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7 Jul 2008   ·   35
Money Saving Mom

Becoming a WAHM: Budgeting – Part 3

Once you have determined you’re willing to put in a tremendous amount of effort in order successfully work from home and you’ve streamlined your life and developed organization, you’re not quite ready to jump headfirst into beginning your business. There’s one more thing which you need to have in place in order to have a strong foundation for a successfully working from home.

What is that one thing? It is that you need to be operating on a workable written budget. I’m not speaking of a budget for your business here, I’m talking about you personally living on a budget.

Why is this so important? Well for one, I’ve seen a lot of families who think they have an income problem when really they have a disorganization and self-discipline problem. You see, if you think you can’t make ends meet and you need to dramatically increase your income and yet you don’t even have a plan in place for your money, how do you know you can’t make ends meet? Perhaps the ends would meet just fine if you’d buckle down and start giving every dollar a name.

There will never be enough money for those who lack self-discipline. Increasing your income won’t fix the problem if the problem is that you aren’t willing to work hard and wait until you can afford something.

As I wrote earlier:

Why am I such a big proponent of living on a budget? It is because I know
that were it not for our budget and the grace of God, we would very
likely be up to our eyeballs in debt right now, barely making ends
meet–just like pretty much all the rest of our law school friends are.
We wouldn’t be living comfortably well below our means, we wouldn’t
have an emergency fund of six months’ expenses in the bank, and we certainly wouldn’t be on a savings plan to pay 100% down for a home in 3-5 years.

Yes,
we’re frugal (I came into the marriage frugal, my husband has learned
to be out of necessity!), but we would be miles behind where we are now
without a written budget. I know this because we’ve done the math and
we know without a doubt that having a written budget, giving every
dollar a name, and putting it on paper, on purpose (to quote a few Dave Ramsey lines) has saved us literally thousands of dollars over the last five years.

Setting up a cash-flow plan is imperative before you start a business because it enables you to make your money work for you. Instead of you being a slave to a mountain of ever-increasing bills, you are at the helm of the ship with a written plan in place for every dollar you make. Your money will go farther, your stress levels will dramatically decrease, and you’ll be in great shape to become a WAHM!

Note: If budgeting is new to you, start with this post. Then go get yourself a copy of The Total Money Makeover. Dave walks you step-by-step through a plan to revolutionize your life and experience financial peace. In addition to The Total Money Makeover, I highly recommend this DVD on Cash-Flow Planning (this DVD was one of my first exposures to Dave Ramsey and it completely won me over! If you are a visual learner, this will especially be helpful.)

Just for fun: How many of you live on a budget? What has been the single greatest benefit your family has experienced by living on a budget?

2 Jul 2008   ·   8
Money Saving Mom

Reader Tips: Barnes and Noble Summer Reading Program, Bank of America “Keep the Change” Program

Barnes and Noble: Summer Reading Program – From Jenny:

If your children (Grades 1-6) reads eight books this Summer, they can earn a free book from Barnes and Noble. Details here.We did this last year with the kids. There is a list of books to choose from and both of my children were both able to find a book they enjoyed. 

Bank of America: Keep the Change – From Lena:

Bank of America offers a program called Keep the Change. It’s
where anything you spend gets rounded to the nearest dollar and that
extra change gets put into a savings account. So, if you spend $20.01,
then $0.99 would be transferred to savings.

Here’s the cool part:
For the first three months you are enrolled, Bank of America will match
what you transferred to savings. So, you get FREE MONEY just for
signing up for the service. I already banked with Bank of America, so
I don’t know if it would be worth it if you don’t already bank there,
but I thought maybe someone else could use the tip!

1 Jul 2008   ·   26
Money Saving Mom

My Top Four Tips For Those in Financial Despair

1) Put God first and recognize that all you have is given to you by Him. He is the Creator and Sustainer of life, we owe everything we have and are to Him. The least we can do is give back the “firstfruits” of our earnings to Him in gratitude for all He has given us. (By the way, if you are unfamiliar with your Creator and would like to know more, please email me. I’d love to tell you more about how I’ve found true peace and contentment in my soul for Eternity–something which all the money in the world can’t buy.)

2) Have a positive, grateful attitude. I cannot tell how much a can-do, cheerful attitude can affect your finances. As the saying goes, “Can’t never did anything.” If you sit there and sulk about how hard things are for you financially you’ll never get very far. If you instead seek to be thankful for what you have, to make the most of your situation, and to be creative with what you have, you might just be surprised at the possibilities.

3) Become a Dave Ramsey “junkie.” I know I talk about Dave a lot and some of you might get tired of me plugging his stuff till I’m blue in the face. I was once there, too. My husband had started listening to this “Dave guy” on the radio and kept telling me I really should listen, too. I didn’t get what the big deal was but I finally heeded my husband’s encouragement and I’m so glad I did! If you feel financially hopeless or like you are stuck in a hamster wheel, go get yourself a copy of The Total Money Makeover. You can thank me later. 🙂

4) Get on a budget. Read Dave’s book first, he’ll walk you step-by-step how to do it and give you all the motivation you need. You can also download a FREE budget spreadsheet here to help you out. And here’s a free 5-day Jumpstart Your Budget Challenge.

