week. And it's these little things can really add up over time to make for Super Savings!

By the way, do you have any quick, easy, and frugal meal ideas your family falls back on during busy weeks or when you are feeling exhausted or sick? I'd love to hear them!


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.

Note: 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

15 Apr 2009   ·   35
Money Saving Mom

Baking Day Wrap-Up

Finally, everything off the Baking Day list is done! And I have decided our After-the-Baby Freezer Stash is officially complete since our basement freezer is stuffed with the makings of 25 meals plus rolls, muffins, and banana bread! (You can see the full list of everything we made complete with recipe links here.)

It will be so nice to not have to worry about cooking or baking or shopping for at least a month or so after the baby is born. I’m definitely hoping this will not only save us time and money, but will make the transition from two little ones to three little ones go more smoothly. Now if only I could find a way to do a month’s worth of laundry ahead of time, we’d be all set! 🙂

Here were the results of the baking we did yesterday and this morning:


3 dozen Banana Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
1 1/2 dozen Whole Wheat French Bread Rolls
3 dinner’s worth of Calzone dough
1 dozen Super Power Muffins
3 bags cooked and chopped chicken
2 loaves Banana Bread

Did you have a chance to do any baking this week? If so, post about it
on your blog and leave your link below to your direct blog post. I’d
love it especially if you could share pictures and recipes so I can get
more ideas for my next Baking Day projects! And I’m guessing many
others would be inspired as well.

14 Apr 2009   ·   25
Money Saving Mom

Baking Day – Part 3


The Whole Wheat French Bread Rolls just came out of the oven and can I say "yum"? I love their crispier crust and yet they are still light and fluffy inside. This recipe is definitely a winner. It would be especially delicious served with butter and honey. And best of all, these were quite easy to make.

While they were baking, I was inspired by FishMama to whip up some Calzone dough to stick in the freezer for after the baby is born. I'm not sure whether I'll do calzones or pizza with them but I know that already having the dough made up will be a huge time-saver!


Putting everything in the bread machine and running it made this dough incredibly simple to do. I didn't feel like it turned out quite as nicely as my usual Homemade Pizza Dough recipe, but it still seemed like it will be pretty good. I'll be anxious to use it and see how it ends up working out.


We also made the Pumpkin Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins. These are definitely a somewhat-healthier alternative to the usual Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins we make and they are quite scrumptious. Plus, it's another great way to use up going-bad bananas–something we often seem to have around here!

I'm taking another break to drink some water and put my feet up and then we'll tackle the Banana Bread, cooking up some chicken, and cleaning up the kitchen. We're having leftovers for dinner tonight, along with the French Bread Rolls, so I'm hopeful the kitchen can be all back in order by dinner time.

14 Apr 2009   ·   19
Money Saving Mom

Baking Day – Part 2

We started off the morning with making juice for breakfast. Sadly, I can't drink fresh juice right now due to my heartburn/reflux, but the rest of the family thoroughly enjoyed it. And then I cleaned up the kitchen and started the dishwasher so we could begin our baking with an orderly work space.

After that, I mixed up the dough for the Whole-Wheat French Bread Rolls. While the yeast, sugar, and water were sitting for ten minutes, I whipped up the Super Power Muffins and got those into the oven.


Then it was back to finish up the roll dough and get that rising.

The muffins came out looking pretty scrumptious and the family taste-testing of them went over fairly well. So I'm guessing these will be something I'll definitely be making again. They were a little more dessert-like than muffin-like, but considering they have peanut butter, bananas, and whole-wheat flour, there's quite a bit of nutrition in them as well.


I added in an extra mashed banana instead of the applesauce or carrot puree and also added in a little more than the called for amount of chocolate chips. Next time, I'd like to try adding in carrot puree and see how that goes over.

I'm drinking some water and putting my feet up for a little while and then it's back to the kitchen to finish the rolls and make more muffins.

If you're baking today, I'd love to hear how it's coming along.

14 Apr 2009   ·   37
Money Saving Mom

Baking Day – Part 1

(My cheerful little 4-year-old who will be helping me in the kitchen today!)

I found this recipe yesterday and it inspired me to have another Baking Day. Our freezer is fairly well-stocked, but since I'm not exactly sure when this baby will be coming, I figured it wouldn't hurt to bake up a few more things to add to our After-The-Baby Freezer Stash or maybe to eat before the baby comes. 🙂

Considering I'm almost 38 weeks pregnant, I'm not planning a long list of baking projects to tackle as I never know when my energy might run out. However, I'm thinking I can manage the following short list today. Or at least try to accomplish it–we'll see how far I get!

To bake today:

Whole-Wheat French Bread Rolls
Super Power Muffins
Banana Pumpkin Muffins
Banana Bread x 2

If I get really ambitious, I might also cook up, chop, and freeze some chicken breasts, too.

Want to join me in the kitchen today? I'll post pictures of our progress throughout the day and will host a Mr. Linky at the conclusion so you can share anything you've baked today, too!

If you're planning to join us, I'd love to hear what's on your list to bake today.

11 Apr 2009   ·   16
Money Saving Mom

Super Savings Saturday: My $76 shopping trip

I seem to be putting myself on an every-two-week shopping schedule, without even meaning to do so! Two weeks ago, I shopped on Monday. This week, I didn't shop until Friday. So it wasn't quite two weeks, but it was close. And then I went 16 or 17 days between shopping trips the previous two weeks.

