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7 Oct 2008   ·   29
Money Saving Mom

Guest Post: Living Frugally and Pleasantly in an Apartment

Guest Post by Katey from Having Fun at Home

Our family is living in an apartment
right now, and we often find there can be a temptation to pine away for the
home we hope to own someday instead of making the most of where we are right
now. There are, however, a lot of benefits to living in an apartment, and I want to try to enjoy them to the hilt. With that in mind, here are 13 tips I’ve learned for living frugally and pleasantly in an apartment:

1. See if you can share a wireless
internet plan with one of your neighbors
. Half of an internet bill is a
whole lot more better than paying the full thing, and apartment dwellers usually live
close enough to one another to make it work! [Note from Crystal: I’d recommend you check with your internet service to make sure this is alright with them before going ahead with it. Thanks to those of you who wrote to mention that!]

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2. If you have a porch or patio, hang
bird feeders and grow vegetables like tomatoes and peppers in containers
.
Many birds, especially hummingbirds, will visit even an urban feeder. The garden
will give you a little free produce and will help you feel closer to
the outdoors.

3. Invest in wall shelves for extra
storage
. Stock up when there are good sales (or check your local Craiglist or Freecycle to snag some great deals). This investment has been very helpful and worth the
money for our family.

4. Scatter bay leaves strategically
around your apartment
. That’s right–bay leaves! Apartment complexes are
much more likely to host an infestation of cockroaches. Keep them out of your
apartment with bay leaves; roaches hate the smell! (I was very happy to discover
this solution because, with a small child, I really didn’t want to have to use
chemicals.)

5. Talk with your neighbors about
holding a community-wide garage sale
. It’s difficult to have a garage sale
when living in an apartment complex, but because space is tight, apartment
dwellers, more than most people, need a way to recycle their stuff and pare
down to what is really needed. If you can’t seem to organize a community wide
garage sale, see if there’s a friend nearby who is planning an upcoming sale with whom you might partner for a two-family garage sale.

6. Invest in a cordless vacuum
cleaner
. I received this Shark brand
rechargeable battery sweeper

as a wedding gift and use it all the time. It’s pretty powerful, a lot less
hassle than taking out a big vacuum, and takes up a lot less space in my
closet.

7. If you have to use a coin operated
laundry facility, consider getting a foldable indoor drying rack. Wash
your underclothes in the sink and hang them to dry in the bathroom on your
rack. It saves you money and you don’t have to leave your apartment as often to
go to the facility.

8. Take out the trash every day, and
place a box of baking soda at the bottom of your trash can to absorb odors
.
In a small place, it is much more vital to keep the bad smells to a minimum.

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9. Since there usually isn’t the option
of painting or wallpapering make your own decorations, use homemade photos
and enlarge them
. Get cheap frames at garage sales and hang them around the
apartment. I used pretty satin ribbons to hang these in my baby’s room.

10. Pare down your collection of
pots and pans to the bare minimum
. Not only will this give you more
cupboard space in your kitchen, but it will make it less likely that you will
end up with a mountain of dishes in the sink.

11. Take advantage of the time you
save not taking care of a yard by taking your family on outings to local parks,
zoos, nature centers, festivals, and fairs
.

12. Save counter space by using a magnetic tool strip to hang your knives instead of using a knife holder. This saves space and allows you to be able to see the blades without
picking up the knives to find the right one.

13. Make friends with the
maintenance men and the apartment manager
. Not only is it advantageous to
you for getting repairs done more efficiently, but those are two jobs that are
often unappreciated. Most of what they hear is complaining. Even if you don’t
develop a personal relationship, show appreciation by baking them Christmas
cookies or other holiday treats.

Katey is a
stay-at-home-mom in Austin, Texas. Her
blog havingfunathomeblog.blogspot.com is dedicated to finding ideas for
inexpensive, creative, and wholesome fun at home.

From Crystal: I know many of the rest of you have lived or are living in an apartment or a very small home. I’d love to hear your ideas for making the most of this situation. Please share your input in the comments section.

photos by Katey

6 Oct 2008   ·   78
Money Saving Mom

Ask the Readers: Where do you find quality children’s shoes at a great price?

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photo by DrStarstruck

Priscilla asks:

We are a family of 8. Our children ages range from almost 15 to 9 months old. So, every penny we can save does add up.

