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27 Sep 2010   ·   91
Money Saving Mom

How to Deal with Not-So-Friendly Cashiers

Guest post by Stephanie from Couponing101.com

“Back in the day,” the customer was always right. These days though, it is fairly common to be argued with, be treated rudely, or even be accused of stealing — all because you’re trying to save money by using coupons.

There are, of course, some great cashiers who can make your store experience pleasant. This post, however, is about how to deal with the ones who make it not so pleasant.

When you have a bad experience at a store, you can always call or email customer service later. However, that can only take place after your experience. Here are some tips to deal with rude cashiers during your encounter.

1. Follow the Rules.

If you are purposefully trying to use a coupon wrongly, then you won’t get any sympathy from me. Make sure you know the store’s coupon policy and comply with their rules. If that store does not accept printable coupons, don’t try to “sneak” one in the stack. Just because every other store you shop at accepts them, doesn’t mean you should be able to use them at a store that does not.

2. Have a Conversation.

Cashiers are people too, and deal with the same things you do. They have bad days, deal with grumpy bosses and get stuck in traffic. Treat them the way you would want to be treated. Make polite conversation and make them realize that you are a real person too, not just a customer.

3. Be Polite and Confident.

When you sound like you truly know what you are talking about, they are much more likely to believe you. There is no need to be rude though. Becoming angry will likely cause them to become defensive and less likely to want to come to an agreement.

4. Ask for Help.

If the cashier is insistent on not allowing a coupon that you know should be allowed, ask to speak to a manager. They are just doing their job and they don’t want to get in trouble with their boss for accepting a coupon they shouldn’t. Also, asking to speak to a manager may make them rethink their reasoning for rejecting your coupon.

5. Ask for Proof.

If the cashier claims they have a new policy for not accepting printable coupons (or anything else), then ask to see a written copy of this new policy. Let them know you don’t mind waiting right there in line while they look for it.

You could also ask to use their telephone so that you can call corporate and find out for sure. If it is truly a new policy, they will be able to locate written proof quickly and won’t mind if you call corporate to verify.

It is helpful to carry a copy of the store’s coupon policy with you to the store in case a cashier is not familiar with it. Some policies are available on the store’s website, but if it isn’t then you can email them and ask for a copy.

Above all else, don’t let rude cashiers discourage you! In the long run, the benefits of couponing far outweigh the inconvenience of a few rude cashiers!

Stephanie is a stay-at-homeschooling mom of two young children. She blogs at Couponing101.com about coupon strategies and money-saving techniques that will make your cashier encounters far more interesting.

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.

25 Sep 2010   ·   52
Money Saving Mom

Super Savings Saturday: Quick grocery trips and some bonus pictures

I didn’t have a time slot big enough during the day to fit in a longer grocery shopping trip this week, so I settled for a couple of quick grocery stops. Above is my quick stop into Dillons and the health food store. I was especially excited to find tilapia marked down — yum!

And later on in the week, I stopped in Walmart to pick up free razors, free dish soap and $0.18 per pound bananas and I also stopped by the health food store (again!) to pick up apples.

Near the end of the week, we were almost out of milk, so my husband picked up a gallon of milk and chocolate (not pictured). I also bought three dozen farm-fresh eggs from my brother (not pictured).

Altogether, we spent just under $40 on groceries this week.

And while these pictures have nothing to do with saving money, since I was posting pictures of my groceries, I thought I’d share a handful of other pictures on my camera. These just melt my heart!

Silas is 16 months old and still doesn’t have anywhere near the vocabulary the girls did at this age (though he has long ago perfected the art of communicating by grunting and vowel sounds!) Can you tell he’s rather mischievous and did I mention busy? However, I’m very thrilled that he’s finally starting to enjoy being read to, rocked and sung to. And I’m soaking every bit of his snuggles up because he’s growing up so quickly.


Kaitlynn! There aren’t adequate words to describe this bundle of energy. She keeps me laughing and praying for God’s continual protection over her. (And we sincerely hope she will someday soon develop a healthy fear of something. At the present, she’s almost fearless — which I know can someday be a great asset. But for now? I pray for lots of protection for her and for wisdom and foresight to care for her and guide her.)

