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11 Jun 2009   ·   18
Money Saving Mom

100 Different Ways to Save $100 This Year – Part 6


If you missed the first parts of this series, you can read them here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5. Here's the sixth installment in this series of ideas of ways to save $100 or more this year:

23) Recover your furniture instead of replacing it. When my husband and I were first married, we spent a total of $100 to furnish our apartment. We accepted hand-me-downs for almost everything and then purchased a used matching sofa and chair we found in the newspaper.

Four years later, when we had made it through law school a had a little more wiggle room in our budget, we decided it was about time we replace our living room set. We had scrimped together a few hundred dollars and naively figured we could likely find something for this amount. However, we quickly found that a few hundred dollars doesn't go very far when it comes to furniture.

We scoured garage sales, second-hand stores, surplus stores, and Craigslist, all to no avail. Either the furniture was very used, hideously ugly, or just plain too expensive.

Finally, a friend suggested we consider buying slipcovers instead of replacing our furniture. We'd never considered that, but after a little digging, we discovered you can buy brand-new slip covers off of eBay for about half of what they'd run retail. And the price of these slipcovers paled in comparison to buying new furniture!

So, after buying two slipcovers and making some matching throw pillows, we re-did the entire look of our living room for less than $150!

(If you were more handy with a sewing machine than me, you could likely make slipcovers or just up and recover your entire sofa for even less than we paid.)

24) Constantly challenge yourself to improve. My husband and I are fairly competitive people so we've found we can really use this to our advantage when it comes to saving and giving. We set goals every month for how much we hope to save and give and how we hope to accomplish it and then we have a running competition to see if we can actually pull it off.

Some months, we'll commit to not going out to eat, or reducing our energy usage, or driving less, or spending less on groceries, or not spending any money on anything but basic necessities. Each month, it's a little different so that it keeps life interesting and we never grow bored of the challenge. In addition, we always set our goals a little higher than what we think we can pull off, just to challenge ourselves to think outside the box and be more self-disciplined.

Making it like a game to see how well we can live while still reaching our financial goals makes it fun and exciting. Who says that living on a budget and living beneath your means needs to be a miserable experience?!

The biggest benefit of challenging ourselves in this way is that it really does seem to allow us to save and give more. We don't always quite make our monthly goals, but I am positive we go a lot farther than we would if we didn't set any goals and didn't come up with creative challenges each month to help us try and meet them.

25) Drink water. Okay, so this might not be your favorite way to save $100 this year, but if you want to spend less and save more, curbing the caffeine addiction is something to seriously consider.

Water is the beverage of choice in our home. We enjoy coffee and even soft drinks on occasion, but these are reserved as a treat, not an everyday occurrence. And we've saved a lot of money over the years because of this.

I know you often hear about how you can save money by "cutting the Starbucks habit" and I'm sure it has almost begun to seem cliche at this point, but have you ever really done the math? If you regularly get drinks from the soda machine at work or stop in often at the drive-thru at a local coffee shop, have you ever taken the time to add up how much these little expenditures are really costing you? If you spend $3 five times per week on lattes, that's over $750 each year! Or even if you only spend $1 five days a week on a drink, that still is over $250 a year.

If giving up your daily latte is unthinkable, perhaps you could consider learning to make it at home? You'll save a tremendous amount of by doing so and you might find you can make it even better than the local coffee shop. But I still recommend water–it's a lot fewer calories than most caffeinated beverages and it's really good for you, too!

To be continued…

photo by Refracted Moments

8 Jun 2009   ·   16
Money Saving Mom

This week’s menu plan


I'm finally getting back into regular menu-planning after taking a few weeks off to have a baby. And it feels so good! I'm sticking to simple meals since it's our first week of our official
homeschool year and the goal of this week is to be consistent with our
new schedule. I can quickly get side-tracked in the kitchen so I made the menu really easy to try and deter myself from losing focus!

We're mostly eating from the pantry and freezer as these are rather full and in need of a little pairing down. We did spend $33 at the store buying produce and dairy products, but the main staples for these meals we already had on hand (which is the beauty of stocking up on sales!).

