Mar 162017
 

life is a series of experiences henry ford quote

This week finds us out of the house quite a bit.  So, I thought I would take the opportunity to look back at some posts from the past.

One thing that stuck out to me was the difference in weather between years, even though all these posts are from March.

Another theme I noticed is that I often posted about food.  That may have to do with the first things that stood out to me – the weather.

Soon it had been over three weeks and I had not even begun looking for a new stove or coming to a decision as to repair it.

Living Without An Oven – This phase was actually easier than I thought, though it did take some thinking.  We were also blessed, several months in, with a $1 toaster oven find at a local garage sale.  That toaster oven even moved with us, as I came to find it useful for different situations.

Once the warm weather comes, I would rather be focusing on outside rather than stuck inside doing these things.

30 Days, 21 Projects – It is amazing how all the little things around the house can be put off numerous times.  Suddenly, no matter where you turn there is something glaring at you that needs to be done.  Having a plan of attack, and a deadline, helps you realized the list is not never-ending.  It also gives you a sense of being in control rather than being controlled by your stuff.

I didn’t plant all the tomato seeds I had, but I got 75 of them started.

Weekly Goals – March 18, 2012 – Not only is it interesting to look back and see what was happening at this time in years past, but you may also be reminded of things you used to do and can do again.  While I will not be starting seeds indoors this spring, I hope to do it again in the future.  I also learned that I did not need 75 tomato seedlings.  Live and learn.

At first $4.30 didn’t seem like a lot to Mr. Arends, but by the end of the 6-weeks time frame, he had learned several lessons.

Comparing The Numbers – Before making statements about what can or can not be done, it is a good idea to take a look at the reality of your situation.

Last week he spent over 6 hours across several days working with cardboard and duct tape.

This Week in School, practical life skills – the above quote would be called a STEM activity in public school.  At home, it was called free time.  This post highlighted a season where Jack really did not respond well to sitting to learn.  While we were following Charlotte Mason’s methods, I had not fully implemented them, nor researched them.  So some items, like short lessons, were in play, there were other things I was learning on my own.  I am still not fully doing what she recommends, but we are getting closer.

Sep 022016
 

I am so excited for this sale.  At lunch today I was putting together a list of items I will be needing to purchase in the very near future.  Most of them are either easier to find and shop for online.

In the end, this is a win-win-win situation.  I will win by taking advantage of the Double Cash Back, my kids will win by not having to go shopping, and my husband will win as I will be making his life easier in the upcoming weeks. (It will save him the trouble of having to shop for some of these items.)

boy feet on bench

Happy Labor Day! This weekend Swagbucks, an online rewards program that gives you cash back for completing online activities such a shopping online, is running a great Labor Day Sale on their site. You work hard all year, its time to treat yourself and put some cash back in your wallet while you’re at it.

Earn Double Cash Back or more when you shop this Labor Day Weekend at your favorite stores including:

Walmart

eBay

Target

Old Navy

Macy’s

Gap

JCPenney

The Home Depot

Lowe’s

Bed Bath & Beyond

Groupon

Living Social

And many, many more!

 

 

This post contains affiliate links.

May 192016
 

This post contains affiliate links.

Grove collaborative online shopping

As part of getting back to shopping online more, I recently made several purchases from Grove Collaborative.  This was a new company for me, though I had heard of them before under their old name, ePantry.  Before recommending them to you, I wanted to see how the whole process when and if it was worth doing again.

Grove Collaborative’s mission is to help everyone create a healthy, beautiful environment in your home. We grew out of a simple belief: The best natural, healthy and effective products for your home & family should be the easiest to get.

The selection at Grove Collaborative is different than what I may normally buy, though the brands were familiar and came recommended by others.  I was able to select items I needed and received them about a week later.

Right now it is Friends and Family Week at Grove Collaborative.  You are able to receive a free $10 credit, plus a gift, by clicking through here.  This would be a great way to save on money and time for items you already need.

They do have a feature on their site where you can have previously ordered items automatically added to your next months shipment.  If you do not need them, a simple click on “I won’t need it” removes the items.  However, if you know you use up these items and have to purchase them each month, this can make your life easier and save you some mental space at the same time.