I was wondering where best to find good quality shoes for the lowest price? Do shoes usually go clearance certain times of the year?
 
Our oldest has gone through shoes faster over the past 2 years and it is becoming discouraging to shoe shop.

Since we only have younger children, I can’t speak from experience on how to get larger sizes of children’s shoes for great deals but I will tell you our secret for getting small sizes for great deals–consignment sales!

I don’t know that all areas have great consignment sales, but in our area, there are regularly large consignment sales put on by groups of moms. We have purchased the majority of our girls shoes at these. I can often find name-brand shoes in very good condition for $3 or less.

I also recommend consignment stores, thrift stores, and garage sales for little kid’s shoes. They seem to be plentiful and cheap. Best of all, you can usually get good brands in great shape.

That’s just what has worked for us so far, where do the rest of you snag shoe deals?

6 Oct 2008   ·   12
Money Saving Mom

Guest Post: Finding a Work-at-Home Job

photo by Johan Larsson

Guest Post by Emily Howard from Violet’s College Fund

Two years ago I was a working mom of one with one on the way. All I thought about was staying home with my children. I just didn’t want to miss a single thing that they might do during the day while I was sitting at a desk and they were with a sitter. Not to mention, by the time we paid for two children in childcare it almost wasn’t worth it for one of us to work to pay that bill. Just before our daughter arrived, my job started to change. My husband and I discussed it and decided it was time to make a change.

I know there are so many people out there who feel the same way and you just wish there was an alternative. If you’re like us, simply quitting my job simply wasn’t an option. I had to have some kind of income because we were in debt and my husband’s paycheck simply wouldn’t pay the bills. So I got to work.

The first thing anyone who wants to work at home must do is consider what you can do. What skills do you have? What degree or certifications do you have that may lend itself toward a certain type of work?  What do you like to do?

There are many types of work-at-home jobs that will require specific training or certification, such as scoping, coding, and medical or legal transcription. But there are many jobs out there that will not require anything more than the training the company provides.

You must also consider what your working environment will be. Do you have an office or workspace that is isolated from the rest of the house? Will you be working while your children are home?

These things matter because there are basically two types of work-at-home jobs: those done entirely online and those that
involve phone work. Online positions are more flexible, because it typically doesn’t matter where you’re working. Phone positions, however, often require specific working conditions, including no background noise.

One of the biggest obstacles for those who want to work at home is not knowing where to find the jobs. I suggest forgoing the do-it-yourself search and going straight to the experts. WAHM.com and Work Place Like Home are two very reputable work-at-home websites with message boards featuring people who are actually doing these jobs.

The discussion all day, every day on these boards is which companies people work for, who is hiring and what is a scam. Once you have a general idea of what you’re looking for, visit these sites. I spent every single night for a month on the message boards at WAHM.com and I covered an entire 8.5 x 11 inch paper
with ideas!

While you’re busy looking for companies and positions, you’ll want to dust off your resume. A work-at-home resume will look very much like a typical resume, but you’ll want to tailor it to highlight any skills you have that will make you more marketable
to companies who hire virtual employees. Highlight your computer and technical skills, your ability to work independently, meet deadlines and any experience or specific skills you may have in the field you’re looking at.

Save a copy of your resume in a text format and make sure it looks presentable that way, so you can easily copy and paste it
into website forms and in the body of your e-mail. Often, companies prefer to see your resume in text format in an e-mail and won’t bother to open an attachment. Pay close attention to the company’s instructions for how to apply, whether it’s through their online form or by e-mail.

A few words on scams; they’re definitely out there. Unfortunately, there is probably no one more vulnerable than someone who is desperately seeking a certain type of job so they can work at home.

First, never pay for a job. I always say you would never pay a bricks and mortar company for an interview, so why would you pay a virtual company for the opportunity to work for them? There are few exceptions to this rule.

Secondly, you can often find out information on a company by doing a simple Google search or checking with the BBB. If all else fails, check with one of the message boards I mentioned. The people on those boards can easily smell a scam. If you’re unsure about a company, search there. If you come up with nothing, ask.

There is just one more important thing you should know about working from home. It’s very important to have a plan for
when you will work and be realistic about it. If your children are in school, then finding time to work should be simple. If you have small children and/or homeschool, you should understand that you will not likely be working if they are at home, unless they’re sleeping or someone else is there to care for them.

