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4 Jul 2009   ·   52
Money Saving Mom

Super Savings Saturday (or should it be Super Splurging Saturday?!?)

We're in Kansas City this weekend enjoying a refreshing mini-vacation so I'm skipping my usual Super Savings Saturday post today. Instead, I thought I'd share a few pictures from our dinner tonight at one of our most favorite restaurants in the whole wide world–The Cheesecake Factory!
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While our bill for dinner and dessert ended up being just shy of what we usually spend on groceries for a week, it was worth every penny of it. Besides, who says you can't splurge sometimes, especially when you do it with
cash?

——————————–
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.

2 Jul 2009   ·   34
Money Saving Mom

Guest Post: Once-a-Week Frugal Food Night

Guest Post by Amy Ellen from Health Begins With Mom


Eating healthful foods can sometimes put a strain on a family's grocery
budget. Buying food in bulk, joining food co-ops, and shopping
strategically all help, for sure. In addition, our family has found
another strategy for bringing down our weekly budget: our family has committed to have a Frugal Food Night every Wednesday.

Of course, we try to be frugal all week. But, we see our Frugal Food Wednesdays
as an opportunity to save big! I try to prepare a meal for my family of
six for about $1.50. Our goal with
this extra budget-cruncher is to free up some money for the more
pricey, nutrient-dense foods we want to include in our diet the rest of the week.

Here's what we've been making for our Frugal Food Wednesdays recently:

Take a two-pound bag of pinto beans and sort the beans for any stones or bad beans. (These around $2 at the grocery store and less than $1 per pound if you buy it in bulk.)

Soak
the beans overnight in a crock pot turned off by covering the beans
with plenty of water and stirring in about 2 tablespoons of plain
yogurt. The yogurt will begin to break down some of the amino acids
that cause our digestive systems some difficulty. This process will
also make the beans' nutrients more bioavailable (ready for our body to
use).

The
next morning, rinse the beans and refill the crock pot with fresh, pure
water. Let the beans cook on low for most of the day. I start mine
first thing in the morning. In the early afternoon, add 2 cups of brown
rice ($0.50), 2 Tablespoons of chili powder, 1 teaspoon of garlic powder, and salt and
pepper to taste. (Since I purchase my seasonings in bulk these
spices only add up to costing about 5 cents.)

Let this cook on high until supper time. Voila! You have a dinner that
serves about 12 for less than $3.

At first glance, this meal may not
look like magazine cover-food. However, the seasonings make this dish
surprisingly tasty.

Here is the cost breakdown: $2 of beans, $0.50 of
rice, and let's say $0.10 of spices. That is a total of $2.60. This
meal will serve 12, so divide that figure in half for my family of six,
and we have a complete meal for $1.30. (It will even be less if you buy your beans and
rice in bulk.)

Here are some variation ideas:
  • Adding a can or two of petite diced tomatoes gives this meal a fuller flavor. Two cans will add about $0.50 per meal.
  • At times, we will often omit the rice and serve plain chili beans
    with corn muffins. My children really enjoy this variation. Simple corn
    muffins are very frugal!
  • Our favorite variation is Black Bean soup. Start with just one
    pound of black beans instead of two pounds of pinto beans. Still fill
    the crock pot up with water and cook as normal, adding the rice,
    seasonings and 2 cans of tomato paste. Black Beans sell here for $1.15,
    plus the two cans of tomato paste for $1.10 and rice for $0.50. Since
    this soup will also serve two complete meals, the cost is still less
    than $1.50 per meal. 
A few additional thoughts on this meal:
  • Leftovers freeze well for the next Wednesday. Or they are great
    layered with whole wheat tortillas, salsa and cheese for a quick
    Saturday night supper–which makes for another very frugal meal.
  • When reheating the rice and beans, spread a thin layer of salsa over the top to prevent drying out in the oven.
  • If your children are new to this type of food, cheese sprinkled on the top might make the meal more exciting.
  • Our family eats an enormous amount of fresh foods throughout the
    week. We feel one night with all cooked food is not tremendously
    harmful to our health. If you can't skip vegetables once a week, you
    can always steam broccoli or another sale-priced vegetable. This would
    increase the cost of the meal by at least $1.

