Thursday, May 23, 2013

New Ibotta Members get a $10 Bonus!

Ibotta is giving all my friends $10 when they sign up!  Anyone with a smartphone or a tablet can join.  It's so simple, you get paid to buy the brands you already buy!  If you haven't signed up yet, now is the time.  They don't offer this $10 bonus all the time, so grab it while you can.

Movies Starting at $.98 on Amazon

Head over to Amazon to snag some cheap DVDs or Blu-rays.  Right now you can use coupon code 4OFFDVDS to get $4 of a select DVD purchase.  If you are looking for a Blu-ray, use 6OFFBLRY to get $6 off!  Grab some great family movies for under $10, including Horton Hears a Who for only $.98!  You can  use both coupons codes at checkout.
Get free shipping with orders over $25 or with your Amazon Prime membership!  Try Prime free for 30 days.  

Offer is valid through June 1, 2013.  Don't miss out! 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

This Extra Baggage Has Got To Go!

For nearly 8 years now I have struggled with my weight.  I went from being athletic and 150 to well over 200 lbs after the birth of my daughter.  One year ago I began working with a personal trainer 3-4 times a week and I had started Weight Watchers.  I lost a quick 16 lbs.......and that is where I stayed.  Since then, my weight has gone up and down slightly, but there hasn't been any more weight loss.  At the start of May, I started a plank and squat challenge.  While I feel like I'm doing well, the scale has yet to tell me so.  My family has also cut out a large amount of sugar and we have started eating more fresh, local produce than we have in recent years.  Over the past few years, I have tried everything from magic pills, to super diets, to busting my ass at the gym.  Mr. T says I need to focus on my stress level before I can expect my body to change.  As much as I hate to admit he's right.....he might just be (but don't tell him I said so).  In addition to focusing on my stress levels, I am looking at what has worked for my body in the past.  It is time to get rid of this extra baggage once and for all.

Monday, May 20, 2013

How I Save Money on Clothing

Kid's grow like weeds.  We buy brand new clothes for our kids, and within months they no longer fit!  Clothing for kids can take up a big part of your budget.  For a short time after the birth of my son, my kids were getting only a few outfits a piece when I did buy clothing.  I have a set budget for clothing, so we did with what we had.  If you ask my husband, he'll tell you I complain all the time about how I hate paying a lot for kids clothing.  Eventually I was able to spend the same amount, but get triple the amount of clothing!  Want to know how?  Sure you do!  That's why you're here.........right?

  • Clearance racks.  I love shopping clearance!  Walmart is notorious for leaving clearance carts full of $1 clothing.  I always hit these up.  I recently spent $6 on shirts for my son that would have normally cost me well over $35!  Target is another great place to find clearance clothing.  I like to check their website for clothing coupons before I visit my local Target.  They recently had a $4 off any 2 children's clothing items.  I was able to print 2 of the coupons and found 4 shirts for $2.20 each.  I paid $.80 for 4 shirts!
  • Shop out of season.  This goes hand-in-hand with clearance racks.  Shopping for Winter clothes in Spring or Summer will save you a few bucks.
  • Shop resale.  I love hitting up resale shops.  Not only can you find cheap clothes, but if you're lucky, you can find cheap designer or name brand clothing!  
  • Shop online.  My newest favorite online clothing site is  You get a $10 credit when you sign up (FREE clothes people!).  Plus when you invite your friends, you can earn more free credit!  You can also sell your gently used clothing from the comfort of your own home.
  • Consign.  I recently have fallen in love with consignment sales.  My favorite is the Just Between Friends Sale.  You can sign up to sell your children's clothing and toys online.  Once they sell, you get a check mailed to you!  They have numerous sales a year all around the country.  Great way to get new clothes and make money off your old ones.  Plus, unlike other consignment and resale shops, you price your own items.
  • Extend the life of your clothes.  Too often we find ourselves tossing out clothing because they have a hole in them.  Maybe it's getting too warm out to wear long pants?  I always take a second look at clothing with rips and holes.  Check to see if they can be stitched up or have a patch put over the hole.  My daughter once ripped her leggings on the knee.  Instead of tossing out the leggings, I cut them into shorts and hemmed up the bottoms.  My daughter loves leggings.  So every fall we buy her leggings.  By the time Spring comes, we cut them into shorts or capris so she can get another season out of them.
  • Hand me downs!  Yep, I said it.  Hand me downs.  Save your clothes for the next kid.  I grew up wearing a lot of my big brother's clothing.  If you have two daughters a few years apart in age, it makes sense to just save the clothing for the second child. 
  • Trade.  You can go online and find groups of mom's in your area who trade and sell their kid's clothing among themselves.  
What do you do to save money on your kids clothing?  What about your clothing?

