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23 Jun 2011   ·   66
Money Saving Mom

Freezer Cooking in an “Hour”: Taco Meat, Healthy Peanut Butter Fudge, Whole-Wheat Blueberry Streusel Muffins

Yesterday was one of those whirlwind days. My doorbell and phone rang a lot (I counted at the end of the day and nine different people came over during the course of the day!). I got the freezer cooking done, but there were so many different interruptions that it ended up dragging out over two hours. But at least I got it done!

And then I did another impromptu cooking session this afternoon — some for the freezer, some for us to eat this weekend. So, here’s everything I made the last 24 hours:

6 meals’ worth of Taco Meat (I threw this recipe together using cooked pinto beans, onions, tomatoes, chili powder and salt. We used some of it for our Build-Your-Own Haystacks last night and I’m freezing the rest to use for tacos and haystacks over the next month or so.)

1 pan of Cinnamon Roll Biscuits

1 dozen Whole-Wheat Blueberry Streusel Muffins (These were okay. I like some of my other blueberry muffin recipes better, though.)

Healthy Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge (This turned out pretty well. Everyone thought it was good — not fabulous, but good.)

2 bags of cooked chickpeas

Homemade Hummus

Homemade Tahini

Did you do any freezer cooking this week? If so, I’d love to see your links and/or recipes if you blogged about it.

23 Jun 2011   ·   115
Money Saving Mom

Today’s Walmart Price-Matching Shopping Trip

Walmart Shopping Trip

4 plums — price-matched to Aldi price of $0.25 each

4 nectarines — price-matched to Aldi price of $0.25 each

4 cantaloupe — price-matched to Aldi price $0.99 each

4 cartons of strawberries — price-matched to Aldi price of $0.99 each

4 peaches — price-matched to Aldi price of $0.25 each

5 pounds of bananas — price-match to a local store’s Thursday $0.18/lb. sale

The total after tax was $11.51.

I’m so thankful to be well-stocked up fruit again — at least for a few days. My children have been eating through fruit at a crazy rate here recently, but I’m not going to do anything to discourage it since I’m thrilled that they are asking to have fruit for snack.

Now if we could just get them to start asking for zucchini and spinach for snack, I’d really feel like a good mom. But I don’t think that’s going to be happening anytime soon! 🙂

23 Jun 2011   ·  
Money Saving Mom

How to Make Money Blogging: Offer Giveaways

How to Make Money Blogging: Learn How To Start Offering Giveaways On Your BlogA question I have heard over and over during the past few years is: “How do I start offering giveaways on my blog?” I get the impression that many new bloggers think you must have a big blog or super secret sources in order to host giveaways on your blog.

Well, guess what? There is no super secret society one must be admitted to in order to run giveaways. Nor do you need to have substantial traffic.

No matter the size of your blog, there are thousands of companies who would love to offer a giveaway to your readers. Seriously. And once you get started with giveaways, you’ll likely quickly find that there are many more opportunities than you have time and space for!

Here are four simple ways to get started offering blog giveaways:

1) Give something of your own away.

When I was very new to blogging and didn’t know any better, I often paid for my own giveaways. In fact, I often gave away products that I personally owned and no longer needed.

While this is not the ideal, it is an excellent way to “get your feet wet” when it comes to giveaways. When you approach a company regarding running a giveaway (see next point), you’ll likely have better success in procuring a giveaway if you can show them that you’ve successfully run giveaways in the past.

If you use Swagbucks (and if you don’t, what are you waiting for?!), you might consider giving away a gift card you’ve earned through them. That way, it doesn’t cost you actual money out of pocket. And readers love gift card giveaways.

2) Approach companies and ask if they’ll run a giveaway.

If you don’t have companies beating your door down to request that you do a giveaway with them, start getting proactive! Have a product or website that you love, write and ask them if they’d consider running a giveaway on your blog. It’s that easy!

Be professional, be concise, and make sure to clearly explain how running a giveaway on your blog would be a win for their company. I’d recommend that you share your blog stats with them, link to a recent giveaway you’ve run, and share why you feel their product or website is well-suited to your blog’s audience. In addition, I’d state upfront two ideas you have for a giveaway but also convey that you’re open to other ideas they might have.

3) Ask for a contact from another blogger who has run a giveaway.

Has one of your blogging friends run a giveaway with a company that you think would also be a great fit for your blog? Ask them if they’d be willing to pass along their contact at that company to you.

