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1 Sep 2011   ·   39
Money Saving Mom

Mortgage Acceleration More Valuable than Kitchen Remodel

Testimony from Joy

In the summer of 2009, we bought a sturdy, 50-year-old house with a very needy kitchen. We had been renting for five years and saving for a nice down payment. Because of the imminent kitchen remodel, we kept back some of our savings for that project and paid just 20% down.

We made larger mortgage payments from the start but were also tucking a little more away for the kitchen project.
And that plan was growing as we got different opinions and considered what would be the ideal remodel.

After ten months of consideration, we decided we weren’t ready to start a never-ending kitchen-remodeling-and-expanding-into-the-garage-etc. project. With that plan, we would have proceeded with a new phase only when we had the money in hand, so the total time and money required was overwhelming.

During our hesitation, we found an online mortgage calculator that allowed us to play around with numbers. We were already on track to pay off our mortgage 13 years early, but we realized that if we put our remodeling savings toward the mortgage, both with an initial lump sum and in increased monthly payments, we could pay off the mortgage in five more years—saving in interest close to the full amount of the principal!

Seeing those numbers, we were eager to delay a big kitchen/garage remodel eight or so years until able to do the full project all at once and with cash. So last summer we painted the walls and homemade cabinets and replaced the original, cracked counter top and the stained flooring, making my kitchen a happy place to be–all for under $1,000!

Two Recommended Number-Crunching Websites

Now I know people have purchased homes in different housing markets—regarding both location and economic times. The when and where of our home purchase helped to keep our total costs low. However, the decision to pay more toward the loan’s principal each month can save any home owner money.

I knew that truth theoretically, but until we were using a mortgage calculator, I didn’t dream the savings would be so great or the acceleration could be so fast. Anyone with a mortgage could benefit from number-crunching on a website like the ones we used.

DecisionAide.com — This link is the site we found most useful and flexible (though it doesn’t include specific dates, just numbered months). This site also has a full menu of other calculators that could “lend” some help in other financial considerations (including renting vs. buying and large vs. small down payments).

Mortgage-X.com: If someone wants to have the help of viewing specific dates and doesn’t have that much variety in extra payments, this calculator was the first, more basic one we used.

Joy employs her English degrees in numerous ways in the homemaking realm—but not by blogging! Her husband of almost 7 years, Joseph, serves as the assistant pastor for youth and music at their Midwestern church. Their three girls (4½, 3, and 16 months) and a new baby boy.

photo credit

1 Sep 2011   ·   20
Money Saving Mom

How to Make Money Writing for eHow.com


I posted a short tip from a reader a few weeks ago about writing for Demand Studio. Many of you were very interested in this opportunity and I wanted to share a spin-off writing opportunity–writing for eHow.com. Rachel from Jewish Mommie took the time to write up a more detailed explanation about how writing for eHow.com works:

Writing for eHow.com is a nice work-from-home opportunity that pays $15 (usually) for articles that are written on your own time and about your own interests. I have been writing for eHow for several months and found it to be an engaging and rewarding experience.

To become a writer for Demand Studios (owner of eHow), you’ll need to fill out an application and submit a writing sample (generally a how-to type of article) on their website, www.DemandStudios.com. If approved, you’ll usually find out in 48 hours and can get started writing articles almost immediately.

The way eHow works is this: writers claim titles from a database of over 20,000 available titles. These article titles are generated from search terms that people are typing into Google throughout the world.

Topics are as varied as “How to Run for Student Council in the 5th Grade” or “How to Apply for a Marriage License in South Carolina.” Many titles are very obscure or technical, so it can sometimes take a lot of browsing before you find a title you can claim.

Writers have seven days to complete articles, which must include thorough research and sourcing. A copy editor then reviews the article and will either accept it or ask for a rewrite. If a rewrite is required, the writer then has four days to address the copy editor’s comments and resubmit. If it’s still not up to par, the article gets rejected.

