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4 Aug 2011   ·   38
Money Saving Mom

Today’s Office Max, Walmart, and Health Food Store Shopping Trips

Our Office Max was already out of the index cards and hand sanitizer, but they still had filler paper and pens, so that’s what we got:

5 packages of Office Max filler paper — $0.20 each with coupon

3 Just Basics Ballpoint pens (10 pack packages) — $0.20 with coupon

Total with tax: $1.72

We price-matched fruit deals at Walmart plus picked up some baking powder:

Baking powder — $1.68

Bananas — price-matched to $0.18/lb. — $0.89

Grapes — price-matched to Aldi price ($0.89/lb.) — $3.74

Strawberries — price-matched to Aldi price — $0.88 each

Total with tax: $9.60

And I found some great deals at the health food store:

Pink Lady apples — $0.99/lb. — $3.31

5-lb. bag of carrots — $1.99

11 packages of organic bread, buns, bagels, and English Muffins marked down to $0.99 each

Total with tax: $17.32 (minus $0.05 bring your own bag credit)

4 Aug 2011   ·   12
Money Saving Mom

Swapping Benefits Your Pocketbook and Community

Guest post by Laurie from Peace Love Swap.

I have always kept an eye out for a good bargain, and I have always put forth effort to reuse and re-purpose whenever I can. When I became pregnant, my husband and I decided to decline any offers to throw us a baby shower. We decided instead just to ask our friends to pass down any baby items that they were done with (that they were more than happy to part with — you know how it is), and we were blessed with almost everything we needed to welcome a new baby.

Then I started my years as a stay-at-home mom. I traded toys and clothing with friends, and shopped craigslist and resale stores for anything else I needed.

Swapping soon became my new shopping. Then one day I was lucky enough to run across an organization that allowed me take swapping to the next level for myself and for my community: I became a swap organizer with peace. love. swap!

Every six to eight weeks, a local kids’ gym hosts our community swap. We invite families to clear out their clutter by collecting items that their kids have outgrown or no longer use.

They drop their items off at the event and volunteers organize and display everything boutique style, categorized by size. The kids enjoy playing at the gym and families socialize with each other. When the swap floor is ready, everyone comes in to take home items that are new to them. No tags, no item counting–just good clean sharing. Swaps are large for a great inventory and ongoing because, well, you know how quickly kids grow.

My motto is “swap with goodness in your heart.” And they do. For the swappers, the cost is just $5, and includes fun time for the kids and great raffle prizes.  So, for just $5 and stuff to swap, you can bring home a bag of “new” clothing, a few fresh toys, a nursing pillow, a diaper bag or whatever treasures you come across.

At the end of the day, you’ve cleaned out your clutter, found some useful items for yourself and your kids, had a great playdate, perhaps won a prize, supported a green event, and donated to local charities (all unadopted items are donated). That’s a day well spent!

For the swap organizer, it is a way to bring in a little extra cash, do something great for the community, and bring home “new” items for your kids to boot!  For me, personally, it is so rewarding to run a green and charitable event, while saving money on my family’s expenses at the same time.  I also love inspiring others to live frugally and to share the many resources that we are blessed with.  It really is a win-win for everyone!

To find a swap in your area, or to become a swap organizer, please feel free to contact Laurie at plssouthbay@gmail.com, or visit www.peaceloveswap.com.

Laurie is a stay-home mom in Manhattan Beach, California.  She has two kids, one and four years old, and a partner in frugality, her husband.  She can be reached at plssouthbay@gmail.com.

photo credit

3 Aug 2011   ·   24
Money Saving Mom

How to Make Money Blogging: 5 Ways to Use Your Blog as a Springboard to Earn Additional Income (Part 1)

Not only are there many ways to earn income directly from blogging, but blogging also opens up a host of other ways to earn money indirectly. Here are five ways I’ve used my blog as a springboard to earn additional income:

1) Teach an Online Class

I taught my first online course back in 2006–way back when I was just learning about online marketing and blogging and really didn’t have much of a clue what I was doing. That first class was successful, so I taught another and another and another. Not only did I learn so much through teaching (and hopefully imparted some helpful information to my students!), but it was a great source of side income to supplement our family during a lean season.

