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25 Aug 2010   ·   27
Money Saving Mom

Good Reads: The Other 8 Hours

Of all the business books I’ve read in the last five years, The Other 8 Hours: Maximize Your Free Time to Create New Wealth and Purpose is hands-down the very best one I’ve read. I underlined and marked up page after page after page. It is clear-cut, concise, packed with practical wisdom and so very true.

The author not only gives you the tools you need to transform your life and your finances, but he inspires you to dream big dreams, set big goals and then work hard to achieve them.

So many people feel stuck. Stuck in a job they don’t like. Stuck in an area of the country they don’t like. Stuck in a financial mess and feeling there is no way out.

This book gives you hope. You do have time to change your life – if you’re willing to make the most of The Other 8 Hours. Whether you’re a business executive or a stay-at-home mom, the principles and ideas contained in The Other 8 Hours could very likely change your life!

Please note: This book has a bit of crass language in it. I don’t endorse the language and wish it could have been omitted from the book because the message would have been just as strong without it.

Discovered any Good Reads recently? Tell me about them in the comments and I’ll consider adding them to my long and ever-growing book list!

24 Aug 2010   ·   66
Money Saving Mom

Nothing Says “I Love You” Like a $4 Aldi Bouquet

Last week, my husband came home with a bouquet of beautiful roses. Not for any other reason than just because.

I looked at the price tag (I know, I know, I just can’t help myself! I always look at the price tag first thing whenever I pick up anything!) and I smiled.

He knows me so well.

I love flowers – especially when my husband gives them to me at random times instead of a Hallmark holiday – but I love more the fact that my husband knows a $4 Aldi bouquet is just as beautiful to me than a $40 bouquet from a specialty shop.

23 Aug 2010   ·   41
Money Saving Mom

Becoming a Work-At-Home Mom: Learning from those who are older and wiser

My apologies that this didn’t get posted on Saturday as I’d planned. Some unexpected things came up and writing this post got ditched for more important things. If you’re new here, be sure to read the first posts in this Becoming a Work-At-Home Mom series here.

After my husband finished law school and I stopped working as a marketing manager for the homeschool magazine, I cut back significantly on the time I spent working on business endeavors. It was wonderfully freeing and I felt like I was finally able to focus on my family and home again after neglecting many things for months.

Before my daughter got up in the morning or during her afternoon naptime, I continued to work on building the blog and our online business. The blog had grown to have around 2,000 to 3,000 visitors per day, so there was an increasing load of email and comments to keep up with. Plus, our online book business was slowly picking up. There were always at least a few orders every day and when we ran sales, there’d be a slew of at least 30 to 50 orders.

I had plenty to do, but I was looking for ways to be a little more efficient and maximize the return on my investment of time when it came to business stuff. So I started spending more time learning more about monetizing a blog. I began observing other bloggers who were making a full-time income from blogging and trying to determine what made them successful and what was working for them.

I discovered that most of those who were doing well were honest, straight-forward, unique, creative and they blogged often and wrote well. I also noticed that they usually utilized multiple streams of income. In many cases, not only were they offering private ad sales, but they also had ad networks plus they participated in various affiliate marketing opportunities and some even produced ebooks and downloadable products. One thing was clear: they didn’t put all their eggs into one basket.

The thought of making a full-time income from blogging seemed utterly unattainable to me, but I remember thinking how incredible that it would be. I figured it was something only a small handful of really smart, really talented people who got in at the right time and place could ever pull off. But it fascinated me and I kept watching and learning from those who were doing it well.

At the same time, I continued to spend a lot of time writing ebooks as these were our best-selling items and required very little upfront costs. Plus, since I had set up the download process through Clickbank, unless a customer had a technical issue, the buying process was entirely automated. It wasn’t unusual for me to make between $15 and $30 per day in ebook profits. And when I ran a sale or released a new ebook, the earnings would be much higher than that.

I was encouraged and excited and I realized that the more I could automate things, the more I could increase the business income without it requiring more time and effort on my behalf.

One day, I had an idea to produce a little ebook with 10 different fast and frugal dinner menus complete with recipes and tips. I called the ebook Simply Centsible Suppers and it sold like hotcakes! After that ebook was such a success, I wrote another called Simply Centsible Breakfasts. Again, it sold really well. I was selling these ebooks for $2.97, so after the fees associated with the download, I was making less than $2 in profit per book. However, it was really apparent that I’d hit on a hot topic.