Most articles pay $15, but titles can range from $5-$25. Writers are paid through Paypal twice a week.

The first three articles are generally the most time consuming to write as you need to learn Demand Studios’ formats and requirements. You want to craft a well-sourced, engaging and accurate article to avoid rewrite or rejection, but getting the hang of it takes time.

Demand Studios estimates on their website that writers spend an average of 40 minutes per article, thus earning an average of $20 per hour.  After writing for them for several months, I’m still spending over an hour and a half per article, but I hope to cut that time down with more practice and experience.

The key benefits of writing for eHow are that you consistently earn extra cash on your own time, you get paid to write articles and research interesting topics, you get to work with experienced copy editors who help you hone your craft, and you get online articles published under your name. It’s also fascinating to see the inside workings of an up-and-coming tech company and be involved in the creation of web content.

If this opportunity sounds like something for you, apply today as Demand Studios is currently hiring both writers and copy editors.

Rachel is an LA-based writer, wife, and mom. She blogs about cooking, mothering, and life in between at Jewish Mommie.

31 Aug 2011   ·   65
Money Saving Mom

How to Significantly Increase Your Income Without Working Harder (Part 1)

Many times, I’ll receive emails from people saying how they wish they could be in the financial position we’re in but it’s just not possible because they only make $20,000 per year. Not too long ago, making $20,000 per year would have been a significant pay increase for us as we were barely eeking by making $600 to $1,000 per month.

We knew that we needed to increase our income if we were ever going to get financial traction, but we decided to go about it in non-traditional way: instead of focusing all of our time and energies on getting a better job with better pay, we looked for ways to build additional income streams outside the 8 to 5 traditional job. This has been the key to our financial success. The 8 to 5 jobs have helped to pay the bills, but the nontraditional income streams have allowed us to save aggressively and give generously.

In this series, I’m going to share some things we’ve learned over our eight and half year journey of entreprenuerial endeavors and failures. My hope is to help you see that you’re not stuck, no matter how bad of a financial situation you may feel like you’re in right now. There is always hope–especially if you’re willing to think outside the box.

So, let’s dive in with what I feel is a foundational principle for increasing your income and achieving financial success:

1. Set Big Goals and Break Them Down Into Bite-Sized Pieces

By now you probably know that this is one of the core facets of most advice I give. And there’s good reason for that: I believe that strategic and specific written goal-setting may well change your life–and your finances.

If you don’t know where you want to go, how will you know when you’ve gotten there? If you don’t live with purposeful intention, aimlessness will be the default.

One thing that has been amazingly effective for us is to set specific goals for our businesses: from the income we hope to generate in a week, month, or year to detailed projects we hope to accomplish in a specific time frame. We don’t just set big goals, we also break these down into bite-sized chunks.

For instance, I remember many years ago when I had an online book business, I set a goal to make $200 each week. This meant that I had to make $40 each week day. Once I had this goal on paper, then I started to brainstorm every free advertising option I could contrive. Some of them worked, some of them flopped, but had I not had that very specific goal, I doubt I would have been as driven to be creative.

Our business goals propel us to constantly be tweaking our processes so that we’re more efficient in running our businesses, they motivate us to look for out-of-the-box marketing ideas, and they challenge us to not be content with the status quo.

Where do you hope to be financially in a year from now? How about three years from now? What about five years from now?

Choose three to five specific financial goals for the next few years and start thinking of practical ways you can get there. What can you do outside of your 8 to 5 job to build additional income streams? What can you cut from your current expenses to allow you to save and invest more? How can you increase the return on your investment of what you’re already doing right now?

(By the way, if you have consumer debt, I recommend paying it off as quickly as you can. It’s a heavy chain around your neck that will bog you down and keep you from making much traction. In addition, if you are not on a written budget, make that your highest priority–far above and beyond increasing your income. You’ll probably find you give yourself an instant raise when you do so. Plus, if you can learn to live on what you make now, as your income increases, you can continue to keep your expenses low and increase your savings and giving instead.)