With just a few simple tools, you can teach video or audio courses online. Or, you can put together a package with video and/or audio plus a course handbook like Carrie’s Grocery University.

Consider what are your areas of expertise and what questions you are asked most as a blogger and then see if there’s a way you can turn these ideas into a marketable online class. Offer the class very inexpensively the first time around as you learn the ropes, ask other bloggers to promote the class for you (you could write a guest post for a few blogs on a relevant topic and then link to your class in your bio), and make sure to include testimonials from those who have gone through the class on your sales page.

2) Write an Ebook

Writing and selling ebooks is one market that is untapped by many, many bloggers–and there’s tremendous potential to earn a few hundred (or even a few thousand dollars!) each year by selling ebooks.

In the early days of blogging, selling ebooks was the bread and butter of our business. As our business has grown and our income has increased, I’ve moved away from selling ebooks, but I’d still highly recommend this to other bloggers–especially if you don’t mind dealing with the occasional difficult customer service issue.

There are a few things you must know about successfully selling ebooks, though:

::You need to write on a relevant, practical topic. The best-selling ebooks are those that tell you how to make money, save money, lose weight, cook better, get organized, or somehow practically improve your life. Unfortunately, an ebook comprised of poems is probably not going to sell well.

::Your cover and salespage are everything. You can write a killer ebook, but if your cover is cheesy and your salespage is pathetic, it probably won’t sell. Hire a designer to do your cover (it’s worth the expense, I promise!), and make sure that your salespage has a clear-cut call to action, includes specific details on why someone should buy your book, and has testimonies to back up your claims.

::You must exhaust every marketing possibility. People need to see things again and again and again in order to consider buying. Write guest posts, get every blogger possible to review your ebook, run ebook giveaways on dozens of blogs, and find every other creative free way to get your ebook out there.

If you are planning to write an ebook, I heartily recommend Sarah Mae’s ebook, How to Market and Sell Your Ebook. It’s packed with helpful information and advice and is worth every penny. Also, be sure to read her article on how to sell $20,000 worth of your next ebook.

To be continued next week…

How have you used your blog as a springboard for earning additional income? Tell us in the comments!

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3 Aug 2011   ·   31
Money Saving Mom

Fun & Frugal: Playing with biscuit dough

The heat wave continues here (though it’s only around 100 today, so the children are actually able to play outside for more than 15 minutes at a time!), so I’ve been trying to come up with one special indoors activity to do each day using things we already have on hand.

Earlier this week, I added some milk to some of the Homemade Baking Mix I still had in the freezer and we whipped up some biscuits.

They took their job of making biscuits very seriously at first.

But then someone started snitching a little dough.

And the next thing I know, I turned around from making lunch to see that Kaitlynn had made a hair piece with her dough. Needless to say, that piece went straight into the trash after she was done playing with it! 🙂

The finished batch of biscuits looked a bit interesting, but the children had so much fun making them that it was totally worth it!

3 Aug 2011   ·   55
Money Saving Mom

5 Tips for Back-to-School Clothes Shopping on a Budget

Guest post by Elise Adams from AdamsOrganizing.com

Without question the Adams Family is on the super-tight end of the financial spectrum these days. As I write on my blog every week, we’re on three different government assistance programs and my husband is very under-employed as we head into the Fall.

So while we wrestle with side-gig ideas and re-educating ourselves, we still have toddlers growing like weeds and one little girl in particular headed to Kindergarten, here are my top five tips for back-to-school clothes shopping on a squeaky budget:

1. Start Early.

I’ve been stocking up on uniforms and other hard-to-find items since last Spring. But it’s not too late to start now.

Whatever you do, don’t wait till the day before school starts. The later you wait, the more you’ll be tempted to just grab whatever you see out of desperation!

2. Make a list and a budget.

These could be two tips, but in my household they are inseparable! When I know I’m only going to have $10 each month for clothes it makes me tighten up list to a short and sweet one.

3. Don’t discount yard sales, Freecycle, and secondhand stores.

I am not buying even one new clothing item for my kids this year. The only items I am purchasing new this year are socks, tights, and underwear. Other than that, I’m finding better quality for better prices at my local Goodwill or consignment shops.

