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16 Jun 2010   ·   50

31 Days to a Better Grocery Budget: Follow a Few Helpful Blogs

Once you’ve started getting your toes a little wet in this whole lowering your grocery budget thing, you’ll find that one of your biggest helps will be finding and following a few blogs.

When I first started back in 2007, there weren’t any other blogs posting deals. (Yes, seriously, can you believe that?!) There were deal forums, but they were hard to follow — and very overwhelming for a newbie.

I searched for a blog which had the deals at Walgreens and CVS mapped out for me and came up empty. Since I was already compiling the best deals for myself and a few other friends, I figured I might as well do what I wished someone else were doing and start a blog with the best deals all outlined each week in a neat and tidy manner.

Well, the idea caught on a little bit. And a few years later, there are now thousands of deal blogs of every size, shape, kind and color available. There are bloggers covering just about every store out there from every angle imaginable.

The good news is that there are so many deal blogs out there, there’s something for everyone.

The bad news is that there are so many deal blogs out there you can get a little overwhelmed or spend too much time reading them.

Choose Wisely

Just like you want to be a wise steward of your money, you also want to be a wise steward of your time. When it comes to deal blogs, I suggest choosing no more than five to follow.

Pick blogs which inspire you, give you new and creative ideas, which routinely cover stores you shop at and which you find easy to follow. If a blog isn’t inspiring or helping you, stop following it. (That goes for this blog, as well. There’s no point in you wasting time reading here if you’re not getting anything out of it!)

If you find five quality blogs which regularly post the best deals and which cover the stores in your area, you’ll likely be notified of just about every truly great deal out there. Oh, I’m sure if you followed 35 deal blogs, you’d probably find a few more deals than you’d find just following five deal blogs, but I honestly doubt you’d really miss much. I follow 5-10 deal blogs at any given time myself and I find that it’s rare I miss some really amazing deal — and if I were only following them for myself (instead of also looking for deals to share with a nationwide audience), five would totally suffice.

Now, please don’t feel like I’m saying you’re wrong to follow more than five blogs. You can do whatever works for you! I’m just trying to alleviate you of the feeling that you’re missing out on all sorts of great stuff if you don’t follow at least 76 different blogs! 🙂

You’re better off following a few blogs and spending the rest of your time implementing what you’re learning, than spending hours reading about all these great ways to save money but never actually doing anything.

Use Feed Subscriptions

I’ve found that it’s much more efficient to read blogs through a feed reader, rather than visiting each of them individually. I personally use Bloglines, though I’ve been told repeatedly that Google Reader is better. Most blogs also now offer the option of email subscriptions, so you can get an email in your inbox once per day with all the posts from the previous 24 hours in one concise little email — saving you from even having to visit a blog if you’d like!

Pick the Best Deals, Leave the Rest

I’ve said it repeatedly, but it bears repeating again: you don’t have to hit every deal. Once you’ve subscribed to the five or so blogs you want to follow, just skim through the posts on a regular basis and pick and choose what deals you have the time and energy to do and have no guilt in leaving all the others behind.

Sometimes I get emails from readers who are all flustered trying to figure out how I do all the deals I post about. Um, want to know something? I probably actually do around 5-15% of the deals I post here. And I don’t feel one bit of guilt over the others I choose not to do. If I did all the deals I posted here, we’d be way over-budget, our house would be bursting with stuff we didn’t need and I’d have my priorities way out of whack.

Instead I just pick and choose what deals work for our family based upon our budget, our needs and the time I have. By doing this, we get plenty of great deals and save a boatload of money — and I have time for many other more important things in my life.

Blogs are so helpful when it comes to saving money on your grocery bill as they share the best deals with you in a concise, step-by-step manner. But remember that they are there to serve as a tool, not a burden.

Do you find that following blogs helps you to save on your grocery bill? What tips do you have for streamlining your blog reading?

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16 Jun 2010   ·   60
Money Saving Mom

Yay! I just won free toilet paper from Kroger!

