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5 Jun 2008   ·   12
Money Saving Mom

Reader Tips: Aldi, EcoBunga!, All You, more!

Aldi Now Stocking Organic Milk – From Saralyn:

Has anyone else noticed that Aldi is
now carrying organic milk? I saw it yesterday. It’s $2.99 a half
gallon. That’s still more expensive than a whole gallon of regular milk
at their store but less than the price of organic at other stores.
According to their website they’re stocking other organic items in their Australia stores.  Maybe we’ll be next.  Organic Aldi; who knew?

EcoBunga!: A Directory of Eco-Friendly Deals – From Karen:

Given your audience of thrifty moms, I thought you might like to learn about “Ecobunga!” (http://www.ecobunga.com), a brand new directory that lists hundreds of eco-friendly giveaways and deals – everything from sweepstakes for hybrid cars to coupons for organic foods.

In fact, just this week our featured deals include coupons for Organic Valley dairy products, savings on ZenSoy beverages, a sweepstakes for a Prius, and a cool contest from Whirlpool for moms with green business ideas (the winner gets $7000 in cash – not too shabby!).

My business partner Jen and I were inspired to create Ecobunga! when we learned that the 2007 GfK Roper Green Gauge Study cited cost as the top reason shoppers were reluctant to go green.  Well, we figured if price is holding folks up, let’s find them a deal!

All You: Subscription Deal – From Joanne:

You can get a two-year subscription to All You magazine at www.QSP.com. That’s the best deal I’ve seen out there for this magazine filled with such great coupons!

Alphabetical Listing of Current Coupons – From Kristin:

I found this on slickdeals and it has been very helpful to me. It’s an alphabetical list of all non expired insert coupons and which insert to find them in.   

Dollar General: New Rebate Program – From Lori:

Are you aware that Dollar General has now begun a rebate
program like Walgreens’s?  I noticed their flier in the Sunday paper
included rebates for products like Aquafresh, Bic shavers, Lysol,
Nabisco snacks, General Mills cereals, Kleenex, and lots of others.
None of the items are free after rebate, but I thought it might be an
option for people who don’t have a Walgreens or CVS nearby.

4 Jun 2008   ·   69
Money Saving Mom

Less is More: Lessons from our little basement apartment

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A lot of you know that my husband and I spent the first three and half years of our marriage with him in law school and us living on a part-time income. We never went hungry and we always had a roof over our head and clothes to wear, but it was a very lean time.

During those years, we lived in a little basement apartment that only had four windows on one side. I could plug the vacuum cleaner into one outlet and vacuum the entire apartment without ever switching outlets.

We only had one old vehicle almost the entire law school tenure and Jesse usually used it for transportation from work and school. We knew hardly anyone in town we lived in–in spite of many efforts to try and make friends–and there were really not any safe places I could walk to from our apartment.

It would have been easy to have been swallowed up in despair and I won’t pretend there weren’t moments when I felt sorry for myself or wished we could be living in a little better circumstances. However, I decided, with God’s help, to try and make the most of what might seem like a less-than-ideal situation.

Maybe we didn’t have money to go out, but I challenged myself to think up creative ways we could still have fun without spending money. We’d check out a movie from the
library and have homemade pizza. In the Winter, we’d brew some coffee, pop some popcorn, and play a board game. Sometimes, we’d go to the park with a picnic or we’d browse the book selection at Barnes and Noble.

We didn’t have money to spend on decorating our home, but I still found ways to make it homey and inviting. For starters, I tried to always keep it clean and
clutter-free–even if it wasn’t very pretty, at least it could smell nice and look clean! We tried to have music playing in the background and that always spruced up a rather bare home, too.

We couldn’t afford fancy foods or restaurant meals, but that didn’t mean we couldn’t eat well. I had fun trying new recipes, searching out good deals, and stretching our grocery budget as far as possible. I discovered AllRecipes.com and enjoyed using their ingredient search feature to come up with new recipes to use what I already had on hand.

Instead of going out and buying things, I’d go to the library and check out a stack of books. Sometimes we’d check out CD’s too, so we’d have new music to play in our home throughout the week.