Amy Ellen is a homeschooling mother of a third-grader, a
first-grader, a preschooler, and a nineteen-month-old-tagalong. She has
a vision to help moms who want to be healthy but don't know where to
start… and moms who know where to start but need some encouragement
along the way. She blogs at HealthBeginsWithMom.com and is a Wellness Consultant in her "free time".

1 Jul 2009   ·   91
Money Saving Mom

What To Do When You’re Tired of Couponing

Do you ever get tired of couponing? I mean, I love, love, love getting
a great deal, but I get tired of comparing sale ads, rounding up
coupons, and going to the stores. I'm probably trying to do too much
at once. Just wondering if you ever take a break except for when you
had the baby. -Lorie

Yes! I've found there's usually at least a few times per year where I just don't have time or desire to mess with using coupons. Here are a few ideas which work for me to help prevent or reduce "coupon-shopping burn-out":

1) Share the load. If possible, don't do all the work
yourself. If you have children, let them help you clip and file
coupons. Older children can even learn to scour the ad for deals and
match up the coupons with the deals. I know many moms who pay their
children a small percentage of the savings their family reaps from their help or they
pay their young children a small amount for the number of coupons they
clip and file. 

My mom had me do much of the menu planning, coupon clipping, and grocery shopping
for our family of nine when I was in my teens. Not only did I greatly
enjoy the experience and learn so much from it, it also allowed my mom
to have a break from having to try and do it all herself.

If you don't have children or teens who can help, consider finding
some friends who love coupon-shopping and get together with them on
occasion to clip and file coupons and share deals. Just having other
people to share it with is a huge inspiration. Plus, I've found that by
sharing deals with one another, everyone discovers a lot more bargains than they would on their own and it's a lot more fun, too!

2) Simplify your system. If you're trying to go to five stores three times a week, you're going to burn out in nothing flat. I recommend keeping it simple. I stick with going to one to two stores once a week. On occasion, when I have time and energy (and maybe a babysitter!), I'll do more than that, but that would be the exception rather than the norm.

Consider what your schedule is like and what you can reasonably commit to when it comes to couponing and then plan accordingly. If you only have two hours per week to devote to coupon-clipping and grocery shopping, then you're probably not going to be able to regularly shop at four stores or keep up with clipping and filing 10 newspaper inserts every week. (you could consider the no-clip method but I personally have tried it and found it to be a disaster for me. Read more why here. I know plenty of others whom it works beautifully for, though, so it might just be me!)

Remember that you don't have to hit every good deal. In fact, you don't even have to hit 50% of the good deals and you can still save a lot of money and keep your grocery budget low. 

It's easy for me to read other blogs and see these great shopping trips other bloggers are pulling off and to feel like I'm not spending enough time coupon-shopping. But then I remember that I'm at a season of my life (homeschooling and having three little ones) where it's just not feasible for me to be spending hours a week planning shopping trips or going to multiple stores. I need to be home teaching and meeting the needs of my young children. They are only little once. The good deals will always be there.

Find what works best for your family and situation right now and stick with that. So long as you are eating well and staying within a grocery budget that works for your family, don't worry about potentially good deals you might be missing. Just be thankful for bargains you're able to find with the time and energy you have at your disposal.

3) Set your coupons aside for a season. Sometimes, simplifying your system isn't enough. Perhaps you're just completely burned out on coupon-shopping altogether. Or perhaps you're going through a difficult or stressful time in your life. Or maybe your life is just crazily busy at the moment and you don't have time to mess with coupons but you feel guilty if you don't use them.

Whatever the case, I'm here to tell you that it really and truly is okay to take a break. In fact, sometimes I think it's a good thing to take a few weeks off from coupon-shopping–especially if you've been at it for six months or more. Not only will it allow you to come back to it refreshed and excited about bargain-shopping again, but it will also give you a chance to creatively use up some of your extra food in your freezer, refrigerator, and pantry.

Even if you set your coupons aside for a few weeks, you can still save a bundle just by planning your grocery list based upon the store sales and what you already have on hand. Or, if you have an Aldi nearby, you could buy most of your groceries there.

For more ideas on how to save on your grocery bill without clipping coupons, see this article.

What do you do when you get tired of couponing and bargain shopping? I'd love to hear your ideas and input.

29 Jun 2009   ·   81
Money Saving Mom

This week’s menu plan (and simple and inexpensive vacation food ideas wanted!)