30 Jun 2008   ·   30
Money Saving Mom

Becoming a WAHM: Prioritization and Organization – Part 2

Last week in our Becoming a WAHM series, I talked about how
working at home is just that—it’s work. If you are not prepared to put in lots
of hours and lots of effort, there’s likely no point in starting in the first
place since I can guarantee you that it won’t be easy. Building a successful
business takes time, diligence, and lots of plain ole’ hard work.

Once you are determined that you’re willing to exert the
energy it will require, you’re not ready to start working from home just yet. First, you need to
take some time to examine your life. Step back and ponder
how organized (or disorganized!) your life is.

Do you feel like things are running smoothly most days and
that you have extra time to devote to a new endeavor? Or do you feel like you
are running around like a chicken with your head cut off barely keeping your
head above water?

If the latter describes you, then now is definitely not the
time to be adding something like working from home to your plate. Instead, I
recommend that you take the next month and evaluate your priorities, schedule, and activities. Are you willing to cut activities from your life in order to
focus part of your time and energies to starting a business? If so, what can
you start cutting back on today to free up more time for entrepreneurial things?

Don’t just think about cutting back or paring down—do it! If you’re
really serious about becoming a WAHM, it’s going to mean some temporary
sacrifices in order to achieve your long-term goals.  You can’t do everything so in order to say “yes” to something, you invariably need to say “no” to something else.

I also highly encourage you to spend a few months
developing a good routine and solid organization into your life. Running a successful
business requires organization—not only
on business pursuits, but also when it comes to home management. Balancing
business stuff with your much more important priorities of being a wife, mom, and
home manager mean you must have a plan and you must have order in your life.
Otherwise, you’ll become slave to the tyranny of the urgent.  Ask me how I know. 🙂

If you are struggling with time management, I wrote a series
on this subject on my other blog which you can read here (I’ll warn you, it’s rather long–start at the bottom of the page to read the posts in order!). For those interested, I also recently did a series on Successful Home Management with Toddlers.

Please know that I’m
still sorting things out myself and we definitely have days when I run around
in circles and accomplish next to nothing besides putting out fires; however,
by purposefully committing to develop organization and routine into our home,
things run much more smoothly. And it’s most assuredly only the grace of God and purposeful organization that enables me to be a wife, mom, homemaker, and blogger.

Just for fun: For those of you who work from home or have quite full plates, what’s your biggest time management tip or helpful idea for those who feel like they are drowning? I’d love to hear!

27 Jun 2008   ·   21
Money Saving Mom

Super Savings Saturday: “Small” shopping trip, Sears deal, and giveaway winners, too!

The winners of the Hanes for Kids $25 gift certificates are: Abbi Riner and Brandy (brandyu@) Congratulations!

I did a "little" grocery shopping this week. I was supposed to only spend $15 so that I’d have $65 to spend next week for a bigger stock-up trip, but alas, I didn’t quite stick with my self-imposed budget. Oh well! I’m still experimenting with this two-week grocery shopping thing. I suppose it will take me awhile to get the hang of it.

The good news is that we’ve been having more food in the house and I feel like I’m staying more ahead on groceries. Best of all, I’ve been enjoying shopping more. Where $40 was starting to feel like a bit of a stretch once we lost our Kroger stores and the great deals and super double coupon policy they had, this big-trip, little-trip thing now has me feeling like I’m able to buy plenty and not feel pinched. Maybe it’s just all in my head, but it seems like I have more breathing room now.

Here’s what we bought:

101_0216

First Stop – Hen House:
Lipton instant tea – used FREE coupon
EAS bar – used FREE coupon
4 boxes Blue Bunny ice cream bars – on sale $1.49, used $1/1 coupons – $0.49 each!
2 boxes (4pack) yogurt – on sale $1.98, used $1/1 coupons – $0.98
1/2 gallon ice cream – $2.48
1/2 gallon organic milk from a local farm – $3.19
Total: $11.22 (saved $16.79 with coupons and store sales)

Second Stop – CVS (This was a really bad trip–I needed diapers and couldn’t come up with anything to buy or any deal to work so I just decided to blow some ECBs):
1 package Pampers – $10.99
2 Colgate Total toothpastes – $2.99 each
Used $5/1 Pampers coupon and $1.50/1 Colgate coupon
Paid with ECBs and $0.49 out of pocket
Got back $4 ECBs

Total: $0.49

Last Stop – Aldi:
2 Grapefruit – $0.59 each
4 Apples – $1.40
2 bunches bananas – $2.55
Tortillas – $0.99
Carrots – $0.99
Flour – $1.70
2 packages (8 oz) cheese – $1.89 each
Bread – $1.19
Bagels – $1.39
Total: $16.20

GRAND TOTAL: $27.91

So, this coming week I have about $52 to work with to last us for another 10 days. There are some great sales going on and we’re quite well stocked up here on many things, so I don’t think it will be too hard. We’ll see. I’ll report back next week and let you know how it goes.

And, since I didn’t share this picture last week, here’s what we purchased for the Sears/Dockers deal:

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We did two different $100 transactions, since Jesse was really
in need of clothing. I think I figured out that we’ll pay about $70 out
of pocket (including taxes) after the gas gift cards for all of this.
Since quality men’s clothing is quite expensive, I’m thrilled to have
re-stocked Jesse’s wardrobe so inexpensively! He should be set on dress
clothes for at least another year. Yay!