Finding the good stuff should be easy, trusting it works should be a given, and it should bring a natural clean, and natural beauty, to your home. So everything you’ll find here meets the Grove Standard:
Uncompromisingly healthy.

 

Beautifully effective.

Sustainably minded.

Amazingly affordable.
And because life is too busy for last minute errands, we deliver to your doorstep, on your schedule, with a smile.

Do not wait too long.  I am not sure how long the Friends and Family Weeks $10 free credit will last.  Make your life easier and save money at the same time.

May 192016
 

This post contains affiliate links.  When you click through and buy something I will receive a little bit back, at no extra cost to you.  Not only will you be saving money, but you will also be helping to buy continuously needed shoe lace replacements for George.

This past year has been a roller coaster ride.  Among other things, we have been trying to figure out how to help one of our kids tolerate certain activities that are common in life.  Shopping is one of those things.

I never categorized myself as a shopper, it was not an activity I did on the weekend with a group of girl friends.  I do not have an extensive wardrobe nor own 10’s of pairs of shoes.  My shoe pairs do not even number 10, that is counting my house shoes.  However, I have come to realize that I am a shopper in a different sense.  Saving my family money is something I love to do.  Sometimes that means going to more than one store to pick up items on sale or at discounts.  However, this activity, which I thought of a quick and painless, as become an almost dreaded activity for me and is reflected in our grocery budget’s increase.,

Due to sensory issues and activity levels, going into a store at almost any point of the day, but especially any time past about 10 a.m. on a weekday, usually resulted in a tantrum of some sort.  Eating and wearing clothes was something we have to do, therefore shopping still had to happen even if there was a tantrum or yelling or running away happening.  In case you think I let this all wait until this past year to work one, rest assured, that was not the case.  Since food has always been an issue with our kids, learning to behave properly while shopping has been a years long process.

grocery aisle

I tried all sorts of tactics to make it more manageable – headphones, games, letting the child mark off items on a list, having the child sit in/push/walk beside the cart, large shopping trip in big town once a month, quicker shopping trips more often, etc.  After a very traumatizing (for me) trip it got to the point of me shopping in Small Town with one kid only.  Then on Sundays my husband runs into a store after church for something of his preference for supper that night.

Is it working?  Well, that depends on how you view it.  Our grocery budget would say a big resounding “NO!”  My blood pressure says, “Yes.”  Except for the fact that I know this method is costing us money.  My husband will spend on one meal what I could have used for 4.  While Small Town prices are not out of this world, they are higher in cost and their selection is limited and of worse quality in the produce aisle.  $1 here, $2 there and $0.50 extra over there adds up to $100 quickly.  Something had to change again.

With the remodel work, oral surgery for one of the kids, getting braces at an orthodontist over an hour away along with monthly visits, 6 weeks of having another foster kid, homeschooling, my husband finishing up his degree at night and life in general, I realized I had gotten away from shopping online.  Why?  I am not sure.  Maybe it had to do with going down to one computer at some point, maybe it was due to being tired.  Whatever the reason, I had stopped doing it.

Shopping online was something I used to be scared of doing.  What if I do not like the product?  What if it does not fit?  Does shipping not make it so much more expensive?

Then I did it and found that not only did I save money, but I saved times as well.  Shipping might be more than the tax I pay in a store, but I do not have to use gas to drive there, nor the drive time, nor the actual time in the store.  My kids save being dis-regulated and I am happier about the whole thing.  I have yet to actually get something I have not liked and most of the clothes so far have been for the kids, so no fitting issues.

So when I heard that Swagbucks is giving you more for every dollar you spend at Walmart, I had to share! That’s right, Swagbucks is making earning Cash Back easier and giving away $1,000 in prizes when you Shop & Earn at Walmart.

Starting today through May 31st you’ll earn up to 7% Cash Back on your summer shopping needs at Walmart. Enjoy savings in your favorite summer categories including:

  • Home

  • Clothing

  • Toys

  • Baby & Toddler

  • Electronics

  • Patio & Garden

  • Sports & Outdoors

  • Autos & Tires

  • Cell Phones

  • Food

 

Plus, be entered into their Walmart Summer Sweeps! For every $25 you spend at Walmart from May 16th through May 31st you’ll be entered to into their $1,000 Giveaway!