Check out this article on Yahoo!

After I wrote this article, I was introduced to my local Goodwill Outlet.  This Goodwill isn't like the others......oh no.  They do not sort anything, nor do they wash it.  Everything is dumped into bins, and left for you to sort through.  The cost.......$.79 per pound!  I redid my family's wardrobe for under $30!  You wouldn't believe how many things are donated still with tags on them!  I also found out that my local Target donates excess items that they marked down on clearance, but never sold (and their out of season items).  A bargain hunter's dream!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

How I Save Money on Food

My family lives on one income.  I'm not going to lie and say it's easy, because it's a lot of work.  Being a homemaker is more than just cooking and cleaning.  It is my job to be our family's financial adviser.  This includes being in charge of our monthly budget.  Our monthly budget for food is anywhere from $180-$200 a month for our family of four.  A lot of my friends and family say that is what they spend on food in one week!  But with one income, we have to stick to our budget.  The first thing people think when I tell them our budget is that we must eat like birds.  That couldn't be further from the truth.  My family is able to eat great food on a budget.  It takes a lot of planning to be able to do so.

Every month I sit down and determine what nights we will not be at home (usually Friday nights when we go to the in-laws for dinner).  I create meal plans so that I can cook similar meals near each other to save on ingredients.  To ensure that my family does not eat the same meal in the same week, I sometimes cook a double batch as I prepare dinner, serving one to my family while freezing the other for later in the month.

My biggest source of savings comes from coupons!  No, I am not an extreme couponer.....more like a semi-extreme couponer!  I only buy what my family will eat.  I like to sit on my coupons and wait for sales so I can get  the most bang for my buck.  Since coupons are generally for pre-packaged foods, I am able to stock up in large amounts.  Some of the foods I like to buy using coupons are rice, pasta, oatmeal, condiments, cereal, canned foods, drink mixes, meat, dairy, and bread.

By saving on my pantry staples, I am able to buy more fresh produce.  My produce is purchased from a local produce coop.  I pay one price for a basket full of fresh produce from local farms.  By doing this, I am also able to enjoy new produce that I normally would never have tried.  In addition to the coop, I also hit up local farmer's markets.  I like to go later in the day right before they close.  I do this because the farmers will often lower the prices in order to get rid of as much of their crops as they can.  I was once able to purchase 5 lbs. of peppers for $1.  Knowing how to store your foods properly to extend their life will also help lessen the amount of waste.

Until recently, we had a local discount bread store.  We would be able to purchase bread that was near the end of it's shelf life for over 50% off the retail price.

I find myself scouring the discount/clearance shelf at our local grocery store.  The foods you'll find in this section usually just have damaged packaging.  I was able to buy fruit cups for my kids for $.15 a piece this week.  These fruit cups cost $2.50 for a 4 pack.  They were only missing the outer cardboard packaging.  I also found a 5 lb bag of rice for $1.  My local Walmart also has a discount rack for their bakery items that cook a little too long.

