Tuesday, November 23, 2010

No Job, No Money

With the current economy upside down, the job market is very unstable. So what do you do if you hit rock bottom? You lose your job, tear through your savings, and now you don't have money to pay your bills. First off, if you haven't applied for unemployment or government assistance, now is the time! This is why the government has these programs in place. Apply for TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families), food stamps, and Medicaid. Depending on your situation, the level of benefits you receive will vary. Clip coupons! Yes, you can use coupons with food stamps. This will help you stretch your benefits further. Call your local church or food pantry. Sometimes they may even be able to set you up with a group or program to help you pay utility bills. Also, if this happens near the holidays, church groups like St. Vincent DePaul set up gift tree programs. You contact them and tell them about your family and what they would like for Christmas, and with gifts donated to the church, your children, and even you, are able to have a Christmas! Next, tell your friends and family. They will be your biggest support, so don't be ashamed to tell them, because chances are, they will be more than happy to help out.

Get your budget in check! You'll want to eliminate anything from your budget that isn't a necessity. Dining out, morning lattes, cable, and impulse spending need to go.

Offer your services. Walk dogs, babysit, or clean houses. Anything to earn extra money will help.
In need of clothing? Visit resale shops in upper class neighborhoods. The clothes will most likely be in better condition and name brand.

If you find yourself in this situation, get your finances under control, and then research programs in your area that are designed to help people in your position and take advantage of them.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Family Fun Without Breaking the Bank

With the current economy, you may be trying to save extra cash by staying home instead of going out s a family. However, you don't have to! There are plenty of free or cheap activities your family can do together. Here are a few ideas that could work for any city:

Picnic- whether you chose to have a picnic in your own backyard or at the park, this is always a fun idea for younger kids!
Explore your local park- your kids will feel like Lewis and Clark!
Minor league baseball game- this option is 1/4 of what it would cost to see a major league game, but just as fun since most of these ball parks have playgrounds too!
Story time at Barnes- these are free for your little ones, so check your local store or www.barnesandnoble.com for events in your area.
Kids workshops at Lowes or Home Depot- check your local store for schedule.
Camp out in your backyard- save money by pitching a tent right in the comfort of your own backyard! You can even roast marshmallows in your BBQ pit!
Arts and crafts workshops at Michael's- check your local store.
Cultural festivals- these are usually free to attend and have plenty of free activities. However, you will have to pay for food and anything you decide to purchase from one of the vendors.
Parades- free and fun for young children!
Go to the farm- usually free, unless you you pay for rides or anything else they may be selling. Also, if you can find a farm in your area that you can pick your own fruits and veggies, do it! The price per pound is low, and it takes smaller children a longer time to pick one pound! You can pick for and hour and spend less than $20, and in most cases less than $10!
Circus- smaller circuses are usually half the price of the bigger ones, but just as fun!
Museums- free admission usually!
Free concerts- pay attention to your cities event schedule, usually during the summer months you can take in a free concert or two!
Check out www.groupon.com - personalize with your zip code for deals on local businesses in your area. You can save 50% - 90% off of fun things for the family!
Weekend getaway during the week- plan your family trips during the week. Hotels and car rentals usually double in price for the weekend, and you'll also beat the weekend crowds!

Here are some fun things to do in the St. Louis area that won't break the bank:

The Muny has 1,500 free seats available at every show!
The Botanical Gardens is free Wednesdays and Saturdays before noon for St. Louis City and County residents.
Drive in movie theater sound fun? Visit New Town St. Charles Friday nights starting at 8pm, and it's free!
Free Family Nights at the Magic House the 3rd Friday of every month from 5:30 to 9 pm.
The Moolah Shrine Circus! Visit the website for event dates and a voucher for a free children's ticket! ( www.stlshrinecircus.com )
River City Rascals. All the fun of a major league game for less than 1/4 of the price!
Visit Eckerts Farm in Illinois (www.eckerts.com ) or Prouhet Farms in Bridgeton, MO for pick-your-own veggies and fruits!
Check out these sites for coupons: www.familyattractioncard.com and www.fox2now.com/lifestyle/stlmoms/

Remember, a fun day out with the family doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg, so just pay attention for coupons and deals in your area!

Saturday, November 20, 2010


I have noticed that this year, there are more people who can't afford to buy Christmas gifts. So what can you do for that someone if you can't afford to spend a lot of money on them? Make your own gifts. Making homeade gifts can be as easy as cookie mix in a jar, to making a purse out of potato chip bags!