Here's the plan:

Kashi waffles, strawberries, yogurt
Strawberry smoothies, muffins
Banana bread, oranges, yogurt
Cereal, juice or fruit x 2
Oatmeal, grapefruit
Pumpkin waffles, strawberries

Spinach Rice and Cheese Casserole, fruit
Tossed salad (using fresh-from-the-container-garden lettuce!) with hard-boiled eggs and cheese, bread
Baked potatoes with broccoli and cheese, peaches
Pot roast, corn, toast, tossed salad
PB&J, carrots, applesauce
Leftovers x 2

Ham and Cheese Stromboli, broccoli
French Toast with strawberries and freshly-whipped cream, hashbrowns
Chicken BBQ Pizza, corn on the cob, fruit salad
Turkey sub sandwiches, chips, veggies
Mini Meatloaves, mixed steamed veggies, bread, sweet potatoes
Steak, corn on the cob, grapefruit, cucumber and tomato salad, bread
Dinner out

Granola bars

Check out more menu plans for this week over at Organizing Junkie.

8 Jun 2009   ·   17
Money Saving Mom

MyPoints: Earn free gift cards for reading emails and taking surveys

Back when my husband was in law school and we were living on our bare-bones beans-and-rice budget, we rarely ever had any extra cash to use for dates. However, I didn't let that deter me from coming up with creative ideas for fun dates. We'd take a picnic to the park, we'd go to the library and browse books, we'd take walks. If we could scrounge up a few dollars, we get a meal or two at a fast food restaurant with coupons or hit the $0.99 bowling night.

One of our favorite things to do was to head to a bookstore and get an iced coffee and just spend a few hours looking at books. We'd browse the shelves and then take a stack of books to a cozy corner and read for a while. We usually paid for our drinks with a gift card I'd earned from MyPoints so the whole evening ended up costing us nothing out of pocket and would be a very relaxing and refreshing time for us to spend together away from the pressures and deadlines of law school life.

If you are strapped for cash but would love to also get to have a bookstore date on occasion, I'd definitely recommend MyPoints. It's free to sign up for and you can earn points to cash in for gift cards by reading emails and taking surveys. It takes a bit of time to accumulate enough points to cash in for a gift card, but if you have more time than money right now, it's a great way to be able to enjoy a few free dates every year.

Go here to sign up.

6 Jun 2009   ·   31
Money Saving Mom

Super Savings Saturday: This week’s $33 shopping trip

I made out the menu this week and realized there was very little we needed to buy. Our cupboards, refrigerator, and freezer are rather full and the sales were pretty sparse. So my hubby just made a quick trip by the store on his way home from work to buy milk, cheese, chicken, and produce–all which were on sale.


My husband also surprised me with a few special treats, too, since we had some extra wiggle room in our budget (we don't always completely follow our "only buy what's on sale rule"–just most of the time!). He bought my favorite-in-all-the-world Milano cookies, some delicious Pepperidge Farm cookies, and whipping cream (for homemade strawberry shortcake–yum!).

All in all, he spent $32.86. Somehow, we've managed to stay significantly below our $40/week budget most of the last four weeks–even with some splurging! I'm curious to see if we can continue to keep with our $40/week budget now that we're feeding five people. So far, it's going quite well, but only time will tell.

Check back on Monday for details and specifics on this coming week's menu plan.

In other frugal news, I had the privilege of meeting three frugal
friends in the last two weeks whom I've gotten to know through the
blogging world. Amy and Laura and I met up two weeks ago and then Amy and Carrie and I met up this past week.

(photo from Laura)

We managed to totally forget to take pictures with Carrie, but Laura and Amy posted some fun pictures of our meet-up here and here. It's always such a boost and encouragement to get to chat face-to-face with other frugal moms!

And in other completely unrelated news (but because this is my blog so I guess that means I have license to post whatever I please!), after four weeks, I finally got a few pictures of all three of my precious little ones together…


There is never a dully moment around here and most nights I go to bed quite exhausted, but feel incredibly blessed to be the mama of these darling little ones. They bring so much joy into our lives!

Enough of my biased mama ramblings, for now, though. 🙂 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.