  • 1 Grand Prize: $500

  • 20 Runner Up Prizes: $25.*

The more you spend, the better your odds!

 

*All prizes to be paid out in SB.

**Only valid purchases of eligible products will earn SB. The following are not eligible for SB: Purchases from Sam’s Club and Samsclub.com, pharmacy, travel, financial services, tires, optical, Wal-Mart Connect internet service, gift cards, online gift cards and items purchased with Walmart’s One-Hour Guarantee. For all purchases except for tires, please allow up to 32 days from your date of purchase for your SB to be awarded. See Walmart’s Store Page for coupon & eligibility details. Returns and/or invalid purchases will not be eligible for SB or sweeps entries.

***Walmart Award Details: Tires: 7 SB per dollar****, Baby, Home & Clothing: 5 SB per dollar, Home Improvement, Sports & Outdoors, Pets, Household Essentials, Beauty, Party & Occasions, Patio & Garden, Food, Health, Jewelry, UNNAV, Gifts & Registry, Toys, Cells, Auto & Tires, Other, Office, Seasonal, Electronics: 3 SB per dollar, Photo Center, Video Games, Books, Movies & TV and Music: 1 SB per dollar. You earn 2 SB just for visiting Walmart from Swagbucks.

****7 SB per dollar for tire purchases is only available for a limited time. Tire purchases are usually not eligible for SB. Confirmation for tire purchases will be reported separately from other Walmart purchases and may not show up in your ledger for up to 45 days from purchase. 

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 Swagbucks.com.  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 …

 

 

Jul 232015
 

handful of money

Yesterday I told you about earning $1 with Ibotta when you sign up  and redeem your first rebate offer.  Today, I have another exciting offer to share. When you sign up with Shrink, you can earn a $1 bonus.  

There are two ways you can sign up and receive this FREE bonus:

1. Click through this link to Shrink and enter your phone number.  They will send you a SMS message containing a link to download the app.

2. Go to Shrink’s homepage and sign up. Enter the referral code: ZXJTFH when you sign up.

 

Shrink is a fairly  new money saving app for me, but I am looking forward to getting to know it better and save even more on our grocery bill.

 

Happy Savings!

 

This post contains affiliate links that may result my earning a small amount when someone signs up.  Thank you for supporting this blog.

Jul 212015
 

money calculator math

When I was a kid … okay, maybe not that far back, though at times it feels like it.  When I was first on my own, I lived in a dorm at college.  Meals were made for us with no worries.  I had to figure out one or two meals on my own during the school week, but nothing really difficult.  Usually I would pick up extras through the week and put them together when needed to make an extra meal.  This saved me from spending my limited money on food and save it for the coffee house on Friday nights.  :)

When I found myself working away from home during the summers, I was not sure how exactly to reduce my grocery bill, except by buying less or cheaper foods.  Seemed like a sound idea, except I needed those extra calories as I had an active job outside.  Boy, oh, boy I wish I knew then what I know now.  I would have saved my blood sugar and iron levels the trouble of dipping low and leaving me tired a lot of the time.

When my husband and I were married, I began my ‘official’ journey to save money on our grocery bill.  See, my husband actually liked to eat food that, well, he liked.  He did not care if it was on sale or not, or if there was something cheaper.  He wanted a lot of the things that he liked.  I tried to convince him otherwise, but that did not go over so well.  His solution was for him to shop, but that right there turned out to be my biggest money saving tactic – leave the husband at home. (At first it was a joke, but over the years even he has come to realize how true it is.  If in doubt, just check our spending.  I can tell the exact shopping trips that he does versus just me.)

grocery aisle

It was in these early years that I learned of using coupons regularly and with sales, from a radio broadcaster with our local Christian station of all places.  This was in the earlier years of the internet and there was a lack of bloggers out there, were there any at all?, talking about ways to save money.  Looking back I wonder why it took me so long, but I was forging a new path all by myself, or so it felt.