Once you have your big goals written down on paper, break them down into bite-sized monthly and weekly chunks. Don’t be afraid to be very specific. Even if you don’t come close to hitting them every week and month, you’ll be much farther along than if you didn’t try at all.

…to be continued next Wednesday

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31 Aug 2011   ·   49
Money Saving Mom

Saving Money On Groceries In New England

Guest post by JessieLeigh from Parenting Miracles

When I learned we would be moving from Indiana to Connecticut, one of my biggest fears was this: How will this impact my grocery budget?

Over and over I had read how expensive things were on the East Coast. So many times I had seen comments from New Englanders sighing over how they “couldn’t get those deals” or “match those prices.” Happily, it didn’t take me long to find my groove here and my budget hasn’t had to budge.

So… how can you save money on groceries when you live on the East Coast?

1. Face the facts.

The cost of living is higher here. Our base prices are almost universally higher too. That’s just how it is.

Do not waste time and energy bemoaning the fact that you can’t get milk for $1.49 a gallon like someone in Texas or purchase quality beef for the price you’d pay in Kansas. It’s discouraging but, more to the point, irrelevant. Throwing your hands in the air and declaring it hopeless won’t help. Acknowledge that regular prices are high here. Then move on…

2. Celebrate the advantages, no matter how small they may seem.

Here, in my neck of New England, I can get much fresher, and often more affordable, seafood than I ever would have found when I lived in Indiana. We also seem to get “new” products on our shelves faster than many regions.

And, while most prices here seem astronomical compared to when I lived in the Midwest, I have noted that dairy products like yogurt, cheese, and half and half frequently go on sale for better prices than I paid in “middle America.” Much more productive for me to focus on those things than the fact that I can expect to pay at least twice the price for meat here.

3. Embrace more generous policies.

Do you want to know what floored me when I moved out here? Most of the major supermarkets double coupons up to and including ninety-nine cents. That’s fantastic!

A seventy-five cent coupon, doubled, and paired with a sale makes cereal just as affordable here as it ever was in the Midwest. The fact that the small box of Cheerios regularly retails for $4.99 here doesn’t matter. What matters is that I can still get it for less than a dollar.

4. Look beyond the supermarket.

There are two major supermarkets in my town. I usually scan both ads to see if the deals are worth it. Most weeks, one is and one isn’t. But I don’t stop there.

Before even moving here, I searched for the closest Aldi; it’s forty-five minutes away. I can no longer “drop in” for a few things as needed like I did back in Indiana when Aldi was down the street. But I can plan a big monthly trip to pick up staples. (Aldi’s prices are very consistent on most items across the country.)
I also drop by a small neighborhood market on occasion. Their regular prices are ridiculously high, but they have good sales on a few items. In addition, I’ve gotten bunches of bananas, cartons of organic milk, and bouquets of flowers there for free; since they don’t have the turnover or brisk business of a larger store, they just wanted to get rid of it.

5. Seek out creative money savers.

There are more ways to save than just sales and coupons. One of our supermarkets gives you a nickel off for each reusable bag you use. That adds up!

Some stores offer their own coupons in their ads or online. I have discovered an amazing reduced produce rack in the corner of one of our markets. The other sells gourmet cheese as “cheese ends” for a song. I even save money on meat, dairy, and more by scanning and bagging my own groceries as I shop at a local store.

Will all these options be available to you? Probably not. But you may have other unique ways to shave some pennies off that grocery total! Look around, ask around, and don’t be afraid to try something.

Finding deals in New England looks different from finding deals in the Midwest. If I were to focus only on the shelf prices, I’d probably want to crawl into a hole. But, by using the above strategies, I find I can most definitely save money here. It just required learning a new kind of savvy shopping.