Note: 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

5 Jun 2009   ·   22
Money Saving Mom

Adding Flavor While Saving Money: How To Store and Preserve Fresh Herbs (Guest Post)

Guest Post by Megan from

Not too long ago, an
was written in a national newspaper documenting the trend towards
so-called "cheap" convenience foods. I sighed, disappointed that shoppers naturally assume single-serving, prepackaged foods like macaroni and cheese are cheaper than
homemade alternatives. 

Convenience foods can, in fact, be most costly, and they are almost
always less healthful than their homemade counterparts. But perhaps what bothered most about this trend is that
shoppers are "buying-in" to the belief that being frugal means sacrificing
taste and quality. 

Eating well on a frugal budget is entirely possible. A lean grocery budget does not require
reliance on freeze-dried, tasteless food. In fact, home cooking can bring a whole new world of flavors.

There are many ways to add flavor to your food without a
lot of cost, but one of my favorite techniques is to use fresh herbs. Not only do fresh herbs add flavor,
they bring out the natural flavors in other foods too. And they have many health benefits, as

After attempting to learn how to grow herbs using window-boxes
or terrariums, I have concluded, it just doesn’t work for me. Failing this, I now bite the bullet and
pay full price at the grocery store.
the key to making the herbs affordable, I have learned, is to make the
most of your purchase by properly prepping, storing, and preserving your
herbs. Here is how to do it:

1) Wash your herbs immediately after purchasing and dry in a
salad spinner.
If you purchase herbs that are still attached at the roots, snip the roots off
and clean them as well. Then store
the roots in a sandwich bag or plastic container in the freezer–they can be
added to vegetable or chicken stock, yielding a lovely flavor.

2) Take the rest of the washed and dried herbs
and spread them out over a few sheets of paper towel.
Roll the paper towel up with the herbs inside and place in a grocery bag and keep inside
your crisper. The herbs should
last for several weeks like this.

3) When your
herbs are nearing the end of their freshness, freeze or dry them.
Many herbs can be frozen by placing the leaves in an ice cube tray and
filling it with water. When you are
ready to use them, simply defrost an ice cube and you have "fresh" herbs to use! To dry herbs, you can hang them in bunches. And don't throw away the stems–you can use parsley or cilantro stems when making chutneys
or sauces in the food processor.

With rising food costs, it is not necessary to sacrifice
taste or quality. Simply make the
most of what you have. Rather
than sacrifice the delightful flavor and health benefits of fresh herbs, I
recommend making your investment count by using every part of the herb
and reducing waste wherever possible. The result will be a tastier mealtime and a budget boost.

Megan (aka "Saver Queen") loves the fulfilling, frugal life. She’s shares her best recipes, tips to
save at the grocery store, and other money saving secrets at her blog,

3 Jun 2009   ·   86
Money Saving Mom

The Buy Ahead Principle: One of my biggest grocery saving secrets

Allison left the following comment on my picture of this week's $30 shopping trip:

enjoyed reading this blog the past month or so since I've discovered
it, and you've really helped me snag some good deals. And I think it's
neat when you come home from the store with a pile of groceries for
only a few dollars.

But every time I see the picture of your groceries, I wonder
something like, "What is she going to cook for dinner with easy mac,
salad dressing, and jello?"

Is this all the grocery shopping you do? Do you have a garden? Or
raise your own beef? How do you round out your bargain purchases to get
a meal on the table?

One of my biggest secrets for grocery saving success is that I practice the Buy Ahead Principle. What's that, you ask?

Well, basically, other than dairy products and produce, I aim to never pay full price for anything. Instead, I stock up when an item is on sale to tide me over until the next sale. 

For instance, in this shopping trip picture, you'll see that I mainly stocked up on cereal. In fact, I bought 16 boxes of cereal–enough to last us for at least 6 weeks, likely longer. Did we only eat cereal that week? No way! We ate a few boxes of cereal that week and the rest of what we ate mostly came from items I'd stocked up on during previous sales.

You see, because I stock up on items when they are on sale at my target price (providing I can afford it in our budget), my grocery shopping trips will usually look quite strange and will certainly not be the basis for a balanced menu. But you can check out some of our menus here to see that we do eat a fairly balanced diet. Well, at least we're certainly not subsisting on Easy Mac and Jell-O every meal!