The girls and I have been playing the Kroger Summer of Savings Instant Win Game every single day since it started and we finally won something today. And it was a free 4-pack of toilet paper — which is probably one of the best prizes seeing as deals on toilet paper have been far and few between around here recently.

Have you been winning anything?

15 Jun 2010   ·   102
Money Saving Mom

Q&A Tuesday: At-Home Hair Coloring (Advice needed!)

I  have a question that I really need answered: how do others do their own hair coloring? Are there websites or blogs that teach you how?

I have always gotten my done at the salon, but I’m not able to afford that right now and I can’t stand the grays that are coming in!

There are so many deals on hair coloring kits, but there are so many different kinds, I just don’t where to begin and I’m terrified of doing it wrong and ruining my hair. -Carol

A friend of mine highlighted my hair one time using a coloring kit you buy in a box, but that’s the extent of my knowledge when it comes to at-home hair coloring. And, as I shared with you all not too long ago, we save money in many areas so that we can splurge in a few — one of them being my hair. So I’m probably not the person to be asking about at-home hair coloring, but here are two ideas I had for you:

1. If you know someone who went to beauty school or is a hairdresser, I’d suggest asking them about bartering. Maybe you could make them freezer meals or clean their house or teach them a skill in exchange for their willingness to do your hair? Get creative and you might be able to come up with a way to still get your hair done, without breaking your budget to do so.

2. If bartering wasn’t an option, then I’d ask your friends if any of them dye their own hair. You might be able to get some hands-on help to learn the ropes.

I did a quick Google search on “How to Dye Your Own Hair” and it looks like there are quite a few great articles and videos available online to help you color your own hair without ruining it. However, there’s no guarantees that what you read on the internet will work for you!

My readers are much more reliable than Google, though, so let’s open up the floor to them: Have any of you colored your hair (or someone else’s) before? What advice, tips and suggestions do you have for Carol?

15 Jun 2010   ·   14
Money Saving Mom

Fifteen Favorite Children’s Read-Alouds – Part 2

Missed last week’s post with Part 1 of Fifteen Favorite Children’s Read-Alouds? Read it here.

Picking up where we left off last week, here are four more of our favorite children’s read-alouds:

5. The Story of Ferdinand — The girls never tire of this story and it always produces a plethora of questions on bull-fighting, bees and everything in-between.

6. Keep the Lights Burning Abbie— This is one of Kathrynne’s most-loved stories. It’s a beautiful tale of a girl who shows great responsibility and determination to stick to her commitments — in spite of great difficulty.

7. Caps for Sale — Despite how many times we’ve read this book, it never ceases to capture the girls’ complete attention. They find it fascinating. Plus, it offers lots of opportunities for us to discuss entrepreneurialism and how “way back when” people really had to get creative when it came to earning a living.

8. Bless the Lord: The 103rd Psalm — With absolutely gorgeous and detailed artwork, this book has the rich phrases of the 103rd Psalm contained in it. If your children are anything like mine, they will want to spend a great deal of time just studying the pictures.

Part 3 coming early next week…

This post is brought to you in part by HarperCollins and the Borders Double Dog Dare You Reading program. Kids 12 and under can join the Borders Double Dog Dare You Reading program and earn a free book when they read 10 books. Just fill out this form and bring it in to any Borders, Waldenbooks, or Borders express store by August 26, 2010 to participate in this program. Find more Summer Reading Programs here.

photo credit: Washington State Library

14 Jun 2010   ·   43
Money Saving Mom

Cutting Down on Health Care Costs

Guest post by J.D. Roth, author of Your Money: The Missing Manual.

Few things can blow a budget like unexpected medical bills. Even if you save and invest, your financial plans can be smashed to bits by unforeseen health problems. And for those who don’t have their finances in order, a medical crisis can be devastating. (In fact, research by bankruptcy expert Elizabeth Warren has shown that medical crises are the leading cause of bankruptcy in the U.S.!)

Leaving aside the recently-enacted health-care bill, if you have medical insurance, there are three steps you can take to make sure you’re not paying more than you have to:

1. Understand your insurance.

Insurance rules can be confusing. Take the time to read your policy to be sure you grasp the basics. At the very least, know how your plan works in the case of emergencies. Any time you have a concern about coverage, call your insurer and ask questions.