4. Accept hand-me-downs gracefully.

Because we’ve been consciously poor ever since my kids were babies, they are excited by these generous gifts from friends or strangers alike. If you aren’t practiced at being upfront and honest with your neighbors and friends about your financial picture, start today! You’ll be surprised at how many folks from every level of financial security are happy to trade, barter, or just plain give away great stuff. (It’s cool these days to recycle!)

5. Place school clothes in a separate area.

This will help you see your progress over the next few weeks. Don’t panic if you don’t have a full school-year of clothes bought/purchased by the time the school-year begins. All our children need is a few outfits to get going that first week of school and you can continue to add to this over the first few weeks/months of this next school year.

Bonus Guilt-free Tip

Lastly, whether a simple lifestyle is old hat to your family or brand new, try to remember that the purpose of clothing is to keep ourselves warm or cool–and not in the popular sense. Sometimes I wish for the simplicity of my Grandma’s day when one good pair of shoes was all one hoped for every year when school started. Let’s remember that our children are rich in experiences, energy, and enthusiasm no matter what they wear to school this year!

 

Elise Adams is an author, motivational speaker, and radio personality who is determined to help everyone she meets ‘survive, thrive and get on with their lives’.  She blogs over at AdamsOrganizing.com where she openly and candidly attacks the tough topics of addiction, chaos, and homelessness from a personal recovery perspective. Her latest project is a Free Video Class she calls ‘How to survive ANY crisis without Losing your Sanity’. Elise, her husband and three toddlers (three other kids live with their other parents–can you say ‘blended family’?) live in the Pacific Northwest.

photo credit

2 Aug 2011   ·  
Money Saving Mom

Q&A Tuesday: Advice for becoming a stay-at-home wife?

Any advice you can share on becoming a stay-at-home wife would be greatly appreciated. My fiance and I are getting married in two weeks, and we’re thinking about having me stay at home. I’m a little nervous as we live in LA (high cost of living area), and he works freelance in the entertainment industry.

We’ve prayed a great deal about it, but as I don’t know any stay-at-home wives, I’m having a difficult time seeing how this works in “real life” not just how I think it’s going to work out. -Rhiannon

Congratulations on your upcoming marriage, Rhiannon! What an exciting time in your lives! Everyone’s situation is different, so it’s hard to give clear-cut principles that will apply to everyone, but here are some suggestions I thought of for you:

1) Be on the same page as your husband.

I made this point in last week’s Q&A post, and it bears repeating again here: if you are not in complete agreement with your husband on decisions like whether you stay at home or work, it can cause serious friction in your marriage. This decision must be made mutually, with both of you realizing the sacrifices it will mean if you choose to stay home.

2) Get on a strict written budget.

I believe that if God calls you to something, He will also provide a way to financially pull it off–even if it doesn’t always work out on paper. However, it’s important to put feet to your faith. Thus, you need a clear plan of action.

Sit down with your soon-to-be-husband and make a detailed, written budget that includes every single category. There are free downloadable budgeting forms available here if you need help getting started.

Commit together to live on this written budget no matter what. If you are going to be a one-income family and you want to avoid debt, a budget is imperative.

3) Hold regular Budget Accountability Meetings.

Not only is a budget a must, but you need to regularly review your budget and see where you stand. This is why I heartily recommend monthly Budget Accountability Meetings. Schedule these on your calendar and make them a priority.

During these meetings, you’ll go over your budget categories and make sure you both stayed within them during the past month. If you didn’t, or you struggled to stick to them, discuss why and what changes can be made to help you adhere to the budget during the next month.

This is also the time to talk about tweaking, eliminating, reducing, and/or raising budget categories. Remember, a good budget isn’t set in stone; it will change somewhat as your priorities and situation in life changes. The ebb and flow is healthy, so long as it’s something you’ve both planned and communicated about.

4) Make sacrifices to achieve your goals.

If your desire is for you to stay home, it’s going to require sacrifices. In the early years of our marriage, it meant that we went for months at a time without buying anything but the bare necessities. It meant making most all of our food from scratch, planning our menus based upon what was on rock-bottom prices at the store, not eating much meat, being a one-car family for three years, shopping at thrift stores, not buying gifts for Christmas or birthdays for a number of years, and looking for any possible way that we could earn additional income on the side.