JessieLeigh is the mother of a former 24-week micropreemie and two full-term blessings as well. She is a determined advocate for the tiniest of babies, including the unborn, and a firm believer in faith and miracles. She shares about raising such a precious, tiny baby over at Parenting Miracles.

photo credit

31 Aug 2011   ·   9
Money Saving Mom

48-Hour Giveaway: $50 Gift Certificate to My Baby Clothes Boutique (3 Winners)

My Baby Clothes Boutique offers adorable and unique baby clothes at a guaranteed lowest price. They offer baby clothes, baby headbands, baby hats, tutus, and more. Best of all, they offer free shipping on every order. I’m pretty sure that’s my favorite feature of their site!

Even if you don’t have little ones at your house, the cute children pictured in their clothes are their site make it worth visiting! And be sure to check out their Last Chance Clothing page for some of their clearance deals.

If you’re considering ordering something, they are offering a 10% off coupon code good on any $40+ orders. Just use moneysavingmom10 at checkout to get 10% off.

My Baby Clothes Boutique is giving away three $50 gift certificates to readers this week. You can use them purchase anything you’d like in their store. And let me tell you, after browsing their site, whoever wins this giveaway is going to have a blast doing a little online shopping at their site.

For more information, visit My Baby Clothes Boutique or follow them on Facebook or Twitter.

To enter to win a $50 gift certificate to My Baby Clothes Boutique, click on the graphic below and type in your name and email address. Three winners will be chosen and posted on Monday. This giveaway ends Friday, September 2, at 11:59 pm, CST.

Enter the Giveaway

31 Aug 2011   ·   185
Money Saving Mom

Ask the Readers: Quick breakfast ideas for kids?

Today’s question is from Carrie:

Our oldest daughter is starting kindergarten this year so it is going to be a real adjustment for us to get up and get 0ut the door in the morning. I was wondering if you had any suggestions for quick and easy breakfast ideas that kids will love? -Carrie

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

30 Aug 2011   ·   54
Money Saving Mom

Q&A Tuesday: How can we improve communication about finances in our marriage?

My husband and I are newlyweds and are living off of my income while he is in school. We are trying to find a budget that works for us but I find that since I am in charge of the finances primarily I worry about money while he relaxes. Part of this is poor communication but part of it is that I am really focused on tightening up our budget to pay off debts and he thinks we are fine as we are.

So what is the best way to work with your spouse to plan a financial strategy for your family, especially when you may have different ideas or approaches to it? Money is the number one fight in marriages and I want to find a better way to communicate about it so we can work together rather than against each other. -Alice

Disclaimer: I’m not a marriage counselor, nor do I have years of marriage experience under my belt, so I can only speak from my own personal experience as to what has worked for us in our eight and a half years of marriage. This may or may not work in your situation and it may be wise for you to seek out marriage counseling or to find a wise older couple who lives locally who can counsel you as you’re beginning your marriage.

1. Accept That You Are Different

First off, I’m pretty sure all husbands and wives have different ideas about money when they first come into marriage–I know we certainly did. Even though we were both raised by financially conservative parents who taught us the value of hard work and stewardship and even though we spent a lot of time before marriage discussing finances, we definitely still came into marriage with different views and ideas about money.

You didn’t marry your clone–and it’s probably a good thing! You need someone who is different from you to help balance you out. Instead of being discouraged or disheartened that your husband has different views, accept him as he is. Don’t try to change him and make him just like you; it won’t work. Believe me, I’ve tried.

2. Learn to Appreciate the Differences

I tend to be ultra frugal, while my husband tends to be more extravagant (at least according my standards!). This can be a source of frustration for both of us, but we’ve also learned to appreciate and learn from each other.

My husband will readily admit that we’ve saved quite a bit of money over the years thanks to my thriftiness and he’s learned that being frugal doesn’t have to mean you are a miser or miserable. He’s also gotten quite good at saving money himself; in fact, he can sometimes outdo me when it comes to using coupons or getting a great deal!