Here are a few sites that go beyond the basic, and even ordinary when it comes to homeade gifts:


Friday, November 19, 2010


Thanksgiving is next week! We all now that no matter how well you try to manage the amount of food you make, there will always be leftovers! Whether you just heat up a plate of all your leftovers, or make the classic turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sandwich, it can get pretty boring. Here are a few yummy recipes I found that are easy and delicious! Enjoy!

Turkey Melts with Cheddar and Chutney

2 cups cubed turkey
1/3 cup finely chopped celery
3 minced green onions
1/4 cup mango chutney
1/2 mayonnaise
4 whole wheat English muffins, split, toasted
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese


1. Combine turkey, celery, green onions and chutney. Stir mayonnaise to bind. Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until ready to use.
2. Preheat broiler.
3. Arrange English muffin halves on baking sheet. Top with turkey mixture and cheese.
4. Broil a few inches from source of heat for 3 to 4 minutes until hot and bubbling.

(Courtesy of www.butterball.com)

Leftover Turkey Soup

1 turkey carcass
1/2 pot of water (enough to cover the bones)
1-2 cups of chopped celery
1-2 cups of chopped carrots
Use any leftover veggies you have in your refrigerator
Use all leftover gravy and dressing
If you have a leftover wild rice dish, throw that in also


Break up carcass and place in a large pot. Cover with water and simmer until all remaining meat falls off of bones. Skim off fat and remove bones and skin. Add all the above ingredients to the pot and let simmer for an hour or so. Add salt, pepper, and favorite spices to your taste. Freeze leftovers - they're good anytime!!!

(Courtesy of www.cooks.com)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Parent Teacher Conferences

Last night we had our parent teacher conference with our daughter's teacher. The evening consisted of the teacher telling us how smart, independent, and determined our little girl is. She is in kindergarten, but in writing, reading, and math, she is at the first grade level. Reading with your child every night and answering their completely random questions is important to their development. Every child deserves to start school on the right foot. Why not give them a head start. When your little one asks you to spell 200 words during the drive to the grocery store, she's not doing it just to be funny. Humor her, tell her how words are spelled, and then help her sound them out. Just by doing smalls things such as that, you will be giving your child one of the greatest gifts, a head start to their academic future. Just remember, one day, you'll have to rely on your children to help you!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Baby Food

One thing that could really put a dent in your monthly budget is baby food. During the first few months of life, if you chose to formula feed, you could be dishing out up to $70 a month on formula alone. There are governement programs such as WIC that help out low income families, what about the rest of us? With my first child, I signed up for Enfamil Beginnings (www.enfamil.com). The sent me full size samples of formula every month as well as coupons. However, it wasn't until my second child that I found out about the Infant Formula Act. According to the IFA, all infant formulas are subject to the same regulations and ingredients. While they are lower in price, they are required to meet the same exact FDA requirements as all of the major brands (www.storebrandformula.com). After learning this, i discussed this option with my son's doctor. He agreed that I should switch to save money. I now save $10 per can (23.4 ounce can).

Another money saver when it comes to baby food is to make your own. You can purchase a baby food mill (munchkin.com) and grind up the foods your family already eats. How many of you had avacado as your first food or thought of giving it to your baby? This is a cheaper eco friendly option. Here are a few sites I found that offer you recipes for baby food, as well as advice on which foods to start your children on:


These sites offer samples as well as valuable coupons to save you money:


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

About me...

Before I get too far, I find it may be necessary to tell you a little bit about me. I am a wife and stay at home mother of two. My Daughter Sophie is going to be six this month and my son Austin was born this August. My husband and I purchased out first home this June. We found a foreclosed home that was being sold for less than half it's appraised value. The general condition of the house was great, just a whole lot of cleaning. I grew up in a household that was well below the poverty line. A lot of my money savings tricks and cheap meal ideas I learned from my mother. She had to put together meals for our family of six with only a few dollars in her pocket, organize her priorities, and learn how to use sales in conjunction with coupons in order to get the most for your money. My husband and I are young, 23 and 24. So we are learning from our mistakes, and making things up as we go. This is going to be one heck of a journey, and I plan on sharing my secrets, tools, and tips.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Saving where it counts

I was never a person to spend my Sundays clipping coupons or looking through all of the sale ads for the grocery stores in my area. Up until this year, my husband and I hadn't been affected by the recession. In 2010, we bought our first home, welcomed a new addition to our family, and now I am no longer working. Living on one income wasn't too terribly bad until we got nailed with a bunch of bills. The bills themselves were not unexpected, but the amount of each bill was suprising! I find myself surfing the internet for coupon sites and waiting for sales at my favorite grocery store. This has been a tremendous life saver! At least now we don't have to worry about having enough food.

A few sites that I have found that have been a huge help for me are: