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9 Nov 2011   ·   27
Money Saving Mom

Rite Aid: 15 free 4×8 photo cards + 25 free 4×6 photo prints (free in-store pickup!)

Rite Aid is jumping on the free photos bandwagon! Here’s how to get 15 free 4×8 photo cards plus 25 free 4×6 photo prints:

::Login or register at the Rite Aid site.

::Create a 4×8 photo card and add 15 photo cards to your cart.

::Go to checkout and use promo code FREECARDS to get them free.

::You can also order 25 4×6 photo prints and use coupon code FREEPRINTS to get them free.

::Choose in-store pickup and your total should be $0.00.

Thanks, Sample Stuff!

8 Nov 2011   ·   142
Money Saving Mom

21 Days to a More Disciplined Life: Discipline is a Choice

Based upon your responses to yesterday’s introductory post, many of us are longing for more discipline in our lives. We crave order and peace. We want to be better managers of our time and life. We want to follow through with our good intentions.

But so many times I’ve found that I try to go about developing a more disciplined life in all the wrong ways. I check out a book on living an organized life from the library and think it will make all the difference. I download a printable household organization planner and think it will magically whip my house into shape. Or I think that if my house or life or responsibilities were different, then I could achieve a disciplined life.

Instead of addressing the root issue–my lack of self-discipline–I think that a fancy new system is going to fix the problem. A bad system is not the problem. I am the problem.

Oh sure. Life throws curveballs. There are job losses, babies born, illnesses, moves, and projects that can get one off course. But ultimately, whether or not I live a disciplined life is dependent solely upon me and the choices I make on a daily basis.

Those are tough words to swallow. And I could wallow in frustration over my short-comings and failures. However, instead, I want to let it motivate me. I am the problem, but I am also the solution.

I don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars on organizational products. I don’t need to buy 20 books on living a disciplined life. Instead, I need to resolve to change from the inside out.

Tomorrow we’ll talk about how to start making specific, realistic changes to transform a cluttered, chaotic life into an orderly, organized life.

Practical Application

To jumpstart the 21 Days to a More Disciplined Life Challenge, choose one small project that has been nagging at you for the last few weeks or months and go start and complete it in the next 24 hours. You may find that it didn’t end up taking you near as long as you thought it would and you’ll feel so good to have it done.

I’m tackling the laundry pile (no surprise there, I’m sure, as this seems to the area I’m constantly struggling in!). Ever since returning from Relevant, I’ve been woefully behind on laundry. So I’m going to aim to get completely caught up within the next 24 hours. And then I’m going to be intentional about keeping the momentum going… more on that in a few days.

Come back tomorrow afternoon/evening and I’ll tell you how it went–and you can tell us how your project went, too!

photo credit

8 Nov 2011   ·   55
Money Saving Mom

15-Minute Freezer Cooking: Chocolate Bottom Banana Bars

So, I told you I was going to try out a new method of freezer cooking–just devoting 15 minutes each afternoon or evening to making one thing ahead to store in the freezer. It was a good idea and I think it will probably work well.

There was just one problem: I really should have doubled or tripled the Chocolate Bottom Banana Bar recipe. Because, you see, after I made them yesterday afternoon, everyone had to try one for dinner. Then, the typical 3 p.m. chocolate cravings hit this afternoon (please tell me I’m not the only one who has these!?), so out came the pan of Chocolate Bottom Banana Bars again.

And well, there are no Chocolate Bottom Banana Bars left to put in the freezer. Ahem.

But seriously, while I may have had a little more than my fair share of these, I promise I didn’t eat the whole pan. Just maybe, um, oh a fourth of it. 😉

I’m going to try really, really hard for tonight’s baking project–the Cookie Dough Baked Oatmeal–to actually make it in the freezer. Well, at least part of it!

By the way, I tried a new setting on my camera today and was so excited with how this photo turned out. It was probably a fluke thing that I’ll never be able to repeat, but it made me happy nonetheless that I actually took a photo that looked halfway decent. 🙂

8 Nov 2011   ·   259
Money Saving Mom

Pre-order The Money Saving Mom®’s Budget for $10.98

“Crystal Paine does it all as an entrepreneur, wife, and mom—and that means she knows all about finding room in a home budget! From reducing clutter to finding amazing coupon deals outside the grocery aisle, The Money Saving Mom®’s Budget will help you make dollars and sense of your life again.”