I won’t tell you that it’s always been easy, but I feel beyond blessed to be a work-at-home mom. Our mutual decision for me to quit working outside the home when I was pregnant with my first is a decision we’ve never regretted.

2 Aug 2011   ·   46
Money Saving Mom

Save Money By Trading Goods and Services with Friends

Guest post by Amy Gabriel at Gabriel’s Good Tidings and The Quiet Little Ladybug

I have many friends who have a wide variety of skills and talents. Over the past year, I’ve been able to “trade” things with these women on many occasions. We mutually benefit from one another – I enjoy sharing my sewing skills with friends, and I am elated when a friend shares her talents with me.

For example, last fall Tonya posted a round seasonal tablecloth in our church newsletter. She no longer needed this shape, so I converted the fabric into napkins for her. In return, she made a batch of dough and posted about this trade on her blog. This provided publicity for my new sewing blog, and allowed our family to enjoy a dinner with her homemade pizza dough.

Stephanie makes beautiful cakes and offered to supply the cake for my daughter’s birthday party. In exchange, I am making her daughter a handmade blanket. I love good coffee creamer, so Esther made me a jar of homemade vanilla creamer and I sewed an Osnaburg bread bag for her.

Although mending clothing is not my favorite sewing project, I will often do it for friends. Such is the case with Sarah, who makes gorgeous jewelry. She has offered to repair some broken necklaces for me in return for mending some torn jeans.

Here are a few guidelines I follow when trading goods and services with friends:

Make sure all the terms are clear before the trade.

Talk about specifics of what you will trade, when it will be finished, and any other details before you start. Even with close friends, it’s important to know what is expected from both parties.

Recognize abilities in your friends.

Encourage those you know by saying, “I love your home décor. What can I offer you in return for helping me remodel my bedroom?” This will make your friend grin from ear to ear and she will be more than happy to find something she desires from your abilities.

Make sure you are compensated for your time and investment.

Even though you aren’t exchanging money, make sure both parties are receiving their fair share. It may help to think about what you would charge for such a good or service, and compare that to what you are being given.

Think outside the box.

Maybe you love to clean and can offer cleaning services in exchange for babysitting your children. Perhaps you love to cook and could offer a meal to a friend who could iron your husband’s shirts. Or, consider sharing flowers from your garden in return for washing and waxing your vehicle. Another idea is to share some of your stockpile with a friend who knits beautiful scarves and mittens. Even if you don’t consider your skill a true talent, it is surely valuable to someone.

Trading goods and services is a great way to “splurge” on something you may not typically have, build stronger relationships with friends, and share your gifts with others.

Amy is a wife, mother, seamstress and pediatric nurse. She blogs about her sewing projects at Gabriel’s Good Tidings and about her daughter’s verbal apraxia at The Quiet Little Ladybug.

Note from Crystal: Please note that according to the IRS, the fair market value of bartered services must be reported as income.

2 Aug 2011   ·   33
Money Saving Mom

Cardboard Dollhouse-Making Trumped My To-Do List

{Yes, gulp, that’s my laundry pile! Gratefully, it is all folded and put away now — at least for today!}

I recently joined the MomLife blog team as a monthly contributor. My first post is up today and I thought it would be an encouragement to some of you young moms:

It was Monday morning. My to-do list was massively long, the house was a mess, the laundry pile was enormous, and to top it all off, I was recovering from being sick over the weekend.

I got the children up and fed, bathed, dressed, and helped them do their morning chores. All the while, I was thinking of a fun activity they could do that wouldn’t make much additional mess and would occupy them for at least an hour or two so I could tackle my ever-growing to-do list.

Inspiration struck as I picked up an empty cardboard box. “Hey, children,” I exclaimed enthusiastically, “do you want to make cardboard dollhouses for your little dolls?”

Read the full post.