Sisters who are fast becoming best friends — well, most of the time that is! It’s so much fun for Kathrynne to finally have a sibling old enough to play along with the creative ideas that she’s constantly coming up with. In a day’s time, the girls might be everything from soccer players who are in a fierce competition, to nurses delivering babies, to entrepreneurs setting up their own card shop. You just never know what they’ll come up with next!

Kathrynne has recently traded her long-held desires for getting a dog to instead save up for a horse. We’ve tried to explain to her that horses are very expensive and we’ll need to move to a place with a bigger yard, but she’s not a bit dissuaded and often talks about, “When I get my horse…” like it’s a done deal. We’ll see!

Ever wonder why you don’t see many pictures of all three children together? Well, it might be because getting them all to stand still long enough to snap the picture is quite a feat indeed. 🙂 The good news is they ensure that no day is ever dull at our house nor do we ever run out of things to do!

We love ’em to pieces and thank the Lord constantly for giving us these three children to train and raise and nurture.

___________________

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.

24 Sep 2010   ·   10
Money Saving Mom

We Paid Cash! :: C-Section and Hospital Stay

We paid cash!

Testimonial by Mary from Practical Strawberry

The Plan

When we found out we were expecting in October of 2005, we immediately started saving for the birth. My husband’s income covered most of our expenses, so most of my earnings from my work as a massage therapist went to the Baby Fund. Because we planned to use a midwife, we knew how much the birth would be and it gave me a very concrete, motivating goal.

I feel energized by literally seeing my money accumulate, so I kept a jar on my dresser labeled “Baby Bean” were I would put my spare change and tips from clients. As my belly grew, so did my savings.

By May, I had reached the Birth Fund goal and started to get excited that the rest of the money I earned between then and the baby’s birth in July could be used for some fun new furnishings for our house. Some afternoons after working, I would lay on our bed and mark pages of the IKEA catalog, getting excited about the idea of getting to spend some of our money on something fun, instead of bills, rent, groceries and cars.

Having been a “saver” all my life — although my husband was very sweetly encouraging (he’s the spender) — I eventually decided there was nothing that we really needed and I enjoyed the peace of mind knowing we had the extra money in savings instead of new stuff. And it was a good thing I did!

We paid cash for our boys' birthsThe Unexpected

Our son ended up being breech and instead of the home birth we had planned, I had to have a very expensive C-section delivery and a bit of a hospital stay. Our insurance deductible and other expenses were almost five times as much as we had saved in our original Baby Fund!

Fortunately, the extra money that I had been able to save, combined with what we had been saving in our general savings account was enough to cover the bills. I was even able to negotiate a lower amount for the hospital bill because we paid it in full up front instead of dragging it out for years. It was such a blessing to not have a “baby payment” as part of our early life together as a family of three.

The Second Time Around

When our second son joined our family, we paid cash for his delivery as well, but the process of saving wasn’t as eventful. We just pulled the money out of our general savings account, which we try to add to each month, although the amount was much less the second time around because we were able to use our midwife.

What We’ve Gained

In telling our story, I often say “I” or “we” when referring to our savings, but am more than aware that our ability to save and the resources that we saved all come from God. I truly credit the Holy Spirit for calming my IKEA coveting, at least that time ;).

Many times we fail on our budget, but I know that God is conditioning my heart so that I won’t become overly prideful.

Mary blogs about the adventures of life with her crazy guys (husband and sons included) at Practical Strawberry.

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

23 Sep 2010   ·   81
Money Saving Mom

Financial Goals and Update (and come link up yours, too!)

Many of you have asked what our financial goals are now that we paid cash for our house. A few months ago, I promised to let you know what these were and I’m finally getting around to doing so! It’s taken us a few months to sort through and develop a game plan financially for this season of our lives, so thank you for your patience.

The question we received a lot when people knew we were living on less than we made and saving to pay cash for a house was, “Will you change your standard of living once you buy a house?”