Mpmpencil

I'm excited that this week is the Fourth of July! We're heading to Kansas City for a few days for a family vacation and very much looking forward to that.

Since our family is still small and eating out is still fairly economical, we usually "splurge" on vacations and bring very little of our own food. Instead, we eat out or get quick-fix foods at the grocery store while we're gone. It makes it much more relaxing for me to not have to worry about planning, packing, and fixing food for a few days and it truly makes it more of a vacation for me!

Because of this, I'm only planning four days' worth of meals for this week:

Breakfasts
Strawberry smoothies, toast
Waffles, cantaloupe, yogurt
Banana bread, scrambled eggs, fresh carrot/apple juice
Oatmeal, fruit

Lunches
Homemade pigs in a blanket, cucumber slices, apple slices
Homemade Pita Pockets with melted cheese, peas, fruit
PB&J, carrots
Tossed salad with hard-boiled eggs, crackers and cheese

Dinners
French Toast with fresh-whipped cream and homemade strawberry syrup, cantaloupe
Chicken Tetrazinni, homemade bread, green beans, grapefruit
Meatballs, homemade bread, sliced cucumbers, baked potatoes, green beans
Homemade BBQ Chicken Pizza, fruit

Snacks
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
Blueberry Streusel Muffins
Crackers and cheese
Apples
Carrot sticks
Granola bars

For those who may have missed it, you can see what we purchased at the store this past week here. However, do remember that that is not all we're using to make the above food and meals since we shop using the "Buy-Ahead Principle".

Do you bring your own food when you go on vacation or do you splurge and eat out/buy quick-fix foods or a little of both? If you bring your own food, I'd love to hear what you bring and how you pull it off. It seems like a lot of work to me, but I'm guessing that as our children grow older, eating out is going to be much less feasible and much more expensive so I'd love to hear your ideas and suggestions!

26 Jun 2009   ·   37
Money Saving Mom

Super Savings Saturday: This week’s $13.56 shopping trip

Okay, so I’m pretty sure that this week’s shopping trip would win the award for the most-percentage-of-processed-food-and-packaged-items-I’ve-ever-purchased-in-one-trip, but I’m going to post the picture anyway. I promise that we’re not eating a diet of Eggos and Pringles and Mac and Cheese this week. Really, I promise. 🙂

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The truth is, that after scouring our pantry and freezer and refrigerator, we just really didn’t need to buy anything. So I decided to just hit some of the best deals and do a bigger stock-up trip next week.

Most of the items pictured were from my shopping trip on Friday to a local store which was having Double Dollar Coupon Days. I was actually planning to buy quite a few more items, but after scouting out the sales, piling my cart high with great deals, and getting ready to check out, I found out that they no longer accept internet coupons for the Double Dollar Days. Apparently, I missed that bright orange bold note at the top of the ad in my excitement of planning my shopping trip. Oh well!

On the bright side, I still came out spending $6.66 and saving $43!

And then my husband dropped by Target and picked up the Kashi GoLean Waffles (These were priced $2.50 at our Target so after the $1.50/1 coupon, they were $1/box) and 6 boxes of the Eggo BakeShop products ($0.50/box after coupons–see details here.). All totaled, he spent $6.90.

I’ll post our menu for this coming week on Monday to validate my statement above that we are eating something besides food straight from a box this week! 🙂

——————————–
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.

25 Jun 2009   ·   1,291
Money Saving Mom

Smoothies

At our house, we love to have homemade smoothies in the Summertime. Not only are they yummy and refreshing–especially on a hot Summer day!–but they can also be quite frugal. Yes, really, smoothies can be frugal!

Almost any kind of fruit can be used in a smoothie, but berries are especially good. During the Summer months when berries are in season and plentiful, the sales on them are usually abundant. Buy a little extra each week and wash, chop, and freeze them to have for later and you’ll save a bundle and stock your freezer with a nice variety of berries to use in smoothies for a few months to come.

I like to spread the berries on baking sheets after I’ve washed and chopped them and then stick them in the freezer until they are frozen. Once frozen, I transfer them from the baking sheets to freezer bags. This method prevents all of your berries forming into one big clump in the freezer bag and makes it much easier for you to get out a cup or two at a time to add to your blender for a smoothie.