2. Read your bill.

Don’t assume your medical bills are accurate. Take the time to read them, and ask questions if something seems wrong. (When I had knee surgery six years ago, I was double-billed for one part of the procedure.) Nobody cares more about your money than you do, so take charge of the situation.

3. Strike a deal.

Always ask for a discount. Some places will offer them and some won’t, but it never hurts to ask. You may be able to save big bucks by picking up the phone and negotiating with your provider’s financial office — even if you’re insured. If they do agree to reduce your bill, be sure to get the details in writing.

But what if you don’t have medical insurance?

That situation’s more complicated, though the recent health bill may make things a bit easier. (Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing isn’t the point of this article.) For now, you can find quick advice via three online articles:

Saving on prescription drugs is more clear-cut.

Here are some great ways to save at the pharmacy:

  • Use older remedies. Don’t let flashy ads for new drugs fool you. In many cases, the most effective choice is a tried-and-true medication that’s been on the market for years. The drug companies are motivated to sell you the new stuff because they make more money from it.
  • Buy generic. When a drug patent expires, other companies can make similar products to compete with the original manufacturer. This increases competition and drives down prices. Generic drugs are just as good as their name-brand counterparts. The FDA states that all generics have to offer the same dosage, safety, strength, quality, and performance as the “real thing”. (Here’s a place to read more about generics.)
  • Shop around. Don’t assume that the price of a given drug will be the same from store to store. This isn’t always the case. In fact, Stephen Dubner at the Freakonomics blog reports that sometimes the price differences can be extreme. He cites one case where Walgreens was charging $117 for 90 tablets of generic Prozac while Costco was charging $12.
  • Look for discounts. Believe it or not, you can find coupons for prescription drugs. Before your next trip to the pharmacy, do a quick Google search for coupons and rebates. (Or you can usually just go to You won’t be able to find a discount for every drug, but if there’s a lot of competition in a product category, you can sometimes find a good deal.

If you need more info on the costs and benefits of various prescription drugs, visit these sites:

  • Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs is a free web site that lets you search for drugs by category and offers tips for managing your prescriptions. (You can download a PDF that explains their advice for getting the best prices.)
  • Check out It is a subscription-based site from Public Citizen, a consumer watchdog group. As you might guess from the site’s name, aims to warn consumers about possible side effects from various prescription drugs (and drug combinations).

Putting theory into practice

Enough theory! It’s one thing to talk about this stuff, and another to actually do it, right? How well do these methods really work? I recently had a chance to find out.

For the past decade, I’ve suffered from allergies every spring. Like all members in my family, I’ve been reluctant to see a doctor about the problem. This year, however, things became unbearable; I could hardly function during the say. So, I decided to see an allergist. After some testing, the allergist informed me that I was allergic to nearly every tree in Oregon. “Trees are your enemy,” he said. Yikes!

To help ease my suffering, he prescribed anti-histamine eye-drops, two types of nasal spray, and Claritin-D. (Claritin-D is prescription-only in Oregon.) When I went to the pharmacy to have my prescriptions filled, the first thing I did was ask if there were generics that could replace the drugs the doctor had ordered. In this case, there weren’t. That’s too bad because two of the drugs — Astepro and Pataday — were expensive and my insurance didn’t completely cover them. I called my doctor and explained the situation. He was very sympathetic, and he did some research for me. He found discounts for both products: a maximum $15 co-pay on the Astepro, and a $40 rebate for the Pataday.

Next, I uncovered coupons for Claritin-D and for Nasonex. Voilà! By practicing what I preach, I was able to save $75 on medication with very little effort. Plus, I know what to do next time I have these prescriptions filled.

Don’t forget the best way to save money on medical costs

Stay healthy. Although it sounds trite, your health is your most important asset. Regular exercise and a proper diet reduce the risk of many diseases and improve self-esteem, both of which will help with your pocketbook.

J.D. Roth writes about sensible personal finance at Get Rich Slowly. To learn more smart ways to manage your money, pick up a copy of his first book, Your Money: The Missing Manual, now in stores. It contains tons of tips for saving (and making) money. This is an extended version of one section from the book.

photo credit: Michael Flick

14 Jun 2010   ·   59
Money Saving Mom

Reader Tip: Treasure Box Food Program

I thought I would let you know about a program called Treasure Box that allows families to purchase a box of food for $30 that is supposed to feed a family of 4 for one week. I have not tried it myself, but there are several pickup locations in my fairly small city (mostly churches). There are 3 different box choices, but their main one has lots of different meats, frozen veggies and fruit as well as pasta and desert. The website says the boxes are worth $60 to $100 retail. It may be a good option for many out there who don’t make everything from scratch (which I tend to do). -Coby

Has anyone tried out the Treasure Box Food Program before? I’d be very interested in hearing about your experiences — good or bad.

12 Jun 2010   ·   68
Money Saving Mom

Lessons from the playground: Choose to bloom where you’re planted!

The children begged if we could go to the park early one morning last week. I said that we could once our chores, homeschool and naps were finished for the day.

They were so excited and kept talking about it all morning and afternoon and asking when we could go.

We finally finished up all the necessary things for the day and I loaded them up into the wagon and we took off for a nearby park. All the way over, they were completely stoked about going to the park and could hardly contain their excitement.

As soon as we got to the park, though, I noticed that they had trouble enjoying one piece of playground equipment because another nearby was calling their name. They’d go over and start playing on that and then they’d see another. And so it went.

They weren’t complaining and they definitely did have fun (as evidenced by the pictures above), but their fun was hampered. They were doing exactly what they’d looked forward to all day, but they couldn’t completely enjoy it because they were distracted by other parts of the playground which looked more exciting.

As I observed my children go from one piece of playground equipment to the next, I thought about what a picture this was of us adults. We can miss out on so much in life because instead of being content where we are, we’re always thinking the grass looks greener on the other side. Instead of just soaking up all the blessings of today, we’re wasting time wishing we were somewhere else.

I’ve learned something over the last few years: no matter where you are, you can find plenty of difficult things to complain about or you can find many wonderful blessings to be thankful for. It’s all a matter of perspective.

Choose to bloom where you’re planted, to make the most of the resources and opportunities you have today and your life will be so much more rich and fulfilling — no matter your income level or financial situation.

12 Jun 2010   ·   17
Money Saving Mom

Super Savings Saturday: A quick run to the health food store

We had a busy week this week, so I only had a chance to stop in at the health food store. I picked up a bag of green peppers reduced to $0.99 and two packages of organic greens reduced to $0.99 each.

A friend also gave us two dozen organic eggs she’d gotten really inexpensively (and she refused to let me pay for them!).

We’re off to Walgreens, Walmart and Dillon’s this afternoon to get some of the great deals there this week. Expect a full report next week on what deals we were able to get.


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.

10 Jun 2010   ·   74

31 Days to a Better Grocery Budget: Sign Up for Freebies

Want to know a simple way I save an average of $3 to $5 off my grocery bill every week? I sign up for freebies!

Now, I have to tell you, I used to think signing up for freebies was a waste of time. I knew this one girl who was all into freebies and she spent what seemed like enormous amounts of time finding and signing up for freebies online. She’d post pictures on her blog of what she got in the mail and it pretty much looked like junk to me.

It seemed like signing up for freebies meant spending lots of time searching online and filling out forms all just to get tiny little samples of stuff I didn’t need and wouldn’t use in the first place. Needless to say, I was unimpressed.

However, this friend kept raving about her free samples and I finally decided, “Okay, what’s it going to hurt me just to try it for a few months?”

So I did… and, ahem, now I’m hooked. And I’ve quickly realized that signing up for freebies doesn’t have to be a waste of time. In fact, it is fun — and it can save you a nice little amount on your grocery bill.