It was also in this little basement apartment that I first began blogging and tinkering around with online entrepreneurial things. Had it not been for the free time and lack of friends, I would have never even considered pursuing blogging or had the time to learn about basic web design, online marketing, or producing an ebook or ecourse. Little did I dream that in a few years, those same skills would allow me to help supplement our family’s income by doing something I very much enjoy while keeping my priorities as a wife and mother first and foremost.

And guess what? It was holed up in this little basement apartment with sometimes only $20 to spare for groceries for the week that I was searching grocery deals online and came upon this store called CVS that everyone in a now-defunct savings forum was raving about. I could never have imagined what that simple search would uncover for me that day, nor how many thousands of other individuals I’d have the opportunity to introduce to CVS as well!

Yes, living in that little basement apartment in an unfamiliar town barely squeaking by financially would never have been something I would have chosen for myself, but I’ll always be grateful God allowed me those three and half years of learning to be content, learning to love simplicity, and learning to make the most of what I had.  And I hope I never forget those lessons.

A cheerful attitude can go a long way in less-than-ideal situations; you can either complain about the thorns or you can savor the roses which bloom in the
midst of those thorns. Choose to bloom where you’re planted–even if it seems like it’s among thorns!

4 Jun 2008   ·   16
Money Saving Mom

If it weren’t for Dave Ramsey and God’s provision, I’d likely be pulling my hair out just about now

I think this is the week for everything to break down…

::Our home air-conditioning quit last Thursday. I couldn’t figure out why I was sweating and roasting all day until I went over and felt warm air blowing out of the vents. No wonder! Gratefully, we are renting right now so a quick call to our landlords, two repairmen, and a few hours later, the A/C was good as new. And just in time for this hot June weather. (How did people ever live without A/C??)

::Two days later, the A/C in my husband’s vehicle went out. He couldn’t determine the problem and ended up taking it in. We thought it was fixed, but this morning it is still not working right and there appears to be some bigger issues than just the A/C.

::As if that wasn’t enough excitement, Sunday the A/C in our van went out. The plan was to take the van in last evening to get it worked on but then the van wouldn’t even start.

We have an out-of-town funeral to attend today so we ended up finding a great deal on a rental car since neither vehicles are up for eight hours of driving. And we’ll determine what to do next when we arrive home.

One thing is for sure, it’s times like these when I am so thankful for our emergency fund! Instead of worrying about how on earth we’re going to pay for these unexpected expenses, we can just dip into our emergency fund.

This is also one of those times when you realize just how much budgeting and penny-pinching really pays off!

Thank you, God, for your kind provision for us and thank you, Dave, for all your wise financial advice! 

3 Jun 2008   ·   20
Money Saving Mom

The Two-Week Grocery Experiment: Shopping Trip

The first step in The Two-Week Grocery Experiment was to make a grocery list/rough menu based upon what we already had on hand and what was on sale at the store. None of the stores within a few minutes of our home had any really incredible deals this week, but by shopping at Hen House, Hy-Vee, and Aldi and just getting the best deals at each, I was able to pull off a pretty good shopping trip.

Here’s what I bought:

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Look at all that food; $76.48 is a lot of money to spend in one trip!

ALDI
5 loaves of bread – reduced to $0.50 each
1 package of bagels – $1.39
sandwich baggies – $1.99
animal crackers – $1.19
brown sugar – $0.99
flour – $1.70
trash bags – $2.49
carrots – $0.99
chips – $0.99
salad mix – $1.89
tortillas – $0.99
bag of oranges – $1.99
1 can refried beans – $0.59
1 can pumpkin – $0.69
2 cans diced tomatoes – $0.45 each
1 can pineapple – $0.79
8 oz. cheese – $1.89
2 bags of bananas – $1.39; $0.89
package of cherry tomatoes – $1.29
package of blueberries – $2.99
1 bag apples – $2.99

