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6 Jun 2011   ·   43
Money Saving Mom

This Week’s Menu Plan

Breakfasts
French Toast Casserole (from the freezer), fruit
Cereal
Steel Cut Oats with raw sugar and milk
Breakfast Burritos, fruit
Strawberry-Banana Maple Smoothies, toast
Waffles, scrambled eggs
Amish Baked Oatmeal, scrambled eggs

Lunches
Egg salad sandwiches, cantaloupe, peas
Annie’s Mac & Cheese, carrot sticks, Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
Peanut Butter & Jelly sandwiches, carrot sticks
Beans & Rice with cheese, peas, fruit
Leftovers x 3

Snacks
Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
Bananaberry Freeze
Fruit/Veggies

Dinners
Marinated chicken, cooked carrots, wild rice, fruit salad
Burritos, steamed veggies, fruit salad
Steak on the grill, frozen veggies, rolls, fruit salad
Tilapia, barley, steamed broccoli, fruit salad
Asian Barbecue Chicken, rice, tossed salad
Dinner out
Dinner at extended family’s house

Freezer-Cooking-In-An-Hour Plan (I’ll share pictures/details on how this goes on Thursday!)
Homemade Whole-Wheat Baking Mix (recipe coming Thursday)
Amish Baked Oatmeal
Asian Barbecue Chicken

What’s cooking at your house this week? Feel free to leave a link to your menu plan or any great new recipes in the comments.

6 Jun 2011   ·   95
Money Saving Mom

Sometimes It Pays to Not Buy the Best

Testimonial from Lisa at Warrior Momma:

Hubby and I used to pay top dollar for just about everything. We always bought the best when it came to computers — the best memory, the best processor, the three-year warranty, the works.

Last spring, as my laptop started to fade, I tried to keep it limping along. We had it worked on. We replaced the battery. And I had to manually crash and reboot it multiple times every day just to be able to use it.

Obviously, I needed a new laptop. My brother-in-law is in the IT world, so I asked him what I should get. He told me to buy the $500 Dell deal that was currently available.

What? The thought had never crossed my mind. We always bought a custom Dell (our last computer cost over $1800!).

Then I thought about it: If I could get a computer for $500 and I had to replace it every year, I would still save $300 over the price of the last computer I bought that lasted me three years.

So, guess what? I bought a Dell computer with the exact same upgrades I put on my laptop three years ago. And it only cost $440! I am hopeful this computer will last a long time, but if it doesn’t, I will not have invested our life savings in it!

Lisa is a Cincinnati mom who has struggled the last 10 years to give her kids the best education, food and treatments money can buy. Raising special needs kids is taxing emotionally, relationally, financially and physically. Her dream is to break down the walls isolating special needs families and providing them with information to help them achieve their goals. Lisa blogs at Warrior Mama.

Photo Credit

6 Jun 2011   ·   27
Money Saving Mom

Learning Good Stewardship From a Change Jar

Guest post by Lacey Wilcox

One of the most valuable lessons I gained as a first grade teacher was that every moment is a teachable one. I’ve now traded in my gradebook for a burp rag, but I still want that mentality with my sweet baby girl. Especially when it comes to money.

My husband and I are about to design a website for a small business we’re starting. We promised ourselves we wouldn’t do so until we could pay for it in cash. So, I did what any good mom trying to save money would do: I saved every penny I could get my hands on. Literally.

Since we pay for most things in cash, I would save any leftover change that I had from transactions. At the end of each month, I put it all in my “someday I’m going to have an awesome website” jar.

You probably all have a change jar stashed somewhere, and fill it as much as you can. But, don’t waste this moment as a teachable one. It’s incredibly valuable in showing your children the importance of good stewardship with money:

::Nothing gets wasted: all leftovers can be reused in a way that is valuable.

::Patience: just because you want something now doesn’t mean now is when you get it. And learning to wait for something teaches you to enjoy it that much more (with the sole exception of Mommy’s morning cup of coffee)

::Take time to make a good decision: taking the time to save for something means you also take the time to decide if you really need it. Sometimes, you decide it’s worth it, and sometimes, you realize you really didn’t need it.

::Thankfulness: when you take the time to save for something (especially if you’re saving pennies and dimes), you learn to be thankful for every single cent. That time also teaches you to be extremely proud of what you’ve earned (and makes you more likely to take care of it).

::Buying something is not a right: I don’t even know that I would say it’s a privilege. It’s a discipline. I want to start teaching my baby girl that now, so that she doesn’t have to learn it the hard way later.

So, there you have it. Consider it a double whammy from your change jar: not only do you save up for something great, you also have terrific life lessons for your family.

And I think we can all agree that’s a great deal.

Lacey Wilcox lives in the Panhandle of Texas with her husband, Kade and sweet baby, Selah, where they manage Panfork Baptist Camp.

photo credit

3 Jun 2011   ·   31
Money Saving Mom

We Paid Cash: Car Accident

We paid cash!