Our heart’s desire is that we would wisely steward the blessings God has given us by giving to others. We want to be conduits. For some reason, God has chosen to bless us financially and we want to use this blessing to reach out and freely give to others.

We’re very content with what we have and we feel like there’s no need to increase our standard of living. Instead, we want to increase our standard of giving and also invest our money wisely so that we’ll be in a position to give even more.

With this in mind, we are currently researching and praying about our next BHAG, as we like to call them at our house. We’ve not 100% decided on what it will be, but we’re looking into the possibility of investing in commercial real estate (paying cash, of course, because we’re weird like that!)

While we pray and research and start setting aside some of our savings towards that, we do have some more immediate short-term financial goals:

1. Significantly increase our giving to needs in our community and around the world.

2. Pay cash for a replacement washer and dryer for our very used set. (This got moved to the top of the list when our washer up and quit last week!)

3. Pay cash for a replacement for Old Blue Van (We’ve almost finished this goal and it’s a good thing because the driver’s door no longer opens from the outside!)

4. Pay cash for a couch for our basement family room (Which currently is devoid of furniture while we save for it!)

5. Pay cash for bunk beds for the girls.

6. Fully fund our IRAs.

7. Bump up our retirement savings to 10% of our income.

8. Fund our children’s educational savings.

9. Double our Emergency Fund Savings (instead of having around six month’s worth of expenses set aside, we’re planning to set aside a year’s worth of expenses)

Our goal is to have all of these items accomplished by September 1, 2011. We have no idea whether that’s possible, but it’s what we’re shooting for. We have the goals broken down by month and there’s a possibility it might all happen by then. But we’ll see as you never know what curve balls might be around the bend.

If and when we accomplish these goals, the plan is then to throw our extra monthly savings into our BHAG.

photo by Alan Cleaver

______________

What are your current financial goals? Many of you have asked for me to bring back the monthly financial check-up for us all to share about our financial goals and the monthly progress and set backs. So I’m bringing this feature back beginning the first week in October. I’d love to have you link up with your financial goals and successes below!

23 Sep 2010   ·   305
Money Saving Mom

Ask the Readers: Do you think it’s a good deal to purchase half a cow?

I have recently been wrestling through the pros/cons of buying regular grocery store beef vs. grass fed, hormone free, antibiotic free beef. I am trying to go through some of my options, and I came across the option of buying a half of a cow. I would just love to know whether or not this is actually more beneficial and cost-effective than just buying it pre-cut and packaged, as needed. -Abby

Long-time readers here may remember that we attempted to buy a quarter of a grass-fed cow one time and it ended pretty disastrously. In fact, I still have visions of four inches of blood at the bottom of the deep freeze. Eww!

However, if you are smarter than us, and put your freezer somewhere where the outlet won’t shut off and spoil your meat while you’re on vacation, then I definitely think buying half a cow can be a very good investment. In fact, we’re hoping to do that ourselves sometime soon now that we have space again for a deep freeze.

To be completely honest, we’re still trying to work up the courage to makes such a big purchase again after it failed so miserably last time. However, we would really like to be able to use higher-quality meat and buying it in bulk makes it much more affordable, so I think we’re going to take the plunge. This time around, though, we’re going to invest in a freezer alarm, we’re keeping the freezer somewhere other than the garage and I’ll probably be a little OCD about checking to make sure the freezer is running. 🙂

Have you invested in a side of beef before? Did you think it was a good investment? Any pointers or tips for Abby and our family to consider (other than the obvious of don’t plug your freezer into a weak garage outlet!) I’d love to hear!

photo by Skinnyde

22 Sep 2010   ·   10
Money Saving Mom

Reader Tip: Donate food daily for free through TheHungerSite.com

Your recent post about giving from our abundance made me think of a site I recently discovered — The Hunger Site. Thanks to the generous support of sponsors, every day when you click on the site, you can donate 1.1 cups of food. Cool!

I’ve had fun teaching my little guy about the beatitudes and he loves to crawl up in my lap to help work the computer and donate food for the hungry. Every little bit counts!