Bananas

Another fruit which is a must-have in smoothies is bananas. Our stores sell bananas which are past their prime for a very reduced price. I buy these up and we eat what we can the first day and then chop and freeze the rest to use in smoothies and banana bread. This is a much more cost-effective way to add bananas to your smoothies and you can’t tell that a banana was a bit overripe if it is in a smoothie!

Banana1

Since I love experimenting in the kitchen, I find smoothies to be a great way to use up some of those odds and ends of produce from the refrigerator and freezer. From that little bit of leftover juice or yogurt which wasn’t used for breakfast the day before to the spinach from the garden which you have in abundance, almost anything can go into a smoothie so long as you put enough other things in it to “hide” it!

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The other day, I used the items pictured above to whip up some strawberry smoothies: some of the YoBaby yogurt, frozen strawberries, milk, and some Santa Cruiz juice.

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I always begin by adding in the frozen fruit and any fresh fruit, then yogurt or milk, and then liquids (either milk or juice). I add more liquid if needed and sweeten it with honey or sugar if it needs it (most of the time, we don’t add sweetener as the fruit is plenty enough!).

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And the girls just gobble it up!

We love strawberry smoothies, but another family favorite is our Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie recipe which is posted here. I made it up on a whim one day and we all decided it was a keeper! If you’re a little more adventuresome, you might also try Green Smoothies. We’ve made these before and no one seemed to even notice the spinach in them!

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Would you like to try your hand at making smoothies? Just for fun, I’m giving away a Smoothie Kit on my blog today complete with yummy smoothie recipes, a small Hamilton-Beach blender (shown above), and Bone Health t-shirts.

May was National Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month and the Milk Bone Health Program was going to give away this kit then, but since I had a baby in May, I’m a little behind here. But I thought it’d be fun to still give away this kit–especially since it’s a wonderful time of year to be making smoothies.

To enter to win this Smoothie Kit, just leave a comment on this post in the next 24 hours. I’ll randomly choose a winner once this giveaway is closed.

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The girls, enjoying their smoothies and sporting their “I {love} strong bones” t-shirts.

23 Jun 2009   ·   34
Money Saving Mom

Baking Day Round-Up

Done… finally! I'm so glad I started the Baking Day list yesterday afternoon because I only ended up having two hours this afternoon to finish up and those were with a fussy baby in the front carrier.

I'm definitely still figuring out how to do this caring for three little ones and trying to get anything else done thing. There are days when those two things seem mutually exclusive, but I'm slowly learning how to be more creative, more flexible, and to sometimes just chuck the whole to-do list and sit on the floor and play with my babies. 🙂 After all, they won't be little for long!

At any rate, today was a bit exhausting and I'm quite confident I managed to bite off a bit more than I could really chew in attempting a longer list of baking projects at this season of my life, but we survived and we actually enjoyed it. And believe it or not, the house is almost all cleaned (thanks to my husband's help tonight) and I'm heading to bed early!

But not before posting the final fruits of the Baking Day labors!

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Here's what we ended up making:

2 dozen Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
1 loaf Banana Bread
1 1/2 dozen Blueberry Streusel Muffins
1 loaf Homemade Bread
A double batch of Waffles
A double batch of Homemade Pita Pockets

By the way, the Blueberry Streusel Muffins are incredibly yummy, which is to be expected seeing as they came from Tammy's Recipes

——————————-

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

23 Jun 2009   ·   18
Money Saving Mom

Waffles and Banana Bread

After getting back from the errand and getting everyone situated for our afternoon Quiet Time, I mixed up the banana bread batter and stuck it in the oven. I’ve made a lot of various banana bread recipes over the years, but this recipe is hands-down the best one ever.

Like the Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffin recipe, I wouldn’t say it is the most healthful banana bread recipe ever invented, but it sure is delicious! Plus, it freezes exceptionally well and makes for a quick and easy snack or breakfast.

I usually let the bread cool, then slice it, and stick it in a freezer bag in the freezer. We just pull out slices as needed. I often will pack a few slices for a snack if we are heading out for a few hours so we’re not tempted to run through a fast-food drive-thru lane for a quick snack.


 

After the banana bread was mixed together and in the oven, I made up the waffle batter and started baking waffles while I mixed up the Blueberry Streusel Muffins and cleaned up the kitchen.