If you have a newborn, you should know that the sweet, sleeping-all-day phase lasts about 2-3 months. But don’t worry, the beauty of working at home is that it is often very flexible. Many types of work can be done any time of the day or night. I personally work after my children are in bed and on weekends.

Finding ways to be a work-at-home mom (or dad or grandparent) is not impossible. It just takes work. Sure, there are scams and it might be hard to find a position that suits your needs, but a little hard work will produce results. Regular people do it every day.

If this sounds like something that might be a good fit for your family, don’t be afraid of the unknown. I took my full page of ideas and narrowed it down to the ones I wanted to start with and I started off trying two or three different things to find what
worked best for me. I applied, got hired, and I quit my job. I’ve stayed home with my children for two years while doing my work in my free time. I haven’t missed a t-ball game or a swimming class yet!

Emily Howard is a work-at-home transcriptionist and a mom of two. Her blog, Violet’s College Fund, is dedicated to helping other moms find work at home, as well as other ways to make money, save money, and get out of debt.

3 Oct 2008   ·   13
Money Saving Mom

Super Savings Saturday: No pictures but some great savings to report!

No pictures since I’m not that ambitious yet, but I am very excited because I’m almost to the second trimester and starting to feel a wee bit normal again–at least at certain times of the day. These bursts of energy resulted in my being able to snag some great deals:

1) A delicious birthday dinner on the cheap–Someone mentioned on my blog last week that Lone Star Steakhouse gives you a $15 birthday certificate. So, you know me, I went and signed up for it and my wonderful hubby happily took us there for my birthday.

We don’t go to sit-down restaurants very often so this was a real treat. The service was excellent, the food was yummy and plentiful, and the entire meal for the four of us only cost $13 plus the tip! Plus, we brought home enough leftovers for lunch the next day, too.

2) A double stroller–With baby #3 on the way, we’ve been in the market for a double stroller recently and this week we were able to find one off of Craigslist that was in great shape and priced much less than we’d ever pay new. Yay!

3) Groceries–I actually went grocery shopping this week. Yes, fall out of your chair! I could hardly believe I was able to myself, but I did and it wasn’t all that bad. Plus, we were able to get enough groceries to last us this week for $30! And that was not scrimping by any means.

Of course, we have spent quite a bit more than that every week for the past five weeks, so we are pretty well-stocked and all. But still, I was excited that morning sickness and pregnancy hadn’t completely zapped my brain of the ability to bargain shop! And I’m hopeful I can jump back onto the $40/week budget soon.

—————————
So that’s our wrap-up of savings this week. 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. Links
going to the homepage of your blog or any other part of your blog
besides the direct link to your Super Savings Saturday post will be deleted.**

2 Oct 2008   ·   144
Money Saving Mom

Ask the Readers: Celebrating Christmas in a meaningful way?

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photo by krisdecurtis

Christmas is coming and I have a large family, some
of whom have a lot of "disposable" income and others who are really
squeaking by this year. I have spent several of the last Christmas
seasons in tears of sadness and frustration. Sometimes I feel like I
can’t get the people on my list a "good enough" gift and sometimes
there is not enough money to get a gift for everyone.

I’d really like
to do things differently this year and I’d like to actually make
Christmas about Jesus and not about shopping. So, how can I get
everyone in the spirit? How can we celebrate in a meaningful way? How
do I give gifts from the heart and not from the wallet, and what do
other families do to get through Christmas without crying? -Alisa

I am guessing Alisa is not alone in her struggles; likely many of you have experienced something similar. So, how have you dealt with it? What ideas or suggestions do you have for Alisa?

2 Oct 2008   ·   27
Money Saving Mom

Guest Post: How I buy organic, fresh foods for pennies

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photo by NatalieMaynor

Guest Post by Beeb Ashcroft who blogs at Super Coupon Girl

With the current economic landscape, more and more families are tightening their belts and looking for ways to cut costs. The prices of basic pantry staples, such as milk, eggs, cheese, and produce, have risen in recent years. And unfortunately, coupons for produce or dairy are often somewhat few and far between. So what’s a thrifty shopper to do?

At the beginning of this year, I was regularly spending between $600-$800 a month for groceries, although I didn’t like it one bit. I am inherently frugal, so it went against my nature to cough up $80 every time I went through a checkout.

Certainly, my two-person household could have gotten by on a dramatically smaller budget. However, eating a healthy diet is important to me, and I paid a lot for my groceries because I felt like I didn’t have a choice. But once I discovered coupons, a whole new world opened up for me.

The myth about coupons is that you can only save money if you buy nothing but Hamburger Helper and Spam. So I was shocked to discover I could use coupon techniques to help pay for my most expensive grocery items.

I’ve found my two major allies in drastically reducing our grocery budget have been overage from coupons and catalina deals. Let me share a little what these terms mean and how, too, can you take advantage of these deals.

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photo by *clarity*


Let’s start with coupon overage.
Say you have a coupon for $2 off Wheat Thins, but they’re on sale for $1.50. Many stores allow the excess amount from the coupon to be used to pay for another item in your order. So you could buy the Wheat Thins and another item for 50 cents, and get both for free using the coupon.

Occasionally, you may run into a store that does not allow overage, so check with your store’s manager if you are unsure of their coupon policies. More often than not, stores accept overage as correct redemption of the coupon. (The store will get reimbursed the full coupon amount from the
manufacturer so they are not out any money by giving you overage.)

So how do you find coupons that will give you overage? Flip through your grocery sale fliers, and notice the sale prices when you visit the store. Compare these to the coupons that you have to identify money-makers.

Think big: if you discover an item on sale for $0.89 and you have a coupon for $1 off , you’ll get 11 cents of overage. But if you have ten of these coupons, you’ll have over a dollar in overage. See how it can add up?

I use that extra dollar here and dollar there earned from overage to help cover the costs of fruits and veggies or organic food so that I’m "paying" with coupon overage rather than paying out of pocket. [Note from Crystal: Check out this post if you’re wondering how you might be able to snag 10 copies of a coupon. It’s really not that hard!]


Catalina deals are another great aid as you strive to eat better for less.
Has a coupon ever printed out while you were going through the checkout? These are known as "catalinas" because the company that markets the coupon printers is Catalina marketing.

Manufacturers will often give out money-off coupons towards your next shopping order to reward their customers for purchasing their products. These valuable coupons print out at the register, and can be used like cash towards your next purchase.

You can get some amazing deals by paying attention to catalina promotions. For example, Glade recently had a promotion at my store where you receive $2 off your next trip for purchasing their Plug-Ins. The Plug-In warmers were on sale for $3.99, and I had coupons for $4 off. This means that the Plug-Ins were free, and I earned $2 in catalinas for each one that I bought! And once again, I was able to use the extra $2 I earned each time I did this deal to pay for some of my fruits and vegetables and meat, instead of paying out of pocket.

To identify catalina deals at your store, keep an eye peeled for items marked with special tags highlighting the promotion throughout the store. And watch your sales fliers–stores will often run specials where you can earn catalinas towards your next order for purchasing a certain combination of items, and you can work these to your advantage with coupons also.

In order to maximize my savings, I write out my grocery list and determine what coupons I can use to get overage and offset the cost of what I am purchasing. If I have catalinas, I pay for the rest of my purchase using those.

A year ago, I wouldn’t have thought it was possible to buy organic, fresh foods for pennies. Learning these coupon techniques has radically changed the way I approach my shopping budget. I’m healthier now that I use coupons, and so is my budget.


Originally from London, England, Beeb Ashcroft moved to the US in 1989. Currently residing in a resort town on the North Oregon coast, she works out of her home as a freelance journalist. In her spare time, Ashcroft enjoys clipping coupons and finding the best grocery deals. She chronicles her adventures in savings at her blog.

From Crystal: I’d love to hear ideas from the rest of you on how to afford organic and fresh foods on a budget. Any thoughts or great ideas?

1 Oct 2008   ·   0
Money Saving Mom

Worth Reading: Implementing an envelope system, saving money with a baby, and taking personal responsibility

A few links worth reading:

::Ever wondered how the envelope system works for a family in real-life? Check out Simple Mom’s post. It’s a good one.

::The Simple Dollar has a great visual guide up for saving money with a baby. His ideas are many that we used as well. Except I’m not sure how they manage to keep their soiled cloth diapers in a basket without it stinking up the house. We used a PUL bag instead–much better, in my opinion!

::Want to make a difference in Washington? Here are three things you can do.

::By the way, in case you’re wondering about my thoughts on the bailout, I wrote a post late last year that pretty much sums it up: changes in Washington must begin with me. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me 100%, but I hope we can all agree that the more personal responsibility we take for our own actions, the better.

30 Sep 2008   ·   51
Money Saving Mom

Guest Post: All From One Little Pumpkin

Guest Post by Monica from The Homespun Heart

One of my favorite Fall decorations is a simple pumpkin! I

recently purchased a 3.4 lb. pie pumpkin at Wal-Mart for $0.78/lb. I thought it would be fun to see how much we could do with just one pumpkin several days in a row to really stretch the value of purchasing it!

Join me as we follow the life of the this small pumpkin…

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When I first brought the pumpkin home, it made a lovely decoration perched on my porch.

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A few days later, it made a fun greeting for a few ladies I had over for an Autumn in Avonlea gathering.

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The next morning, it made a fun vase for our First Day of Autumn breakfast.

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And, at lunch, a great hiding place for lunch during our scavenger hunt.

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Next, I cooked the pumpkin. (Just half the pumpkin and place cut side down on a baking sheet for one hour at 350 degrees; I got about four cups of cooked pumpkin from the two pumpkins I cooked.)

I used the cooked pumpkin and made some delicious Pumpkin Struesel Muffins.

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Pumpkin Streusel Muffins

1/4 c. margarine or butter, softened

1/2 c. sugar

1/4 c. brown sugar

2/3 c. pumpkin

1/2 c. buttermilk

2 eggs

2 c. flour

1 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

Streusel Topping:

1/3 c. flour

3 Tbsp. brown sugar

2 Tbsp. cold butter or margarine

For muffins: cream together margarine and sugars. Add all remaining ingredients and mix together. In a separate bowl, cut together streusel ingredients and sprinkle over muffin batter. Bake in prepared muffin tin at 375 for 20-25 minutes. Makes one dozen muffins. Original recipe from Quick Cooking May/June 2000.

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We were able to tie the muffins into our homeschooling this week by having an ‘unbirthday’ party (we’ve been reading Ask Mr. Bear!)

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Then we toasted the seeds for a snack. Here’s the recipe we used:

Sugared Pumpkin Seeds

2 c. pumpkin seeds (from two pie pumpkins; rinsed and dried on a baking sheet for 48 hours)
1 egg white mixed with 1 Tbsp. water (save the egg yolk for your next batch of pancakes or scrambled eggs!)

1 c. sugar

3/4 tsp. cinnamon

3/4 tsp. nutmeg

1 tsp. salt

Mix seeds and egg white mixture. Add remaining spices and mix well. Spread on greased baking sheet and bake at 275 degrees for one hour stirring every 15 minutes.

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I think I’ll send some in my husband’s lunch tomorrow. After this yummy baking, we took a short walk outside and enjoyed coming into a cozy smelling home!

All that from a $2.68 pumpkin!

How do you like to stretch a pumpkin? I look forward to hearing your ideas!

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

29 Sep 2008   ·   28
Money Saving Mom

Birthday freebies

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photo by plindberg

Here are a few of my favorite birthday freebies:

Sheridan’s Frozen Custard–Sign up for their e-club and you’ll get a coupon for a free shake, malt, or concrete on your birthday. Plus, you’ll get a coupon for a free treat when you sign up and a coupon for a free treat if you refer another friend.

Baskin Robbins–Sign up for their Birthday Club and get free icecream on your birthday!

Caribou Coffee–Sign up for their eNewsletter and get a coupon for a free drink on your birthday.

Cold Stone Creamery
–Sign up for their Birthday Club and get a coupon for a free Creation on your birthday.

Red Robin
–Get a free burger on your birthday when you sign up for their eClub.

Moe’s Southwest Grill–Sign up for Moe’s email newsletter and get a coupon for a free entree on your birthday.

Belfonte–Sign up here to get a coupon for a free 1/2-gallon of ice cream on your birthday.

Rubio’s–Sign up for Rubio’s Beach Club
and get a coupon for $7 off anything. Sadie, who emailed me about this
deal, said she got a 2-taco plate completely free with that coupon!

Ben and Jerry’s–Get a free ice cream treat on your birthday when you sign up for their Chunk Spelunker Club (Note: The site doesn’t say anything about this, but I read it here. I’m waiting to see if I get a coupon for my birthday.)