Total: $35.67

HEN HOUSE
2 cans green beans
2 2-ltr of 7-Up (on sale for $0.50 each with coupon; we only drink this when we’re sick but I like to keep some on hand so I buy it when I can get it very cheap)
2 boxes all natural Rice-A-Roni (free with coupons)
Ragu all natural pouch sauce ($0.40 with coupon)
Ragu sauce ($0.66 with coupon)
Ragu cheddar sauce ($0.66 with coupon)
pasta salad mix ($0.63 with coupon)
croutons ($0.65 with coupon)
peanut butter (on sale $1.47)
Oscar Meyer all beef all natural franks (on sale $2.99)
2 lbs. fresh broccoli (on sale $0.99/lb)
5 bags frozen vegetables (corn, peas, broccoli, spinach, mixed veggies – on sale $0.58/bag)
2 packages deli sliced cheese (on sale $1.39)
1 package english muffins (on sale $1.25)
Yoplait kids drink 6-pk ($1.48 with coupon–treat for the girls who came shopping with me!)
2 packages Yo-Plus yogurt 4-pks ($1.16 each with coupon)
1/2 gallon whole milk from local farm – $3.19

Total: $26.50 (saved $25.84 with coupons/sales)

HY-VEE
Butter – $1.59
Birdseye Steamfresh veggies – used free coupon
Huggies CleanTeam wipes – free with coupon
Ronzoni pasta- $0.59 with coupon
5 Muir Glen organic tomato paste – free with $1/1 coupons
1 quart vanilla yogurt – $1.59
Plasticware – $0.77 with coupon
3 lbs onions – on sale for $0.69/lb
2 pkgs. Smart Chicken thighs – marked down to $2.20 and $1.95
5 lb bag of potatoes – $1.48

Total: $13.92 (saved $15.48 with coupons/sales)

I also did a quick run to CVS to finish out the Playskool deal. However, after coupons and ECBs, I only spent $0.39. Yay!

All totaled, we spent $76.48–about $0.75 shy of the cash I brought. Now we just have to see if all this food lasts us for the next two weeks.

Up next: The Two-Week Menu

3 Jun 2008   ·   1
Money Saving Mom

Worth Reading: Inexpensive Graduation Gifts and “Anticipation Buying”

::Leaving Excess came up with a creative and inexpensive graduation gift idea using some of the freebies and bargains we’ve been accumulating. Read more here.

::The Simple Dollar has a great post up on "Anticipation Buying". This is really what all this bargain-shopping we talk about here is about: buy an item you’ll need to buy/use in the future when you can get it for pennies on the dollar. After a few months of stocking up like this and paying pennies instead of dollars, you’ll really start to reap the financial benefits.

3 Jun 2008   ·   102
Money Saving Mom

The Two-Week Grocery Experiment: Introduction

Since our Kroger stores have closed–and they were the source of most of my great grocery deals–I’ve been re-working my grocery shopping strategies and trying a variety of things to see what works best with the stores and deals we still have left. When there’s a will, there’s a way, right? Sometimes it just takes some creative ingenuity and thinking outside the box!

I stretched our last grocery shopping trip out to last almost 10 days, so when I went shopping this week, I actually had $75 to work with, as opposed to the usual $40. (I only had $35 left from the previous week’s grocery budget because I’d done a few transactions at CVS and picked up some ice cream on sale for a treat.)

This $75 was to last us for the next week and a half but I decided to see if I could buy enough to last us for two weeks instead. I’ve never shopped for two weeks in my life, nor have I ever spent $75 on one grocery outing (save for back in the days when I wasn’t married yet and was doing the shopping for my parents and six siblings!), but I figured I might as well try it and see what happens.

While I have yet to see if the groceries I bought do indeed last us for two weeks, I have already noticed two things:

1) I spent less time buying groceries.

I usually spend approximately 30-45 minutes planning the weekly grocery trip including going through the sale ads, matching the sales with coupons, pulling the coupons, making my lists, and writing a rough menu plan. (I often don’t write the final menu plan until I arrive home from the store as I sometimes substitute and make changes while at the store if I find an exceptional deal.)

My weekly shopping trip (usually hitting between 2-3 stores) normally takes me around 2 hours, including driving time.

Instead of doubling that time to shop for two weeks, I actually only spent around 45 minutes of preparation time and just under 3 hour of shopping time. So, I shaved off around an hour to an hour and a half of time by shopping for two weeks’ worth of groceries.

2) I was able to stockpile more than usual.

