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11 Jul 2008   ·   12
Money Saving Mom

Super Savings Saturday: CVS (and SEVEN winners!)

Thank you, friends, for your kind comments on my earlier post. It’s been a long week and I’m feeling rather worn-down and worn-out, so your encouragement truly lifted my spirits. I am so blessed to be surrounded by such wonderful people!

As promised, I’m going to share the winners of The Couponizer and Greatest Secrets of the Coupon Mom. However, instead of announcing two winners, Amy Bergin said that so many people entered that she wanted me to choose an additional five winners. So, folks, without further ado, the seven randomly chosen winners are:

Laura (rolamarfarm@)
Jana Kelley
Amanda (davidgolf@)
Jenny Cooper (jennylcooper@)
Laura Cooper (any chance you’re related to Jenny above? I promise I randomly drew winners here!)
Kristin (kashley628@)
Darlene (dstone728@)

I’ve emailed all of you with further instructions but if for some reason my email didn’t come through, please get in touch with me ASAP. Thanks!

And now for Super Savings Saturday

I had a fairly productive shopping trip this week but I failed to get a picture of everything I bought since we had to leave shortly after I got home. However, I did get a picture of my CVS run:

101_0266

I just did the Olay deal and bought some Pert shampoo for $0.50 since we are running low on shampoo (yes, can you believe that?):

Pert – $2.50, used $2/1 coupon
Olay – $4.99, $5.99, $5.99, $5.99, used $3/1, $1/1, $3/1, and $3/1
Used $3/$15 Face Care coupon
Used $10.50 in ECBs
Paid $1.32 out of pocket
Got $10 ECBs back

Not the best CVS run ever, but considering that I only bought stuff we need and will use, I was happy with it.
——————–
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.

11 Jul 2008   ·   171
Money Saving Mom

Living like no one else

I just got a less-than-nice comment from someone about our van situation. The basic gist of the comment was (I’ll edit the part out calling me a liar, etc.): "Why on earth if your husband is an attorney and you make money from home can you not just go out and get a new vehicle??"

Since there are quite a number of people who read this blog, rude
comments are pretty normal and I’m pretty used to it–it’s part of blogging in a public forum. However, after I deleted the comment, I got to thinking…

You know, we could go buy a vehicle. We could take our emergency fund money and go buy another used vehicle or even a new vehicle. We could take our house savings and go buy another vehicle. We could even do what most normal Americans do and just go take out a loan for a new car.

But here’s the deal: while we have money in our bank account, we don’t have money saved or allotted for a new vehicle or even a used vehicle. And guess what that means? We aren’t buying a new vehicle or even a new-to-us vehicle. Not right now at least.

We had money to pay for the car repairs, we don’t have money to pay for a new vehicle right now. We’re very hopeful that the mechanic will have our van in good working order by tonight and we’re very hopeful that after replacing just about everything there is to replace on it, the van should run beautifully like it used to.

What we thought was a small problem with the van has mushroomed into weeks of work. Just when we thought it was fixed, something else would go wrong with it and we’d have to take it back to the mechanic again. It has been a much longer and costlier process than we were ever expecting and yes, it’s been frustrating, but that doesn’t mean we just throw in the towel and go buy another vehicle.

Have we considered buying a new vehicle? Absolutely! Do we wish we had piles of cash sitting around without a name on them so we could just go buy a new vehicle and forget all the hassle of trying to get our much-used van fixed? You better believe it!

But you know what? Waiting until we can afford to buy something and trying to make do with what we currently have is how most people used to live. We’re learning patience, we’re learning flexibility, and we’re learning to be content with what we have.

We still have one running vehicle and if need be, we can go back to being a one-car family again. It’s not my first choice, but we did it for a few years and I’m willing to do it again.

Yes, we’re "living like no one else". Yes, a lot of people think we’re really crazy. Yes, sharing what I share on my blog means that some people aren’t going to understand, are going to question why we’re doing what we’re doing, and some people will say rude comments about our life choices.

You know what, though? While I don’t like car problems and I’d not have chosen the kinks in our plans they’ve resulted in the last few weeks, I’d much prefer to wait until I can afford something before I buy it. I much prefer not having to live paycheck-to-paycheck. And I much prefer not being slave to the bondage of debt.

We’re living like no one else so that someday we can live and give like no one else!

11 Jul 2008   ·   17
Money Saving Mom

Happy Frugal Friday! (And so much for dressing up like cows!)

Well, so much for our Chick-Fil-A pictures! Our van ended up not getting fixed like it was supposed to, so we are car-less again today. Oh well, I’m sure you all weren’t that anxious to see me all dressed up like a cow anyway! 🙂

While I’m disappointed we don’t get to have a fun and memorable outing with the FishFamily, I’m counting my blessings that at least we have electricity and air-conditioning today. Yesterday, the electricity went out on our whole block for a few hours. So we had no electricity, no A/C, no internet, no car… we sure got the house nice and clean, though!

Life has been interesting around here recently. You just never know what the next day will bring–or even the next hour!

101_0180

Instead of Chick-Fil-A, the girls and I are walking to the library. It’s a nice free and fun place to hang out for a few hours and they love it!

Don’t forget to check out Frugal Friday over on my other blog. I’m sharing about foraging for mulberries and there are a host of other great tips left, too.