Now, please don’t abuse this idea! Most bloggers are happy to share their contacts with you, but don’t expect or demand that they must share all their contacts with you as most bloggers work hard to establish relationships with PR and Advertising companies. But if they are willing to share, this can be a great way to get a direct contact for a person at a company or PR Agency which is likely interested in running giveaways on blogs.

4) Respond to a press release with a giveaway pitch.

Once you’ve been blogging for a little while, you’ll often begin to receive press releases about new products from companies and PR Agencies. If you’re interested in the product and think it would be a great fit for your blog’s audience, consider writing back and pitching a giveaway. Companies are sending out a press release to garner buzz for their product, so they’ll often bite on a giveaway pitch.

22 Jun 2011   ·   74
Money Saving Mom

How to Make Money Blogging: 10 Ways to Build & Increase Your Readership (Part 3)

Read Part 1 and Part 2 if you missed it.

9. Network with other bloggers.

Back when I first starting blogging, if you blogged semi-consistently and were even remotely interesting, you had no problem getting readers. Nowadays, there are so many more blogs and it’s a lot harder to build your readership. One of the key components — aside from so many of the other things we’ve discussed in this series — is to network with other bloggers.

I’ve learned everything I know about blogging from more experienced and wiser people. They’ve given me counsel, they’ve taught me things I would have never figured out on my own, they’ve encouraged me with I was feeling burnt out or discouraged and they’ve challenged me to better myself as a blogger and writer.

Find bloggers you can connect with (either online or in your local area) to bounce ideas off of, to keep each other accountable and to share new things you’re learning or experimenting. These friendships can be invaluable — and it’s also nice to spend time with people who “get” what this whole blogging thing is about!

Partner with other bloggers to create series (see Honoring the Man They Call Daddy for an example), team up with other bloggers to raise awareness about issues you care about and guest post on each other’s blogs. Always be looking for ways to join forces with other bloggers in a way that will benefit your readers — and theirs, as well.

10. Create a community.

Finally, if you want to build your readership, you need to be there for them. Don’t just write a post and then disappear and let readers talk amongst themselves in the comments. Respond to questions asked and interact with your readers on a regular basis. In fact, when you are first starting out, you might to try to respond to all comments left. It encourages people to stick around and it makes them feel a part of a community.

Even if you can’t respond to every comment, whatever you do, don’t just show up to respond to commentors. As Jon Acuff says, “If you only respond to jerks on your blog, eventually you’ll create a blog that only jerks read.” It’s totally okay to explain yourself to those who misunderstood your post or are offended, but it’s much more important to respond to the faithful, encouraging commentors. They care much more deeply about you than a fly-by-night nasty anonymous commentor ever does.

In addition, listen to your readers: ask for their advice, welcome their input and let them know how much you appreciate them.

A Word of Caution

People always ask me, “How do you do it all?” I think the important thing to remember is that I’ve slowly added new things — Facebook, Twitter, email newsletter, etc. If I had tried to set it all up all at once, I would have been completely overwhelmed.

Pace yourself when setting up a blog. Challenge yourself to try new things little by little, don’t go and implement all these ten things at once. Pick one or two to focus on for the next few months. Set goals for each month, break these goals down into weekly goals and then work on them for 10 or 15 minutes each day. Over time, it will likely start to become old hat and you can add new goals and experiment with new ideas.

However, remember to compare yourself with yourself only. There will always be another blogger doing a better job of this or that or the other. Don’t let it discourage you. Look at the progress you are making towards your goals — even if it seems very slow and miniscule — and be encouraged by that.

photo credit

22 Jun 2011   ·   399
Money Saving Mom

Ask the Readers: How can I earn an extra $1000 per month?

Today’s question is from Pamela:

I am in a situation where I need to increase my monthly income by about $1,000 per month. We already eat as frugally as we can and try to buy only when something is on sale. We economize at home with utilities.

I don’t think there is much else I can do besides actually increasing my income from home. In addition to selling online, which I already do, what other work from home opportunities are there that would enable me to see a $1,000 increase in income in a short time? – Pamela

Do you have a question you’d like to ask Money Saving Mom® readers? Read the submission guidelines and submit it here.