Next up: Pictures of the Blueberry Streusel Muffins, the final results of my Baking Day efforts, and a Mr. Linky for you to share links to any baking you did

23 Jun 2009   ·   37
Money Saving Mom

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins are a stand-by at our house. I’m not sure that they are necessarily the most frugal muffins ever and I certainly know they aren’t the healthiest muffins ever, but they are sure delicious. And if you can get the pumpkin for $0.25/can and the other staple ingredients on sale or at Aldi, it can be rather economical.

These muffins freeze really well and can pretty much be eaten straight out of the freezer. We love to use them for quick snacks or for a special breakfast treat, and they are one of my husband’s favorite things for me to pack in his lunch.

pumpkin chocolate chip muffins

23 Jun 2009   ·   23
Money Saving Mom

Homemade Bread and Homemade Pita Pockets

I began my Baking Day yesterday afternoon since I had a bit of time and wanted to get an early start while I had the chance. I first threw the ingredients for a loaf of Homemade Bread into the bread machine and while that was mixing up, I made up the dough for the Homemade Pita Pockets.

I doubled the recipe for the Homemade Pita Pockets and, in the process, discovered that it seemed to be a recipe not entirely suitable for doubling. The dough was a little difficult to work with. But that wasn’t all–since you are only supposed to cook two pita rounds at a time, by the time the last half of the rolled out pita dough rounds were ready to be baked, they had risen too much and then fallen, making them not bake as well.

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However, despite all of this, they turned out yummy–just not as beautifully-looking as they usually do!

homemade pita pockets

It was also when I was baking the Pita Pockets that I realized this
whole Baking Day thing was probably not the greatest idea ever seeing
as it 100 degrees in the afternoons here this week. So heating up my
whole kitchen was not the brightest thing to do. Oh well!

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Next up: our favorite Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

23 Jun 2009   ·   19
Money Saving Mom

Baking Day: Introduction

After taking a hiatus from my usual Baking Days, I'm back into the swing of things again around here with another fun and busy Baking Day planned for today.

Here's what I'm hoping to accomplish:
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
Banana Bread
Blueberry Streusel Muffins
Homemade Bread or Rolls
Waffles
Homemade Pita Pockets

For those of you who are new here and wondering what a "Baking Day" is, basically it is a day that I set aside every few weeks to bake up a bunch off stuff for the freezer. I usually make up muffins, waffles or pancakes, bread, and I sometimes cooked up chicken, rice, or ground beef as well.

I've found that spending a few hours of dedicated time one morning once or twice a month preparing food for the freezer saves me a lot of time in food preparation over the next few weeks. Plus, it saves us quite a bit of money since it allows us to have breakfast at the ready for a busy morning, snack foods available to grab on the way out the door, and makes dinner prep a snap on those days when I don't have time to spend in the kitchen.

If you've never baked up things for your freezer, I'd highly recommend it. You might find it becomes a time-saver and life-saver in your home as it has ours! You can scroll through some of my previous Baking Days here for more ideas and recipes. And stay tuned today as I'll be posting updates on my progress complete with recipes and pictures.

22 Jun 2009   ·   17
Money Saving Mom

This week’s menu and planned Baking Day

Mpm12

I'm finally getting back into the swing of baking and cooking around here and it feels so nice after taking an extended break after Silas was born. I'm hoping to have another Baking Day tomorrow so I planned for that when making out our menu and grocery list for this week. If you'd like to join in the Baking Day tomorrow, I'll be posting some pictures and recipes throughout the day and a Mr. Linky round-up at the end of the day. Stay tuned for that!

Here's the plan for what we'll be eating around here this week:

Breakfasts
Oatmeal, blueberries
Strawberry smoothies, muffins
Granola over yogurt with blueberries
Cereal, peaches x 2
Waffles, cantaloupe, yogurt
Scrambled eggs, toast, juice

Lunches
Layered nacho dip with chips, fruit
Homemade pigs in a blanket, cucumber slices, apple slices
Leftovers
Macaroni and cheese, peas, apple slices
Cheese quesadillas, carrot sticks, cantaloupe
Baked potatoes with cheese and broccoli
Tossed salad with bard-boiled eggs, crackers and cheese