There are also other links on the page, like one for giving life saving medicine to children. -Cher

21 Sep 2010   ·  
Money Saving Mom

The Blessings of Giving

When my husband and I got married seven years ago, we made a commitment to give a tithe of 10 percent of our gross income to our local church. While this has not always been an easy thing to do, it has been one of the best decisions we’ve ever made.

For the first few years of our marriage, we were barely squeaking by on an income of $800 to $1,000 a month. Yet we made tithing our number one budget priority—even before paying our bills.

The blessings from making giving a priority have been amazing.

Read the rest of the article.

Note: I received an email from a reader who was very concerned that I’d write an article for a site sponsored by American Express. I just thought I should clarify that I had committed to writing three articles for Currency.com months ago — and just found out a few weeks ago, to my dismay, that this new financial site was going to be sponsored by American Express.

I would not have written the articles for them had I known of the AMEX sponsorship, as that would be a conflict of interest for me as I do not support or encourage the use of credit cards. However, the articles were already written and slated for publication so I am going to go ahead and share the articles here over the next week as I know some of you will enjoy them. I’ve closed off comments on this post to facilitate discussion on the main article should you wish to comment there.

photo by MindfulOne

20 Sep 2010   ·   87
Money Saving Mom

5 Ways to Repurpose Newspapers

New uses for newspapers

Guest post by Julia from Roots of Simplicity

Do you have a stack of newspapers sitting in your house or garage? Whether you like to read the articles, scan the comics or just clip the coupons (like me!), the daily paper is a versatile resource beyond the information it holds. Besides the recycle bin, there are several other uses for newspapers which can help trim your expenses.

1. Substitute newspapers for paper towels

For very messy clean up jobs, newspapers are an ideal choice. Though a paperless kitchen is a worthy goal, sheets of old newspapers can be very handy for lifting the bulk of big messes (eggs, oil, mud, etc.). The final swipe can be done with a wet cloth or paper towel if needed.

You can also prevent a huge countertop spill if you are pouring grease or oil by placing a sheet of newspaper under the container before pouring the liquid.

In addition, newspapers are a thrifty, streak-free way to clean windows and mirrors.

2. Make an eco-friendly newsprint gift bag

Newspaper gift bagGlossy gift bags are often an expensive addition to the cost of a gift. By using your own materials to create a gift bag, you can save cash and reduce consumption. Use a trimmed cereal box “wrapped” in newsprint for you bag. Poke holes and thread with ribbon (strung with pieces of plastic straws!) for your handles.

You can also customize the bag according to the recipient or what you are giving. For example, for a sports fan, use the sports section; for a general gift, use the comics; for a cooking-related gift, use the food section.

If the gift is too big to fit in a bag, simply use the newspaper as wrapping paper.

3. Use newspapers as a disposable table covering for picnics and crafts

Wrap a table in sheets of newspaper and secure with tape. Why buy a single-use tablecloth when you can easily get newspapers for free? I noticed that a popular food magazine (Rachael Ray) recently featured a brown paper table cover for a casual outdoor party.  Instead of buying anything, “go green” and reuse your newspapers for the same effect.

4. Make a party pinata

Using a cardboard box, some newspaper, tape and colored tissue paper, you can have fun making and then breaking your own pinata. Tape is easier and quicker than paper mache, but you can go whichever route your creativity and available time indicate. Homemade pinatas can become a fun, frugal, personalized tradition for birthdays and other celebrations.

5. Use newspaper as a disposable diaper changing pad

Changing the diaper of a squirming baby or toddler is not always a tidy affair. Using a newspaper is cheaper and more eco-friendly than buying disposable changing pads, but just as convenient.

Through being resourceful with the newspaper stack that you already have, it is possible to save money and reduce your need to buy specialty paper products.

Do you reuse newspaper in a clever or frugal way? I’d love to hear your tips in the comments!

Julia blogs at Roots of Simplicity. She is a stay-at-home mom of three children who employs her creativity in the kitchen and at the craft table with whatever she has on hand.

Get the latest coupons delivered right to your door for
as low as $1 per week with Discounted Newspapers!

