Aug 302018

I was compensated for this post.  This post also contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.


“Some things are too good to keep to yourself.” That is how I felt when I received a surprise package in the mail.  I knew the sender and that I had not ordered anything from them recently.  Then I opened the cardboard package and saw another package.  This inner package, though, was wrapped in a bow.  What could it be?

This is where the good news made me feel giddy.  Starting today, August 30th, my favorite dollar store, Dollar Tree, is now carrying Hallmark cards!!! Expressions From Hallmark will be $1 each and Heartline a Hallmark company will have cards 2 for $1! No more excuse about having to pay $4-$5 per card for special occasions in your life.

While the price is low on these cards their look and feel is not. The recipients will not be able to tell you picked these up from the Dollar Tree.  Coverings a variety of life events and including a pre-written note inside, you can now find an economical choice at one of the 6,500 Dollar Tree stores nationwide to help share your notes of joy, sorry, and love.

Dollar Tree and Hallmark will also be coming together to offer a few other Hallmark card lines – Mahogany, Vida, and Tree of Life.  These lines are aimed to filled the need in certain racial or religious groups who may often feel a bit overlooked by the normal selection found in stores.

In addition to the Expressions and Heartline line of cards I also received a few from “joyfully yours, a Dayspring Company”.  These cards allow you to express your faith in just the right way, whether it be for a holiday, special occasions, or moments big and small.

If you have even been on the expectant end of my card mailing list, you would quickly find out that written notes and cards are not my strong suit.  A large part of this is due to my frugalness getting in the way.  It is not that I do not love or appreciate you to that extent, but would rather spend the money to take you out for dessert than to purchase a piece of paper which would end up in the trash in a few hours.

Now there is no excuse, I can do both – buy a card and treat you to dessert.  This is a good thing for everything except my waist line.

Jan 052018

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Bird feeders are an easy addition to any garden or balcony. They do not take up much space and can match any style you currently have going on.

Do not be discouraged if you do not get immediate results, it may take some time for our avian friends to find the new food source. Once they do, though, you will have regular visitors.

Whether you are considering a craft for kids, need a gift ASAP, are on a budget, or are wanting something different for your garden, here is a quick bird feeder you can make. The actual crafting time is mere minutes, or seconds in one case, though the glue may take longer to cure. (Mine was dry enough to move in about 2 hours, but took 24-48 hours to fully cure.)

Here is another bird feeder to use your creativity with, or follow along with some of the examples below if you are feeling a bit creatively challenged today.

BIRD FEEDER #2 – cup and saucer

Cost: $0-$8

Materials needed: tea or coffee cup, saucer or small plate, E6000 glue, chain or other hanging material, acetone, cotton swab

Step 1

Gather your materials. This can be random pieces from around your house, yard sale or thrift store finds, or even items from the Dollar Tree.

Keep in mind how they look together. My first try at this was purely a trial run with items from a thrift store. As I was short on time and had input from one of the kids, proportions were not necessarily top of the list of things to consider. Colors and price were the important things. Mainly colors. 🙂

Step 2

Clean the pieces. Glue sticks better if there is not a layer of dust in the way.

If there is a sticker, gum residue, or marker on any of your pieces, a cotton swab dipped in acetone (nail polish remover) makes quick work of removal.

Step 3

Decide how you want the pieces arranged. Use your imagination, try a few different ways. Keep in mind how you want to hang or mount your feeder – does the weight need to be centered, will it sit such that it needs to not top over, or any other needs?

Step 4

Glue pieces together. Use a strong glue which can endure the outside elements. I have had luck with E6000, though there are others you can use.

E6000 holds better than super glue (which does not stick to ceramics), though does not set up as quickly. Where super glue sticks within a few seconds, E6000 takes an hour or two to set, and 24-48 hours to cure. This can be a good thing, if you make a mistake, or a challenge, if you need to keep pieces in place while the glue dries.

(Several craft projects using E6000 have been outside in 0 degree weather and are holding up just fine. The two problems I had were in cases where not enough glue was used.)

Step 5

Decide how you want to hang your feeder. One of my feeders was light enough for me to use an old metal necklace. (This is the one I did not use enough glue on. The chain came off a few weeks after I hung it up.)

For yet another we hung it by the cup’s handle from a shepherds hook.

The majority of feeders were fitted with a smaller-linked chain. (A package purchased from the local hardware store.) While I did not measure them out, they ended up being about 9-12 inches long.

After some trial I also learned that crossing one chain over another, on the underside of the feeder, meant the glue does not hold well at all; it was too bulky.  I ended up separating the chain so I could glue the ends together at a common meeting point. A pair of pliers were used to open a link, slide it off its neighbor, then close the link up again. (See the photos above.)

An ‘S’ link was added at the top, where all the chain ends meet. Not only did this hold everything together, but also makes it easier to hang from a branch or other support.

Note: This step was done a few hours after the first ones, so pairs could be turned over and handled with little worry.

Step 6

Find a place to hang your feeder and fill with appropriate seed…or leftover, un-popped popcorn because your bird loving kid was too excited to wait for a trip to the store.


I would love to see your creations if you try this DIY project. Share a picture below and let us know how it went.

Dec 232017

Bird feeders are an easy addition to any garden or balcony. They do not take up much space and can match any style you currently have going on.

Do not be discouraged if you do not get immediate results, it may take some time for our avian friends to find the new food source. Once they do, though, you will have regular visitors.

Whether you are considering a craft for kids, need a gift ASAP, are on a budget, or are wanting something different for your garden, here is a quick bird feeder you can make. The actual crafting time is mere minutes, or seconds in one case, though the glue may take longer to cure. (Mine was dry enough to move in about 2 hours, but took 24-48 hours to fully cure.)

BIRD FEEDER #1 – cup and spoon

Cost: $0 – $8

Materials needed: tea or coffee cup, spoon, E6000 glue, chain or other hanging material, acetone, cotton swab

This feeder has a lot of room for creativity. The general jist is to provide a container to hold seed or other food, as well as a perch.

I chose coffee mugs which appealed to my vintage mood at the time, as well as spoons with designs on the handles.  These are fairly arbitrary details in the grand scheme of bird feeders. One thing I would keep in mind is the size of bird – if you are wanting chickadees, I would pass on using a large handled serving spoon.

When it comes to putting you spoon and cup together, again you have freedom in the details. Due to my spoons and cups, I chose to glue them at the back end (the bottom) of the cup. I tried placing them further out, but realized the handles hung at an odd angle.

  1. Find the center point by holding the handle of the cup with two fingers, putting the spoon in so it sits like you want it.
  2. Paying attention to where the spoon makes contact with the cup, remove the spoon, place a drop of glue at each contact point.
  3. Reinsert the spoon, double checking you placed the glue appropriately.
  4. Set the cup off to the side to dry.

I found a few things to help keep the cup at the correct angle, so the spoon is not lifted up by it’s handle being lower than the bottom of the cup.

Once the glue is firm enough to handle, or completely cured, add a chain or rope by which to hang your bird feeder.

Note: I initially glued my chain in place, but had trouble with the chain constantly sliding, not enough glue staying in place, and the resulting angle. In the end my chain came off, over a week later, due to insufficient glue holding it in place.

Find a place to hang your feeder and fill with appropriate seed…or leftover popcorn because your bird loving kid was too excited to wait for a trip to the store.

I would love to see your creations if you try this DIY project. Share a picture below and let us know how it went.

May 272016

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Planning a date night? Have yard work you still need items for? Are you looking for ways to save on vacation? Whatever the occasion, why not look first to purchase a gift and earn SB in the process.

Over the past decade … okay, my whole money spending life… I have tried to find ways to pay less for what I am wanting, thereby stretching what my money will allow me to do.  Some ways I have tried took a lot of time and effort. Others were so easy it was silly not to do it.

Here is one of the “it is so easy it is silly not to do it” opportunities:

Purchase select Gift Cards through Memorial Day Weekend and earn Cash Back with MyGiftCardsPlus! Plus, earn up to a 200 SB Bonus when you purchase Gift Cards to featured retailers through Memorial Day Day!*

Buy 1 Gift Card and get a 50 SB Bonus

Buy 2 Gift Cards from two different retailers and get a 100 SB Bonus

Buy 3 or more Gift Cards from three or more retailers and get a 200 SB Bonus

The more you spend, the more you earn!

Featured retailers include eBay, The Home Depot, Groupon, AMC Theaters, Southwest Airlines, Sephora, and many many more!

Here is my plan to save: We are currently planning a vacation.  Looking for Groupon deals is a part of that planning.  In the past we have tried new restaurants we otherwise may have passed by, have been able to treat our kids to special meals our otherwise frugal ways would have otherwise passed by in lieu of sharing an entree, and learned about attractions that we would have otherwise missed.

How about you, what is your plan to save?  Which gift card would you purchase and earn bonus SB for purchasing?  Would you use it for something you already plan to purchase or for a special treat?

