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8 Jan 2009   ·   19
Money Saving Mom

Get Your Finances in Line in 2009: Our financial goals for this year

Would you like to live on less, pay off debt, and/or save more money this year? If so, I’d love to have you join me and many others here in the Get Your Finances in Line in 2009 Challengea year-long campaign to encourage families worldwide to live on less
than they make and take personal responsibility for their finances.

Each family is going to have different goals, so I can’t necessarily tell you what your financial plan should look like. I can, however, encourage you to make every effort to get on a written budget and start making your money work for you. This is the first step towards really achieving financial freedom.

If you’re new to living on a budget, let me reassure you that it’s not some ball-and-chain sort of life. On the contrary, we’ve found great freedom in purposefully allocating our money to work in the most effective way for our family. And we’ve learned a lot about this from Dave Ramsey. I’d highly encourage you to check out his website, read his books, listen to his radio show, watch his TV show online, and even consider enrolling in Financial Peace University, if you’ve not already done so. (By the way, I don’t earn a penny of any sort for plugging Dave, we just have saved so much and been inspired so much thanks to him that I can’t help but recommend him to anyone who will listen!)

Secondly, I think it is imperative that we all set financial goals–whether big or small. If we don’t have a goals in place, it’s very easy to just wander aimlessly about, with money slipping through our fingers like sand.

My husband and I have been amazed at how motivational it has been to set down at the beginning of each year and map out goals for our family for the following year. We try to stick with goals which might seem far-fetched, but which are achievable if we really set our minds to it.

We try to avoid impossible resolutions such as, “We will not overspend this year.” and instead stick with doable goals, such as, “We will aim to have put an extra $200 in savings each month.” We publicly posted our financial goals last year and found that to be a huge source of accountability each month. In fact, by God’s grace and a variety of unexpected events, we ended up accomplishing all of our goals for last year. (You can read more about that here.)

Because of careful stewardship and living on a budget over the past six years of our marriage, God’s blessing, and lots of hard work and zealous frugality, we are currently in a financial position where we have no debt of any kind, have a fully-funded six-month emergency fund, are investing an IRA and in our children’s mutual funds, and are able to live comfortably significantly below our means. Because of this, our focus this year is on giving and saving.

We are so excited to see the fruits of frugality paying off so greatly in our lives and to be in a position to share more with others! It truly is “more blessed to give”.

In addition, we are aiming to have saved up enough money by the end of 2009 to pay 100% down on our first home. At this point in time, we have 33% of our final goal saved up. With my husband’s career change and our moving to a less-expensive area a few months back, we are very hopeful that we just might make 100% of our goal by the end of this year.

I’ll keep you posted concerning our progress each month. And even if we don’t quite make this very-ambitious goal, we hope that we’ll at least be much closer to it by the end of 2009!

Note: If you are interested in seeing my personal goals for this year, you can check them out here.

——————————

What are your financial goals for this year?
Post about them on your blog and then come back here and leave your
link below. If you don’t have an anonymous blog, feel free to only
share as much detail as you feel comfortable with. We’ll be having a
monthly check-up to track and report our progress in achieving these
goals.

5 Jan 2009   ·   9
Money Saving Mom

Our $60 menu this week

Greenmpm

I didn't get a picture snapped of our shopping trip from a few days ago, but here's what's on tap to be served this week (keep in mind that this is a bit different–and more expensive–than our normal menus since I'm trying to get in plenty of protein and iron to keep up my nutritional requirements for this pregnancy.):

Breakfasts:
Pancakes, cottage cheese, fruit
Homemade granola over yogurt, fruit
Cheerios, orange/banana smoothies
Cream of Wheat, fruit
Peanut butter banana smoothies, toast
Scrambled eggs with cottage cheese (cooked in for extra protein), bran muffins, juice

Lunches:
Mozzarella sticks, veggies, apples with peanut butter
Salmon, broccoli, bran muffins
Shrimp, baked potatoes, fruit
Cheese quesadillas, mixed veggies
PB&J, oranges
Leftovers x 2

Dinners:
Steak, mashed potatoes, broccoli
Hamburger patties with melted cheese, toast, fruit
Meat loaf, green beans, homemade bread
Chicken over brown rice, broccoli
Beef stir-fry over rice
Steak, sweet potatoes, homemade bread
Dinner out

Snacks:
Bran muffins
Apples/oranges/bananas
Banana bread
Peanut butter toast
Granola bars
Frozen yogurt

See more menus for this week here.