How is it that we can eat a fairly balanced diet when I buy such an odd assortment of groceries each week? It's because the bulk of our meals are based upon what we already have in our refrigerator, pantry, and freezer.

To give you an idea of how this works, here's a rundown of our menu this week:

Breakfasts: Cereal or Kashi waffles and fruit (The cereal was from our big stock-up mentioned above, the waffles were purchased two weeks ago at Target for $0.29/box, and the fruit is from what we purchased this week and leftovers from last week.)

Lunches: Sandwiches or leftovers and carrots or fruit (I had lots of bread in the freezer I'd gotten for $0.50/loaf from Aldi last month and the peanut butter was from our pantry. My mom also gave us some extra lunch meat she had leftover from a lunch they served so we've used that, too. The carrots and fruit were purchased this week or leftover from last week's purchases.)

Dinners: We're eating meals from our After-The-Baby Freezer Stash paired with homemade bread from the freezer and frozen veggies from the freezer. All of the items in our After-The-Baby Freezer Stash were purchased within our usual grocery budget over the course of a few weeks' time as I had a little extra wiggle room in the budget or items were on sale.

Snacks: Fruit, cheese, crackers, granola bars, yogurt (The fruit, cheese, crackers, and yogurt were all purchased this week. The granola bars were from the pantry.)

When I plan the menu for the week, I first check out what we already have on hand. This gives me the inspiration for the majority of the menu. I then consult the sales fliers and my coupon box to decide what items are on sale and in-budget that I want (or need) to stock up on. I also add in any specific ingredients I need to round out a recipe or meal I've planned from the freezer and pantry ingredients.

For many people who are used to buying only what groceries you'll use in the next week, the concept of buying ahead can be mind-boggling. However, I highly recommend you at least give it a try as it can save you a great deal of money. In fact, I would estimate that we routinely save at least $30-$50 each week by doing so.

If this is a new concept for you, don't go out and spend $500 tomorrow trying to build up a stockpile. Instead, just designate a small percentage of your grocery budget each week to buying extra of those heavily-discounted items which you know you will use sometime in the next few months.

start to build up a stockpile of items you regularly use as you find
them discounted by 50% or more with a sale and coupon. Over time, your
stockpile will grow until you come to a point where you can begin to
pretty much only buy items which are at rock-bottom prices, in addition to produce and perishable items.

Just by adopting the Buy Ahead Principle, you will see a significant savings in your grocery bill. And you'll likely be shopping less and eating better than ever before!

2 Jun 2009   ·   41
Money Saving Mom

This week’s $30 shopping trip

I skipped Super Savings Saturday last week due to Mr. Linky's issues and the fact that we were attending the homeschool conference here instead of doing our usual grocery shopping.

However, I did make it to the store yesterday to hit the sales at Dillons and to snag some deals at another local store's Double Coupon Days. I'm still a long way from feeling completely recovered from having a baby or that things are all organized and running smoothly with three littles, but the fact that I took all of them and went grocery shopping by myself felt like a huge victory!

Here's what we bought:


Before coupons and sales, our total for all of that would have been well over $120. After coupons and sales, we paid a whopping $30 for all of it!

After two successful couponing transactions yesterday, I realized just how much I've missed bargain-shopping over the last two months. In fact, I believe I'm going to have to restrain myself to over the next few weeks while I get back into my "groove" so that I don't go overboard on the coupon-clipping and shopping-trip-planning! 🙂

I'm feeling more and more like my old non-nine-months-pregnant, non-sleep-deprived self is coming back so I'm hopeful to slowly work back into my usual blogging mode over the next few weeks. You all have been incredibly patient as I've taken a break and only posted deals and guest posts for the last number of weeks and I'm looking forward to picking back up some of the well-loved features and writing more posts of substance in the not-too-distant future. Stay tuned!

1 Jun 2009   ·   0
Money Saving Mom

Wow! I didn't mean to take a 3-day break from blogging but sometimes life happens and blogging just has to get put on the back burner.

Thank you to the many of you who wrote in with concern as to my unexplained silence. You all are very kind! Gratefully, nothing traumatic happened here, we just had a jam-packed weekend. We were at a homeschool conference Thursday evening through Saturday evening and then were gone all day Sunday and most of Monday due to various other events.

I had every intention of fitting in blogging time in the midst of our busy weekend, but it just didn't happen as I opted to get to bed early instead. I guess when it's your third time around with a newborn, you decide sleep is one of your most valuable commodities! 🙂

In addition to getting sleep, my husband and I were able to plan out our homeschooling year (which we're hoping to begin next week!), re-work our daily schedule to hopefully have a workable schedule, and just iron out a lot of details to enable our home life to run more smoothly in the next few weeks and months. It feels so good to have some semblance of organization planned and in place now.

Thanks for your patience with me in taking an impromptu breather from blogging. While it was great to take a break for a few days, I missed you all and am glad to be back. And I have a huge backlog of deals and posts to share so expect an avalanche of blog posts over the next few days so I can catch up!

29 May 2009   ·   20
Money Saving Mom

Guest Post: Teaching Your Children About Money Management

Guest Post by Jill Savage from Hearts at Home

Every child has their own financial personality. Three of our children are savers. Two are spenders. Of course, they take after both my husband and me, who sit at opposite ends of the spending/saving spectrum ourselves.

Regardless of our default tendencies in money matters, it is vital that as parents we teach our children sound financial principles. Their ability to handle money as an adult will be influenced by the financial education we impart as well as the habits we model ourselves.

Because faith is an important part of our life, we base our financial education on the 10-10-80 principle: 10% to God, 10% to savings, and 80% for spending. This provides us a foundation for all of our money lessons.

If you are trying to teach your kids good money management skills, here are some practical financial strategies to consider:

1) Resist making loans. Invariably, the kids will ask for an advance on their allowance or a short-term loan until their allowance or next paycheck and it is tempting to front them the money. However, this can plant the seed that borrowing is an optional financial strategy for short-term pleasures.

2) Teach them to spend based upon a budget rather than a paycheck. Help your children to identify budget categories like entertainment, future events (concerts, ski trips, etc), gas and auto expenses (if they are driving), clothing, and Christmas to allow them to learn the value of truly "managing" their money. If they sock away a certain amount or percentage into each category each time they are paid, then they will most likely have money for the things they want to do. This also teaches delayed gratification where they learn to wait for the things they want through short-term sacrifice rather than getting short-term gratification with long-term consequences (debt).

3) Open a checking account with your teen. Ideally this would happen a year or two before they go to college so they can learn to manage the account with your guiding hand. Teach them how to keep good records and how to reconcile their account each month. Set aside a regular time each week to financially "check in" with your teen, going over their register, checking the account online, and overseeing their reconciliation.

4) Rather than starting your teen with a debit card, ask the bank for an ATM card. There is a common misunderstanding that a debit card purchase will be denied if the bank account is overdrawn. However, a debit purchase is only denied after the account is already overdrawn and fees have likely been incurred. This is because the bank doesn’t know what purchases haven’t yet posted to the account. Therefore, it won’t stop a new purchase because it isn’t aware of recent purchases until it’s too late.

An ATM card allows access to cash anytime, but keeps teens from over-drafting the account with unrecorded debit purchases. There is still a risk of overdraft with an ATM card if the teen is writing checks and not keeping good records, but the risk is definitely less than if they are using a debit card.   

5) Teach kids to shop wisely. Kids can use their fledgling math skills to divide the cost of a product by the ounces in the container to get a per-ounce price that allows them to make cost comparisons. Taking along a small calculator can come in handy.

6) Educate your kids about confusing marketing tactics, misleading credit card offers, and hidden costs in purchases. Television commercials provide many examples of misleading marketing tactics that our kids need to understand. The dozens of credit card offers we get in the mail can become an instant lesson in the dangers of borrowing money and how the minimum payment keeps a person in debt for years. Online purchases include shipping and handling costs that kids need to figure into the final price for an item they might want to purchase.

Certainly our spenders need to learn to be savers and our savers need to learn how to spend wisely. However, the most important lesson our children need to learn is money can manage us or we can manage our money!