——————–
How’d you do this week? Post about the deals and
bargains you were able to snag this week on your blog (with pictures,
if possible!) and then come back here and leave your link below.

26 Jun 2008   ·   81
Money Saving Mom

Writing to companies = Free stuff and coupons!

I often receive emails from people thanking me for all the money I’ve helped them save. While I’m so glad to be helping save you money, I have to tell you that this blogging thing is a two-way street: I’ve saved so much more money myself since I started blogging on saving money.

Case in point: a number of you have mentioned writing to companies when you have a problem with a product. Honestly, the thought would have never crossed my mind to do so but with your encouragement I tried it twice in the last two weeks.

And guess what? Both times I scored free coupons.

First I wrote to Pampers because I recently bought a package of diapers that was cut funny and the tabs kept pulling off. We are almost exclusively a Pampers family and I have purchased who-knows-how-many diapers from them in the last four years I’ve been diapering babies, so I knew that this was not typical.

I shot off a simple emailing explaining what had happened, telling them how much we like Pampers, and asking if there was anyway they could send me some product coupons. In less than a week, I’d received an email back and a letter with two $5/1 Pampers coupons. Thank you, Pampers!

Armed with this success, I wrote to Lipton tea as I’d bought a box of tea a month ago which had mostly-defunct tea bags in it. When I’d pour the boiling water over the tea bags, they would explode and I’d have to throw out the now-tea-leaf-filled tea and try again.

Once again, I explained the situation, expressed my appreciation for their products (which I usually enjoy), and requested a coupon for a free product to replace the box of tea bags I was unable to use.
I promptly received both an email and a letter containing not only a coupon for a free box of tea, but a sheet of high-dollar coupons for other UniLever brands. Talk about going above and beyond the call of duty–I’m impressed!

So folks, it never hurts to write and ask. Don’t complain and don’t take advantage of companies, but if you sincerely encounter a problem with a product, drop the company a line. Your few minutes of effort might pay off with free stuff and great coupons!

24 Jun 2008   ·   16
Money Saving Mom

The two-week menu for this week and last week

I’m a little late in getting this posted (only a few more days and we start on a new menu!) but I guess that means this menu is also more accurate since it’s more what we actually ate, not what we planned to eat!

To see our $76 grocery trip, go here. I kept things really simple for these two weeks as we had a lot of things going on and I was feeling the need to keep things simple.

Here’s the menu:

BREAKFASTS (I try to shoot for a combination of two servings of
whole-grains, one serving of protein, and one to two servings of fruit
for all of our breakfast menus.)

Cereal, fruit x 6 (We usually have more variety but since I bought 15 boxes of cereal on our shopping trip? We’re lots of it right now. And did I mention how easy cereal is to serve for breakfast?!)
Juice, English muffins, yogurt
Strawberry smoothies, toast
Blueberry cream muffins, scrambled eggs, fruit
English muffins, scrambled eggs, fruit
Orange/carrot juice (made in our juicer), toast, yogurt
Whole-wheat waffles, yogurt, fruit

LUNCHES (I try to have a combination of a serving of protein,
one to two servings of whole grain/complex carbohydrates, and two
servings of veggies/fruit for our lunch menus.)

Chicken fingers, apples, rolls
Split peas, brown rice, cottage cheese
PB&J, oranges, broccoli
Leftovers
Turkey sandwiches, mixed vegetables
Quesadillas, carrots
Burritos, veggies
Scrambled eggs, spinach, mashed potatoes
Tuna sandwiches, carrots, apples, Chex Mix
Salad, homemade bread
Split peas, brown rice, fruit salad
Spinach/cheese/rice casserole, fruit
Leftovers
PB&J, apples, carrots
Turkey sandwiches, mixed veggies
Chicken fingers, bananas, mixed veggies, whole-wheat toast

DINNERS (Dinners are similar to lunches in that I try to have a
combination of one to two servings of protein, one to two servings of
whole grains/complex carbohydrates, and at least two servings of
fruit/veggies.)

Homemade mac and cheese, broccoli, homemade bread
Haystacks, rice
Waffles, fresh juice (we often have this on Sunday evenings and I make up extra waffles to use for breakfast and snack s throughout the week)
Lasagna casserole, green beans, bread
Hamburger mashed potato casserole, homemade bread
Leftovers
Italian chicken over brown rice
Dinner out (we had a gift card)
BBQ meatballs, mashed potatoes, corn on the cob, mixed veggies
Dinner at friends’ home (bring bread and fruit)
Hamburgers, mashed potatoes with basil, grilled onions, corn-on-the-cob
Lasagna casserole, toast, green beans
Beef hot dogs, fruit, pasta salad
Dinner out

SNACKS (We usually have at least two snacks per day–the fact
that I’m still nursing Kaitlynn means I’m often hungry and three meals
per day just doesn’t cut it for me! I try to serve at least one healthy
snack a day and then one snack is usually something less healthy like
Chex Mix or cookies.)