5 Jan 2009   ·   62
Money Saving Mom

Happy New Year!

Did you all have a good holiday season? I sure did! It was the first Christmas since we've been married to not travel out of town. And was that ever nice!

In fact, between not traveling and not blogging, I hardly knew what to do with myself! But it was really wonderful to take an extended break–and to realize again just how much I enjoy blogging and how much I miss it (and you all!) when I take a break from it.

Over the past few weeks, we spent lots of memorable time with family and friends, ate more sweets in a few weeks than we usually do in a few months, and I took advantage of my nesting energies and totally revamped my organization system for life, home, and blogging–something that was greatly needing to be done. And for the first time in my life, I'm going paperless (using RememberTheMilk.com–love it!).

Christmas and New Year's are behind us, and I'm ready to hit the ground running with blogging again. Here's to another year of spending less, saving more, and enjoying doing so!

19 Dec 2008   ·   13
Money Saving Mom

Celebrating a Simple Christmas: A few things we’ve enjoyed this season

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Inspired by Little House on the Prairie, we made bear pancakes for Christmas week. Kathrynne thought they were the neatest pancakes ever. Talk about an easy and simple way to bring a smile to a little girl's face!

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We made some of our favorite Brown Sugar Biscuit Twists to take to a Christmas gathering this week and will be making more for our Christmas morning brunch. These are just so delicious and relatively easy to whip up, too. I posted the recipe here.

HIBCover

December just wouldn't be the same without Christmas music! We love it and listen to it almost constantly as soon as Thanksgiving is over with (well, sometimes I can't wait and have to turn on some before then!). One of our favorites is the CD my sister recently produced in conjunction with The WILDs. (Listen to clips here.) Read more about some of the other CDs and music we've enjoyed this season here.

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Cozying up on the sofa with a stack of books and hot drinks has occupied many of our December afternoons. We always tackle quite an eclectic mix of books, but we've enjoyed a number of Christmas-y ones in the last few weeks. You can read about those here.

(By the way, I requested most of these off of PaperBackSwap–one of my favorite sources for building our family library! And since the girls love books so much, I've stashed some of the books away that we've gotten in the mail from PaperBackSwap recently and will be wrapping them up for Christmas presents. They will love this and it's about as frugal as it gets when it comes to Christmas presents!)

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And finally, one way we've sought to keep a Christ-centered Christmas this year is by doing a Jesse Tree. If you've never heard of this concept before, you can read more about what it is and how we're doing it here.

19 Dec 2008   ·   15
Money Saving Mom

Celebrating a Simple Christmas: Homemade gifts

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One thing we did for some simple homemade gifts this year was to make up a bunch of hot drink mixes. I love hot drink mixes in the Wintertime and they're a nice gift to give since they don't need to be used right away but can be enjoyed at the recipient's leisure.

We made: Vanilla Chai Tea Mix, Fireside Coffee Mix, and Hot Spiced Tea Mix.

I bought some gift bags and tags and ribbon at 50% off at Hobby Lobby last week for $0.99 per 20 of each and used these to package up the gifts. While I could have made my own and probably saved a few dimes, I figured that keeping it simple and saving time and effort was worth paying a little bit extra for.

We'll be putting these drink mixes in gift baskets with the mini-loaves of sweet breads I made up yesterday and a bag of this Corny Snack Mix (thanks to Shannon for the recipe link!). All of these items can be stored in the freezer, too, so if the recipient has lots of homemade goodies around, they can save ours to enjoy later.

It's a simple and inexpensive homemade gift, but I think it will be meaningful and appreciated by those who receive it. And we had a lot of fun putting them together, too!

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18 Dec 2008   ·   0
Money Saving Mom

Celebrating a Simple Christmas: Cookie-Baking Day!

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We took the day off today from our usual routine and had a cookie-baking/bread-baking day. I always try to take at least a day or two the week before Christmas to do some fun baking. And it's especially enjoyable now that the girls are old enough to help some.

Today, we made 32 mini-loaves of different sweet breads (Pumpkin Chocolate Chip, Apple Walnut, and Lemon breads) to give as gifts and the girls made and decorated a variety of Christmas cookies to share with others.

There are more pictures of our day posted over here.

17 Dec 2008   ·   0
Money Saving Mom

Celebrating a Simple Christmas: Introduction

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I'm going to let you in on a little secret: I don't start any Christmas preparations until after December 1. Seriously.

That might sound odd coming from a person who usually is a pretty meticulous planner, however, I've found that waiting until December to start Christmas preparations helps tremendously to keep things simple.