Being the entrepreneurial person I am, I started to brainstorm all sorts of things I could do with this idea. I envisioned a whole line of ebooks: Simply Centsible Snacks, Simply Centsible Side Dishes, Simply Centsible Sack Lunches… you get the picture. Then, I decided I should set up a website which was called SimplyCentsible.com that had articles on frugality and which promoted my ebooks.

I had just found out we were expecting our second child and was in the throes of morning-noon-and-night sickness, so I figured it was the perfect time for me to work on setting up a new website. And so I went to work setting up SimplyCentsible.com — a website which I thought was destined to really take off and put into practice all these monetization ideas I’d been gleaning over the past year.

My brain was spinning as I lay there day after day sick as a dog on the couch. I’d hit on a brilliant idea — or so I thought.

But time would prove that it was a very short-lived “brilliant” idea.

…To be continued on Saturday

23 Aug 2010   ·   14
Money Saving Mom

How to Get the P90X Fitness System Inexpensively

Guest post by Cassie and Michael who blog at The Thrifty Couple

Thanks to Crystal’s posts on P90X, we were inspired to purchase the P90X System ourselves. We just received ours last week and look forward to getting started. We have been wanting to try something new in an effort to try and be good stewards of all of the things the Lord has given to us — even in the area of physical health and fitness!

Being The Thrifty Couple, we have had a few people ask us how we are managing to take on a fitness program the thrifty way?

1. Order the program off of Amazon and buy it with Swagbucks.

The P90x program is priced right around $140 on Amazon. You might have enough Swagbucks to cover 25% of the cost or 50% or better yet, you could have enough Swagbucks to pay for the whole thing, which means you can get it for free.

2. Buy one off of Ebay

Find an auction that has free shipping and you can also have automatic bids placed in the increments you decide and up to a maximum amount. By doing this, set your absolute final maximum bid for a new set to be a little lower than Amazon. Amazon is your fall back!

3. Check your local classifieds.

Where we live, two of our news stations have a classified ads section on their website. Thousands of locals, including us, use these classified ads to sell and buy things each month. Just today, there are dozens of P90X ads starting at $25 for gently-used and $40 for brand-new! So whatever your main local classifieds are, definitely check there.

Here are a few suggestions of places to check for deals on P90X:

  • Ebay runs a local classified ads site.
  • Oodle.com (we saw a number of brand new sets for $50)
  • Your local newspaper classifieds
  • Check your local television station classifieds
  • Check your local Craig’s List ads as well. When we checked there for our local area, again there were a handful of new systems starting at $50.
  • Finally, check Freecycle.org and you might just score a free set.

Note from Crystal: There is a knockoff version of the P90X program out there that some are selling much more inexpensively so be aware of this when you are searching for a deal.

CJ, from My P90X Nutrition Plan recently wrote and said:

“As it turns out, the guide has obviously been copied and is rife with typos, some of which could be very damaging to people trying to follow the nutrition plan. One especially terrible one is that it says that Phase 1 Level III requires 3,800 calories a day as opposed to the 3,000 in the actual guide! One quick way folks can tell if theirs is a knockoff is that the “N” in “Nutrition Plan” is lowercase on the cover of my knockoff version.”

“I just learned that my P90X program is a KNOCKOFF! I purchased mine online from Craigslist (for around $70), and while it seemed odd that the guy was willing to sell it so cheaply, it was unopened and contained all of the materials, so I didn’t think anything of it after that.

Remember that trying to stay (or become) physically fit can be done in a thrifty, frugal manner. Always check out your options as you might just be surprised to find a much more affordable option for whatever you do. And you might find that painful process of trying to get fit is just a little less painful than you thought — well, at least in the purchasing of it!

Alex and Cassie are a frugal couple that blogs over at The Thrifty Couple. They are a Christian, homeschooling family raising 4 children. They have been learning how to live a frugal lifestyle for years — which, in fact, aided them in becoming debt-free.

Do you have an idea for a guest post? I am always looking for high-quality, original (i.e. not published anywhere else online) content with tips and ideas Money Saving Mom® readers can use. If you would like to submit a guest post, please follow the Guest Posting Guidelines.

21 Aug 2010   ·   11
Money Saving Mom

Super Savings Saturday: Dillons, Aldi and farm-fresh eggs

Dillons shopping trip: $18.34 spent — read more details on this shopping trip here.

Aldi shopping trip: approximately $16 spent (I lost the receipt, so I don’t have an exact amount.)