Fruit (apples/bananas)
Raw veggies (carrot sticks)
Cheese
Quesadillas
Popcorn
Chex Mix
Animal crackers
Cereal
Blueberry muffins
Homemade bread
Whole-wheat chocolate chip cookies
Ice cream

24 Jun 2008   ·   61
Money Saving Mom

In celebration of $4/gallon gas

I’m in no way thrilled about the recent rise of gas prices and have even found myself falling into a panic every now and then about it. However, complaining won’t accomplish anything will it?

So, in an effort to keep a grateful spirit, I present to you four reasons I am celebrating $4/gallon gas:

Texpump

1) High gas prices have encouraged our family to slow down and stay home more. A go-go-go lifestyle isn’t healthy for

anyone, so I’m thankful for the motivation to reconsider outside activities and commitments and pursue a simpler, more relaxed pace in our life.

2) High gas prices have helped us get in better shape. We have added a lot more exercise into our daily lives as a result of the higher gas prices as we try to walk instead of drive as often as we can.

3) High gas prices have caused us to be more efficient. While we used to think nothing of driving to a destination and driving back, we now try our best to plan ahead and combine trips. We rarely go anywhere without consciously making an effort to work some other errands into the trip. This not only saves on gas money, but it also saves us time and effort as it’s much more effective to tackle four errands at once than to make four separate trips.

4) High gas prices have saved us money. I know it might seem like a misnomer that rising gas prices have saved us money, but when you factor in how many errands we’ve decided not to run, how many times we’ve opted to walk to the park instead of driving somewhere, or how many times we’ve just stayed home, in the long run I think it’s saved us money.

What about you? I’d love to hear reasons you have found to be thankful for high gas prices.

23 Jun 2008   ·   82
Money Saving Mom

Becoming a WAHM: It’s work – Part 1

One of the emails I receive time and again is from moms who want to
find a way to earn money from home. While I don’t consider myself to be
a WAHM (work-at-home-mom) expert, I have worked from home for five
years now and have learned a lot along the way. This series is for
those of you who are contemplating working from home, those of you who
think you’d really love to work from home, and those of you who just
wonder what working from home involves.

I’ve read a lot of books and articles over the years on the subject
of working from home and find that often they are somewhat unrealistic. This series will not
be about get-rich-quick schemes (I hope you know by now that there is
no such thing!), how to work for one hour a week and make $100,000 a
year (that’s also a fairy tale!), or how making money from home is a
simple, easy thing.

What I will aim to share with you is my personal journey in
becoming a WAHM,  what things have and haven’t worked for me, what I
wish someone had told me when I was first contemplating starting a
business from home, and how you, too, can become a WAHM.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I’m currently making a good income
from home–last year, I made the equivalent of a good part-time job and
this year, if things continue to go the way they are going, I will
likely double that figure. I’m doing the majority of my work in the
early morning hours and during my girls’ afternoon quiet time/naptime
and am thrilled to have the opportunity to bring in a good income while
not neglecting my most important priorities–that of being a wife and
mom.

I’m sure many moms could look at me and want what I have–the
ability to make a good income while staying at home, choosing my own
hours, and taking care of my husband, home, and family first. I can
take a day off (or even a few days off!) whenever I like and
the money continues to come in at the same rate because of the many
multiple streams of income I’ve set in place.

All this might sound really cool (and it is!) but what most people
often don’t add into this equation are the countless hours, days,
weeks, months, and even years that I spent building my online earnings up to the point they are at. I
do not care to recall all the failed income-earning things I’ve tried
nor the incredibly naive mistakes I’ve made. You don’t want to know
about the sleep I’ve missed or the outside opportunities I’ve had to
say “no” to in order to stay focused at keep at it–even when the going
got tough.

The effort has paid off and I’m now reaping the fruits of my labors
(though I’m still making lots of mistakes and I’m sure I’ll continue to
do so until the day I die!), but I won’t ever forget the struggles I
had to go through to get me where I’m at or the mountains I’ve had to
climb along the way.

I am a firm believer that, with God’s blessings and lots of hard work, anyone can successfully work from home. However, I will be the first to tell you that working from home is just that–work.
I’m by nature a positive person but I won’t sugar-coat the truth when
it comes to working from home: if you are not prepared to put in lots
and lots and lots of time and effort, working from home won’t work for you.

So, before you even consider working from home, I cannot stress how important it is that you are prepared for the long-haul. It often takes months or even years
to see results and steady, reliable income. If you stick with it,
though, it will eventually pay off–and likely it could pay off beyond
your wildest imaginations!

Just for fun: How many of you currently work from home? Tell us a little about what you do and what has and hasn’t worked for you.

20 Jun 2008   ·   35
Money Saving Mom

Super Savings Saturday: Our marathon shopping trip from last Friday/Saturday

I mentioned our marathon shopping trip last week, but didn’t get a chance to show you pictures. Before I show you pictures, though, I need to tell you that our van has been undergoing repairs recently, so I’d been without a vehicle for a number of days and the girls and I were feeling quite a bit of cabin fever.

What’s the perfect solution to cabin fever? Go grocery shopping! We don’t usually go to more than 3-4 stores per week but Friday night and Saturday, we were on a roll so we just went and went and went. And we had a blast! Well, at least we did until Kaitlynn starting throwing up–which quickly signified the end of our shopping spree!