*This offer expires at 11:59pm PST on May 30th, 2016. Your SB will credit when your electronic gift card is delivered. Cash back will be paid in the form of SB. Each individual Gift Card purchased must have a value of $50 or more to qualify for a SB bonus. Each qualifying Gift Card purchase must be purchased from a unique retailer in order to receive the 100 SB Bonus and 200 SB Bonus (ex. If you buy two $50+ Gift Cards to one featured retailer you will ONLY receive a 50 SB Bonus; if you buy two $50+ Gift Cards, each from a different feature retailer, you will receive the corresponding SB Bonus). You will not be eligible to receive a SB bonus if you stack smaller denomination Gift Cards (ex. 2 Gift Cards of $25). Gift Cards must be purchased in one transaction to qualify for a SB Bonus.

Jan 122016

grocery store food

On Sunday’s post about this week’s meal plan, I mentioned looking for ways to reduce the grocery spending.  Monday I did a one stop shopping trip; well it was supposed to be one stop except they were out of salami at the deli.  And while I spent more than I wanted, I learned several lessons yet again:

  • Saving money by shopping at one store only works if you stop at the store with the lower prices.  While shopping I noticed two things I had previously bought at Aldi and Ruler, except at this ‘nicer’ store, not co-op nice but a nationally known chain nice, they were $2-$3 more per package.  I would have never bought them in the first place if I had noticed them at this store, mainly due to the price.  On the other hand, I was able to ‘splurge’ at the lower priced stores and still not spend much more than I might have for the cheaper alternative.  I also noted an item that was cheaper at the Small Town Grocery Store.  This ‘nicer’ store used to be my main shopping destination, especially when I was looking for deals and using coupons.  I know go there for certain items but not my whole trip.  Today, I thought I would save time and energy, but I ended up spending a lot more money in doing it.
  • Shopping online really can cost less. Not only money wise, but also sanity.  It is not worth the gas, time, and getting cranky kids in and out of cars to drive across town to get one kind of lentil at the small ethnic store with super narrow aisles.  Shop online when they are sleeping (or supposed to be asleep as is the case right now) and save money and sanity.  It also helps the gas tank and reduces the risk of having an accident due to distracted driving.
  • Kids do not care about cost per unit, no matter how fun you try to make it sound. “Look, Billy, this peanut butter is $1.29 for 12 ounces.  This jar is $1.48 for 16 ounces.  Which do you think is the better buy?  Can you guess?  To find the answer you take the price divided by the ounces and get the answer.  So the better buy is this one! Great job, you guessed right.  Now how about the jelly?”  Yeah, they start to see through this one really quick.
  • There really are recipes which call for fresh sage.  This is one of those herbs I grew because I had it and I liked the look of it.  Of course the one time I want it the temperature outside is cold enough to make wet hair freeze straight, so I have to actually buy it from the store.  (sigh) If all goes well with this recipe, I know another herb that will be seen in the garden again this year.
  • My husband is more important than the budget.  With new recipes comes specific ingredients needed to create said recipes.  With new ingredients come high grocery bills as you have to buy a whole bottle/package/bag of said ingredient rather than using what you have.  Upfront costs, well, cost.  BUT, I love my husband and he is worth the extra money.  He put the time in to find recipes he thought looked good, tries to make them if he is home or asks when I am going to make them.  If making a new recipe will make him happy, then I will buy that $4 container of sage and look for other ways to save money.

While sitting at home last night, I was putting together a list of items I want to order from Amazon.  I was also lamenting the fact that I have no Amazon gift cards at this time.  In the past it was almost unheard of for us not to have some form of credit on our Amazon account.  During the past year, I had greatly decreased my survey taking activities, as well as my actions on  Then I remembered, while I decreased my activity on Swagbucks I still had points, called SB, in my account which had never been redeemed.  Perfect. (Update: I just redeemed my SB for a $25 Amazon gift code!)

When I signed in to my account, I saw the following:

Alright, it’s finally freezing here. We’ve layered sweaters and sweaters and blankets and blankets. We’re even wearing long underwear! We’ve even tried lighting a fire in the fireplace and sipping hot cocoa but none of it is working! We should have known though, they say the best way to get warm is to huddle with others for warmth. The same goes for earning Swagbucks! If you’re looking for those warm and fuzzy Swagbucks feels, it’s best to do it with friends and what better way to huddle up than through referrals and 300 SB Bonuses?

Three Brrr All

It’s just like a Swagbucks Three For All except it’s a lot… wait for it… cooler.

Here’s how:

  • Refer a friend to Swagbucks between Monday, January 4th and Sunday, January 31st
  • Your referral earns 300 SB by January 31st
  • You AND your referral will both be awarded an additional 300 SB each
  • That’s it (the 300 SB bonuses will credit by February 5th)

So once again, starting on Monday, January 4th, send out those referrals and get those referrals earning. All the cool kids are doing it.