I read here that you can get a free meal at Taco Bell on your birthday. Does anyone know if that’s true? I couldn’t find anything on their website.

There are many other great birthday freebies listed here and here. What are your favorite birthday freebies? Did I miss any really good ones?

29 Sep 2008   ·   8
Money Saving Mom

Guest Post: Successfully selling on Etsy

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photo from BlingSlings

Guest Post by Marie Cluff, owner of BlingSlings

As a mom of a one-year-old boy, I had to make the tough
decision of whether to stay at home or work. My husband is currently in
school right now, and our budget is extremely tight. I felt the need to
help my family, but just couldn’t imagine being away from my son so I
knew the best solution was for me to find something I could do from home.

I started
making baby slings about a year ago, giving them as gifts for baby
showers. I decided that selling them would be the perfect way to make
some money and still be able to stay at home! I had come across Etsy
before and loved all the homemade products that are sold there, so I started my own shop there, BlingSlings.

Etsy is a site where you can buy and
sell homemade items. You can easily create your own store for free! It
costs 20 cents to list an item and then there’s 3.5% sales fee when you
sell an item. It is considerably cheaper than eBay and I also think it’s much
“prettier”.

I found it very easy to get started with Etsy. You just go to etsy.com and in
the top right hand corner you can register. It is very self-explanatory
and has a guided process you go through. They also have great help page which answers any questions you might have and gives excellent tips!

Etsy is the perfect way for an artsy-crafty person to make money. However,
it is by no means easy
  money; you have to work hard getting your name
out there and making quality products that people want to buy.

Just
because you think your product is great doesn’t mean others will. Some
of my very favorite slings which I assumed would sell out instantly, didn’t
sell at all. I found it helpful to look up other products similar to mine and see how
they have sold. This is a good way to decide whether you have a market for
your product or not.
You also have to remember that you may not sell your
stuff right away. I have already sold quite a few products, but it took
some time for people to “find me”. I am constantly advertising my
shop by:

  • Handing out business cards
  • Making fliers and posting them wherever I can
  • Networking on MySpace and other internet sites
  • Relisting my products on Etsy regularly
  • Giving my slings as gifts for family, with business cards
  • Posting often about my store on my blog

Etsy is a great starting place for selling your handmade products and it is a
wonderful way to make money from home doing something you enjoy.
I’d be happy to answer any questions you may have if you are interested in trying your hand at Etsy. Just email me: blingslings @ hotmail.com (remove spaces).

Marie is a mother to one cute little boy and wife of three years to an amazing husband. In addition to running BlingSlings, she writes a family blog.

29 Sep 2008   ·   35
Money Saving Mom

Reader Tip: YouData.com

Youdatalogo

Esther wrote:

I just joined YouData.com. You provide some information on exercise
habits, family size, etc. and then are paid to view online advertising.

It’s quick and easy and not terribly invasive to your privacy, and you
get real money transferred to your PayPal account based on how many ads
you click on. You can watch as many or as few ads as you want.

It does
require that you provide your cell phone and e-mail address in order to
prove that you’re a real person, but no mailing address info is
required and they just text an authorization code to your phone and
that’s it.

I tried to sign up for this but accidentally gave my home phone # instead of my cell # (oops!) and then couldn’t figure out how to change it to proceed with the registration and test it out. So, if you try this or have experience with this, let us know your thoughts!
 

26 Sep 2008   ·   10
Money Saving Mom

Super Savings Saturday: Moving boxes and free ice cream

Our grocery savings this week weren’t much worth reporting (I’m still staying out of the stores and hubby is doing all the shopping; I just make a grocery list and a simple menu plan based upon what’s on sale.) but we did get a great deal on moving boxes from CraigsList and we also scored some free ice cream from Cold Stone Creamery. I even had the gumption to try some of it… which was a bad idea, but we won’t go there!

My other big savings news: I got my coupon box all whipped back into shape this week! There’s nary an expired coupon in there and everything is clipped and filed. Yay!

Now I’m just hoping I can stomach some coupon-shopping again soon. I feel little rays of hope that it won’t be too much longer so that is a cause for rejoicing. Plus, just a few more weeks and the first trimester will be over with. And then, if I’m anything like the last two pregnancies, it likely won’t be long before I’ll be cooking up more stuff than we can eat!