Here’s what we got:

Since I just switched to shopping for two weeks at a time and was
actually a week ahead, I went ahead and used up almost all of my
allotted $80 to spend. There were such great deals and we were
motivated buyers, so I figured I might as well stock up while I had the
chance.

101_0158

FIRST STOP: CVS
1 box Fiber One Cereal – $3.00
2 bags Gold Emblem candy –

$0.88 each
2 Listerine SmartRinse – $3.49 each
1 Brut deodorant – $2.89
3 CVS cotton swabs – $3.19 each
Used $3/$15 CVS coupon
Used $3/$10 CVS coupon
Used $1/1 Fiber One coupon
Use $1/2 Gold Emblem coupons
Used $9 and $6.99 ECBs
Spent $0.21 out of pocket
Earned $6, $3, and $6.98 ECBs

101_0160

SECOND STOP: HEN HOUSE
3 bottles Juicy Juice – on sale $1.97, used $1/1 coupons
3 bags Chex Mix – on sale for $1.50, used $1/1 coupons
2 bags Texas Toast croutons – $1.65, used $1/1 coupons
2 boxes microwave popcorn, on closeout for $0.39 each
2 cans tuna, on sale for $0.58
1 container Farmland All Natural shaved turkey – on sale for $2.79, used $1/1 coupon
2 lbs fresh green beans – on sale for $0.99/lb 
8 ears of fresh corn – on sale 4 for $1
Bags of frozen peaches, raspberries, and blackberries – on sale for $1.77 each
1 bag frozen blueberries – on sale for $2.49
1/2 gallon organic whole milk from a local farm – $3.19
1 package English muffins – $0.85
Yoplait kids drinkable yogurt (6-pk) – on sale for $2.48, used $1/1 coupon
YoPlus yogurt (4-pk) – on sale for $2.17, used $1/1 coupon
Total: $35.48 (saved $29.06 with store sales and coupons)

101_0157

THIRD STOP: WAL-MART
2 boxes Kashi cereal – $2.78, used $2/1 coupon
1 box Kashi Vive cereal – $3.46, used FREE coupon
1 Kotex small pack – $1, used $1/1 coupon
1 box LiveActive cereal – $2.98, used $3/1 coupon
Edge shaving gel – $1.50, used $1/1 coupon
V8 Fusion – $2.98, used $2/1 coupon
5 cans Muir Glen tomatoes – $1.18 each, used 5 $1/1 coupons
Total after coupons: $5.71

101_0163

FOURTH STOP: HY-VEE
2 bags Corazonas chips – used 2 FREE coupons
1 Deli Creations – on sale for $2, used $1/1 coupon
1 cottage cheese (16 oz) – on sale for $1.38
3 lbs Braeburn apples – on sale for $0.99/lb
Total after coupons: $6.10

101_0164

FIFTH STOP: CVS #2
1 box Cheerios – $3
2 Gold Emblem candies at $0.88 each
1 Oral B toothbrush – $6.99
3 Huggies Bath and Body – $3.49
Used $3/15
Used $1/2 Gold Emblem
Used 3 $1/1 Huggies coupons
Used $3, $6, and $6.50 ECB–had them adjust this down
$0.01 out of pocket
Earned $6.99 and $6 ECBs

101_0162_3

SIXTH STOP: CVS #3
5 boxes Honey Nut Cheerios – $3 each
1 Oral B Toothbrush – $6.99
2 Gold Emblem candies – $0.88 each
Used $3/15
Used 2 $1/1 Cheerios coupons
Used 3 $0.60/1 Cheerios coupons
Used $1/2 Gold Emblem coupon
Used $3, $6 and $6.99 ECBs
Spent $3.47 out of pocket
Earned $10 and $6.99 ECBs

101_0165_2

SEVENTH STOP: PRICE CHOPPER
4 boxes of SmartStart cereal (our very favorite cereal!) on sale 4 for $10
Used 2 $3/2 coupons
Paid $4.75 out of pocket after coupons and sales (Saved $10.56)

101_0166_2

EIGHTH STOP: ALDI

Oil – $2.79
2 cans refried beans – $0.59 each
Cantaloupe – $0.99
Baby carrots – $0.99
Noodles – $0.99
Tortillas – $0.99
Corn chips – $0.99
2 bunches bananas – $2.96 total
3 blocks (8 oz.) cheese – $1.89 each
Lettuce – $0.99
Animal crackers – $1.19
Total: $21.21

101_0168

FINAL STOP: CVS #4

6 Gold Emblem candies – $0.88 each
3 CVS Aftershave – $2.59 each
1 CVS sharing lotion – $2.99
1 Brut Deodorant – $2.89
Used $3/$15 coupon
Used $10.00 ECB
Used $5.93 ECB– had them adjust it down
Spent $0.00 out of pocket
Earned $4 ECB, $3 ECB, and $5 ECB

GRAND TOTAL: $76.94–under budget and we got LOTS of food and household products for that! Yay!

Stay tuned for Monday’s post on the complete menu of what we’re eating with these groceries.

————————

How’d you do this week? Post about the deals and
bargains you were able to snag this week on your blog (with pictures,
if possible!) and then come back here and leave your link below.