Dinners
Chicken Tetrazinni, tossed salad, homemade bread, green beans
Grilled steak, corn, sweet potatoes, fruit salad, homemade bread
Meatballs, twice-baked potatoes, homemade bread, sliced cucumbers, green beans
Grilled salmon, baked potatoes, corn, tossed salad, fruit salad
Farmhouse Chicken, fruit, tossed salad, homemade bread
Pizza Night (at church)
Dinner Out

Snacks
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
Blueberry Streusel Muffins
Crackers and cheese
Apples
Carrot sticks
Granola bars

Baking Day Plan
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
Banana Bread
Blueberry Streusel Muffins
Homemade Bread or Rolls
Waffles
Homemade Pita Pockets

For those who may have missed it, you can see what we purchased at the store this past week here. However, do remember that that is not all we're using to make the above food and meals since we shop using the "Buy-Ahead Principle".

See more menu plans for this week over at Organizing Junkie.

22 Jun 2009   ·   59
Money Saving Mom

Ask the Readers: Best deal on an mp3 player?

Ipod
I'm wondering how to find the best deal on a good mp3 player. Are there any great deal-comparing sites, coupon codes, or sales I
should know about? Also, I'm interested in thoughts on brands, styles, and models? What do people have and what do they like and dislike? -Linnea

Personally, I'm not a bells and whistles kind of gal (bet you could've guessed that!) nor am I a techno-geek, so I have an Apple iPod Shuffle 1 GB. I love it and use it every morning when I work out. It works great for exercising since it's so lightweight and can just clip onto your clothing.

However, the iPod Shuffle has very little memory (or is it called "space" or something else? See, I'm no techno-geek!) compared to other mp3 players and absolutely no bells and whistles. But it serves the purpose I use it for perfectly so I'm happy as a lark with it. Oh, and I got a really great deal on mine–I earned it free through Swagbucks (thanks to extra points earned from some of you signing up with my referral code on the sidebar!). Otherwise, I'd likely still be living in the "Dark Ages" and using a CD player or radio when I work out! 🙂

For those of you who have mp3 players or
ideas for where to purchase them inexpensively, I'd love to hear your
input. I'm sure Linnea's not the only one who could benefit from it!

20 Jun 2009   ·   24
Money Saving Mom

Super Savings Saturday: Stock-up shopping trip

I'm a little late in getting this posted today but for a good reason–I slept in until 9:30 a.m. this morning! And I went to bed before 10 p.m. last night so that's what you call one good night's sleep. Of course, since I have a nursing 7-week-old, I was up at least 4 times to nurse him during that stretch of sleep, but I still haven't gotten anywhere near that kind of sleep for at least a few months. Needless to say, I feel great! 🙂

I hit Aldi and Dillons last night for the weekly shopping trip. I had discovered when planning our shopping trip that I had quite a bit of wiggle room in our $40/week budget since I'd been under budget or we'd skipped shopping a few weeks in the last two months. So I decided to use a bit of that extra money to stock up on some of the good deals.

All in all, here's what I bought at the two stores:

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I initially had gone to Aldi to pick up strawberries since they were on sale for $0.99, but they were all out. So I just got the blueberries (on sale for $1.49/pint!) and cantaloupe (on sale for $0.99 each!), plus cheese, apples, bananas, cucumbers, chocolate chips, tortillas, carrots, baking soda, tortilla chips, refried beans, and frozen veggies. All totaled, I spent $24.84 there. I'll likely freeze some of the blueberries and the apples and cantaloupe will last us two weeks, likely, since we still have quite a bit of fruit in our refrigerator from last week.

At Dillons, I mostly just hit the good deals. We bought more Santa Cruiz Strawberry Lemonade at $0.66/jar since it was still on sale and we found we really liked that kind. We also bought milk (on sale for $2.50/gallon), Kraft BBQ sauce ($0.08 after coupons), Kraft salad dressing ($0.19/bottle after coupons), Texas Toast croutons ($0.69/bag after coupons), Daisy sour cream ($0.65 after coupon), round steak (reduced to less than $2), Capri Sunrise Drinks ($1.11 after coupons–a splurge but my girls love these on a hot Summer day!), Barbara's cereal ($1.39/box after the clearance price and a coupon), Sara Lee bread ($0.99 after coupon), yogurt ($0.06 each after coupon), and Wheat Thins and Ritz crackers ($0.87/box after coupons).