Dave Ramsey, New York Times bestselling author and nationally syndicated radio talk show host

The Audacious Dream

For a long time, I’ve had a big dream of one day being a published author. I figured it would be years down the road–maybe after my children were grown.

However, God had different plans. And near the end of 2010, a vice president of Gallery Books (a division of Simon & Schuster) stumbled upon an article of mine and wrote me saying they’d like to offer me a book deal.

I had to read the email multiple times to make sure I was getting it right. No, my eyes weren’t playing tricks on me.

Jesse and I spent the next eight weeks praying about it and discussing whether this was realistic and something we wanted to take on. Truthfully, Jesse was really stoked about the whole thing. I was much more hesitant as my plate felt plenty full, I’d spent the last six months working towards margin and balance in my life, and I was scared to embark on something that might be too overwhelming–especially since I’d only have a few months to start and complete the manuscript.

Jumping In With Both Feet

But God kept confirming to Jesse and me that this was what I was supposed to do. So we streamlined and delegated, hired an assistant to take over a lot of the behind-the-scenes business tasks for me, and jumped in with both feet.

There were definitely some grueling moments and I won’t say that the writing process was easy–especially since I had no clue what I was doing and everything was completely new to me!–but it went much smoother than we could have ever expected. Plus, I truly enjoyed the entire process.

The manuscript was completed in early May and the last few months have been a whirlwind of new learning curves in editing, publicity, and traditional marketing (I’m used to internet marketing, so the traditional marketing is a whole new ballgame for me!)

Finally! It’s Done!

After months of effort, I’m thrilled to let you know that The Money Saving Mom®’s Budget: Slash Your Spending, Pay Down Your Debt, Streamline Your Life and Save Thousands a Year is finished and off to the printers with a planned release date of January 10, 2012.

This book is the culmination of years of personally living frugally and simply and teaching others how to have a paradigm shift about money. I’m more than a little excited about it (more like crazily ecstatic about it!) because I believe its message is direly needed, especially right now as so many people are struggling to make ends meet. I believe this book has the potential to radically change your budget–and your life!

The Money Saving Mom®’s Budget is a comprehensive step-by-step plan to take you from financial mess to financial success. In this straightforward book, you’ll learn:

::How to set big goals and break them down into bite-sized pieces.

::How to prioritize your time and life in order to live intentionally.

::How to streamline your home and life in order to have breathing room to work toward your financial goals.

::How to go from no budget at all to a full-fledged, realistic, written budget by following a simple three-step plan.

::How to make a cash envelope system work for you.

::How to cut your grocery bill in half (including 25 ways to save money without using coupons!).

::How to save big on restaurants, travel, clothing, utility bills, prescription glasses, gym memberships, and much more.

::And finally, how to cultivate contentment, embrace today, and live a rich and full life, no matter your income.

What I’m Most Excited About

You know what I’m most thrilled about in publishing this book? That all of my profits are going to Compassion International–an organization that helps to feed and clothe needy children around the globe.

Knowing that this book has the potential to not only change lives in our country, but to also give food, clean water, shelter, and clothing to those who are living in unimaginable circumstances, gave me so much purpose and excitement while writing. I’m humbled to be partnering with Compassion’s ministry to the poorest of the poor.

“For this mama of six, driving a 14 yr. old vehicle, endeavoring to live frugally and to live generously, this book not only offers fresh inspiration, it offers a practical, creative plan to make your life priorities — the reality of your life. And her last chapter on contentment? Standing ovation!”

Ann Voskamp, author of the New York Times bestseller One Thousand Gifts

Pre-Order Your Copy Today

The Money Saving Mom®’s Budget is now available for pre-order on Amazon.com. It’s $10.98 right now, with a price-guarantee that if the price goes down any between when you order and the release date, you’ll get the lowest price. Shipping is free with an Amazon Mom account.

It’s also available for pre-order on Barnes & Noble. If you prefer ebooks, you can pre-order it for your Kindle or Nook.