After all, when you get a coupon for free Tropicana Orange Juice, a free Gillette razor and coupons for 2 free packages of yogurt in just one day’s mail, it’s hard to conclude that it’s a waste of time to sign up for freebies!

Not only can you get full-sized products and free product coupons, but the sample sized products can help decrease how often you have to buy shampoo, deodorant, laundry detergent and body wash, and they also often have high-value coupons in them which can net you a full-sized product for a great deal!

How To Fill Your Mailbox With Great Freebies in Less Than 15 Minutes Per Week

1. Set Up A Separate Email Account

Do NOT sign up for freebies with your main email account. I promise you’ll be inundated with advertisement emails. Instead, set up a separate account through GMail or Juno or some other free service and only give out that email address when signing up.

2. Download An Automatic Form Filler

You don’t have to re-type the same information every time you fill out a form. Just download RoboForm or FormFiller and they do almost all the work for you at the touch of a button. Saves you a great deal of time and makes it so much faster to sign up for freebies!

3. Check Often

I do my best to keep you updated on the best freebies which are available — from samples to free coupons to full-sized products. Often, the really hot freebies only last for a few hours, so if you’re able to, I’d recommend checking in at least one to three times per day in order not to miss out. You can also follow me on Facebook or Twitter to be notified when something new has been posted.

4. Sign Up for Freebies Which Interest You

When you see a freebie I’ve posted that you’re interested in, I’d recommend signing up immediately so you don’t miss out in case supplies are exhausted. However, I recommend that you don’t sign up for every freebie posted — only those you know you’ll use. If you won’t use it, there’s no point in having it clutter up your home, right?

5. Be Patient

It usually takes around 4-6 weeks for freebies to start arriving. It’s easy to be discouraged if you sign up for freebies faithfully for a few weeks and see nothing in return. Don’t be disheartened. Just keep plugging away at signing up for those you’re interested and by week four or six, you should start to see a real return on your effort.

Do you think it’s worth it to sign up for freebies? Why or why not?

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9 Jun 2010   ·   31
Money Saving Mom

Time-Saving Tips for Cooking from Scratch (plus a 48-hour giveaway!)

Guest Post by Stephanie from Keeper of the Home

Quick…what’s the first objection that pops into your mind when you think about making more food from scratch?

If you’re like 90% of the moms and homemakers that I talk to, you would say that without a doubt, it’s the time factor.

Cooking from scratch simply takes more time.

You know that you should do it because:

a) It’s healthier.

b) It tastes better.

c) It will save you money.

Knowing that something is a good idea doesn’t make it any easier though. We’re still stuck with the same dilemma: If only there was more time in the day so that we could make homemade yogurt, cook brown rice instead of minute rice and make our own muffins instead of buying them or using a mix.

In my recent book, Real Food on a Real Budget: How to Eat Healthy for Less, I addressed this very issue. I knew that if it was a challenge for me (and it is), then it must be a challenge for others. How do we balance all that we need to do to manage our homes, spend time with our husbands, care for our children, do our work (either out of the home or from our homes), and still have enough time left over to make nutritious, affordable food?

Knowing what a challenge this is, I devoted an entire chapter and a large appendix in my book to sharing both my own and other women’s ideas and suggestions for making it easier to cook from scratch.

I love practical tips and I love learning what others do, because it often inspires me with small changes that I can make so that my own kitchen time is more productive.

Here is a sampling of some of my own time-saving tips included in the book:

::Use timers so that you can get things going and walk away. Oatmeal cooks while I shower and get dressed. Anything that needs to come to a boil or have 5 minutes to simmer just gets a timer, so that I can forget about what’s on the stove and get something else done in those few minutes.

::Do things at unconventional times. I like to start my homemade yogurt right after dinner, so that I can tend to it in between my evening activities and have it in the oven by bedtime so that it’s ready by morning.

::Cook and freeze beans in small portions. They are almost as quick to use as canned beans for a fraction of the price, and it’s so quick and easy to do. I soak the beans overnight, then cook them the next morning and rinse them off. When they’re cool, I put them in little baggies in 1 cup portions and stick them in the freezer. It’s great to do a couple of different beans at the same time (different pots), because they cook at the same time and the extra time to bag them once you’re already set up is so minimal.

::Pre-cook meat and poultry and freeze it in small, meal-sized amounts. Whenever I cook a whole chicken or turkey, whatever we don’t eat immediately I put into baggies in about 1 cup portions. I do the same thing if I cook several pounds of ground beef at once. It’s so great to have these small amounts already cooked in the freezer for quick or last-minute meals. I find that 1 bag is enough to just add meat to the meal, and 2 bags provides a more substantial amount of meat. Also, 1 bag of meat plus 1 bag of frozen beans combines to make very easy taco salads, fajitas or tacos.

::Have leftover meals regularly. This makes for a fast and simple meal about once a week, it prevents wasted food, and helps to clean out the fridge! I set the foods out buffet style, and we choose what we want to eat.

::Keep the kitchen well-stocked. Knowing that you always have exactly what you need on hand, or can at least make easy emergency substitutions, ensures that you’re never stuck when making a recipe. This can save a lot of time (not to mention frustration).

::Clean as you go. Doing quick cleaning tasks or washing dishes while you’re cooking makes it an easier and more pleasant chore, and saves a huge and time-consuming cleanup at the end. I take advantage of little spare moments, while waiting for water to boil, or for frying onions to soften, etc. to clean up whatever I can.

Copyright 2010, Real Food on a Real Budget by Stephanie Langford.

More Resources for Increasing Your Kitchen Efficiency

Here are a few other posts on the topic of making it easier to cook from scratch, some from my blog and some from others.

How do you make the time to cook from scratch? What tips and techniques help you to be most efficient in the kitchen?

Would you like to win a copy of Stephanie’s ebook, Real Food on a Real Budget: How to Eat Healthy for Less? She’s generously giving away 10 copies to readers here over the next 48 hours. To enter to win, just click on the link below. 10 winners will be randomly chosen and posted on Monday.Enter the Giveaway

Image by Rene Ehrhardt

9 Jun 2010   ·   40
Money Saving Mom

Freebies in my mailbox

If any of you are doubting whether signing up for freebies is worth it or not, take a look at what was in my mailbox a few days ago:

Free Gillette Fusion ProGlide razor plus coupons

Free Old Spice Odor Blocker Body Wash sample

Coupon for a free bottle of Tropicana Juice

2 coupons for free Yoplait Simply Gogurt Yogurt

$10 off $10 coupon for both Kohl’s and JCPenney (I wish I could tell you how to sign up for these as they’ve been sending me one about every 3-4 weeks. I have no idea other than that we live close to both stores and I always use the coupons that they send!)

Want to start having fun freebies fill up your mailbox, too? Just start signing up for the freebies I post which interest you and within 4-6 weeks, you should start seeing them arrive!

8 Jun 2010   ·   129
Money Saving Mom

Q&A Tuesday: How to Avoid Irritating Others When Using Coupons

I have learned a lot about responsible coupon use in the last year from visiting your site. You have told us how to use coupons ethically and legally, but what do you do when people in line behind you get grouchy? -Jackie

We live in a fast-paced society where patience is often a long-lost virtue. Most people are in a hurry when going through the checkout lanes and less than thrilled if they get hung up for 15 minutes due to another shopper’s stack of coupons.

Here are a few suggestions for streamlining the checkout process and avoiding irritating other shoppers:

1. Shop During Off-Hours — If you can, try to hit the stores when few others are shopping — usually earlier in the morning or late at night. I’ve found that rush-hour shoppers are notoriously impatient.

2. Be Organized — Before you even get in line, make sure you have all of your coupons together and in order and your store cards and cash at the ready. Spending three minutes fishing through your coupon box or purse for a missing coupon is likely going to frustrate everyone. This is why I recommend double-checking all your coupons before getting in line to pay to make sure you’re not missing any.

3. Choose an Efficient Cashier — I always “scout out” cashiers before picking a checkout line to go through. Choosing an efficient cashier not only saves you a lot of time, but it usually makes for a much smoother checkout.