1 Aug 2011   ·   14
Money Saving Mom

Today’s Walgreens Shopping Trip

6 Wexford Pocket Folder with Prongs — $0.11 each

1 Acco Paper Clips — $0.33 each with in-ad coupon

5 Wexford Legal Pads — $0.33 each with in-ad coupon

3 12-packs of Colored Pencils — $0.59 each

2 Fiskars scissors — $0.79 each with in-ad coupon

3 Pentel Lead Refills — $0.90 each with in-ad coupon

1 Mini Stapler — $0.69

2 Sandwich bags — $0.99 each

Total with tax: $12.47

1 Aug 2011   ·   49
Money Saving Mom

This Week’s Menu Plan

Blueberry Banana Smoothie

We made it through our busy week last week and are looking forward to a bit more of a relaxed week this week. We are hosting another smaller baby shower tomorrow for my sister, but I’m just providing the home to have it at and my sister-in-law and sisters are doing all the prep work. So it should be pretty simple for me to pull off — especially since my house is already clean from last week’s shower!

Oh and did anyone notice I completely skipped posting about last week’s Freezer Cooking session? Um, that would be because I didn’t get it done. When my to-do list started becoming a little overwhelming on Thursday, I decided that was something that just get skipped since we still had some meals in the freezer. But I promise I’ll do my best to actually follow through with freezer cooking and posting about it this week!

My sister and her husband and children are in town this week, so that means there will be a lot of family get-togethers and meals shared together. Which means we probably won’t follow this plan, but we at least have a plan:

Breakfasts
Granola bars, fruit
Peanut butter & homemade jam sandwiches, Orange Cream Smoothies
Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Smoothies
Scrambled eggs and toast, fruit
Oatmeal, Blueberry Ginger Smoothie
Fried egg sandwiches, Pick-Me-Up Smoothies
Blueberry Yogurt Pancakes, scrambled eggs

Lunches
Leftovers
Homemade biscuits, fruit, scrambled eggs
Salad with hard boiled eggs, fruit
Peanut butter & homemade jam sandwiches, fruit, carrots
Macaroni & Cheese, peas
Refried beans with cheese & salad, fruit
Tuna salad sandwiches, fruit, carrots
Leftovers

Snacks
Banana Almond Smoothie
Frozen Banana Bites
Banana Cocoa Peanut Butter Ice Cream
Fruit/Veggies

Dinners
Dinner with family (we brought Au Gratin Potatoes and leftover cheesecake from Saturday’s shower)
Dinner with family
Sloppy Joes, steamed vegetables, fruit, Au Gratin Potatoes
Crockpot Barbecue Chicken, Bread Machine Bread Sticks, green salad, fruit
Lasagna Casserole, fruit, Bread Machine Bread Sticks, green salad
Hamburgers, Oven Baked Parmesan Seasoned Fries, steamed veggies, fruit
Dinner at extended family’s house

Freezer-Cooking-In-An-Hour Plan (I’ll share pictures/details on how this goes on Thursday!)
Homemade Pancake Mix
Honey Pizza Dough
Frozen Banana Bites
Crockpot Barbecue Chicken

1 Aug 2011   ·   72
Money Saving Mom

4 Tips for Saving Money on Camping

Guest post by Beverly Bennett from Busy Mom’s Tips and Ideas

Want to go camping but don’t have a large budget to buy all the supplies you need? Here are some suggestions for buying camping gear on a budget:

Borrow from Family or Friends

See if any of your family members or friends will let you borrow some of their camping gear. Some people are very particular about this and may not be comfortable about letting you borrow, but you never know until you ask.

Join Freecycle

Join your local freecycle group and watch the everyday ads. Post a request for camping gear and see if anyone has any they’d like to get rid of.

Buy from eBay

You can often find items new or used for great prices on eBay. We recently picked up a great tent for a bargain price off eBay. Just be really cautious of shipping fees, if you aren’t careful you can pay more than you would at the store new because shipping fees can be so expensive.

Use Leftover Firewood

We bring firewood with us when we go camping, however, while camping we make it our goal to not purchase any more campfire wood. We usually arrive at the campgrounds on Sundays soon after most of the weekend campers have left. We immediately go and look at the empty camp sites for firewood left behind. By doing this, we usually have enough firewood to last most of the week.

What ways have you found to save money on camping gear?

Beverly Bennett is a mom who enjoys writing. She enjoys sharing her journeys, tips, and passions on her blog, Busy Mom’s Tips and Ideas. She is blessed to have a hard-working husband and three beautiful girls.

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