No matter your level of thriftiness or how much or little you make, I think you’ll find help, hope, and inspiration in the pages of The Money Saving Mom®’s Budget. This book would also make a fabulous Christmas gift for someone you know who is struggling financially or just wants to do a better job of setting financial goals and stewarding the money they have.

If you can’t afford the $10.98 price tag, you could ask your local library to order in a copy. And don’t worry, I’ll be giving lots of copies away here, too!

PSST! If you do pre-order a copy, I have a little special something for you next week, just to show my appreciation. Stay tuned for more details. 🙂

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your support of this project. Your excitement in comments and emails has knocked my socks off. I have the best readers ever!

8 Nov 2011   ·   16
Money Saving Mom

Gluten-Free Deals and Coupons

As I know we have many readers who are gluten-free, I’m so excited to begin sharing a weekly gluten-free coupons and deals round-up on Tuesdays compiled by Janelle from Gluten Freely Frugal:

Gluten-Free Coupon Roundup: $1/1 Schar Product (rare coupon!), $1/1 Lundberg Brown Rice Couscous, $1/1 Udi’s Product, $1/1 Glutino Genius Bread, $1/1 Barbara’s Product, and $0.55/1 Dr Praeger’s Product.

French Meadow Bakery Coupon: This high value $1/1 coupon with no size exclusions should give you a great deal on the single serve French Meadow products at various locations. Find a store location here. Their brownies are so yummy!

Pamela’s Products Discount from Amazon: You can pick up Pamela’s Gluten-Free Baking, Cake, and Cookie Mixes at a discount, some for as low as $3.14/package shipped.

KIND Bars $0.80-$1.12 Shipped from Amazon: Right now, you can get KIND bars at a discount and with free shipping through Subscribe & Save. These are great for gluten-free lunchboxes.

Progresso Broth $0.85 at Target through 11/26: You can stack coupons to get a great deal on Progresso Broth at Target. Progresso gluten free information is here.

GoPicnic Ready-to-Eat GF Meals: Looking for shelf stable and gluten free meals? Right now you can get ready-to-eat GF meals for $3.54 shipped from Amazon.

Free Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Menu Plan + Grocery List: Sign up for a free downloadable gluten-free Thanksgiving menu plan and grocery list from CuisineRoutine.

Janelle is wife to Brad, who is celiac, and mom to two sweet girls, one of whom is celiac. She blogs about the gluten-free life on a budget, including coupons, deals, recipes, and other money-saving tips at Gluten Freely Frugal.

7 Nov 2011   ·   37
Money Saving Mom

How to be a Generous Host Without Busting the Budget

Guest post by Katey from Having Fun at Home

With the holidays nearing, many families find themselves with a house full of guests and a temptation to overspend so that their visitors feel welcome and have a nice visit. Here are some creative ideas for being warmly hospitable without spending too much money:

1. Be attentive to little details.

  • Place a bouquet of bright fall leaves from the backyard on the guestroom dresser.
  • Have your kids make a welcome banner.
  • Spread a couple of magazines you think your guests might enjoy on the nightstand in their room.
  • If your guests are coffee drinkers, put a coffeemaker and coffee in their bedroom.
  • Keep a basket full of travel toiletries available in case someone forgets something.
  • If you wanted to be over the top, you could even put chocolates on their pillow or try your hand at toilet paper origami!
  • These ideas cost next to nothing but communicate care!

2. Become familiar with free outings in your area.

  • Look into factory tours.
  • Find good hiking trails.
  • Figure out if there are any unusual claims to fame nearby. For example, here in Austin, we have North America’s largest urban bat colony. Every night, they make a dramatic appearance and are lots of fun to watch!
  • Around Christmas, keep an eye on the neighborhoods that seem to be the most decorated and drive through them together one evening.
  • Ask around to find out the best sledding hill in town.

3. Opt for fun, community-building meals rather than impressive menus.

  • Make homemade pizzas together.
  • Build a fire in the backyard and roast hot dogs.
  • Set out lots of fresh ingredients, and let everyone string their own shish kabobs.
  • Serve “Breakfast for Dinner.”
  • Arrange for the men to be the chefs one night (or the kids if they are old enough!).