20 Jun 2008   ·   21
Money Saving Mom

Frugal Family Fun: The Summer Edition

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It’s the first day of Summer and parents everywhere are in the market for creative and cost-effective ideas for frugal family fun. Here are a few of our family’s favorite ways to have fun without breaking the bank:

 –Go grocery shopping together. We often do this as a family and make an outing of it. If you have to do it, you might as well make it fun! We bring snacks and drinks along, the girls get to ride in those fancy carts most stores now sport, and we have a blast seeing how much we can get for how little. The best part of all is that grocery stores seem keep their thermostat set at almost-freezing temperatures so it’s a cheap way to beat the heat (well, provided that you stick to your list and your budget and don’t impulse buy!).

–Pack a picnic, a blanket, some books, and some toys for the girls and go hang out at a nearby lake for the afternoon. This is especially great for a leisurely Sunday afternoon: the girls get some fresh air and exercise and mom and dad can sit in the shade on a blanket and watch them play.

–Load up the girls in the wagon and walk to a nearby fast food joint
or ice cream shop for drinks or cones. (This is an especially great
thing to do if you have coupons or if there is a freebie offer going
on!)

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Those are three really simple and frugal things we love to do in the Summer. What about your family? Post your frugal family fun ideas for Summer on your blog and leave your link below so we can all be inspired. Don’t have a blog? Feel free to share your ideas in the comments section.

19 Jun 2008   ·   44
Money Saving Mom

What have you made yourself?

Simply Thrifty has a post up here (hat-tip to Lavonne!) with links to directions for 100 different things you can make yourself.

Just for fun, I’d love to know which of these items you’ve made yourself. Check out the list here and then tell us in the comments section!

Here’s what I’ve made from the list (not necessarily using the same directions, though):

Applesauce
Syrup
Jelly
Guacamole
Salsa
Gravy
Wedding Cake
Pancake Mix
Icecream
Pizza
Pickles
Playdough
Bubbles
Books
Laundry detergent
Baskets
Paper
Rubber Stamps
Jewelry
Candles
Skirt
Blouse
Bread
Pretzels
Doughnuts
Bagels
Tortillas

Now, not all of the items from the above list were great successes, but I have tried my hand at making them at least once. What about you? Oh and feel free to tell us if there are other things you’ve made which weren’t on this list, too!

I have a hunch that there’s probably at least a reader or two who has
made just about every single one of those 100 things. Some of you are
just amazing!

17 Jun 2008   ·   58
Money Saving Mom

Extended Warranties: Do you think they are worth the money?

My laptop broke last week for at least fifth time since I’ve had it.

Gratefully, I have an extended warranty on it, a backup laptop, and almost all of my business stuff is virtual (not computer-dependent). As you can tell, I’ve been around this track one too many a time to not have a back-up plan in place.

The fix just took one phone call and a short consultation with tech support and in minutes they promised to send a new adapter–all free of charge. Two days later, the adapter arrived on my doorstep and my computer was fixed… yet again.

When I bought the laptop, it was my first laptop to purchase and my first time to decide to fork over the extra money for an extended warranty. Knowing how often I use my computers and knowing my track record with breaking them, my husband and I felt it was a wise choice.

That extra $300 or so for the extended warranty felt like a lot at the time, but it’s paid for itself many times over in the last two years. I’ve had my keyboard replaced, my adapter replaced twice, the motherboard replaced (a tech came to our home to do that; I didn’t know anyone still made "house calls" these days!), and spent more than five hours put together on the phone with tech support.

If I had had to take my computer in and get it fixed each of these times, I do not doubt it would have been quite a bit more than that initial $300 for the extended warranty. And I would have also had to hassle with taking it in and picking it up, not to mention finding a reliable tech store in the first place.

When I bought my second laptop, I didn’t blink twice when the associate asked if I wanted to buy a warranty. He was all prepared to explain the different warranties to me when I blurted out confidently, "I’ll take the three-year extended warranty." And guess what? We’ve already made good use of it on the second laptop.

I’ve come to the conclusion that at least for us, buying an extended warranty on laptops is a no-brainer. It saves headache, it saves time, and it saves money.

Do you buy extended warranties or do you think they are a waste of money?

16 Jun 2008   ·   102
Kids eat FREE at ALL of these restaurants! This is a massive list!

The Master List of Kids Eat Free (and Almost-Free) Restaurant Deals

 Kids eat FREE at ALL of these restaurants! This is a massive list!

This list was last updated in February 2018. As always, these deals may vary by region/store. Check with your local stores ahead of time to see if they participate.

Kids Eat Free

Atlanta BreadAtlanta Bread: Tuesdays 4pm – close—One free kids meal per adult purchase.

backyardBackyard Burgers: Tuesdays—Buy one adult combo meal and get a kids meal free for kids 12 and under from 4 pm to close.

Baja FreshBaja Fresh: Sundays—Free kids meal with an entree and large drink purchase.