On the other hand, my husband has taught me much about relaxing a little more when it comes to finances. He’s helped me to think in terms of return on investment and constantly motivates me to make the most of my time when it comes to money-saving ventures. If it weren’t for him, I’d most assuredly be wasting hours on supposed “money-saving projects” that, in reality, would result in little money actually saved.

Together, we make a much more balanced and stronger team than either of us would be on our own. That’s the beauty of learning to appreciate and build on differences instead of letting them just become big battles.

3. Be Willing to Compromise

Since both of us don’t naturally see eye-to-eye when it comes to finances, we’ve had to learn to communicate and compromise. While my husband does all of the bill-paying and budget-tallying at our house because he enjoys that sort of thing (while I find it incredibly tedious!), we both work together on creating and maintaining our budget. This has been key in us getting on same page with our finances.

I’d heartily encourage all couples to have regularly-scheduled monthly Budget Accountability Meetings to discuss your financial situation, to create and revise your written budget, to talk about financial issues that have arisen in the last month, and to review your financial goals and objectives. If you’ve never done this sort of thing before, it may be very difficult going at first, but I promise it will be worth it.

There is one rule that must be followed at these meetings: it must be a mutual discussion. Neither of you should be trying to force anything on the other person. There should be give and take and open discussion. You must both be willing to compromise and talk things through to come to a point of agreement.

Dragging your spouse to the meeting and berating them for their handling of money probably won’t get you anywhere–except in the wrong direction. However, graciously explaining to your spouse how you’ve been struggling with the financial situation and feeling like there is constant tension and frustration in your life as a result of not being on the same page will probably get you somewhere. And showing that you are very open to compromise and reaching agreement that is mutually beneficial will go a long way, too.

photo credit

30 Aug 2011   ·   37
Money Saving Mom

4 Ways to Make Money With Your Home

Guest post by Kyle Taylor from The Penny Hoarder

I started clipping coupons with my mom when I was just 10 years old. At the time it wasn’t just a fun hobby, but a serious way for us to help make ends meet. Nearly ten years later I started college and I really put my coupon clipping hobby to work to help pay for the costs of my schooling.

The only problem was that every semester my tuition bill seemed to get a little bit higher, until suddenly clipping coupons was no longer enough. I simply was already cutting every corner I could and I needed to increase the other side of the ledger–my income.

I already had a full-time job, along with school, so I had no choice but to get creative. I now blog full-time about my wacky adventures to make extra money and I think some of my favorite ways to make money are when you can leverage the assets and skills you already have at your disposal. For many people the biggest asset that they have is their house, so I wanted to share with you four of my wacky ways to use your house to make extra money.

1. Rent out Your Closets, Attics, Storage Areas

As we Americans accumulate more stuff, huge storage facilities have been popping up at a rapid pace. A few years ago, two veterans had the novel idea to start an online marketplace that gave homeowners the opportunity to rent out their extra space thereby creating a lower-cost alternative for storage seekers.

The result is a great website called Store At My House, where you can create a free listing to rent out your attic space, extra shed, spare closet, etc. As the renter, you get to choose who to rent to, what is allowed to be stored, and how long the contract will last.

2. Rent Your Backyard to Campers

A few years ago I worked for a non-profit organization that wanted to do some environmental work in Key West, FL. We had a very small budget and thought that we could save some money on a hotel by pitching a tent in the state park.

The only problem is that campsites in Key West are booked six months to a year in advance and we needed a space in a few weeks. Our solution was to contact one of our members who graciously offered up their backyard as a place for us to set up camp.

Camping in backyard ended up being tons of fun and a great way for us to save money. Well, it turns out the idea is not so novel because there is a whole website dedicated to letting people rent out their backyard to campers called Single Spot Camping. It’s free to list your backyard or extra lot. However there are several terms everyone must agree to so that your property is protected and the camper enjoys their stay.