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.

18 Sep 2010   ·   33
Money Saving Mom

Super Savings Saturday: Aldi trip and beef stock-up

We made a trip to Aldi for most of our groceries and then picked up a big roast and three packages of Sterling Silver ground sirloin from Dillon’s (plus some ice cream!). All totaled, we spent right around $54 on groceries this week.

And that was that.

I’m planning to have another Mini Freezer Cooking Day this coming week and make another big batch of Homemade Oatmeal Packets, some Homemade Baking Mix (recipe coming later on this week) and meatballs and meatloaf for the freezer.

I’m also hoping to jump back into using more coupons this week after taking a break from them for a few weeks. The break was nice, but we’re getting low on some things, so I can’t slack for too long lest I end up paying full price for toothbrushes or something! 🙂

____________

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.

18 Sep 2010   ·   69
Money Saving Mom

Becoming a Work-At-Home Mom: MoneySavingMom.com is born

After the success of the online Supermarket Savings 101 course, I started helping some local ladies with couponing and was putting together a list of the best deals at nearby stores for them each week. I kept thinking about how I was sure others could benefit from these lists outside of my circle of local friends.

At the same time, I felt like my personal blog was becoming too over-run with frugal posts and I wanted to have a place to freely share those. I looked for a blog which was covering the drugstore deals and teaching people step-by-step how to cut their grocery bill, and, surprisingly, I found none.

(Back in 2007, blogging was still a new phenomenon so while there were some finance and frugal blogs, to my knowledge, there weren’t any blogs which were specifically dedicated to sharing deals. And based upon the emails I was receiving, I knew that people were really looking for specific, detailed information on how to work the deals and get the best bang for their buck at the grocery store.)

So I kept feeling this nudge in my heart to start a blog dedicated to helping women with the nuts and bolts of using coupons, getting the best deals and also to just share things about finances and saving money we had learned during our lean law school years. I approached my husband about the blog idea and he loved it. However, we both sat on it for a few weeks as we wanted to make sure it was the direction God was leading and I also wanted to make sure I wasn’t biting off more than I could chew.

I also needed a name for the blog, if I were going to start one. We tossed around a lot of possibilities but finally landed on MoneySavingMom.com. I bought the domain and opened up a little Blogger blog. I didn’t even have a header designed for a few months and it was as barebones as it could be, but people started coming and coming and coming. Pretty soon, the blog was averaging around 5,000 visitors per day, then 10,000, then 15,000 and on and on it went.

MoneySavingMom.com has far exceeded my wildest dreams and I’m humbled that God would allow me to be apart of this. Many times when people ask me what is the key to this blog’s success, I’ll tell them, “Hard work and the blessing of God.” I have put a lot of time and effort into the blog and believe that the lessons I’ve learned through failure have been invaluable. However, I know beyond any shadow of a doubt that MoneySavingMom.com would not be anywhere near what it is without God’s blessing upon it.

For some reason, God allowed us to be at the right place at the right time. We didn’t know that the economy was going to go downhill just a few months after MoneySavingMom.com was born. Nor did we know that couponing and frugality were going to become extremely popular. In addition, I knew very little about SEO when I started (search engine optimization, i.e. how you get your blog to show up at the top of the list when people use a search engine).

I’ve made some major mistakes along the way. I’ve offended people by careless words and actions. I’ve struggled with having my priorities in order. I’ve unintentionally hurt people who are very close to me. I struggle with thinking I am somebody (and every time that happens, God will smack me right in the forehead to remind me how human and fallible I am!)

It’s been a humbling and growing process to have the responsibility upon my shoulders of hundreds of thousands of people around the world reading what I write. You all have been gracious, long-suffering and incredibly kind to me along the way and I appreciate it very much.

I’m honored to be at a place now where I can completely choose my own hours to work and have a very talented team of people who do much of the behind-the-scenes work so that I can give the best part of my day to my husband and children. It hasn’t always been this way and if I were to do over parts of my life, I’d definitely seek, by the grace of God, to work less and have my priorities more in order.