Don’t know what all this Swagbucks ‘punny’ buzz is about? Sign up here for your free account and start earning free $3 – $50 Gift Cards or PayPal cash by taking surveys, searching the web, watching videos, or shopping online. They’ve already awarded over $100,000,000 and have an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. You won’t regret giving Swagbucks a try!

300 SB may sound like a lot, but with 21 days left that goal is easy to reach.  The link above is a referral link, so we will be doing it together.  See, I need a goal to help me get back into the swing of this habit.  What better way than working towards a bonus?  I am not sure this is the best week for me to start, but perhaps that make it just perfect; you can see that you do not need hours and hours of time to reach your 300 SB goal.  Now off I go to do something about reducing my grocery bill …



Oct 092015

It is already going on mid-October and the winter Holiday season will soon be here.  I do not like waiting till the last minute to buy gifts, make presents, or send out cards.  Getting these things done early means I have time later to enjoy the people around me and not have to worry about my to-do list.

If you are planning to make something, now is the time to shop and begin getting the creative juices flowing.  You have time to plan, shop and follow through on your projects without feeling rushed.  To make getting started now even better, Get up to 70% off craft supplies from Craftsy for a limited time only! Stock up early on craft supplies and kits for holiday gift-making. Offer begins 10/9/15 @1pm MT and ends 10/13/15 @11:59pm MT.


This post contains affiliate links.  A portion of any purchase made by clicking through these links will help support this blog.  If you do not feel comfortable with this, you can go directly to Craftsy’s website and order from there.  Your costs will be the same either way.

Oct 072015

As the weather turns cooler yet, we have left behind our shorts and are donning sweatshirts and pants.  With adventurous and spontaneous boys in our home, clothes take a pretty tough beating.  They do not always hold up from one kid to the next.  Add in the fact that our oldest grows like a weed, he is almost as tall as me, it can be hard to keep them in clothes without breaking the bank.

With, not only do we gain by saving money buying quality clothing, but schools and other organizations earn money for programs or other needs.  Right now you can Shop & save on the Gymboree collection at and 40% of the proceeds will go to the Malala Fund.

There are a few more ways you can save on top of the already discounted prices.  New to Schoola? Sign up for a Schoola account and receive 25% OFF your order!  Also, for a limited time, receive $10 in store credit when you create a Custom Collection at Shop now!

And in case you are thinking this is only for kids, Now introducing the all-new women’s collection at Shop now! I recently realized that I was letting my wardrobe become a second thought to the kids’.  I could tell that this was one areas I needed to improve upon, as it was something so simple yet made such an impact on how I feel about myself.  Spending mega bucks on clothes was not realistic as I am active with the kids and things get dirty.  Yet, I wanted to look nice.

After clicking on the Women’s tab, I was able to select my size, and further narrow it down by brand, price, color, condition or style. At 70% off, my money would go even further.

Once you are done shopping and head to your cart for check out, keep in mind that for a limited time, there is free shipping on orders over $25.  This is something the normally does not happen till you reach $50, so make the most of it and get ready for the upcoming holidays.

Speaking of special occasions, whether it is Homecoming or the winter holidays, Why pay full price for special occasion outfits they only it wear once? Shop the Dressy Collection at!  Check out their selection of dressy tops, dresses, slacks, blazers, leggings and even accessories.

This is a one stop shop for your entire family at a great price.  Happy Shopping!


This post contains affiliate links.  I have bought from this company before and was happy with the quality of items, the ease of ordering and the cost.

Apr 092014

Matthew 6 26

My husband and I love numbers.  We may not always view them, literally, the same way but we both like them.  They are fun.  Okay, so not everyone agrees.  We don’t even agree that the other spouse is viewing them the right way. 🙂 I’m not a fan of philosophical debates which  makes it a good thing there are people in the world who love that kind of thing.  Otherwise who knows what kind of world we would be living in.  We can’t do it all, so thankfully God divided up the responsibilities.  

So, money.  In an all too common conversation the other day we were talking about the amount of money we spend each month.  This was not an argument, we actually enjoy looking and analyzing our cash flow. I remember fondly the times, as a new married couple, where we would sit down to enter our expenditures and income, then look over the progress we made or didn’t make.  We would then talk about ways we could achieve the goal we wanted.  I loved seeing the pay-off-time for our debts shorten as we payed more on our debts than was required.  Even if it was only shortened by a few days or weeks, that meant less money going to someone else and the sooner we would actually own our stuff, instead of the bank owning it.  Yes, we may be slightly not-normal in this case, but I’m okay with that.