In addition, I stocked up on quite a bit of shampoo and conditioner. I usually don't like to buy Suave, but our stock is running low and I've not found any exceptional deals on higher quality shampoo and conditioner, so I think Suave will just have to do for now. It was $0.50/bottle after the sale and coupons. Plus, I had a store catalina for $4/$20 any health and beauty items so I bought some free Suave deodorant, Skintimate and Edge shaving gel ($1 each after coupons–my target price for these), and hair gel which my husband needed. All of these items helped push my total spending (before coupons) to over $20 on health and beauty items, so I got an additional $4 off these already low prices!

One of my uncharacteristic expenditures of the shopping trip was buying the Shout. It was not on sale and I didn't even have a coupon for it. However, if you follow me on Facebook, you know that we had a few major catastrophes this week–including 4 bottles of finger paint spilled on our carpet (we found out that the "washable" label is a misnomer!) and neon orange silly putty running through with a load of laundry (it bedecked an entire load of laundry with permanent bright orange polka-dots!). Due to these mishaps, we managed to go through close to an entire bottle of Shout in a week. So, since we cannot seem to live without Shout–otherwise we have all sorts of ruined laundry–I decided it was worth paying full price for!

My total at Dillons was $27.42. Altogether I spent $52.26–and I still have quite a bit of extra grocery cash left. But seeing as our cupboards, refrigerator, and freezer are so well-stocked right now, I think I'm going to get to funnel some of that into savings. I'll wait until the end of the month to see how things pan out.

Stay tuned on Monday for our menu plan for this coming 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.

19 Jun 2009   ·   18
Money Saving Mom

Guest Post: Using Skype to Save the Family Money

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Guest Post by Karen at Saving The Family Money

In December of 2007, our cell phone company let us down and we decided to cancel them. Long story short, they changed my phone number without permission, and it was a customer service nightmare trying to get it resolved.

After long discussions with my husband and a lot of research, we decided to give Skype a try. I first heard about Skype on the Clark Howard show. I had always heard him talk so highly about it, that I thought it was worth a try. My husband is tech-savvy, so he was excited about testing the technology and seeing if it would work for us. I’m happy to say it is still our main line after 16 months.

The Technology–Skype is free software you can download onto your computer that allows you to talk over the Internet to anyone else with Skype–anywhere in the world. I wish we would have had Skype when my sister and her husband lived in Japan. It would have been nice to video chat for free anytime. Now we use the video chat with the grandparents and it’s fabulous. They enjoy seeing the kids more frequently and the kids think it's fun to see them on the computer!

The Money–The exciting part for me is we are only paying about $6 a month for our home phone service (no taxes)! Imagine the savings if you did this for your family. Although my sister is now in the same city, she signed up with Skype and is also using it as her main line.

Purchases

Skype has changed their pricing format a couple of times over the last two years. They've changed their subscription names for the bundles, so when you research it online, it can be confusing. Despite the changes, it has remained a cheap deal. There are three main levels of pricing:

  1. You can do Skype-to-Skype for free. (Includes video chat, IMs and file transfer capability, but only to other Skype members)
  2. You can upgrade for $3/month and get what I'd call "Skype-to-Phone," to be able to call normal (non-Skype) land-line phones and mobile phones. Voice mail also comes with this package.
  3. Lastly, you can pay for an actual number, so folks can call you. (This is where Skype becomes a land-line phone replacement.)

It's nice because you can take those baby steps to test the service before you commit. Even after you commit, you can choose short monthly service plans.

The Ease and Convenience–My husband got hooked quickly because of the conveniences Skype offered. He loved how it worked on both PCs and Macs. I appreciated all the options Skype had; it's been a pretty seamless change and we use it 100% of the time now.

Over time, we've used a USB Handset, USB Headset,and even bought a Skype phone that works like a cordless. Yes, that's right, you can buy an actual phone so you are not bound to the computer to use the service. It can be worked into your home and used like a "normal" phone. I've even taken my laptop on location, where Internet is available, and by simply plugging in my headset, I've been able to receive and make calls.

Please note: Skype cannot be used for emergency calling. My husband
has a work-issued cell phone so in case of an emergency, we would use that.

Karen has had so much fun saving her family money that she is blogging about it at Saving The Family Money, in hopes that it will benefit other families.