Working from home can be a great thing, but if your family and friends are run over or short-changed in the process, it’s not worth it. At the end of my life, it won’t matter how many blog posts I wrote or how much money I made, but it will matter that I was faithful as a wife and mom! As I’ve often said, anyone can be a successful blogger, but only one person can be your husband’s wife and your children’s mom.

Over the next few weeks, I’d love to answer any specific questions you all might have related to working from home in my Saturday posts. So if you have a question related to working from home you’d love to see answered, please leave it in the comments here or email me. I can’t promise I’ll have an answer or that I’ll be able to get to every question (depending upon how many are asked!), but I’ll at least pick a few and give them my best shot!

17 Sep 2010   ·   13
Money Saving Mom

In the Land of No Double Coupons: Use Overage to Your Advantage (Part 4)

Guest post by Clair Boone

This is Part 4 of Clair’s series, In the Land of No Double Coupons. Here’s Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

5. Use Overage to Your Advantage

Through rebate programs like CVS and Walgreens our family hasn’t paid for many toiletries in eight years. Yup, Walgreens’ Easy Saver program has been around a while and even when we were missionaries in Thailand for three years, my mother-in-law would stock up and then send it out with anyone who came to visit us!

The one question I get asked a lot is, “If it’s free but you know you can’t use it, would you buy it?” My answer most of the time is, “Absolutely, if I can not only get it free but use a coupon to make it better than free!”

If the Colgate toothpaste is going to be free after Register Rewards but I have a $1 coupon to use on it then it covers the tax and a little extra. Sometimes the deals are even better and when you stand to make overage of around $5, then I love doing those deals.

That means I can use my overage on necessities that are never free, like diapers. And if it’s not something I’ll use, I donate it.

In Closing

While it’s true that we’ll never be able to snag quite as much free food as the double couponers, there are stores that will enable you to get super cheap or free food like Meijer and Jewel. Those are two stores that I cover each week and if there’s free food to be had, I’ll let you know!

The bottom line is, while The Land of No Double Coupons makes you get more creative, it is a little easier to navigate because you don’t have to stress out about all those coupons. For now, this is Clair Boone reporting from a land far, far away.

She bought diapers for 20 cents a pack prompting her friends to ask her to start www.mummydeals.org to teach others how to save money. She loves to use her couponing powers to buy things and donate them. Originally from England, Clair Boone is wife to an amazing man, Mum to a toddler and lives near Chicago.

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.

17 Sep 2010   ·   24
Money Saving Mom

We Paid Cash! :: A Kitchen Faucet

We paid cash!

A testimony from Jen

Up until a year ago I was working full-time at a job that paid pretty well. Our home, cars and budget were based on two good incomes. But after my son was born I struggled as a working mom and finally made the decision to stay home. While I don’t regret it at all, it’s meant some major budget overhauling.

Two months ago we read The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey and decided we were committed to becoming debt-free. As is always the case, life decided to hit us with a test to see how dedicated we were to our new plan.

Fixing the Leak

For the last month the spray nozzle on our kitchen sink has been leaking. We’ve had to leave it sit in the sink to avoid water damage to the cabinet underneath.

Over Labor Day weekend we decided to tackle the job of replacing it. We were told it would be a simple do-it-yourself job. We had a small gift certificate to Home Depot so we headed there to get the parts we needed.

To make a long story short, after three trips to the hardware store, and a visit from my dad (a general contractor), we found out we had to replace the entire kitchen faucet. The cheapest kitchen faucets run around $100, and that was NOT in the budget! So I got to work trying to figure out what to do.

How We Saved

  1. I checked Craigslist and found a two-year-old kitchen faucet for $20. Turns out it belonged to the kindest older couple who had just re-done their kitchen and decided instead of throwing it away they would see if they could help someone out by putting it on Craigslist. What an answer to prayer!
  2. I crawled under the sink myself (my husband couldn’t fit!) and figured out how to remove the old faucet and put the new one in (which included 2 more trips to the hardware store for replacement pipes and connections).

When all was said and done we spent $28 on the faucet and replacement parts.