Beef ‘O’ Brady’sBeef ‘O’ Brady’s: Tuesdays from 4-8 p.m.— Kids ages 12 and under can get anything off the kids’ menu with the purchase of an adult entrée.

bennigansBennigan’s: Tuesdays after 4pm—Kids 12 and under eat free with the purchase of an adult entree.

blackBlack Eyed Pea: Tuesdays—Kids 12 and under eat free. One item from the kids menu is free with each purchased adult entrée from 5 pm to close.

bluemesaBlue Mesa Grill: Sundays—Kids 5 and under eat free with the purchase of adult brunch from 9 am to 3 pm. Check individual locations for participation.

bobevansBob Evans: Tuesdays—Free Kids’ Meal with every Adult meal purchased after 4pm.

brustersBruster’s Real Ice Cream: Daily—Kids under 40 inches receive a free baby cone.

Captain D’sCaptain D’s: On Tuesdays and Thursdays—Kids can eat for free. Limit of 2 free kids meals per adult entree purchased.

Chick-fil-AChick-fil-A: Tuesdays between 5:30-7:30 p.m.—Kids eat free with the purchase of an adult combo meal. NOTE: some locations charge $0.99 per kids meal.

ciciCici’s Pizza: Daily—Kids 3 and under eat free. Ask server for specific details.

culvers_logoCulver’s: Daily—Kids 12 and under receive a free custard with the purchase of a meal.

dennysDenny’s: Tuesdays—Kids eat free from 4-10 pm. Restrictions may apply. Ask your server for details.

DICKEY'S BARBECUE LOGODickey’s Barbecue Pit: Sundays—Kids 12 and under eat free. One free kids meal for every adult meal purchased.

doubleDouble Dave’s Pizza: Daily—Free kids buffet with purchase of an adult buffet. Qualifying age varies by locations, so call ahead or check with your server.

firehouseFirehouse Subs: Wednesdays—Kids eat free with the purchase of an adult combo. Participating restaurants only. Varies by location.

Freebirds World BurritoFreebirds World Burrito: Tuesdays from 10:30am – 9pm—Kids 11 and under get a free burrito or quesadilla meal with the purchase of an adult entrée.

Fricker’sFricker’s: Daily—Kids can eat free all day, every day – valid for dine in only.

gattitownGatti Town: Wednesdays—Kids 10 and under get free kid’s buffet with the purchase of adult buffet at regular price. Limit 1 child per adult.

Genghis GrillGenghis Grill: Tuesdays—Kids 12 and under can eat Free with the purchase of an adult full-price bowl.

Godfather’s PizzaGodfather’s Pizza: Tuesdays—Kids aged 10 and under can eat for free from 11am-2pm and 5pm-8pm at the buffet.

Golden Corral LogoGolden Corral: Mondays—Kids 10 and under eat free from 5-9 pm. Two kids per adult. Kids 3 and under are always free.

ihopIHOP: Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday—Kids 12 and under eat free from 4-8 pm. One kids’ menu item per adult entree. Drinks not included.

ikeaIKEA: Tuesdays—Kids eat free at some locations. Check with local store for qualifying ages and participation. There are also specials throughout the year. Check the store page for your local store to see current specials.

Jason's DeliJason’s Deli: Wednesdays—Kids eat free all day. One free kids’ meal per paying adult.

Jose Pepper'sJose Pepper’s: Sundays—Kids eat free all day at Jose Pepper’s.

LoneStarSteakhouseLone Star Steakhouse: Tuesdays—Kids eat free all day. One child entree with each paid adult entree. Not valid in Orlando, FL.

lubysLuby’s Cafeteria: Wednesdays—Kids eat for free after 4 pm with every adult entree purchase.

maggianosMagganio’s: Saturdays—Kids 5 and under eat free. Check with your local restaurant for participation.

Margarita's Mexican RestaurantMargarita’s Mexican Restaurant: Saturdays and Sundays—Get two complimentary kids meals (12 and under) per adult entrée purchased.

marieMarie Callender’s: Tuesdays—One free Kid’s Meal with each adult entree purchased.

moeslogoMoe’s Southwestern Grill: Tuesdays—Kids eat free all day. One free kids’ meal for each adult meal purchased. Choose from Power Wagon (hard or soft taco), Mini Masterpiece (cheese quesadilla) or Moo Moo Mr. Cow (burrito). Each kids’ meal includes a cookie and beverage.

ontheborderlogoOn the Border: Daily Kids receive a free sundae with meal purchase. Participation may vary.

perkinsPerkins: Tuesday—Kids eat free all day. Kids eat free at Ohio and Pennsylvania locations on Wednesday and Saturday from 4pm-9pm.

PicadillyPicadilly: Fridays—Kids under 6 eat free all day.

pizzahutPizza Hut: Tuesdays—Some participating locations offer an unlimited pizza buffet for just $6.99. Kids 10 and under eat free with the purchase of an adult buffet.

Planet SubPlanet Sub: Sundays—Kids eat free with adult meal purchase.

ponderosaPonderosa Steakhouse: Tuesdays—Kids eat free from 4pm to close. You can get up to 2 free kids’ meals with each adult entree purchased. Ask server for specific details.

qdobaQdoba Mexican Grill: Sundays or Wednesday—Kids eat free on Sundays or Wednesdays. Participation and day of participation varies by location.

Red RobinRed Robin: Mondays—Kids 10 and under eat free.