9 Jul 2008   ·   27
Money Saving Mom

Financial Shape in 2008: Monthly checkup

It’s July and time for another Financial Shape in 2008. The year is halfway over! How are things looking for you financially?

Here’s our update:

Short Term Financial Goals for 2008

1) Have our fully-funded emergency fund in place (6 months’ worth of living expenses) by the end of April. As of March 11, 2008–DONE!
2) Switch health insurance plans and open an HSA. We
were approved for our new health insurance plans in April and have also
set up our HSA. Done!

3) Start up an IRA and invest at least 5-10% of Jesse’s income in this. Started in March. (We plan to increase this to 12-15% of Jesse’s income as soon as we purchase our home.)
4) Open up a mutual fund for each of our children and invest $50 per child per month in it. Started in March.

5) Save up and invest $30,000 this year towards paying cash (100% down) for a house in 3-5 years. Now
that Goals 1-4 are finished, we’re working super hard on Goal #5!

It seems like the story of our life recently has been unexpected expenses! Between medical bills, increasing costs, and car problems after car problems after car problems (oh and did I mention car problems?!), it’s been a little mountainous here and I’ve had to fight the urge to feel frustrated. I know God is allowing these things to teach me patience and perseverance.

At any rate, I am here to tell you that we put a whopping $0 in our house savings fund this month. I’ll be honest and tell you that I’ve struggled to not feel incredibly discouraged about this–especially because I had high hopes for this past month. However, I am trying to learn to turn my would-be frustrations and discouragement into gratitude.

While we ended up spending a lot more money than we’d planned on and we didn’t save anything like we’d hoped, we have so many things to be thankful for: a nice rental home with air-conditioning, plenty of food to eat, an emergency fund, steady income, two beautiful daughters, one running vehicle (currently!), good friends who’ve encouraged us so much recently… the list could go on and on. We have so much more than we need; we are truly blessed!

Hopefully next month I’ll have some savings to report, but for this month, I’m trying to focus on counting my blessings instead of calculating our lack of savings.

———————————–
How did you do in June? Whether
or not you posted financial goals for 2008, please take a moment to
post about your financial successes and failures in June and the areas
you hope to improve in July. Then, come back here and leave your link
below. If you don’t have a blog or would rather share anonymously, feel
free to leave your update in a comment. Let’s all keep each other
accountable to be better stewards of
our resources!

9 Jul 2008   ·   21
Money Saving Mom

Reader Tips: Family Dollar, All You Subscription, Wal-Mart School Supplies, Aunt Millie’s Bakery Outlet

Family Dollar: $5/$25 – From Richael:

In
this weeks family dollar ad (which came in the mail on Wed. here, NC)
there is a $5 off $25 coupon. My CVS says they honor competitor’s
coupons (but not sales ads), so I’m going to try and use it this week.

All You: Magazine Subscription Deal – From Jana

I’ve been reading about how you and others really enjoy the All You Magazine, so I finally picked one up.  Now I love it, so I searched online for the cheapest subscription I could find and I found one that is a great deal!

Get 2 years (24 issues) for only $20 (most others had that price for only one year!). I found it here. I clicked on "shop now", then it even let me pick my local school to receive 40% of the cost for their fundraising.
It was very simple, and I’m hoping all goes well and I should receive my copy in 8-10 weeks!

Operation Smile: Help Children Around the World Through a Simple Click – From Bethany:

Oral-B will donate one foot of dental floss to Operation Smile for every
visitor that clicks through this link on their web site. No strings
attached, no personal information required.  It takes less than 5
seconds. Operation Smile is an organization that helps repair facial
deformities in children throughout the world. 

Wal-Mart: School Supply Deals – From Margaret and Sarah:

 

I was at Wal-Mart this morning and they were busy setting up school supplies. Even though the sales flier hasn’t come out yet I could already buy supplies at sales prices and beat the crowds. I couldn’t resist the 24 pack Crayola crayons for $0.22, RoseArt washable markers
11 count for $0.60, 10 count PaperMate pens for $0.50, etc. -Margaret

I went to Wal-Mart this afternoon and they had school stuff out and on sale!  Here are the few things I remember:

Crayola Crayons (24 ct.) were 25 cents
Rose Art crayons (24 ct) were 17 cents
one subject notebooks were 5 cents
2 pocket folders were 15 cents
Elmers school glue was 22 cents
Crayola colored pencils (12 ct) were 88 cents

-Sarah

Aunt Millie’s Bakery Outlet – From Dawn:

I have been shopping at the Aunt Millie’s Bakery Outlet
for quite some time and feel the need to share. Aunt Millie’s brand has
bakeries in Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Kentucky and Ohio. Where
there are bakeries, there are outlets or thrift stores for their
bread. The ones near me in Ohio have "Monday Madness" and all their bread is 59 cents (this includes packages of:  donuts, bages, english
muffins, whole grain loaves, sub buns, hamburger/hot dog buns, potato
bread, onion rolls, pita pockets, etc)  All of their food freezes
exceptionally well and is so worth the drive! It definitely helps the
grocery budget when I can spend $4 and get enough bread for several
weeks if not a month if I do it right!

So, from what I could find on the internet, there are bakery outlets in
Indiana: Muncie & Warsaw
Illinois: Bolingbrook
Michigan: Bay City
Ohio: Sidney, Greenville, Celina, Dayton

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:

101_0170

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.