A testimony from Carolynn at My Little Bit of Life

Pulling into the drive way from getting the kids’ pictures taken and picking up a bring home and bake pizza, I hear my phone ringing. I have to sternly ask the children to quit whining so that I can answer the phone.

I pick it up and hear, “Hey Honey, umm, I need you to come pick me up!”

My husband had been in a car accident and ended up rear-ending a car. Our car hit the trailer hitch of the car in front of him, so our car had quite a bit of damage, and the other car just had some scratches. Thankfully, everyone was fine as they weren’t going very fast.

The damage was pretty extensive, $4,400 worth! I hadn’t raised our deductible yet (I had been thinking about it) and we only needed to come up with $500 (plus over $100 to pay the ticket).

Planning Ahead Means Less Stress

Of course, getting into a car accident isn’t ever fun; it’s a big inconvenience. My husband was really upset, mainly over the money aspect. I told him not to worry about it because we are on Dave Ramsey’s Baby Step #3. We had the money in the bank to cover all of the unexpected expenses.

It is still very disappointing because we weren’t planning on spending the money. It was intended to be saved, but accidents happen (literally)!

Had this accident happened several years prior, this would have been a monumental stress! Before we took Financial Peace University, we were almost to the point of having to put our groceries on a credit card.

Instead of an Emergency, It Was An Inconvenience

Right before the accident happened, I was starting to feel defeated. We took Financial Peace University, got out of debt in a little over a year, added children and became a one-income family. I felt like we had made so many changes and were really sticking to our budget and I was getting discouraged because I felt like we weren’t really moving ahead much.

I feel this accident was one way of God showing us how far we’ve come. Because of the changes we’ve made in how we handle finances in the last two years, what could have been an emergency became an inconvenience, not a life-defeating problem.

Carolynn is a stay-at-home mother of four. She was a teacher and now blogs about life: parenting, pregnancy, coupons, FPU, and teaching at My Little Bit of Life.

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

3 Jun 2011   ·   65
Money Saving Mom

How to Have a Successful Road Trip With Young Children: Bring Some Good Books & Audios

You likely well know this, but we love books at our house. And no trip is complete without them! I have fond memories of my mom reading to us on long car trips and I hope to create those same memories for my children.

Picture Books

These are great for reading aloud or letting the children read/look at themselves. I tried to pick books that corresponded with some of the places we were visiting and things we were doing to make them a little more relevant.

You can find our family’s 15 favorite read-alouds here if you need ideas for good books. We get most of our books from PaperBackSwap since, sadly, our library system here is nothing like the wonderful library system we had in Topeka and Kansas City (we were spoiled there — no late fees, very clean and modern facilities and lots of new books and new releases!).

Chapter Books

I always try to bring one chapter book along to read in the car and at night as we’re snuggled up in bed before going to sleep. The children beg for me to read every night and there’s nothing that beats a good chapter book while we’re all snuggled under the covers together!

We’re finishing the Little House series right now, but I brought All-Of-A-Kind Family for something different for this trip. The children loved it and I think I know what books we’re going to read once we finish the Little House series! (Thanks to a reader who recommended this book!)

Books On Tape/Audio Dramatizations

One of the ways we pass a lot of time in the car is by listening to great audio. One of our children’s current favorites is the Jonathan Park series. We also enjoy the Focus on the Family Radio Theater and the The girls also recently listened to Charlotte’s Web during their afternoon quiet time and were enthralled with it.

Books for Mom

Don’t forget to bring some books for yourself, too. Road trips almost always provide some time to enjoy longer stretches of reading than you might usually be able to enjoy at home. I brought The Happiness Project, The Wounded Spirit, Debt-Free U and Quitter. Reviews on these books will be posted in a few weeks when I share about the books I’ve read this month.

3 Jun 2011   ·   41

The Results of Wednesday’s Freezer Cooking In An Hour Session

I didn’t accomplish as much on Wednesday as I have on previous weeks’ Freezer-Cooking-In-An-Hour sessions. But it probably didn’t help that we ate up most of the Banana Chocolate Chip Bread and the Whole Wheat Chocolate Pancakes before they ever made it to the freezer — or in the picture I took!

Next week, I think I’ll try making something without chocolate and see if it lasts longer than a few hours. 🙂

At any rate, here’s what I made in a little over an hour on Wednesday:

Whole-Wheat Chocolate Pancakes (only half made it into the picture; they were that good!)

Banana Chocolate Chip Bread (again, almost half the loaf was gone by the time I got a picture taken!)

Two bags of cooked rice/wild rice

Three bags of cooked barley

3 Jun 2011   ·   26
Money Saving Mom

Patience pays off!

Living So Abundantly shares how by patiently holding onto her $2/1 and $3/1 Target Women’s Top coupons, she was able to get five shirts for just $5.46 total.

I kind of feel badly because I got a little impatient and used my coupons to buy shirts for $3.60 each. Oh well!