I’m not sure what it was, but something about having $75 to spend gave me more wiggle room to stock up. For example, I found loaves of bread at Aldi reduced to $0.50/loaf. On our usual $40/week plan, I likely would have bought two–twice what we normally buy for a week. Instead, I was able to afford to buy six loaves which I stuck in the freezer and will likely last us for at least five weeks.

I also bought 5-7 other items I probably would not have been able to wing in our usual budget; I’m not sure why that was but I seemed to get more bang for my buck with more money to spend. I’m still pondering that phenomenon!

And do you know how much $75 can buy at the grocery store? I felt like I’d just become independently wealthy or something when I unloaded all those groceries onto the belt at the checkout stand! In the next installment in this series, I’ll share what all I bought for $75. Stay tuned.

I’ve always said that shopping every week is likely the best way to maximize on sales and deals since store sales usually change each week. However, after noticing the time saved and my ability to stockpile more with two week’s worth of grocery money, I’m wondering if perhaps that’s not always the case. I’ll tell you how it goes and what my conclusions are in this The Two-Week Grocery Experiment series.

How often do you shop? Do you think that shopping every week is the best strategy? I’d love to hear!

2 Jun 2008   ·   46
Money Saving Mom

Ask the readers: When do you clip coupons?

Emily wrote:

I’ve been reading your blog for a while now, and I love all the
helpful tips and advance notice on deals. I’m a recent homeschool
graduate headed to a Christian college in the fall. I have been
stocking up on toiletry items for about a month now, and I’ve saved
lots of money! I’m trying to cut my expenses for next semester.

A lot of people I’ve talked to say that they don’t have the time
to clip coupons and plan detailed shopping trips. I, too, had time
fitting it in at first, but I’ve found a couple of ways to redeem my
time that i wanted to pass along.
 
– Listen to something while you clip coupons. I’ve been listening to the Old Testament, for about an hour every Sunday evening.

– Clip and plan while in the car. Obviously this won’t work well
for moms, but for people like me who are not the primary drivers it can
be a great use of time.

I normally clip coupons when I am on the phone or when we’re watching our Friday night family movie. I’ve also been known to clip coupons while talking with a friend, while on long drives (with my husband driving, of course!), or while I’m watching the girls play outside.

I pretty much always multi-task when it comes to coupon-clipping so it really doesn’t take me any extra time; I just fit it in while I’m doing something else that I’m already planning to do anyway.

What about you? When do you clip coupons?

2 Jun 2008   ·   44
Money Saving Mom

CVS: A few updates

It is being reported that the CVS bandages (June monthly deal) are actually a limit of 3 not a limit of 2 as advertised. Let us know if you try this and it works for you.

Donna also commented and said she bought two of the Listerine for Kids (June monthly deal) and her receipt didn’t say she’d reached her limit. So it is possible this is also a limit of 3, not 2, as advertised. Again, let us know if you try it and it works.

Glade Air Fresheners are on sale for $0.88 this week. You can get them free using the $1/1 coupons which were in the April All You magazine or in the coupon booklets in May Country Living magazines. I’ve also seen these in a few other magazines.

There are reports of some CVS stores having boxes of Malt-O-Meal cereal in a special display or endcap for $1 each. Use this $1/1 coupon here and get them free.

30 May 2008   ·   15
Money Saving Mom

Super Savings Saturday: CVS and freebies

We have yet to go grocery shopping this week so I haven’t much to report here. We’ve been well-stocked here so I was able to extend last week’s groceries for a few extra days–I love it when that happens!

We’re out of milk now, though, so I’m planning to make my weekly trip tomorrow. I’ll post about tomorrow’s shopping trip early next week and also share our menu for the week since so many of you have requested I continue to post our menus. Stay tuned!

We didn’t do our major grocery trip of the week yet, however, we did make two trips to CVS on various errand outings and I
also quickly stopped by Price Chopper for some $1.88 Blue Bunny ice
cream (!).

You can see one of our CVS shopping trips here and just for fun you can also see some of the freebies we got in our mailbox this week here.

——————-
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.

30 May 2008   ·   0
Money Saving Mom

Keeping it simple!

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It’s Frugal Friday over on my other blog and I’m talking about ways we save money by keeping it simple. Here’s a snippet:

Here are just a few ways we keep things simple at our home and save time, energy, and money:

::We drink primarily water. Aside from my daily pot of tea and our occasional splurge on soda, coffee, or juice, we keep it simple by drinking water. Hey, it might be boring, but it’s good for you!