3. Find a Roommate

Roommates aren’t just for college kids anymore. More and more families are taking in renters to make use of an extra bedroom or a mother-in-law suite. It’s a great way to make extra money and despite the connotation some of us have, it can be a fun experience to have someone new around the house.

If you do decide to rent out an extra room, be sure you run both a background check and a credit check before agreeing to rent. If you need helping finding a roommate there are several great resources online such as Roommate Locator and Craigslist.

4. Rent Out Your Driveway

If you live near a large city or in an area with limited parking, you probably know that parking costs are skyrocketing. This may surprise you but according to a new report the average monthly parking costs in downtown Manhattan are $541! Agh, can you imagine?

It turns out that parking garages aren’t the only ones taking advantage of skyrocketing prices, because you can actually rent out your driveway on site called ParkAtMyHouse.com. You also get to decide how much to charge and the terms of the contract. If you’ve got an extra lot on your property why not think about renting it out for special events?

For more information about ways to make money, visit The Penny Hoarder, where you an read about topics like how to make money selling crafts, how to make money attending movie premieres, and how to make money as a used book hunter.
photo credit

30 Aug 2011   ·   137
Money Saving Mom

Reader Tip: We save over $840 per year by doing our own hair-cutting & coloring

Kikka emailed in the following tip:

We have found that if I cut my husband’s hair and he colors my hair, we are saving a minimum of $840 a year.

To get started you can watch free how-to videos on YouTube.com, look for a sale at your local beauty supply store (like Sally’s) to purchase what you need, do your research, and then give it a try! Just remember that practice makes perfect, or close to it. Also, the good thing about hair is that it does grow back! 🙂 -Kikka

photo credit

29 Aug 2011   ·   46
Money Saving Mom

This Week’s Menu

My salad at lunch today

I mentioned on Saturday on my Facebook Page that I’ve been in a lunch rut. There were over 200 people who commented with great ideas and links. I’m inspired and looking forward to trying some of the different ideas over the next few weeks.

Breakfasts

Pick-Me-Up Smoothies, toasted bagels
Yogurt Bar (yogurt with toppings people can choose to sprinkle on)
Whole-Wheat Pancakes, cantaloupe
Whole-Grain Hot Cereal, fruit
Granola Bars, fresh carrot & apple juice
Orange Cream Smoothies, toast
Pumpkin Scones, scrambled eggs

Lunches

Taco Salad, apples
Homemade Uncrustables, carrots, peaches
Tossed Salad with chopped hard-boiled eggs & Homemade Croutons, toasted bagels
Cheese quesadillas, carrots,
Refried beans, cheese, chips, salsa, steamed peas
Leftovers
Lunch with friends (I brought bread.)

Snacks

Granola bars
Fruit/Veggies
Chips/Salsa
Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie

Dinners

Taco Chicken Bowls, fruit salad
Dinner with extended family x 2
Grilled Gyros (I’m substituting lamb instead of the beef), fruit
Whole-Wheat Pancakes, bacon, scramble eggs, cantaloupe
Crockpot Barbecue Chicken, Au Gratin Potatoes, frozen vegetables, fruit
Dinner out

Freezer Cooking in an Hour

Homemade Uncrustables
Homemade Croutons
Pumpkin Scones

What’s on your menu this week? Share details and/or your link to your menu plan in the comments.

29 Aug 2011   ·   64
Money Saving Mom

How to Get All of Your Security Deposit Back

Guest post by Maggie Larche at Free Market Mommy

Renting can be a cost-effective option for housing, but too many people leave money on the table when leaving an apartment or rental house by forfeiting part of their security deposit. Follow these steps to ensure that you will get back as much of your security deposit as possible.

1. Take care of your rental dwelling while you live there.

Waiting until you move to undertake a huge cleaning effort is a recipe for stress, headaches, and missed details. Instead, keep on top of the cleaning while you are renting (this gives you the added bonus of having a clean home!). Spot-clean your carpet as you spill things, dust all the woodwork every few months, clean out your storage closet every season, and so on.