I used frozen fruit and veggies for the first few days of this week instead of making a trip to the store for fresh supplies as we were just getting back from our vacation to Arkansas and settling back into our routine.  So we made it through Thursday before a trip to the store was necessary (except for my husband picking up a gallon of chocolate milk and milk on his way home from work on Monday) — which definitely ended up saving us some money this week. It seems eating from the pantry and freezer always accomplishes that, doesn’t it?

We spent $18.34 at Dillons and then around $16 at Aldi. Plus, we bought two dozen farm-fresh eggs and the two gallons of milk/chocolate milk not pictured. So, all in all, we spent around $43 on groceries this week.

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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.

20 Aug 2010   ·   20
Money Saving Mom

We Paid Cash! :: My Diamond Wedding Ring

We paid cash!

Testimonial from Heather

We paid cash for my new wedding ring — today!

The Background

My boyfriend and I knew each other for 8 years and dated for a year before we decided to get married. Money was very tight so we invited close family to a small ceremony at the courthouse with a Justice of the Peace.

We didn’t have any money for a nice wedding ring since my now-husband had recently lost his job with the city. I bought a solitare ring and matching band from Claire’s that totaled less than $30. Very cheap, but hey, it worked and you wouldn’t believe the compliments I got on it!

Diamond Wedding RingOver the past year I have had to replace the cheap “costume jewelry ring” a few times but it was what the ring symbolized that was important to us.

How We Did It

We’ve saved little by little during the last 11 months hoping to save enough by the time our anniversary came up on August 26th.

My husband, after a year of unemployment, has decided to join the military and since we can take only one car with us, we sold the old clunker we rarely used and got enough to buy a new ring and have some leftover for fun money!

The Deal

The ring I found after shopping around was originally priced at $1500, on sale for $899 and I talked the sales rep down to $799 INCLUDING lifetime warranties for the gold and diamonds. $870 out the door cash for a brand new 1-carat diamond ring!

Good things come to those who wait! : )

Wedding RingHeather, husband Chris, and daughters Allison and Brooke live in Phoenix, Arizona where they live debt-free. In addition to their recent wedding ring purchase they have paid cash for their 50″ Panasonic plasma tv, new leather furniture, second car and have never paid full price for diapers!

Have you saved up and paid cash for something — large or small? Submit your story for possible publication here.

20 Aug 2010   ·  
Money Saving Mom

We Paid Cash! :: Our Adoption

We paid cash!Testimony from David and Melissa

The best piece of pre-marital advice we ever received came from my Dad just over nine years ago. He suggested that if we ever hoped to be a one-income family giving me the freedom to stay home with our children, we should budget only on that one income from day one.

We decided to take that advice to heart and right from the very beginning, my income (I’m an elementary teacher) went straight into our savings account. Over the years we’ve used those savings to help pay cash for several different things; the biggest of which was for the adoption of our daughter.

How we paid cash for adoptionThe Background

We struggled with infertility for over six years before adopting our daughter this past January. During that time we spent literally thousands and thousands of dollars on fertility treatments (including IVF). However when all of those treatments left us with only broken hearts and two miscarriages, we decided it was time to explore adoption. God came through in a truly remarkable way and provided a beautiful baby girl for us almost immediately.

Adoptions are expensive no matter how you look at them. Ours cost us in the ballpark of $15,000. I am pleased (and still a little surprised and amazed) to say that because of our sacrifice of that second income for the last 9 years, we were able to pay cash for the entire amount.

How We Did It

  • Living within our means based on my husband’s income only.
  • Never seeing what our lifestyle would feel like with two incomes.
  • Putting the second income (minus tithe) entirely into our savings account.
  • Using extreme self-control and resist the temptation to take annual trips to Disney World with those saved funds. 🙂
  • Don’t spend the money until enough has been saved.
  • We have made the personal choice to pay cash for everything except our house. If we don’t have the cash for it, we don’t buy it.

Next Steps

Now that I’m finally a mom, it was a real dilemma whether to now stay home with our daughter or return to work.  Knowing that our ability to adopt again is based on being able to raise another $15,000, we made the decision for me to work at least another year so that our next adoption can also be paid in cash.

We are David and Melissa Gafford and we have a 7 month old daughter named Addison. You can read more about our adoption story on our blog.

19 Aug 2010   ·   59
Money Saving Mom

Tonight’s Dillons shopping trip: Nine boxes of Cheerios for $0.48 each and more!