Note: These coupons are no longer available. Target clothing coupons go quickly and often result in great deals, so I recommend printing them as soon as they become available.

2 Jun 2011   ·   44

Whole-Wheat Banana Chocolate Chip Bread Recipe

I’m sure you’ve probably figured out by now that we’re chocoholics around here. It seems almost every other recipe I post has chocolate as one of the main ingredients in it.

So it only was natural for me to modify our family’s favorite banana bread recipe to add chocolate. Because everything’s better with chocolate. 🙂

The result was scrumptious! This recipe is great for a quick and easy breakfast, snack or to stick in a brown bag lunch.

2 Jun 2011   ·   43

Whole-Wheat Chocolate Pancakes Recipe

I made this recipe for the first time yesterday. Considering that there are only a few pancakes left and I doubled the recipe intending to freeze most of them, I’d say these were a hit!

2 Jun 2011   ·   89
Money Saving Mom

How to Have a Successful Road Trip With Young Children: Pack an Emergency Box

When you have young children, you always have to think in worst case scenarios. A diaper blowout, accident or mess is bound to happen — maybe even multiple times. There will be sticky fingers, messy mouths, and probably some spills and boo-boos. Don’t get caught unprepared.

Pack an Emergency Box or Two!

Think of all the things that might go wrong and items you’d want to have on hand if there is a diaper blowout, accident, mess or someone gets sick. Pack these items into a tub to keep on hand — just in case. You might not end up using everything (let’s hope you don’t have to!), but you’ll likely end up very glad you thought ahead and brought at least some of these things.

For instance, we brought a thermometer and infant and children’s medicines. We were glad we did because all three children ended up getting fevers on our trip!

This time around, I actually packed two “Emergency Boxes” — one that I kept near the front seat and a medicine container I kept packed in the suitcase. Here are the items these boxes contained:

Travel Emergency Box

Plastic Bags (for trash or diapers)
Lysol Wipes
Tissues
Huggies Wipes
Ziploc Baggies
Hand Sanitizer
Lip Gloss
Lotion

Medicine/Hygiene Box

Bandages
Infant Pain Reliever
Children’s Advil
Benadryl
Travel sizes of Shampoo/Conditioner
Excedrin
Sunblock
Thermometer
Motrin PM
Body Wash
Neosporin
Fingernail Polish Remover
Multi-Vitamins

Make sure your diaper bag is also packed with an extra outfit(s), diapers, wipes, plastic bags and a diaper changing pad, in addition to the items you usually keep in the diaper bag.

How do you prepare for emergencies on trips? Share your ideas in the comments!

1 Jun 2011   ·   144
Money Saving Mom

How to Have a Successful Road Trip With Young Children: Be Organized When Packing

A few years ago, I stumbled upon the Ziploc bag method of packing for a vacation and it’s revolutionized our organization on trips. It’s so simple that a picture is probably all you need to get how it works, but for those who like specific step-by-step details, here’s how it works for us:

1. Do all the laundry.

Since we only have 6-10 outfits total for each member of our family, if we’re going on a trip longer than a few days, we have to do all the laundry in order to have enough clothes to pack.

2. Lay out an outfit for each child for each day.

As I’m folding the laundry, I make piles of matching outfits for each child for every day that we’ll be gone. I also lay out an extra outfit for each child and a few extra shirts for our child who tends to be messy. 🙂 In addition, I set aside socks and underwear, as well as pajamas.

3. Roll the clothes for each day and put into a labeled bag.

I label a bag for each day of the week we’ll be gone, plus an extras bag, a socks & underwear bag and a PJ bag. If you have more than three children or your children are older, you may need to have individual bags for each child. Since we just have three young children, we can still fit their outfits into one ziptop bag per day.

4. When traveling, set out the bag of clothes for the next day the night before, along with shoes.

Instead of having to rummage through a suitcase for clothes each morning, just set out the appropriate bag, along with socks, shoes and underwear the night before. It makes getting everyone ready a snap in the mornings!

5. Stick the extras bag in the car or diaper bag to have on hand in case it’s needed.

If there’s a diaper blowout or a spill or other accident, you’re prepared with extra outfits for everyone!

6. Save your bags to re-use for the next trip.

We label the ziptop bags with tape so we can re-use them again and again. We store them in our suitcases to be at-the-ready for our next trip.

Coming tomorrow: How to Have a Successful Road Trip With Young Children: Pack an Emergency Box

How do you stay organized when packing for a trip? I’d love to hear your ideas!

1 Jun 2011   ·  
Money Saving Mom

Reader Tip: Misspell Your Searches to Save on Ebay Purchases

Annie at The Bargain Junkie emailed in the following tip:

When I shop for things on eBay, I often deliberately misspell the item I’m searching for. There is always a seller who has inadvertently posted a typo. I wanted a Mexican silver bracelet, so I searched for “Mexican SLIVER bracelet.” I was the only bidder, so I got a $200 Taxco bracelet for 7 bucks.