22 Jun 2011   ·   110
Money Saving Mom

How to Make Money Reselling Your Children’s Clothes on EBay

Guest post by Jen Wise from Yard Sale Mommy

From the flurry of comments made on the recent on the clothing stockpile posts, one thing is clear: we’re all looking for ways to save money when it comes to our kids. In our family, just like in many of yours, we buy 95% of our children’s items at yard sales in order to keep our costs down. This easily saves us 90% when it comes to buying things for our girls.

But what about when your little ones outgrow their clothes and toys? What do you do with them?

Many of you expressed frustration with your own yard sales and the insulting prices offered for your high-quality, well-cared for items. Of course, as yard sale buyers we want everything to cost $0.50, but when we are sellers we don’t want rock bottom — we want top dollar!

If you aren’t planning on passing down your outgrown kid stuff to friends or family, consider selling your used goods on eBay. Not only can you recoup your initial costs, but often you can make a profit by selling your gear for more than you paid (since you bought it 90% off at yard sales in the first place). Then you can take your profits and buy next year’s clothes, shoes, and gifts and essentially never pay out of pocket for your children’s things again.

Why not try it? It’s easier than you think.

Do your research.

Search completed listings of the items that you wish to sell on eBay, and sort the search by those with the highest final selling price first. Make sure that the price you’ll likely get for them is worth your time and effort. Write down the titles of the listings which made the most money.

Time it right.

Sell your Spring/Summer items in February/March, and sell Fall/Winter things in July/August. List your toys when moms are shopping for Christmas or other holiday gifts.

Seven-day auctions are best unless your item is time sensitive or the holiday is a week away. Have your auction end in the evening, on a weeknight, after most kid bedtimes. This is when parents have time to browse and bid.

Your title is everything.

Think of every possible word that might be typed into the search box someone might use to find your item. Use similar titles as those who sold their similar item for the most money as discovered in your research.

Set a reasonable auction start price.

Don’t set your opening auction price too high or too low. I rarely start anything over $9.99, even if I expect it to sell for $100. A good rule of thumb is to list something for a price you would be happy getting for it at a consignment sale.

Get your shipping supplies ready.

Order priority mail boxes and tape for free from www.usps.com, or ask local stores for boxes before they are recycled. Box and weigh your item before you list it.

Take good, clear pictures.

If your picture looks terrible, your item looks terrible. Take it against a solid background, like a hardwood floor or a white sheet. Make sure your flash is good or there is enough lighting where a flash isn’t necessary.

Describe your item accurately.

If there are minor stains or flaws in your merchandise, be up front and give a detailed explanation.  Take a picture if necessary.

Let your eBay listing calculate shipping costs automatically for your buyer.

If you box and weigh your items before you list, this will be super easy. Additionally, you can ensure you won’t lose money on the shipping.

Be available to answer questions.

Buyers ask questions when they are serious, so answer them in a timely fashion.

Ship your items in a timely manner from your home.

Building good feedback is important.  Try to ship your items as soon as possible, and definitely within the time you promised on your listing.  Use free USPS carrier pick up so that you don’t have to bring the kids to the post office.

Why not get your feet wet and pick out one toy or outfit that you would like to sell and give it a try? Who knows, you might be able to take that $0.50 yard sale purchase your child has already used and turn a $50 profit!

Jen Wise is a SAHM of three sweet girls and the wife of one handsome engineer!  Every Saturday morning she can be found hitting the sales in Raleigh, North Carolina. You can follow her yard-saleing, eBaying adventures at her blog, Yard Sale Mommy.

photo credit: WordShore

21 Jun 2011   ·   49
Money Saving Mom

How to Make Homemade Reusable Baby Wipes

Guest post by Candice from Rattles and Redheads

Baby wipes can be expensive and can easily become one of those, “On no! I forgot to pick up wipes, today!” types of catastrophes that often plague so many of us in the wee hours of the night. I have been there too often!

Reusable wipes are perfect for easy spills, diaper changes at home, or to bring with you while you’re out. You can use them to even wipe down your toys, and to clean up your children after each meal. I know that I might not use them for the “messy” diapers, but I enjoy reusing these wipes for all other kid-related multi-purpose uses.

Here’s how I make mine:

You could create a more natural solution for the baby wipes by mixing essential oils, lanolin, or aloe with the water. I would have done this but chose to instead just use the items that I already had on hand.

Candice is a full time stay at home mom, student, entrepreneur, life living, goal aspiring, teacher of two beautiful children. She enjoys spending her time exploring the world around, learning, reading, attempting to be artists and seeking many days of wholesome fun and adventure. You can learn more about her learning journey at Rattles and Redheads.