The children and I went to Dillons tonight and here’s what we ended up buying:

3 bottles of Sobe — on sale for $0.49 when you bought 8 participating products, used 1 Buy One Get One Free printable coupon which took off $0.99, so all three were only $0.49 total after the coupon

1 bag of organic cheese puffs — $1.66

2 jars of peanut butter — $1 each

2 16-oz. packages of cheddar cheese — on sale for $2.79 each when you buy 8 participating items, plus used a $1/2 coupon making them only $2.22 each

1 ThinkThin bar — on sale for $1.25, used $0.50/1 coupon (doubled), $0.25 after coupon

1 package Goldfish — on sale for $1.25, used $0.50/1 coupon (doubled), $0.25 after coupon

2 4-packs of YoPlus yogurt — on sale for $1.79 when you bought 8 participating items, used 2 $0.50/1 coupons, $0.79 each after coupons

4 bottles Snapple — on sale for $1.29, used $0.75/1 coupons (“doubled” to $1/1), $0.29 each after coupons

9 boxes Cheerios — on sale for $1.48 when you bought 8 participating items, used $0.50/1 coupons (doubled), $0.48 per box after coupons

After coupons, I paid $18.34. According to my receipt, I saved $52.12, or 76% (not that I’d pay some of those inflated retail prices, but…)

Here are some other deals which are available:

Chex Mix or Gardetto’s Snack Mix (7-8.75 oz.) – $1.49
Use $0.50/1 printable here or $1/1 Chipotle Cheddar Chex Mix, 4.5 oz+ (IE) or (FF)
$0.49 after coupons

Pillsbury Sweet Rolls — $1.19
Use $0.50/1 coupon (doubled)
$0.19 after coupon

Cocoa Puffs — $1.48
Use $0.55/1 coupon here or here (will deduct $1)
$0.48 after coupon

Betty Crocker Warm Delights — $1.46
Use $0.75/1 coupon from the 8/8 General Mills insert (will deduct $1)
$0.46 after coupon

Hamburger Helper — $0.89
Buy 3 and use $0.75/3 coupon (will deduct $1)
$0.56 each after coupon

Hot Pocket SideShot Sandwiches — $1.64
Use $1/1 coupon
$0.64 each after coupon

Progresso Soup — $1.19
Buy 2 and use $1/2 coupon
$0.69 each after coupon

Simply Go-Gurt — $1.79 (our store does not carry this, hopefully yours does!)
Use $0.50/1 coupon (doubled)
$0.79 after coupon

Fiber One Cereal Bars $1.99
Use $0.50/1 coupon (doubled)
$0.99 after coupon

Nature Valley Granola Bars — $1.99
Use $0.50/1 coupon (doubled)
$0.99 after coupon

Plus, there’s also a catalina deal running on Nature Valley and Fiber One Bars through September 5, 2010 (thanks to the commentors who alerted me to this!):

Buy 3, Get $1.50 catalina good on your next order
Buy 4, Get $2.50 catalina good on your next order
Buy 5, Get $3.50 catalina good on your next order

*Deal Idea*

Buy 5 Nature Valley or Fiber One Bars $1.99 each + 3 other participating items
Use 5 $0.50/1 coupons (doubled)
Spend $4.98 out of pocket, plus the costs of the 3 other participating items
Get $3.50 catalina good on your next order
So, after the coupons and catalina, you will only be paying $0.30 per box of Fiber One or Nature Valley Bars — which is an exceptional deal!

Huggies Little Snugglers Diapers — $8.49
Use $2/1 coupon
$6.49 after coupon

19 Aug 2010   ·   60
Money Saving Mom

Priceless

Our little Silas (15 months old): Busy boy, into everything, bringing perpetual joy and smiles into our home, always up for hugs and cuddles and my precious Mommy’s Boy.

Kaitlynn (3): Girly girl who finally mastered potty-training and got to get her ears pierced (much to her great delight!), lover of dresses and hair bows, wannabe musician and continually surprising us with the depth of her understanding.

Kathrynne (5): Adventurous, creative, never idle, art aficionado, budding entrepreneur and quickly becoming my right hand helper (she can now clean the entire bathroom by herself; I think we’ll tackle simple cooking and laundry next!).

Life is boisterous, noisy and often messy at our house, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world — though some days a nap in a quiet room does sound awfully nice. 🙂 The smiles, the giggles, the learning and playing together, the hugs and cuddles cannot be bought with any price. And I want to overlook the dirty dishes, laundry piles and spilled milk and rejoice in God’s goodness to allow me to be mother to these three little ones. It’s only a short season and I don’t want to waste it.