Jill Savage is the founder and Executive Director of Hearts at Home. A mother of five, Jill is the author of seven books including My Heart's at Home.You can find Jill's website and blog at

27 May 2009   ·   33
Money Saving Mom

Freezer Jam

Guest Post by Hannah and Abby from Safely Gathered InEvery considered making your own freezer jam? It can be inexpensive, fast, and easy to do! Best of all, it’s delicious! 

The most economical way to make this jam is usually by buying strawberries when they are in season at Farmer’s Markets or U-Pick Farms. However, you can also make it with frozen berries.

The ingredients you’ll need:
Strawberries (you can also use other berries, if you prefer)

You’ll need enough strawberries to have four cups of crushed strawberries. We picked a gallon bucket, and then ate strawberries out of it all weekend, and then I made jam from the rest.

You can pick up pectin in your local grocery store in the canning section. It’s usually by the ketchup and salad dressing. The directions for making jam are on the back of the pectin, so it’s really simple. (There are also similar recipes here and here.)

First, mix the pectin and the sugar together in a bowl until combined.

Then, get to work on the strawberries. I let my faucet trickle so I can rinse the strawberries one at a time and remove the tops. If they are large strawberries I slice them, if they are wee ones then I just toss them into the blender. After all, they are just going to be pureed.

Once your strawberries are washed and hulled, put them into a blender and puree them. If you like chunky jam, don’t blend it quite as much. Make sure you have the right amount of crushed fruit it calls for. If, after I blend my berries, the mixture is under the four-cup line, I just add more strawberries and blend again.

Add the strawberries to pectin/sugar mixture and stir. My directions say to stir for three minutes. So set the timer and go.

An important component of jam making is the containers! The beauty of freezer jam is that since it’s going in your freezer, you can put it in anything and it doesn’t need to have a seal on it. I use yogurt, sour cream containers, old jars, and baby food jars for the jam I’m going to gift away.

Ladle the jam into your containers, label the contents and date, and set on your counter top for 30 minutes to set, or until the time indicated in your directions. The freezer jam will last for up to 3 weeks in your refrigerator and up to a year in your freezer.

Hannah and Abby share recipe ideas, food preservation tutorials, and more information regarding food storage at

23 May 2009   ·   89
Money Saving Mom

An exercise in juggling: Our first coupon-shopping trip with three little ones

Whew! Don't ask me what my hubby and I were thinking when we decided to take all three little ones (4 years old, 23 months old, and 16 days old) out to visit Great-Grandma and then to Dillons, Aldi, and Target for groceries. We're typically a little overly-ambitious and I think today was no different.

That said, we did make it through all four stops, plus a stop at Sonic for Happy Hour half-priced drinks. But I wouldn't say it was the smoothest outing ever. And I certainly don't think I'm quite ready to tackle three stores with three children all by myself–at least not until Silas gets a little better nursing schedule (he's currently nursing every two hours for 30-45 minutes–which adds up to a lot of time spent nursing!) and I'm a bit more back to my normal stamina and energy!

It's funny, though, how your perspective changes. I remember when taking one child out seemed like a big undertaking. Now that seems like a vacation! So, hopefully soon, juggling three little ones and coupon-shopping will be old hat. Maybe. 🙂

At any rate, it was a fun adventure and we scored some pretty good deals. Here's what we ended up with:


All totaled, at Dillons, Aldi, and Target, we spent right at $31 for all of this! Of course, I did have $9 in Target gift cards that I used (earned from previous deals), so our total would have been $40 had it not been for those.

I was especially excited with the deals we snagged at Target:

All that pictured above was only $3.06 after the coupons and $9 in gift cards. Sweet!

After not grocery shopping myself for quite some time, I was happy to have a successful shopping trip–even if I haven't quite mastered the art of juggling three little ones, nursing every two hours, and my coupon box. I'm hoping I'll eventually get that all figured out… maybe?

What are your tricks and tips for shopping with multiple little ones? I'd love to hear!

23 May 2009   ·   13
Money Saving Mom

Super Savings Saturday

I just finished planning our shopping trip to Target, Dillons, and Aldi. Now we're off to navigate the stores and deals with three littles in tow for the first time. It should be an adventure!