4. Make your home an enjoyable place to be.

  • Stock your closet with lots of cards and board games. (German board games can be especially absorbing for adults and teenagers.)
  • Keep a mental list of fun projects that everyone can do at the same time while still enjoying conversation (stringing popcorn garlands, putting together a surprise gift package for a mutual friend).
  • Start a fire in the fireplace and roast marshmallows.
  • Allow the kids a place of their own where they can make things together, get dirty, and have adventures (a basement or a fort in the back yard).

5. Apply yourself to the task of heartily enjoying your guests.

Heartily enjoy your guests and it will make it almost impossible for them not to have a good time!

Katey enjoys hosting her own house guests as a stay-at-home wife and mother in Austin, Texas. Her blog, Having Fun at Home, is resource for fun, inexpensive ideas for families.

photo credit

7 Nov 2011   ·   92
Money Saving Mom

21 Days to a More Disciplined Life: Introduction

As I’ve alluded to over and over again recently, I’ve fallen off the bandwagon. And I’m struggling to get back up on it again.

I’ve been mulling over how to break the bad habits I’ve been developing and stop this downward spiral. The idea came to me to spend 21 days focusing on intentionally developing more discipline in my life. After thinking about it for a few weeks, I finally pitched it to my husband last week.

His response? “I think it’s a great idea. Can I join you?” 🙂

We sat down over the weekend and discussed what areas he and I are particularly struggling in and what specific changes would result in the most immediate and effective changes. We then came up with a gameplan for the next 21 days for each of us.

Since I know that public accountability works wonders for me, I’m going to blog daily about discipline (I’ll be preaching to myself when I write them, but you’re welcome to listen in if you need some extra motivation, too!) and I’ll also have a practical application project for each day. The following day, I’ll share the results of my project.

My hope is that, at the end of three weeks, I will have developed better habits and I’ll be pulling out of some of the mess and chaos that have resulted from my lack of discipline recently.

You’re more than welcome to join in this challenge, but please don’t feel obligated. Save the idea for later or skip over these posts if your plate is already brimming full.

By the way, thanks for bearing with me and my eclectic blogging. You all are the best!

photo credit

7 Nov 2011   ·   55
Money Saving Mom

This Week’s Menu Plan (and a new 15-Minute Freezer Cooking experiment)

In the middle of our chaotic and messy freezer cooking session last week!

Breakfasts

Bananas (grabbed on the way to church as we were rushing out the door; yes, aren’t we so organized?!)
Carrot Cake Waffles with Vanilla Whipped Cream (recipe coming later this week; I concocted it this past week using this recipe as inspiration and we all decided it was very yummy.)
Toasted bagels, scrambled eggs
Steel Cut Oats with dried cranberries
Cookie Dough Baked Oatmeal
Granola
Cinnamon Roll Biscuits, scrambled eggs, fruit

Lunches

Hamburgers, twice-baked potatoes, fruit salad
Hard-boiled eggs, pasta, peas
PB&J, carrot sticks, apple slices
Annie’s macaroni & cheese, peas
Tossed salad hard-boiled eggs, feta cheese, and dried cranberries
Leftovers x 2

Dinners

Cheesy Chicken and Rice Bake, tossed salad
Southwest Roll-ups, Mexican Rice, tossed salad
Corn & Cheese Chowder in Bread Machine Bread Bowls, sliced apples
Lime Chicken Tacos, Mexican Rice, steamed veggies
Dinner out
Dinner with extended family x 2

Snacks

Chocolate Bottom Banana Squares
Fruit/veggies
Cheese/crackers

15-Minute Freezer Cooking

(I’m trying something new this week and am devoting 15 minutes on Monday through Thursday afternoons to making one item for the freezer. I’ll be blogging about these mini freezer cooking sessions so you can see how it goes for me!)
Chocolate Bottom Banana Squares — Monday
Cookie Dough Baked Oatmeal — Tuesday
Lime Chicken Tacos — Wednesday
Homemade Baking Mix — Thursday

What’s on your menu this week? Share details and/or your link to your menu plan in the comments.