::We stick to simple meals. Our meals are usually two to four simple items (and most recipes have six ingredients or less) and most of our dinners can be made in 30 minutes or 

crockpot and bread machine, and am constantly on the lookout for new ways to streamline and be more efficient in the kitchen.


::We try to only have what we need and use.

A few examples:

   

Clothes/Accessories – We each only have around 6-8 outfits and 2-3 pair of shoes per season. I only have two pair of earrings and wear pretty much the same make up and hair style for every occasion.

Go here to read the full post and tell us about some things you do to save money by keeping it simple.

I’d love to have you leave a link to your frugal tip, too!

30 May 2008   ·   14
Money Saving Mom

CVS: Trip #2

Our first CVS trip of this week (on Memorial Day) was a near-disaster and since I like to keep things positive here, I’ll spare you the details of the difficult cashier. Needless to say, we have moved on to greener CVS pastures and will not be returning to that store. 🙂

(For all you newbies, let me reassure you that this has only happened to us twice in our history of hundreds of CVS transactions, so please know that it is a rare thing. And both times it has been the case of a cashier/manager completely misunderstanding the ECB program.)

We went over to a friend’s house for lunch on Tuesday, so we did CVS trip #2 on our way home. It was a much better trip and it helped re-energize me regarding the wonderful CVS deals. (I was almost considering quitting there for all of two seconds after the trying ordeal we went through on Monday so a great CVS run was exactly the antidote needed!)

Here’s what we got:

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(Just overlook the fact that one of the waters is almost empty; I was thirsty after all that shopping! And the waters are surprisingly good!)

1 package of Playskool diapers – 10.99
1 3-pack of rolaids -$2.19
4 Sobe Life Waters  -$1 each
2 double-packs of Excedrin – $1.99 each

Used $3/15
1 $2/1 Playskool coupon
2 B1G1 Sobe coupons
2 $2/1 Excedrin coupons
Paid with the remainder in ECBs
Spent $0.95 out of pocket
Got $2 and $2 ECBs back

You can find more info on these deals and coupons here.

I’m making at least one more trip this week to finish out the May ECB deals and the Playskool deal and then it’s on to June!

30 May 2008   ·   5
Money Saving Mom

CVS: Check your inbox for coupons

CVS just released some more coupons so go check your inboxes!

Heidi got two coupons, one for $4/1 Viactiv Flavor Glides and one for $5/2 Ellin Lavar hair care products. Here are the deals she came up with for those who also got these coupons:

Buy 1 Viactiv Flavor Guide at $8.99
Use $4/1 off Viactiv Flavor Glides Calcium CVS coupon (expires 6/1/08)
Stack with $2/1 coupon from 5/11 Redplum insert.
Get $3 ECBs (May monthly deal)
Free after coupons and ECBs!

Buy 2 Ellin Lavar hair care products on sale 2/$10
Use $5/2 Ellin Lavar coupon (expires 6/1/08)
Get $4 ECBs (May monthly deal)
$0.50 each after coupons and ECBs!

See all CVS deals for this week here.   

Many people are also reporting lots of markdowns at their store on Essence of Beauty items, hair care products, and make up. Be sure to check for clearance tags!

30 May 2008   ·   17
Money Saving Mom

Reader Tips: GroceryGuide.com, Publix, Target Gift Registry, Angel Food Ministries

GroceryGuide.com: Helpful Site for Matching Coupons and Sales – From Tim:

I found this website this morning that is perfect for helping with grocery trips especially when couponing and comparing and wondered if you had heard about it. GroceryGuide.com. It lets you choose multiple grocery stores to compare all the current deals running at all of them and then beside each search result it has a "Coupon" button that will pull up all coupons that have been issued for that item, which book they were printed in (Smartsource, Redplum, etc) and what date they were printed. And it only shows you coupons that have not expired yet! It also tells you when the sale on that item ends and you can add individual items to shopping lists and then print out those lists at the end.

Publix: Bloom; Bloom Coupons Accepted – From Jennifer:

I am in Greenville, SC where we have a grocery store by the name
of Bloom; Bloom has been sending out a month’s worth of $10 off of a
$35 dollar grocery purchase. Publix accepts these coupons, and I take
them there because Publix doubles manufacturer coupons and Bloom does
not. I have made out like a bandit by combining the manufacturer
coupons with Publix sales and using my coupon from Bloom! I think last
week I got about $60 of groceries for $27.

Target: Free Gifts For Setting Up a Gift Registry – From Megan:

I’m engaged and my fiance and I signed up at Target online for our
gift registry. Target sent us a cute tote bag and a great book of
coupons–including a coupon for two free sodas and two free popcorns at
their cafe, a free chocolate bar, even a free 6" wedding cake at
SuperTarget!

Angel Food Ministries – From Beth:

I thought I’d share a tip that saves the moms in this area money.  Local churches are partnering with a ministry called Angel Food Ministries.  At first glance, it looks like a site to help the poor, but if you contact them, it’s not.  It’s for everyone and everyone is encouraged to take advantage.  In fact, the majority of the people who take advantage of the program are middle class families. 

Each month, they offer approximately $60-80 in groceries for $30.  The food is very good quality (restaurant-grade), though not always name brand.  In addition, you can purchase special offers, like last month they had a grill box and steak box.  I use this to stock my freezer full of meat.  You can go to the site to see next month’s menu.  In December, they always have a wonderful Christmas menu and a special fruit box that is delicious (and makes a good gift)! 

Just call your host site (find it on the website) and find out how you can sign up.  Boxes feed a family for a week or a single adult for a month.  You can buy as many boxes as you want, but you have to buy the main box to take advantage of special offers.  On pick up day, bring a clothes basket or something to put your food in.  At my host site, they put everything in my box and put it in my van, so I’m in and out in under 5 minutes with all three of my kids in tow.  It’s the fastest shopping trip ever!

Some churches encourage you to donate the money you save to help a family in need or to buy an extra box to help a family in need, but you don’t have to.  I donate items in the boxes I won’t use to my church’s program to help feed the hungry.

30 May 2008   ·   11
Money Saving Mom

In my mailbox: A whole load of freebies!

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Ever since I started signing up for freebies, I just love getting the mail! Above is pictured what came in the mail on Tuesday:

Free Playtex bottle (get yours here)

Free American Baby magazine

Free book from PaperBackSwap (oh, how I need that book!) (Sign up here for this fun book swapping program. You pay only postage to swap and can also earn free books by referring others!)

Free Emergen-C samples (get yours here–click on "Share the Good")

Free On-The-Go Drink samples with a coupon (freebie no longer available)

Free Colgate toothpaste with a coupon (freebie no longer available)

And four free full-size bottles of Wish-Bone’s new Bountifuls dressing, courtesy of Wish-Bone as a special sneak preview of this brand-new dressing–it’s really good, by the way, and you’ll definitely want to consider getting your own bottle with their free-after-rebate offer here.

Here are two new freebie offers:


Free NatureMade vitamins


Free Folgers Gourmet coffee samples (for those who have a business)

What freebies have you received recently?

28 May 2008   ·   7
Money Saving Mom

Freebies for children

Half Price Books: Free Cici’s Buffet or $3 gift card for reading – From Sheila:

Kids 10 and under can earn a free Cici’s kids buffet (with
purchase of an adult buffet) or a $3 Half Price Books shopping card by
reading 15 minutes for 5 days. Go here for more details.

Georgia Readers: Free book each month for children 0-5 – From Margery:

If
you live in certain counties in Georgia, and if you have children
between the ages of birth and 5 years old, you can have a free hardback
book mailed to your child every month 100% free. It’s part of a
literacy campaign by the Ferst Foundation for literacy. Readers can go
to http://ferstfoundation.org/
to check their county’s eligibility. I signed my 3-year-old up, and she
has already received two books. 

 Free Circus Ticket – From Kimberly:

Ringling
Brothers Circus has had a promotion for several years now where you can
sign up your baby for a free ticket. This has no expiration date and
can be used anytime, anywhere.  It takes a long time to get it in the mail, but I’ve done it for all 3
of my girls so far and never had a problem. We are saving our tickets
for when the girls are a little older (they are only 4, 2.5, and 1
right now).