4. Be Courteous and Confident — Invariably, you’ll have some shopping trips where the cash register or cashier is refusing to accept some of your coupons. Politely and quickly explain the store’s coupon policy or why they should accept the coupon. If a cashier is unwilling to budge, don’t become frustrated; it’s not worth having a fight over a few dollars. Just ask them to remove the item from your transaction and give the coupon back to you. In most cases, so long as you are polite and courteous, it’s not a big deal.

5. Let Others Know You Have Coupons — If you have a lot of coupons and think there’s a possibility that your checkout might be  a bit tedious, don’t hesitate to politely tell anyone who gets in line behind you, “I have a stack of coupons I’m using today, so it might take me awhile to checkout.” If you’ve warned them of this upfront, it’s their decision if things ended up taking awhile.

Those are a few of my suggestions on how to avoid irritating others when you use coupons. I’d love to hear your ideas, as well!

8 Jun 2010   ·   39
Money Saving Mom

Fifteen Favorite Children’s Read-Alouds – Part 1

Summer is here and you might be looking for some fun and frugal ways to occupy your children without just sitting them in front of the computer or television.

Reading is a wonderful way to stimulate your children’s minds, teach them great lessons, open up new worlds to them and give them a life-long interest in learning. If your children are young, reading aloud also provides a great opportunity to spend quality time with your children. Plus, if you get most of your books free, reading is an incredibly frugal pastime.

We love books at our house. We don’t have a lot of children’s toys, but oh do we enjoy books! Our children never tire of being read to.

And since I’m often asked for children’s book recommendations, I’m going to be sharing fifteen of our very favorite children’s read-alouds over the next four weeks. These are books which — in most cases — we’ve read over and over and over again. Many of them might already be on your own shelves, but I hope you’ll discover a few new ones, too.

1. Goodnight Moon— Hands down, this is Kaitlynn’s (almost 3) favorite book. In fact, I’m pretty sure every single one of us have this entire book memorized by heart. We also can pretty much tell you every little detail on every square inch of every page. But that’s perfectly okay, because it’s such a great classic book.

2. The Seven Silly Eaters — This book was sent to our family by a blog reader and it’s become one of the most-requested read-alouds by our girls. It’s a fun — and sometimes a bit over-the-top — book about life in a bustling household. We don’t quite have every word memorized yet, but we’re quickly getting there! 🙂

3. Because I Love You— If I had to pick a favorite book from all the children’s books we own, I’m pretty sure this book would be it. It’s a beautiful story of God’s love for us — even when we were yet sinners. It touches me every time I read it to the girls and opens up lots of opportunities for me to explain truths about God.

4. The Bear That Heard Crying (Picture Puffins) — This is a true and fascinating story which happened in 1783. A 3-year-old girl gets lost in the woods and is saved by a bear — yes, I said a bear. The girls are always in awe and ask dozens of questions when we read this one.

Part 2 of Fifteen Favorite Read-Alouds is coming next Monday.

This post is brought to you in part by HarperCollins and the Borders Double Dog Dare You Reading program. Kids 12 and under can join the Borders Double Dog Dare You Reading program and earn a free book when they read 10 books. Just fill out this form and bring it in to any Borders, Waldenbooks, or Borders express store by August 26, 2010 to participate in this program. Find more Summer Reading Programs here.

photo credit: Washington State Library

7 Jun 2010   ·   106
Money Saving Mom

See why I don’t pay for coupons?

I wrote not too long ago about how I never pay for the newspaper or coupons. When a quick stop at the recycling bin always reaps a stack of inserts like is shown above, it’s hard to justify, wouldn’t you say?

Plus, if I end up not having time to clip them all, I don’t have any guilt in just chucking them back into the recycling bin because I didn’t pay a penny for them!

(And yes, I really do throw out coupons sometimes. My mantra is, “Do what you can do, with what you’ve got, where you are.” Sometimes, that means I just have to let coupon-clipping go for a week or two or four, because much more important things need my attention — like my precious children!)