And keeping things simple is one of the most important things to me about Christmas. If I'm running around like a chicken with my head cut off and feeling completely overwhelmed and stressed, it's not worth it to me. I'd rather keep it simple, do less, and have time to really enjoy the Christmas season and all that it entails.

With this in mind, our family chooses a few things each year to do and enjoy during the Christmas season. Each year, it's a little different–and that adds to the fun!

This year, we're choosing to enjoy lots of Christmas music, put up our first Christmas tree and lights on our home, have a cookie-baking day, make homemade gifts for a few friends and family, read Christmas stories and books, attend a few get-togethers with friends, go caroling to some elderly folks and shut-ins, celebrate Advent with a Jesse Tree, get a few special gifts for our immediate family members, and enjoy lots of memorable time with family. We spread out these activities over the whole month of December so that no week is packed to the gills and we're able to take time to savor each thing.

Over the next few days, I'll be sharing a little peek into our family's simple Christmas celebrations this year. My goal in sharing is not so that you'll feel like you need to do exactly what we do (please don't!) but to just inspire you (hopefully!) to consider choosing what really matters to your family this Christmas and to encourage your family to stop and savor the sights, smells, and sounds of this season!

May your Christmas season be a wonderfully blessed, unhurried, and joyful time of year, a time for making memories, sharing laughter with family and friends, and, most of all, remembering the One Who was born so long ago in a humble manger.

photo by yvestown

16 Dec 2008   ·   54
Money Saving Mom

Guest Post: Simplify Christmas Without the Guilt

Note from Crystal: Rachel's post kicks off a short series we'll be doing here over the next few days on Celebrating a Simple Christmas. I'll be sharing some of the things our family is doing, baking, and making to enjoy
this special time of year while keeping it very simple. I hope the
ideas shared will be an inspiration and encouragement to all of you to
slow down and focus on what really matters this season.

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Guest Post by Rachel from Small Notebook

We are simplifying our Christmas this year, finding ways to celebrate that aren't costly or emotionally draining. It feels amazingly free to let go of obligations, not try to do it all, and focus on the traditions that our family enjoys most.

When I shared about this recently, my friend Megan responded:

So am I reading this right that you might possibly NOT be sending Christmas cards this year? Because I so want freedom from Christmas cards. Can I opt out? It would be the second year in a row. Am I a bad person/friend?

Okay let me be honest: I haven't sent Christmas cards since 1995.

Do I feel guilty? Not really.

It's so easy to wonder and worry:

  • Will friends still like me?
  • Will they think that I am unorganized?
  • What if they send me a card, but I don't send one to them?

Sometimes Christmas seems like putting on a show. It's wearisome, and it leaves us wanting more.

I've been thinking about what a simple Christmas would be like for us, and together with my husband we have chosen some things to cut back on.

This means I won't get to act like Martha and show off my amazing skills. (Which is a good thing, considering my past kitchen disasters.)

More and more, I have to remember that Christmas is not about me. It's not about what I can do, what I can make, or how organized I can be.

If our Christmas is to resemble the way that Christ came to this earth, then we need to take a step back. The way Jesus was born was humble. It wasn't a spectacular show. It wasn't a production. I want my Christmas to reflect that, so I can dwell on him this season.

If I don't send cards this year, or have a huge pile of gifts to pass out, or fill up my kitchen with cookies, it will be okay. It could be more than okay–joyful even.

I will assume my friends will be understanding and gracious, and they will still like me, even without cards. Benefit of the doubt is a gracious gift: it makes it so much easier to live with others. When you give benefit of the doubt to others, you are saying, "I am looking at the best in you."

When you receive it from others, it means, "I don't need to be perfect, or try to look like it."

Jesus said, "For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:30 NIV), and I am convinced that goes for the holidays too.

May you have a blessed, peaceful, and guilt-free holiday season.

Rachel Meeks writes about making a simple and peaceful home. To read more about having a "Come As You Are" Christmas without the frenzy, visit Small Notebook.

Is your family proactively doing anything this year to keep Christmas simple? If so, please tell us about it in the comments section!

photo by Lili Vieira de Carvalho

13 Dec 2008   ·   78
Money Saving Mom

Super Savings Saturday: Kroger and Walgreens (and we’re temporarily raising our grocery budget again)

As some of you know, I had severe anemia last pregnancy, so severe, in fact, that I ended up being hospitalized for a week to run tests and monitor me because the doctors and specialists were sure I must have some kind of disease or disorder other than pregnancy for my body to be in such bad shape and unwilling to respond in any way to the many different varieties of supplements, iron pills, and other such remedies they gave me for weeks in order to get my hemoglobin and platelet levels to bounce back up to a somewhat decent range.