::::::::::::

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. Links
going to the homepage of your blog or any other part of your blog
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25 Sep 2008   ·   0
Money Saving Mom

Why I’m not promoting the new $3/$15 CVS coupon

I’m going to jump up on my soapbox for a moment–something I try to shy away from doing very often around here–because I feel like it needs to be said…

As many of you know, there’s a new $3/$15 CVS coupon out. And guess what? I won’t be posting about where to get it from or encouraging you all to use it.

Why? Because in order to access the coupon you have to subscribe to the NewsDay print edition or you have to say you do.

Now, if you subscribe to the NewsDay print edition, by all means go use this coupon. But if you don’t, may I heartily encourage you to not use this coupon?

I know that there are differing views on coupon usage (believe me, you oughta see the emails I receive!) and I know we aren’t always going to agree on all the interpretations of coupon ethics, but I hope we can all agree that lying in order to access a coupon is unethical. Always.

There, I said it. Now let’s get back to the good deals!

Note: A big thanks to my friend Alyssa for speaking up first on this.

25 Sep 2008   ·   11
Money Saving Mom

Guest Post: Frugal Family Fun – Part 1

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photo by egarc2

Guest Post by Katie from Cincinnati Cents

As parents, there is a fine line between over-indulging our children and ensuring that we spend a reasonable amount of quality family time together. It seems as though schedules become incredibly hectic with the pace of today’s world, between school, work, soccer games, piano lessons, church commitments, scout meetings, social organizations…the list could go on and on.

It is essential for families to carve out time that is separate from the hubbub of the daily routine, in order to connect (or reconnect) as a family unit. Without this time spent together, the core that binds each family together becomes fractionalized, and suddenly the members become disconnected from each other, making family unity and harmony a challenge to be overcome.

While it is easy to agree that family time is essential, it is not always so simple to find activities and events that are family-friendly (oftentimes for a multitude of ages) as well as financially feasible. It is certainly not difficult to concoct grand plans for trips to amusement parks, the beach, or a local fun zone.

However, if these ventures are beyond your budgetary means, the additional stress they cause defeat the purpose of the unity-building experience. In this weekly series, I will be focusing on simple, frugal ways to celebrate your family, thereby spending quality time together (while maintaining your sanity as well!).

As Summer has quickly slipped away, and Fall is gently unfolding, it is an ideal time to enjoy the beauty of the season with a leisurely walk as a family in the coolness of the evening. I’ve found, it is easy to engage all participating “walkers” if you add a game into the experience.

Give each child a scavenger hunt list (younger children could be paired with older siblings or parents) of various items to locate while you are enjoying the outdoors. This turns the walk into more than just exercise and family time–it becomes a nature hunt, and children will be amazed with the autumn treasures they might find. Acorns, red and orange leaves, and squirrels scurrying to procure their winter store all make fascinating finds for young children. They are often amazed by what they can find if they truly look at their surroundings.

Bingo is another easy take-along game for an evening hike. Parents can make simple bingo boards prior to the family outing, utilizing cardboard or heavy cardstock and clear contact paper.  A simple 9 or 12-box grid would be ideal for younger children, whereas a larger grid (15 to 25 squares) would be more challenging for older children. Items that could be searched for would either be written in the squares, or pictures could be drawn for non-readers.

Once the boards are completed, a simple covering of clear contact paper will protect them from the elements on the journey. Each child would then be supplied with a dry erase marker and either a paper towel or a wet wipe. Whoever finds the needed objects and yells “bingo” first would win the game. The boards could then be wiped clean, and a new game could begin.

Of course, a game is not necessary for a family outing. It is oftentimes enough for families–especially those with very small children–to simply enjoy each others’ presence during the course of a long, leisurely walk. Young ones are so excited to witness nature’s beauty in its simplest form–a butterfly spreading its wings, a puppy barking from across the street, one last lazy flower poking its head out of the ground.

Regardless of the activity you choose, remember that life passes to quickly. Take time to smell those proverbial roses. Next Fall will be here in a blink of an eye, and you’ll want to look back and remember all the amazing memories you’ve created as a family over the course of the year.

Katie is a homeschooling mother of four. She blogs at Cincinnati Cents, where she shares money-saving ideas, deals, and frugal activities to enjoy as a family.

From Crystal: What are some of your favorite games to play or things to do while you’re out on a family walk?