Related: Amy has a excellent post on How to Sabotage Your Blog (and Your Life)

19 Aug 2010   ·   9
Money Saving Mom

Reader Tip: Free Audiobooks from Librivox

As a housewife and stay-at-home-mom, I love to listen-while-I-work. Keeps this easily-distracted momma on task. 🙂

You and your readers may be interested in www.librivox.org. This organization hosts recordings of books that are in the public domain. Volunteers read the books and submit them.

The quality varies between different recordings and as always some books are better than others but there is some good listening here! Perfect for chore time, or sit and color time, or baking a cake time or folding laundry.  I recently listened to “An Old Fashioned Girl” which was a great story. -Sarah

Have a quick money-saving tip you think others might benefit from? Drop me a line and I’ll consider posting it.

19 Aug 2010   ·   122
Money Saving Mom

An epiphany on frugality

Yesterday, after a lunch date at Jason’s Deli, my husband and I stopped by Best Buy to look into replacing my hanging-on-by-a-thread laptop that we’ve been saving up to replace over the last few months.

It’s been a long time since I’ve stepped foot in an electronics store and I was just a wee bit overwhelmed. Barely in the door, I was accosted by shiny gadgets promising to do just about everything but perform my morning workout routine (I’m still waiting for that to be invented!).

As I was browsing the aisles, seeing people paw excitedly over this blinking gadget and that flashing screen, and realizing you could spend your whole life savings in just one computer aisle alone, I was thinking about how this is just stuff.

Stuff that can serve a purpose, but can also suck your time and money.

Stuff that can bring some enjoyment, but which won’t make you happy long term.

Stuff that can aid you in your professional or personal life, but which won’t bring contentment.

Stuff that can clutter up your home, drain your energy and cost you an arm and a leg.

And right there in the middle of Best Buy, I had an epiphany: True frugality isn’t just about eating beans and rice and pinching pennies, it is recognizing that there is more to life than stuff. The quality of the life you live is much more important than the quantity of money or nice stuff you have.

I did buy a laptop (a Mac — believe it or not! — after being a PC girl all my life!), but I left the rest of the stuff on the shelves. Many of those other items might be useful, important or even necessary for other people in other situations, but, right now, I don’t need any of them. And I walked out completely free and content, paid-for laptop in hand.

photo by Moyan Brenn

Related: Get Rich Slowly has a thought-provoking post up today on quality of life versus quantity of stuff.

18 Aug 2010   ·   162
Money Saving Mom

Ask the Readers: How do you feed hungry teenagers without breaking your budget?

I have three teenagers with lots of teenage friends, who we love to host anytime. We have an open door policy and I wouldn’t change that for the world – it’s a great way to get to know the kids my kids are hanging out!

My concern is my grocery budget. It seems these hungry, growing kids can clean out my refrigerator and a week’s worth of snacks in an hour! Any ideas for some low cost, healthy, teen friendly snacks? How do you feed teenagers without breaking your budget? -Denise

18 Aug 2010   ·   45
Money Saving Mom

Good Reads: Better Off by Eric Brende

Eric Brende and his brand-new wife decided to do something radical: they gave up their car, electric stove, refrigerator, running water and everything else motorized or electric and moved into a very primitive community as an 18-month experiment to see how technology affected their lives, negatively or positively.

Better Off: Flipping the Switch on Technology chronicles the Brendes experiences, hardships and victories in living a life without modern technology. You’ll groan along with them as they adjust to no air-conditioning in the blistering heat of summer harvest. You’ll cheer for them as they succeed in gardening, canning and living off their land.

Ultimately, this book will likely make you stop and consider your own use of technology and how it is impacting your life. The author’s conclusion is not that all technology is wrong, but that excessive technology may be robbing us of deep relationships, time and energy, invigorating work and the rich joys of a simple life. This book challenged me to think “outside the grid” and look for ways to make more things from scratch while not expending a lot of extra time and energy to do so.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Better Off and would highly recommend it for anyone interested in simple living. You should be able to find it at your local library.

Discovered any Good Reads recently? Tell me about them in the comments and I’ll consider adding them to my long and ever-growing book list!

16 Aug 2010   ·   79
Money Saving Mom

Should You Give Your Child an Allowance?

Guest post by Jenae from I Can Teach My Child

To give an allowance or not to give an allowance — that is the question!

Giving children an allowance has been an age-old debate. Critics of allowances say that children are members of a family and therefore should do chores around the house as their way of contributing to the good of the family. Proponents of allowances argue that it teaches children responsibility. What’s a parent to do?

This “problem,” like many problems, can be solved with just a little bit of compromise.