The final verdict, after more poking and prodding and testing than I'd ever desire to endure again, was that I was healthy as a lark in all respects except for my hemoglobin and platelet counts and those were directly related to nurturing a life inside of me. And so I was induced early last time around and within a few days of the baby being born, my health had almost returned to normal levels. Which was a huge praise!

With this pregnancy, we've taken a number of precautionary measures to, if possible, avoid the difficulties I had the last time around. I've been eating a high-iron diet and taking double the normal iron supplements, in addition to a number of things.

And now that I'm 20 weeks along and starting to feel some anemia coming on, we're upping our grocery budget in order to allow me to buy extra meat each week. I'm not usually a meat eater–especially a red meat eater–but since it seems to be one thing my body does find helpful in warding off anemia, I'm eating it and lots of it. And it's very worth the extra $20 per week we've decided to spend if it means that I'm able to stay more healthy this time around.

So all that said, yes, we're temporarily raising the grocery budget to $60 per week as opposed to our usual $40 per week. The plan is to do this for the next 18-20 weeks or so while I get through the rest of my pregnancy. And then we'll re-evaluate and see what would be best for our family.

I wanted to openly and candidly share about this because I think it is important that all of us don't become so stuck upon a certain budgeted dollar amount for groceries that we overlook the needs of our families. $40 usually works pretty well for us, but I'm flexible if we need to raise it for a season–or even permanently–to better accommodate needs in our family or our current life situation.

For you, maybe $80 is what works best. Or $100. Or $150. I hope that our lower grocery budget can serve as an inspiration to many of you, but I don't ever want anyone to feel as if a certain dollar amount is the "gold standard" of grocery budgets. Because what works for one family, will likely not work for many other families. Do what works for your family and challenge yourself to do the best you can do with the time, energy, and resources you have. That's truly what frugal living is all about!

Now, with all of that said, here was our shopping trip from yesterday:004

(isn't my daughter cute? She asked if she could please be in the picture!)

We hit Kroger (Dillons) and Walgreens and spent $42. I still need to hit Aldi for cheese, eggs, butter, frozen veggies, and a few other things so I'll likely spend most of the remaining $18 of our budget there.

At Dillons, I did the cereal promotion (buy 4 boxes of cereal bars or cereal, get $4 off instantly) three different times. They were $0.50-$1/box after coupons and the sale–which is a great price for our family since these are special treats for us!

I also got 8 packages of frozen meat that was reduced and Horizon milk and yogurt that was reduced and I had a coupon for. In addition, I got a free bag of Steamfresh meals for two (they had sent me a coupon as part of a promotion), toilet paper, whole wheat flour, and spinach, apples, and bananas all reduced.

All totaled, I spent $42 at Dillons and was very happy with all I was able to snag for that!

At Walgreens, I did a very sweet transaction: 2 Sure deodorants (free after coupons), aspirin (free with a coupon Walgreens sent me), a Schick Quattro razor (free after coupons), and two bottles of Arm and Hammer detergent (on 4-day special for $1.99 and I used one $1/1 coupon).

My total before coupons was $26 and after coupons was $3.98. But here's where it gets really good: Walgreens had sent me a $5 off check because we'd just moved to the area. So they were able to run the $5 off check to cover my $3.98 and I paid nothing out of pocket. Plus, I got a $5 Register Rewards back for spending $25 at Walgreens during their 4-day sale. Yay!

How'd you do this week? Post about the deals and bargains you were able to snag this week or other ways you saved money on your blog (with pictures, if possible!) and then come back here and leave your link below. **To make it easy for everyone to navigate quickly through the links, your link must link directly to your Super Savings Saturday post.**

12 Dec 2008   ·   38
Money Saving Mom

Guest Post: Creative and Frugal Ideas for Gift-Wrapping

Guest Post by Monica from The Homespun Heart

Aside from the usual 90% off roll of Christmas wrap, my favorite gift
wrap has become brown kraft paper and simple hardware store twine. The
brown paper is on sale for $1 a roll frequently at Walgreens and twine
can also be purchased for $1 at dollar stores and Big Lots.

Here
are some ways I've dressed up simple brown paper with odds and ends
of crafting supplies. I've found that pages from old books, mini clothespins, magazine
pictures, felt scraps, sticks from the yard, buttons, ribbon and sewing
notion scraps are all wonderful things to work with!

(Click on any of the images below to see a larger and detailed version.)

Christmas wrapping 2 edited

Christmas wrapping 3 edited


Christmas wrapping 4 edited

Christmas wrapping 5 edited

Christmas wrapping 6 edited

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Christmas wrapping 8 edited

Christmas wrapping 7 edited

Christmas wrapping 2007 1 edited

Those are just a few of my ideas, what about you? What are your favorite creative and frugal ideas for wrapping or embellishing gifts? I'd love to hear!

Monica enjoys blogging about the simple pleasures of faith, family, and home over at The Homespun Heart.

10 Dec 2008   ·   56
Money Saving Mom

Reader tip: Ask for mark-downs

Susan emailed me yesterday with her experience in asking for a mark-down:

I went to Kroger today to get a few
things and I really needed some organic milk. I can often find some
marked down, but today there was none marked down. However, I found they had some
Horizon milk that had a sell-by date of Dec 12 (4 days away).

I found someone who worked at Kroger and asked them if they could tell
me what days they mark down dairy products. When they told me that it was no no specific
day but just every so often, I asked if the milk could/should be marked
down since it expires in 4 days. They said "sure"!

The nice lady
asked how many gallons I wanted, and marked them down and give them to
me, and then marked down the rest of them too! I was so excited that I
got my organic milk for only $2.75/gallon! It never hurts to ask!

Have any of you asked for a mark-down before on items which were nearing their expiration date or produce which was going bad? I have done this very successfully at Aldi before–sometimes even scoring free produce!

9 Dec 2008   ·   23
Money Saving Mom

Guest Post: Saving Time and Money With Amazon.com

1AmazonLogo

Guest Post by Davonne Parks, executive editor of Pierce My Heart

With the holidays approaching, many of us are trying to figure out how
to purchase nice gifts on a limited budget. While there are many ways
to do this, I have personally found that Amazon.com
is a great place to save time and money.

Why Amazon.com?

I have yet to search for an item on Amazon.com which I wasn't able to find.
I've purchased books, bikes, a projector screen, and much more from
Amazon.com for a fraction of the price I've found in stores.

The items we
purchase most from Amazon.com are books. I'll regularly see a book at a
book store for $20, then go home and search for it on Amazon.com, and find
the same exact thing, brand new, for $6 including shipping. This is a
great way to make the most out of every dollar when purchasing gifts
for other people!

Start By Choosing An Item

Do a simple search on Amazon.com for the item you desire. After searching,
you will probably find several versions of the same item. The easiest
way to go through these is to right click on the item you’re interested
in, then left click on “open link in new tab.” This will open the
desired link in a new tab without moving you from the page you were
already on, so that you can continue opening the other items in a new
tab too.

When choosing between similar items, you will want to take special note
of the price, product description, and costumer reviews. Then you can
easily go through each tab, one by one, and X out of the items you
decide against, thus eventually narrowing it down to your final choice.

Amazon.com vs. An Individual Seller


Once you find your desired item, you will need to choose between
purchasing the item from Amazon.com itself and purchasing from an individual
seller who is listed on Amazon.com.

Many items sold by Amazon.com have free
shipping on orders of $25 or more (Super Saver Shipping). I usually
have a list in mind when I purchase from Amazon.com and I wait to purchase
until I have a $25 order so I can take advantage of the free shipping,
since that's generally a little cheaper than the seller price after
adding the seller's shipping charges.

If you do choose to buy from a seller, there are a few ways to ensure a
positive transaction. Click on “new” or “used” to the right of the
product image and browse those selections. They're usually listed from
cheapest to most expensive for buyer ease.

Some things to notice are the shipping rates (listed directly below the
item cost), and the seller's information. Their basic information is
listed to the right of the item price.

It's important to look at how
many sales they've had and their percentage of positive responses. A
rating, or response, is what the costumer gives after receiving his/her
product (this is similar to the eBay system). I generally only buy
items from sellers who have had several hundred transactions, and at
least 98% positive feedback.

You can click on “positive” underneath the
seller's name and read the reviews. This will allow you to see why they
received any negative responses, and you can decide if it's worth
buying from that particular seller.

Making The Purchase


Once you've selected an item to purchase, click on “add to cart.” From
there, you can continue shopping (repeat above steps) or click on
“proceed to checkout.”

Amazon.com will then guide you through the steps of creating an account and
completing your order. After you enter your information once, Amazon.com
saves it for future use, so after the first transaction the checkout
process will be much faster. (For a list of accepted payment methods, go
here.).
You can also set up one-step checkout at this time, which will save
time in the future by setting a default address and payment method that
will automatically appear the next time you place an order.

Additional Helps

The Movers and Shakers
page
on Amazon.com lists items that have been selling much faster than
normal, which usually means they're having huge sales on those items.
For more tips on maximizing your savings on Amazon, check out this post by Pro
Bargain Hunter
.

Amazon.com has great deals for every taste and budget, so learn to maximize your
savings by shopping online, and you just might find you'll rarely have to fight the crowds
at the mall again!

Davonne is the executive editor of Pierce My Heart, an online Christian magazine for young women. December’s Pierce My Heart theme is on giving. She also helps run her husband’s computer business while her daughter is in morning pre-school, and she is learning how to coupon and CVS efficiently.

8 Dec 2008   ·   37
Money Saving Mom

Guest Post: Thrifty Evergreens

Guest Post by Monica from The Homespun Heart

Every year, I enjoy getting a load of
free clippings from our local Lowe's Home Improvement store. We
always buy our tree at Lowe's and I'm happy to give them my business
when the tree is a good value and I get all the free clippings I
want! If you don't have a Lowe's nearby, check with any local place
where Christmas trees are sold to see if you might be able to pick up some of the extra tree clippings for free.

I recommend that you head to Lowes at a busy time so you are sure
there will be lots of clippings! Beginning right after Thanksgiving,
weekends are a perfect time to stop by and pick up some free greens. I've found it's helpful to stop at the tree trimming
spot on our way in and say we'd like a load of clippings and then
go pick out our tree as I've had employees start a pile for me and have
it ready when I come out.

Remember that each customer is entitled to their own tree trimmings so don't take someone else's until you are sure they don't want it. And also, be willing to share; you'd be
amazed how far you can stretch a small pile of clippings! 

The following projects I've made from our free evergreen clippings are extremely versatile
and very inexpensive. I hope you will find one or two that you'll
enjoy using to decorate your home this year.The only other supplies you need are
completely up to you and your taste. You might use fabric scraps or ribbon, twine,
pine cones, interesting antiques in holiday colors, or whatever else suits
your family!

Gather some limbs together and wire to a
coat hanger. Glue on pine cones and wire on an item of visual and color
interest–in this case, a red lantern! Add a fabric bow and you have
a great look on your door for free:

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You could decorate your mailbox:

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Or, float evergreens in a jar with cranberries:

Dec 2005 025

[A note on the cranberries: you can
get these anytime they are on sale and just pop the entire bag in
your freezer. I usually assemble my jars on Christmas Eve and enjoy
them for a few days. You can either place the jars in your fridge
to extend the life of the berries or dry the berries off and refreeze
them for next year! I have made a bag of berries last for two or
three years by doing this!]

Or, decorate a rocking chair or porch swing:

Misc 112

Here are just a few more ideas:

::Put extra greens in a cute pail or bucket on your porch or hearth.

::Tie greens onto a gift bag.

::Use evergreens inside on a windowsill, on top of a cabinet or over a mirror. I've even hung them in the windows!

::Tie a few greens onto your little one's stroller or wagon and make your winter walks more festive!

::Make place card using the extra greens. See details here.

::Use the extra greens as a filler in mailing a box! Go here for more details.

This
is just the beginning! There are so many fun ways to use these free and
beautiful branches! Do you decorate with greens? What is your favorite
way to bring this inexpensive decoration into your decorating?

Monica enjoys blogging about the simple pleasures of faith, family, and home over at The Homespun Heart.

Note from Crystal: Be sure to check out Monica's blog for much more fun and frugal Christmas inspiration! Also, one of my other favorite bloggers, Catherine, has shared how she used her free tree trimmings to decorate her home for Chrstmas this year here and here.

6 Dec 2008   ·   10
Money Saving Mom

Super Savings Saturday: This week’s ~$40 shopping trip

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I shopped the mark-downs at Dillons and then got fruit, frozen veggies, and other staples at Aldi this week. My total after coupons was $38.49!

How’d you do this week? Post about the deals and
bargains you were able to snag this week or other ways you saved money
on your blog (with pictures, if possible!) and then come back here and
leave your link below. **To make it easy for everyone to navigate quickly through the links, your link must link directly to your Super Savings Saturday post.**