The recent conversation was the result of a Wall Street Journal article about a spending limit placed on former USB trader Tom Heyes.  The limit was set to $400 a week.  My first thought was, “Poor rich guy.  Only $400 a week. Life is tough.”  Then I wondered how much that was per day?  per month?  I began to view this number differently.  What exactly is $400 a week?

  • $57.14 per day
  • $1,732 per month (assuming 4.33 weeks per month)
  • $20,800 per year

grocery store food

Well, now the numbers look a bit different.  $400 is nothing to sneeze at my any means, but it may not go as far as you would think. While you can get a lot of $1 items from the local dollar store for $400, it doesn’t always stretch that far in other areas:

  • Assuming gas is $3 per gallon (which it isn’t here), if your car’s tank  holds 15 gallons it will cost you $45 to fill, leaving you with $12.14 to spend the rest of the day.
  • $400 is about half of what it costs for my auto insurance (more than one vehicle), then let’s not forget home insurance (if you own one), life insurance (if you have a policy), etc.  I just lost more than a month of the $400/week limit.
  • A new set of tires cost me $354 last year (one tire blew out so we replaced two of them.  A week or so later one of the ‘old’ tires got a nail in it.  It would have saved us money to buy a full set, but we weren’t looking to buy a new full set all at one time.  This year we had issues with the tires, due to alignment or such and had to replace them.  There was a prorated refund because they didn’t last very long, so that was another $$ bill to pay.  Yes, you can save by not owning a car or just owning one instead of multiple.)
  • Eating at home, we average around $20/person/week on groceries and $13.5/person/week eating out, bringing the act of eating to about $33.4/person/week.  (Okay, WOW.  I didn’t realize it was so high.  We have lowered our eating out costs this year by $174 per person, but the cost of groceries has increased.  Still, I see an area where we/I can improve in the upcoming year.)
  • We pay the local teenager $20 to mow our yard, which he does about one time per week during the summer bringing the monthly total to $80.  Family pool pass for the summer is $90, or $22.50 per month.  Netflix is $18/month.  These are all things that cost the same, whether you are single or have a family of many.  The total?  $188, or almost half on one week’s $400 allotment.

See how the view changes the amount?  What else can $400 do:

  • Sponsor a Compassion International child for 10.5 months.
  • Give the gift of 1 water buffalo and 2 sheep, or the gift of clean water AND a bountiful harvest gift basket through Heifer International.
  • Support a teen in your community, or through donation, to a program like Missionaries Across America.
  • Put together several backpacks with school supplies for students at your local school who many not be able to afford them.  (This could go even further if you strategically shop the back to school sales.)

calendar assortment

After mentioning to my husband the article and how much Mr. Heyes was restricted/allowed to spend, he mentioned how much we spend each month on average. This is not a new number too me, so it wasn’t initially surprised by  his comment.  It did not seem like a lot for our family, until I broke it down into rough weekly and daily numbers.  The both of us were a bit surprised.  While we may not spend $50/$70/$90 each day, it does average out over the course of a year.  The auto insurance gets paid in a lump sum, making that month’s numbers higher.  Another month the home insurance is due.  We may not need tires this year, but may have the water line to the house break, the furnace go out, know a young couple just starting out who would really be blessed by a monetary gift, or decide to take that extra trip to see a family member whom we don’t get to see often.  It could even been as simple as taking advantage of promotions on gift cards at the beginning of the year, a sale on meat another time (and not keeping an eye on the grocery budget, though I would never be guilty of that … see spending note above), eating at the nicer restaurant instead of the cheaper but just as delicious one, having to spend $20 on a new pair of shoes rather than $5 for a still-good second hand pair for the growing feet in the family, or paying for a babysitter so we can go on a date or to a function the kids can’t come to (or pet sitter for the pet in your home).

library book sale 2

Taking a difference stance, seeing things from a different view (yearly/month/weekly/daily/hourly) can shine a different light on numbers, giving them a new meaning.

  • When we were paying off school debt I looked at things in the per month format – how many months are left and  how many did we cut off from the length by paying the extra $5/$10/$20/$100/$1000 this month?
  • My favorite way to look at our retirement savings is on a per-day view.  How many days of retirement are being saved towards for every day of working?  This puts a very in-the-future, abstract number into a more manageable and immediate view.
  • How many hours does my husband/myself have to work in order to make the money for this purchase? (This was a huge motivator for me not to eat out when I was in school or working outside the home.)

I would like to challenge all of you to take a step back today and think about one area of your financial life in a different way.  Then come back and leave a comment about what you learned or saw differently.  Did viewing it per year/month/week/day give you a different feeling about the numbers?