21 Jun 2011   ·   43
Money Saving Mom

Today’s Aldi, Dillon’s and Health Food Store Shopping Trips

We stopped at the health food store, Aldi and Dillon’s today. Here’s what we bought:

Health Food Store Shopping Trip:

4 bags of chips marked down to $0.99 each
2 bags of Edamame marked down to $0.99 each
1 bag of Rudi’s hot dog buns marked down to $0.99
1.81 lbs. Pears — $0.99/lb.
3.89 lbs. of Pink Lady Apples — $0.99/lb.
6.7 lbs. of Blue-taped marked down organic bananas — $0.39 per pound
1 Brown Cow yogurt — marked down to $1.99

Total: $18.37

Aldi Shopping Trip:

Corn Chips — $0.99
Tomatoes — $0.99 per bag
Cantaloupe — $1.49
Tortillas — $0.99
Carrots — $0.99
Cheese — $1.99
Freezer Bags — $1.89
Onions — $0.69
Corn — $0.99

Total: $12.88

Dillon’s Shopping Trip:

Watermelon — $3.99
2 heads of lettuce — $1.89 each
3 (1+ pound) packages of ground beef — $3.69/lb.

Total: $23.26

And other than a trip to Target to pick up some of the deals, I think we’re set for the week. In case you missed it, our weekly menu plan is here.

20 Jun 2011   ·   71
Money Saving Mom

This Week’s Menu Plan

Impromptu brownie-making today — I think more brownie batter ended up getting eaten than actually made it into the pan, but we had a lot of fun regardless. 🙂

Breakfasts
Pancakes, scrambled eggs, strawberries
Spinach Oven Omelet, 1-Minute Berry “Ice Cream”
Oatmeal Raisin Muffins, scrambled eggs, fruit
Cinnamon Roll Biscuits (using Homemade Baking Mix — these were a huge hit last week. I’ll share the recipe on Thursday.), fruit
Freezer-Friendly Baked Oatmeal, fruit
Blueberry Streusel Muffins, hard-boiled eggs
Cereal

Lunches
Lunch at extended family’s house for Father’s Day
PB&J Sushi, apple slices, carrot sticks
Lunch out for a birthday celebration
Corn Dog Muffins, pear slices, peas
Leftovers x 2
Egg salad sandwiches, frozen veggies, fruit smoothies

Snacks
Watermelon Frosties
Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Smoothies
Popcorn
Fruit/Veggies

Dinners
Southwest Rollups, steamed veggies, fruit salad
Italian Pasta Bake, Homemade French Bread, edemame, watermelon
Steak on the grill, steamed veggies, Homemade French Bread
Asian Barbecue Chicken, rice, steamed veggies, fruit salad
Beef Hot Dogs, corn, Seasoned Baked Potato Wedges, watermelon
Build-Your-Own Haystacks, fruit
Dinner Out

Freezer-Cooking-In-An-Hour Plan (I’ll share pictures/details on how this goes on Thursday!)
Healthy Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge
Whole-Wheat Blueberry Streusel Muffins
Taco Meat

What’s on your menu this week? Feel free to leave a link to your plan in the comments!

19 Jun 2011   ·   42
Money Saving Mom

Super Savings Saturday: 10 lbs. of raw sugar, 5 cartons of almond milk + more!

Dillon’s: Spent $13.78

There wasn’t much we needed to buy in the way of groceries this week, so I just made a quick trip to Dillon’s and the health food store to get some of the deals.

The Health Food Store: Spent $20.15

Two of my children are currently off milk, so I was thrilled to be able to get these markdown prices on the hemp, almond and rice milk! We’ll use the chocolate milk to make Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Smoothies. It’s a delicious treat for a hot afternoon. I want to get some popsicle molds so I can freeze it and make homemade fudgsicles, too.

Also shown in the picture is the raw sugar my friend Angie found clearanced to just $1.25 per pound at another Dillon’s location. She picked up 10 pounds for me. (It’s such a wonderful thing to have fellow frugal friends who are always on the lookout for deals and willing to snatch up extras when they find them!)

___________

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.

18 Jun 2011   ·   2
Money Saving Mom

This Week in Review: Free Home & Life Management Planner, Recycle a T-Shirt Into a Skirt + more!