2. Make friends with your leasing manager.

Frequently, your housing manager will be happy to warn you if there are any areas that commonly trip people up in the security deposit. For instance, one apartment we lived in charged $20 per carpet stain, no matter how small the stain. We never would have known this–and have been able to prepare–without a friendly leasing manager willing to dish.

3. Follow the move-out checklist exactly.

When you move out, most landlords will give you a checkout list outlining everything you need to do before leaving the rental dwelling. Follow this list exactly. If it says only 60-watt light bulbs are allowed, don’t leave a 75-watt in the back hall closet. If it requests you sweep the parking space you never used, do it anyway.

4. Invest a little money now to avoid a big charge later.

Little things can cost big money from your security deposit. If there’s a cheap way to fix a problem yourself, go ahead and do it. For example, I once accidentally broke one of the glass globes in our dining room chandelier. Rather than waiting for them to charge us to replace the entire light fixture, I did a quick internet search and found a replacement globe for just $5.

5. Ask for an itemized expense sheet.

If even after all your precautions, they do take some money out of your deposit, ask for an itemized list of charges. Then, don’t be afraid to call and argue against any charges that seem unfair. Most leasing offices will be reasonable if you clearly made a good effort to clean the dwelling and followed the checkout list to the letter.

Maggie Larche is the lucky new mom of a beautiful eight-month-old baby boy. She blogs about education issues, personal finance, and entrepreneurship for women at Free Market Mommy.

photo credit

29 Aug 2011   ·   113
Money Saving Mom

10 Goals for this Week (& an update on last week’s goals)

Someone commented on the goals post last week lamenting the fact that she wasn’t able to get many of her goals accomplished since she had a toddler and a newborn. You know what? I wouldn’t be doing much of any of this if I had a toddler and a newborn, either! In fact, it’s hard for me to even remember what those days were like now that my children all sleep consistently through the night, can dress themselves, help with the chores, and are pretty independent.

I’m sharing my goals as a way to keep myself accountable and to (hopefully!) inspire you to live life on purpose, instead of just letting the hours and days slip by without intention. However, please do not feel like you need to be accomplishing similar things to what I have on my list.

I’m in a relatively easy season of life since my children are 6, 4, and 2 (compared to having them be 4, 1, and newborn, it’s definitely much, much easier!), so I can challenge myself to do more than I have at other seasons because I’m sleeping at least 6 or 7-hour stretches every single night (this makes a world of difference!) and my children are now at the age where they can help out and play independently instead of needing me to do every single little thing for them each day like they did when they were younger.

If you are the mom of very young children who depend upon you for just about everything, make sure and read my post of encouragement to you here. If you accomplish nothing more than keeping everyone fed and diapered and you spend quality time enjoying your children, you are accomplishing a lot! Set microscopic goals and don’t be discouraged if even those don’t get done. Really and truly, it will get easier.

Don’t compare yourself to other moms and feel inadequate if you’re not doing as much as them. Give yourself grace, smile, make your own health a priority, and just love on your babies while they are little! You’ll never regret making them a much higher priority than a clean house or a checked-off to-do list.

Now on to the goals. Here’s what I accomplished off of last week’s list:

Mothering Goals

1. Finish reading Homer Price aloud to the children. {I ended up doing some other reading to them for our school weekly theme and didn’t get to Homer Price. This week, hopefully? :)}

2. Take children on a Nature Walk.

Personal Goals

3. Run 12.5 miles (total).

4. Finish reading Good to Great and Raising a Soul Surfer. {Still working on finishing up Quitter — I’m enjoying it so much that I’m just slowly reading it to try and soak everything up!}

Home Management Goals

5. Vacuum underneath beds.

6. Make homemade soap. {Still haven’t tried the Homemade Scrubbing Bubbles — must do that this next week!}

7. Wash, dry, fold, & put away one load of laundry every day. {Well, I didn’t quite manage to do this, but I did a pretty good job of staying on top of the laundry this week, so that’s progress, right? :)}