I'm beginning to think maybe this is not that bad of an idea because not only does it save me time but it also is saving us money. I'm not sure what it is, but I can't bring myself to spend more than $80 in a shopping trip, so if I only go every two weeks, that brings our grocery budget back down to our usual $40/week budget.

So I'm considering making the switching–at least for the next few months while we adjust to having a new baby at our house. We'll see. I could change my mind, but I think I'm going to give a shot for at least a month or two and see how it goes!

Here's what we bought at Aldi and Dillon's yesterday:

You can tell I'm getting closer to the end of my pregnancy (I'm "full-term" now by the way–an update is here, in case you're interested!) because my shopping trips are including more convenience foods in them these days. I love to make almost everything from scratch, but I also am a firm believer that there is a time and place to cut myself some slack.

On the days when I feel energized, I do some cooking and baking. Other days, when I'm feeling exhausted, we stick to really simple meals and snacks. In the long run, I'd much rather that we have quick and easy things to eat at home, than to fall back on fast food or carryout because I'm too tired to make lunch or dinner.

To recap some of our grocery shopping trip highlights:


We picked up some staple items, produce sale items, and a few snack foods at Aldi and spent a total of $23 there. I'm so excited that cheese is $1.29 for 8 oz. at Aldi right now, as opposed to the $1.99 it was all Winter long. We love cheese and can go through quite a bit of it, so the reduced price is definitely a welcome thing! And I also found King's Hawiian Rolls reduced to $0.99! Yum!


My best scores were strawberries for $1.47/package, a bag of 100% Natural chicken breasts for $5.98, Gillette Body Wash for $0.50 each, and a few reduced items like Blue Bunny ice cream for $1.25! All totaled, I spent $53 at Dillons, which I was really happy about considering I got two packages of diapers in addition to a number of sacks of food.

You can check out more details on some of the deals I snagged here. (Our Dillons didn't have exactly the same prices, but many of them were very similar.)

All in all, it was a great shopping trip and I'm pretty sure I'll have enough food to last us for the next two weeks without a problem.


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.

Note: 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.

10 Apr 2009   ·   12
Money Saving Mom

Guest Post: Three Rules to Remember When Grocery Shopping


photo by appaloosa

Guest Post by Sharon from the Good, True, and Beautiful blog

I’ll admit, I’m no math whiz. It’s been a long time since I’ve had to take the SAT exam and I can’t remember much of my high school algebra and geometry (how do you calculate the hypotenuse of a triangle? I have no idea).

Most of the time this isn’t a big problem for me, but lately I’ll find myself standing in the middle of the grocery store trying to figure out the best deal, after coupons, with doubled coupons, by the ounce, pound or liter and my poor mind just goes blank.

Without a doubt, the $1.00 I used to buy my pocket calculator has returned its investment many times over. I have it attached to my price book and it gets a good workout on most grocery trips. Juggling coupons, shopping lists, fliers, and a toddler keep my brain busy enough; I’ll let my calculator tell me the price per ounce on Parmesan cheese!

So, having acknowledged my lack of mathematical prowess, I am glad to share with you my “Three Rules to Remember” when it comes to maximizing the value of coupons and grocery store promotions.  I hope they help you as much as they help me:

1) For marked down meats, buy the smallest package with the biggest discount. One of my favorite ways to save money is to be on the lookout for “late date” items in the butcher section. I can get great deals on chicken, fish, or meat that’s perfectly fine, as long as I put it in the freezer that night. My store will discount the item on the sell-buy date, and I will often see stickers for $1 off, $2 off, even $4 off items!

So how can you make the most of these deals? You need to make sure that the $ off coupon represents the greatest percentage possible. A $2 off coupon will be a greater discount on a $4.00 package than it would be on a $4.50 package. So, go for the smaller package and maximize the savings.

2) When there is a Buy One, Get One Free sale, purchase items which are close in price. My local grocery will often have Buy One, Get One promotions on meat and poultry and, like most stores, they charge for the more expensive item and then you get a like item for free.

These deals can be thought of as a 50% discount, but only if you keep the price of the two items as close as possible. If you spend $10 on one item and get a $6 item for free, you are getting $16 worth of meat for $10.00 (a savings of 40%). But if you buy two items that are both $8.00 you’ll have the same $16 worth of meat for only $8.00 (a 50% savings)!

3) If you have a "$ off when you buy $$" coupon, stay close to the "when you buy" number! This is a strategy that is particularly useful at drugstores, which will regularly offer some version of the “$ off when you buy $$” promotions (CVS just emailed me a “$5 off when you buy $20” as I write this!). 

In order to leverage the full value of these discounts–and minimize your out of pocket costs–stay as close to the “when you buy number” as possible. It all comes back to the percentages. You want to make sure that the discount represents the greatest percentage of your purchase possible.

It’s also important to remember that the store is using that coupon to make you think that you’re getting a good deal and then tempt you to spend more than you planned. But if you keep your focus on hitting the "when you buy" number, you can win at this game!

Armed with these three simple rules, I’m confident I’ll make my dollar stretch as far as possible. And if I'm not sure what the best deal is, I'm glad I can always whip out my handy-dandy calculator!

Sharon is the woman behind the Good, True, and Beautiful blog and is learning how to live abundantly on a budget! After 15 years of a successful corporate life, she is now applying her business skills to the best job of all–mom. She lives on a small farm in Upstate NY with her husband and infant son.