What We Gained

We paid cash for new faucetThe best part of this? Two days earlier we had received an unexpected $57 check in the mail from our mortgage company. A year ago we would have immediately blown that on a night out, but because of our new commitment to remaining debt-free, we tucked it away for a special need.  What great confirmation that we are making the right decisions with our money!!

My name is Jen, I am a stay-at-home-mom to a two-year-old son. I have been married for eight years to a wonderful man who supports me in all my endeavors, whether it be rearranging our budget, crazy-coupon-clipping or climbing under the kitchen sink!

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

16 Sep 2010   ·   7
Money Saving Mom

Free Christmas Planning Ebook + Downloadables

One hundred days and counting! Christmas will be here before we know it, and one way to keep the season merry is to plan ahead.

Mandi at Life… Your Way is offering some free resources to help us all do just that.

(photo credit)

View or download the free ebook here.

Choose from these free printables to customize your planner:

:: Address Book

:: Baking Planner

:: Budget Worksheet

:: 2010 Calendar

:: Cards Worksheet

:: Decor Inventory

:: Family Traditions

:: Gift Ideas

:: Gift List

:: Handmade Gifts

:: Master To-Do List

:: Order Tracking

:: Shopping List


16 Sep 2010   ·   27
Money Saving Mom

In the Land of No Double Coupons: Plan a Menu (Part 3)

Guest post by Clair Boone

This is part 3 of Clair’s series, In the Land of No Double Coupons. You can find Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

4. Plan a Menu

It’s 5:00 p.m. and your husband is due home in half an hour. The kids are going crazy, the baby is crying and you have spent the day cleaning up toys. Just when you think things can’t get worse you realize you have no dinner planned.

Although you could convince your husband to eat cereal or frozen pizza, is that what you want? Or what you want the kids to eat? With the way our lives are nowadays, we run around like headless chickens and try to fit in eating healthy.

If you want to eat healthy and live frugally there’s only one thing to it — you’re gonna have to start meal planning.

Meal Planning Defined

According to the Meal Planning Mommies, meal planning is “creating a flexible, livable schedule of family meals.”

Meal planning is:

  • Meant to take the stress out of dinner time and put the fun back in cooking family meals.
  • Going to help you plan a variety of healthier, cost-efficient meals based on your family’s needs.
  • Going to save you MONEY and TIME.
  • Individual to your family.

Meal planning does not have to be:

  • A rigid calendar of meals.
  • Meals that don’t suit your family’s tastes/lifestyle.
  • Costly.
  • Time consuming.
  • Stressful.

My Meal Plan

My meal plan is really simple. At the beginning of each week or sometimes every couple of weeks, I look at what’s already in the stockpile. My stockpile contains items I got for free, cheap or things that I already have on hand.

If we only have chicken in the freezer then I’m going to get creative. If I’ve got a variety then we’re in luck.

Once the meal plan is written using those ingredients, I write a list for the things I need to actually make those random ingredients into meals and then I run out to the store. Not before. Running into the store without a list will end up in copious amount of impulse buying, regretful decisions and the grocery budget up. I know it and I’m guilty.

So make a list and don’t back out.

Sometimes You Just Need to Improvise

A few weeks ago we were having friends over for dinner and I decided I was making chili.

As it was time for a grocery shop anyway, I wrote a list of everything we needed that week. We had ground beef around (hence my decision to make chili) and so I knew I needed chili seasoning. I went out, came home and started to cook.

About two minutes into it I realized I was missing a key ingredient: tomatoes! My friends were arriving in half an hour, I didn’t want to go back to the store and risk impulse buying so I can now attest to the fact that tomato sauce, tomato ketchup and a dollop of BBQ sauce makes a great chili!

In other words, if you forgot it at the store, improvise.

Stay tuned for Part 4 tomorrow…

She bought diapers for 20 cents a pack prompting her friends to ask her to start www.mummydeals.org to teach others how to save money. She loves to use her couponing powers to buy things and donate them. Originally from England, Clair Boone is wife to an amazing man, Mum to a toddler and lives near Chicago.

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