Business Goals

8. Re-shoot videos and send to publicist. {Hopefully I’ll get to this this week, time got away from me last week!}

9. Go through my formatted and edited manuscript from the publisher to check for errors in format or content.

Ministry Goals

10. Meet with a friend who asked for counsel.

And here’s this week’s list:

Mothering Goals

1. Finish reading Homer Price aloud to the children.

2. Continue teaching children table chores.

Personal Goals

3. Run 13 miles (total).

4. Finish reading All The Money in the World (advance copy that I was asked to write an endorsement blurb for), Quitter, and Friendship for Grownups.

Home Management Goals

5. Keep the master bathroom clean. (This seems to be the one area in the house that has been sorely neglected recently. I want to implement the ideas from Totally Together to see if I can keep it looking great with just 3-5 minutes of maintenance every day.)

6. Make Homemade Scrubbing Bubbles (third time’s a charm, eh?)

7. Wash, dry, fold, & put away one load of laundry every day.

Business Goals

8. Re-shoot videos and send to publicist.

9. Start working on my presentation for an upcoming speaking engagement.

Ministry Goals

10. Meet an acquaintance who asked for counsel regarding her business.

How did you do on last week’s goals? What are your goals for this week? If you feel comfortable doing so, I’d love to have you share your progress on last week’s goals and your goals for this coming week in the comments. Let’s cheer each other on to live purposeful and productive lives!

You can download a free customizable weekly goal-planning sheet here.

photo credit

27 Aug 2011   ·   44
Money Saving Mom

Super Savings Saturday: Dillon’s, Aldi, & the Health Food Store

I had some extra money leftover in the grocery budget from this past month, so I had fun buying a few extras in my grocery shopping trip today (including, ground lamb–something I’ve never purchased before!):

Dillon’s Shopping Trip

Bob’s Red Mill Hot Cereal — clearanced to $2.09
Kroger White Whole Wheat Flour (I’m all out of wheat and haven’t had a chance to get to the bulk foods store yet!) — $3.49
Organic Leaf Lettuce — $1.99
Organic Spring Mix Lettuce — reduced to $1.79
2 Pure Protein Bars — $1, used 2 $0.55/1 coupons (“doubled” to $1 off), free after coupons
5 packages of Garlic Bread (I’m bringing this to a get-together tomorrow.) — $2.49 each
Hebrew National Franks — $3
Total with tax: $26.71

Aldi Shopping Trip

Gala apples — $2.99
Dried cranberries — $1.39
Yogurt — $1.99
Salsa — $1.79
Roma Tomatoes — $1.29
2 bags of frozen peas — $0.99
Oats — $1.99
Cucumber — $0.69
Grapes — $1.58
Cheese — $1.99
Tortilla chips — $1.19
2 dozen eggs (my brother’s hens aren’t laying much so I bought store eggs for the first time in months!) — $1.19 each
Total with tax: $22.80

Health Food Store Shopping Trip

Lamb — marked down $4.99
Bacon — marked down $3.99
5 cantaloupe — $0.99 each
Rudi’s organic hot dog buns — marked down to $0.99
Total with tax: $16.01

Would you like to know what the best deals and coupon match-ups are for your local stores? Be sure to check out the Store Deals section of our site where we post the best deals and coupon match-ups each week for over 100 different stores across the country. You can sign up to receive the top deals in your email inbox each week as soon as they are posted!

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Did you snag any great deals or bargains this week or save money in other ways? If so, be sure to post about them on your blog and leave your link below. Please remember that this weekly round-up is to share deals you personally got and/or money you were able to save this week. In order to keep this weekly round-up focused on helping and inspiring others in their efforts to save money, links which have little-to-no content other than promoting affiliate links, etc. will be deleted. Also, to make it easy for everyone to navigate quickly through the links, your link must link directly to your Super Savings Saturday post.