Yes, children need to understand that, as a member of the family, they are expected to pull their weight around the house. Each child should be given chores that are simply expectations — no monetary reward should be given. Even a child as young as 2 or 3 can help set the table and make his bed in the morning.

In addition to a child’s household chores, she can also be given extra jobs around the house for which she receives a small monetary reward.

There are many benefits to giving children an allowance, even as young as preschool-age:

  • An allowance instills in a child a sense of work-ethic. If a child completes her jobs to the expectations of her parents, she will receive her allowance. If she carelessly rushes through, however, she will not receive her allowance. These situations are powerful teachers to children and help them realize that they cannot give a half-hearted effort and expect to receive a full allowance in exchange.
  • An allowance allows children an opportunity to handle money responsibly. When children are given an allowance, they are in control of how that money is spent. Essentially, the money is theirs. If they choose to blow their money on ten packs of bubble gum, they will not have the money to purchase anything else. Over time, a child receiving an allowance will learn that money has value.
  • An allowance teaches delayed gratification. If a child works for his allowance and saves his money to purchase a special toy, he is learning to delay gratification. Once he has saved enough money to purchase that toy, he will have a sense of accomplishment and the toy will be that much more meaningful than if his parents were to just have bought it on their weekly trip to supermarket. Lessons like this one cannot be taught without real-life experience!
  • An allowance teaches a child to give. Prior to giving your child an allowance, a conversation regarding giving needs to take place. Children need to be told that God expects us to give back to Him. Everything belongs to God in the first place, so giving back to Him is just a small way we show our gratitude for the blessings He has given us. How much your child gives is a decision each individual family should make.

You can get started by creating a chart for chores that are family responsibilities and a chart for tasks for which a child receives an allowance.  Once your child has completed the tasks for the week, reward her with an allowance!

Jenae is a wife, mother of two boys, and former first-grade teacher.  She loves finding creative ways to save money, spending time with her family and sharing fun activities on her website I Can Teach My Child.

What do you think? Do you give your children an allowance? Why or why not?

photo by Tony Hall

15 Aug 2010   ·   39
Money Saving Mom

Super Savings Saturday: Sam’s Club and my discovery of Groupon!

We didn’t get a whole lot in the way of groceries this past week. But last Saturday, my husband stopped by Sam’s Club for their free entrance event and he picked up some yeast and organic greens.

Now, lest you wonder if we’ve really turned into salad-eating monsters due to P90X, let me reassure you that we did not consume all two tubs of salad ourselves. 🙂 We shared a lot of it with our extended family on our trip.

The tubs of organic salad were $3.98 each and the yeast was $2 per package. So our total at Sam’s Club was around $13 with tax.

All of us pitched in and brought food to Arkansas, so we only ate a few meals out while we were gone. We did buy a half gallon of milk, some cheese, a few veggies and juice, but that was it. So, we stayed under $40 in grocery spending this week — though we spent a little extra on eating out (which came from our vacation envelope).

When we came home late Friday evening, this package was awaiting us:

My first Groupon purchase of 3 pounds of dried cherries, cranberries and golden raisins! We’re going to use these in our Homemade Instant Oatmeal.

I mentioned on my Facebook page last week that I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to jump on the Groupon bandwagon. And I can’t! I’ve heard rave reviews about this website for so long, and I’ve even mentioned it here a few times. But I always thought it was the sort of thing where the deals and coupons wouldn’t really save us money, they’d just encourage us to spend more.

However, I went ahead and signed up — and I’ve been very pleasantly surprised. In fact, I did a little happy dance a few times this week when I received the Groupon deal email for the day and discovered it was a deep discount for something I was already planning on buying in the next month!

Now, you definitely could spend more by buying stuff from Groupon if you’re not on a strict budget and giving every dollar a name. But I’m pumped about how much we’re going to be able to maximize the mileage of our envelope money thanks to Groupon.

For instance, last week alone, I was able to buy a $25 gift certificate to a local thrift store for only $10 and a $40 gift certificate to a local salon for only $10! I need to purchase my children some clothes, so I might as well spend $10 to get $25 worth. And I was planning to get the girls’ hair cut this month, so I might as well spend $10 to pay for a voucher which will cover the costs of four hair cuts.

Do you see the beauty of this? You can watch the Groupon deals as they come into your inbox and then stretch your envelope dollars a lot farther by purchasing the deeply-discounted deals which will be for things you’re already going to be buying — only now you can get them 50% to 75% off or more!

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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.