Meat takes up a large part of our food budget.  To help lessen the cost, I like to use meat as an addition to a dish rather than the main focus.  What I mean by this, is instead of making steak and potatoes, I may make goulash or a stew that I can serve over pasta or rice.  You still get the taste of the meat, but you can use 1/4 of the amount of meat you normally would have used for that meal.  I also purchase lower cost cuts of meat. A lot of people would normally be scared to try pork necks.  However, the taste of pork necks does not differ from a pork roast.  Since these lower cost cuts of meat may not be as tender, I find it is best to slow roast or braise them.  Shred the meat off the bones and use in sauces or dishes.

Now that we own a home, I have been able to set up a garden.  Each year it gets a little bigger.  Growing your own produce is very rewarding.  I save money on seeds by saving the seeds from my crops to use for the next year.  I also regrow any vegetables I can (mainly celery, onions, garlic, and lettuce).

Feeding your family great food on a budget can be difficult, but it is possible.  What are your biggest tips for saving money on food?

This post can also be found on Yahoo!

Summer Fun Ideas on a Budget

Summer is right around the corner.  In fact, my daughter's last day of school is less than a week away!  A lot of times as a parent, we strive to keep our kids busy during the summer, but the ideas we may come up with can be costly.  I don't know about your family, but we can not afford spend a lot of money to keep our kids busy everyday.  I've spent time putting together lists of learning and fun activities for our children.  Here is what I have come up with:

  • Check your local library for day camps and reading programs.  Often these programs are free and educational.  Every summer my daughter takes part in our library's summer reading program where she is able to earn gifts for reading!  Barnes and Noble also has a great summer reading program.
  • Check for free activities or day camps at local stores.  Stores like Home Depot, Lowe's, and Bass Pro Shop offer free workshops and day camps for children.  Check your local stores for dates.
  • Explore a park.  There are so many parks around the country that you can explore with your children.  Our National Parks even have free admittance days.
  • Check for free activities in your area.  A lot of times, there will be free admittance days, free shows, free bowling, free festivals, and free activities in your area that are not heavily advertised.  Subscribe to a local newsletter to stay up to date.  This can also be a learning adventure for your children.  We have had car shows, Renaissance and different cultural festivals in our area. 
  • Head outside!  Even in your own yard, there is plenty of fun, learning adventures for your child.  Consider planting a seed.  You can teach them about the process a seed goes through to become a plant.  Go hunting for bugs and plants.  Have your kids learn about the different bugs and plants in your yard and what purpose they serve.
  • Check out a local farm.  You may be able to find activities for your children for little to no cost.  One of our local farms offers pick your own vegetables which our kids love!  Some larger farms may also offer horse/pony rides or other fun activities.
  • Teach your kids to cook.  Making simple meals with your children helps you to connect with them, but it's also a fun learning experience.
  • Take advantage of clear summer skies.  Have a backyard campout and watch the sky for stars and planets.

Whatever you and your kids do this summer to have fun, remember the sun block!  Do you have any fun summer activities planned for your kids?

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Advice for New Moms

Last week I asked my Facebook fans what one piece of advice they would give to a new mom.  When you become pregnant, especially for the first time, advice begins to fly at you from every direction.  Some advice is helpful, and other advice is just plain crazy!  My favorite advice is that you know your child best.  Every kid is different and unique.  Therefore what may have worked for one mom, might not work for you.  

Here is the advice my readers would give:

If you could go back in time and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

May Workout Challenge

So I was hanging out on Facebook, and one of my favorite blogs (Slap Dash Mom) posted a chart she found HERE.  I was intrigued by this challenge, so I decided to give it a whirl.  I made the calendar my desktop background so I can remind myself every morning when I check my email!  I started yesterday (April birthday!!!!) with a warm-up session.  Today was day 1 of the Plank & Squat Challenge.  I completed my 80 squats and held my plank for 45 seconds (thighs feel like jello btw)!  Day 1....success!  Not looking forward to day 30......eeek!  What do you think......are you brave enough to challenge yourself?