I'll post an update when we get home… stay tuned!


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.

Note: 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.

22 May 2009   ·   4
Money Saving Mom

A hodge-podge of links

I've been collecting some note-worthy links over the past few days which I wanted to share here for those interested:

::See this beautiful cookie platter here? My sister made those yummy-looking brownies yesterday at our house and, let me tell you, the recipe is quite a winner!

::Amy posted an excellent piece on Seven Tips For Leading a Balanced Blogger Life which every blogger out there should take the time to read. Excellent food for thought!

::Have you ever stopped to think about how much trash your family produces each year? This family committed to go a whole year without sending any garbage to the landfill. They ended up with a single bag of trash for the whole year. Quite inspiring!

::My friend, Amy, has a great post up on Grocery Stewardship
which I highly recommend that everyone go read. It's so important to
not get caught up in the comparison game. We are all in different
situations in life with different needs.

I hope that our $40-$60 grocery trips/menus are an inspiration to you all,
but I never want it to come across like this is the "gold standard" of
grocery budgets. I know many people who have smaller budgets and much
larger budgets and the budget number is not what matters; the fact that
they are seeking to be a wise steward of the resources they have is
what matters most. So be free to do what works for your family and
don't feel the need to apologize!

::And finally, for the many of you who have asked, I wrote a post here on how our family is adjusting to life with three littles.

21 May 2009   ·   33
Money Saving Mom

Guest Post: My Journey Towards Cutting Our Grocery Budget


photo by roadside pictures

Guest Post by Jessie from

Not too many months ago, I was spending $80 to $100 a week on groceries. For two people. I knew that wasn't quite right, that I didn’t need to spend so much; yet, how would I get to cook the things I wanted if I tried to pinch pennies? Wouldn’t we end up eating macaroni and cheese and cereal for every meal?

I read many blogs on saving money and using coupons, but I could not get it to click in my head very well. I thrived on trying new recipes, exciting and exotic meals from the pages of Cooking Light and Southern Living. I planned my meals, made out a list of ingredients I needed, and zipped off to the store each week.

Then, in October, I had my first child. Suddenly the cost of daycare, pediatrician visits, diapers, wipes, and other baby paraphernalia was eating at our loosely planned budget. In January, once I was back at work and more in the swing of things, I decided it was time to tackle my grocery spending. I thought surely the two of us could eat for $40 a week if I were more careful.

It’s not been nearly as difficult as I imagined. Mostly I just flipped around my way of doing things: instead of choosing meals and then making my list, I make the list and then choose meals. First, I cut out the coupons from that week’s circular that I might use at some point. I flip back through my coupon box to remind myself what I have. Then, I scour the ads of my two local grocery stores to find the great deals for the week, and match up items for which I have coupons.

After that, I use my list of items I can get for a steal to plan my menu. I’ve found that doing it this way, I can still make many meals from those magazines I love. Some of my recent favorites have been Gnocchi with Italian Sausage and Swiss Chard, Pork Tenderloin with Shallot-Cider Sauce, and Grilled Chicken Burritos with Jalapeno Sauce. I use healthy, whole ingredients to make our dinners—with an occasional side of frozen veggies or Rice-a-Roni.

I never thought I would be the kind of person to go through the grocery store with a calculator, but I do now, every week. I get everything on my list, then use any extra money I have for the week for unadvertised deals, manager’s specials, or treats for my husband.

Some weeks I still groan at the idea of laboring through the coupons and ads; but truly, it is just an hour of my time each Sunday while the baby naps, and it saves a great deal of money. Some day I would like to stay home with my daughter, and having these habits now is great practice for the future, when I might be on an ever tighter budget!

Right now my $40 budget is just for the week’s groceries, but I hope as I get more and more used to it I’ll be able to squeeze my household items in there as well. And I desperately want to get over my fear of CVSing…anyone know where I could get some tips on that? 😉

Jessie is wife to Adam and mom to baby Libbie. She lives in Nashville, TN, where she works as an editor for a Christian publishing house. She blogs about trying to keep up her household while being a full-time working mom at