Rock Bottom CafeRock Bottom Cafe: Mondays and Tuesdays—Children aged 12 and under can eat free from the kid’s menu.

Ruby TuesdayRuby Tuesday: Tuesdays from 5 p.m. to close—Ruby Tuesday offers free kids meals with the purchase of an adult entree.

Salsarita's Fresh CantinaSalsarita’s Fresh Cantina: Thursdays—Kids eat free all day with a paying adult.

Shoney'sShoney’s: Fridays—Kids under 4 eat free all day with paying adult.

skylineSkyline Chili: Mondays—Kids 4 and under eat free from 4-9 pm. Check ahead for specific participating locations.

Slim ChickensSlim Chickens: Sundays—Kids aged 10 and under eat free.

SmashburgerSmashburger: Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday—Get a free kids meal with the purchase of a regular burger or salad after 4 pm. (Day various by region.)

Souper! Salad!Souper! Salad!: Sundays—Kids ages 4 and under eat for free.

steakSteak ‘n Shake: Daily—Free kid’s entrée for every $9 purchased. Participation varies by location.

TGI Friday'sTGIFriday’s: Mondays & Tuesdays—Kids eat free, though offers vary by location. Call ahead or check with server for specific details.

tonyromasTony Roma’s: Sundays—Kids 12 and under eat free with a purchase of an adult entree.

Tropical Smoothie CafeTropical Smoothie Cafe: Sundays—Kids eat free all day.

unoUno Chicago Grill: Tuesdays—Kids eat free with the purchase of an adult meal.

Kids Eat For Almost-Free

buffaloBuffalo Wild Wings: Wednesdays—Kids 12 and under can order from the Kids’ Menu for just $1.99 from 4-10 pm.

fazolisFazoli’s: Tuesdays—Get 2 kids’ meals for $0.99 each with the purchase of 1 adult entree. For children ages 12 and under. Offer valid from 5-8 pm each Tuesday at participating restaurants.

firemountainFire Mountain: Thursdays—Two kids’ buffets for $0.99 each with the purchase of an adult buffet. For children ages 11 and under. Participation varies by location.

fuddruckersFuddruckers: Mondays & Tuesdays—Kids 12 and under can order from the kids’ meal menu for $0.99 (drinks included) from 4-9 pm. Locations and participation may vary.

mcalistersMcAlister’s Deli: Daily—Kids’ meals for $0.99 all day at select locations. Call ahead for participation.

oldcountryOld Country Buffet: Thursdays—Two kids’ buffets for $1.99 each with the purchase of an adult buffet. For children ages 11 and under. Participation varies by location. Offer also available at participating HomeTown Buffet and Country Buffet locations.

ryansRyan’s: Thursdays—Two kids’ buffets for $1.99 each with the purchase of an adult buffet. For children ages 11 and under. Participation varies by location.

WhichWich-logoWhich Wich Superior Sandwiches: Mondays & Saturdays—Kidswich meals are $0.99 with the purchase of a 7″ small Wich. Kidswich meals include a Wich, treat, and drink. Valid for children ages 12 years and under at participating locations.

If you have any restaurants or details to add to this list, please leave a comment. Thanks!


14 Jun 2008   ·   71
Money Saving Mom

Super Savings Saturday: We Survived the Two-Week Grocery Experiment!

We made it to Saturday! Aside from a few trips to CVS, I did not darken the door of any supermarket for two weeks.

Two. whole. weeks.

It felt like an eternity. Well, almost! At any rate, we made it through two weeks of no-shopping and we learned a lot along the way:

1) It is hard to let good deals pass by, especially when I have the time to snag them, the right coupons, and the store is only a few blocks away. 

2) A half gallon of milk does not last two weeks. Um, yeah, I should have known that one; don’t ask me what I was thinking.

3) Even if it was painful to miss a few deals, it is rather nice to not have to even think about menu-planning or shopping-list-making for two whole weeks.

4) Finally, yes, it saved me time. Yes, it saved us money (well, in that we were able to buy more with $80 than we can with $40. Do not ask me how that works, though, because I’m still scratching my head over it!). And last of all, we made it through two weeks without running out of food (ahem, except the milk bit!) and we even had quite a bit to spare.

The consensus? I think I’m going to try doing my grocery shopping every two weeks. However, instead of only going once every two weeks and spending all $80, my current plan is to do a bigger stock-up shop (say $65 worth) every two weeks and then use the leftover money ($15 or so) to make a quick run to a store to buy milk and the rock-bottom deals the week I’m technically not shopping.

This plan seems like it would give me the best of both worlds as I would still save time and have more wiggle room for stocking up every other week, but I’d also not have to miss out on exceptional deals the week I take off nor would we have to worry about going without if we run out of something like milk. That said, while it seems like a good plan, I have to try it out for awhile to really know it’s effectiveness.

I’m curious to know: Does anyone else shop like this–a big trip one week, a small trip the next? Do you think it could work?

We just got back from a two-hour shopping trip to multiple stores and got some wonderful deals but I need to head for bed so I’ll try and share those tomorrow or Monday.

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How’d you do this week? Post about the deals and
bargains you were able to snag this week on your blog (with pictures,
if possible!) and then come back here and leave your link below.