While living in Very Large City and then moving to edge of Other Large City I had access to really good coupons, and lots of them.  Coupon use became the new way for me to lower our grocery bill.  There were some laughable moments along the way, and my husband was not sure exactly how sane I was, but we were spending less than we normally would have.

Then we moved to Small Town.  The In-the-middle-of-Big-Towns-but-not-really-close town.  Lets just say that if I were to shop only in Small Town, we could easily pay 1.5 times more and still not get all the groceries we are wanting.  The coupons in the paper here were horrible.  The Very Large Towns around us were no longer sending subscriptions to our area due to the increase in gas prices.  I felt lost and not sure what to do.  I could drive out of town each week, spend $8 in gas and an hour of drive time to get to cheaper stores, or I could save that time and stay in town.  My plan of attack had to change.

Slowly I learned of stores that would save me money and not take a lot of time.  I changed my shopping habits and started buying in larger quantities so I would not have to visit the stores as often.  This allowed me to rotate which store I visited each time, taking advantage of the unique savings at each store.

Instead of just looking at sales, I also started to pay attention to the prices of items in different stores, and looking for alternate ways to buy certain items (deli versus prepackaged, dry versus canned, etc.)  We also began our journey to learn how to make some of the items that we just could not get easily – fresh croissants, for example.

croissant breakfast

Last year, when we switched cell phone providers, not only did we save money on our monthly bill, we also joined the ranks of smartphone owners.  When a WiFi signal is available, I am able to connect to the internet.  This opened up a whole new realm of saving opportunities through phone apps.  (Some are also available if you only have access to online web pages, but most are through smart phones.)

Using apps to save you money is a bit different than using coupons, as these are usually in the form of rebates.  You get your money back at a later time, either once you upload a picture of your receipt or once you reach the minimum dollar amount.  Also, not all rebates are available from every store.  Most of the apps I  use do not give rebates for items from Small Town’s grocer, they have not opted in to these programs so I can not take advantage of most rebate savings by buying there.

While there are other apps out there that will save you money on your groceries, here are the ones I am currently using:

I also use Walmart’s Savings Catcher to ‘catch’ any saving I may have missed by not shopping at another local store.

Between shopping sales, rotating the stores I shop at, and using the above apps I continue to reduce our grocery bill every month. Now, if only they had these for insurance bills … but that is another post. 😉

This post contains affiliate links.  

*By signing up with these programs, I may be eligible to receive cash back, at this time, if you are a new member and redeem an offer. Just wanted to let you know that; it won’t take away from the fact that you will be lowering your spending and give you more money to use in other places.  New gardening gloves anyone?

Mar 292013
 

grocery aisle

It is time to come clean.

No, not using a hose on my gardening shoes or rinsing out my composting bucket.  I’m talking about something you may have already guessed about me, but which I don’t think I have ever really said to you all out loud.  It involves my handy zip-up binder with a handle that I take with me every time I go grocery shopping.  It is my coupon binder.  Yes, folks, I am a couponer.  Not as extreme as those you see on t.v., but I sure do love to see the amount I have to pay go down just by handing over those small pieces of paper.

If you were to take a look at my binder right now you will find a lot of empty spaces.  A few years back it was so full I ran out of room.  The difference?  We moved, the inserts are not as good here, and the papers cost more.  In other words, I don’t buy papers for inserts.

I didn’t come from a family of coupon users, though my dad really like to use them and is just plain frugal in general.  So how did I learn?  About 8 years ago I heard a radio announcer mention something called The Grocery Game (The Grocery Game, Inc).  She was using their service at the time and loved it so much she was passing it along to others who may have wanted to find out more about it.  While shopping at a store this week, I was reminded of how I also used to use The Grocery Game, Inc at this particular store. It helped me out during a particular season in my life and thought I would pass it along in case it is also something you might be interested in.

The Grocery Game, Inc puts together a shopping list each week for stores in your specific area.  The list matches coupons to sales, both in the ad and unadvertised.  A 4 week free trial is available to see if you like the service. I told myself that if I did not save more than the monthly subscription fee every month then I would cancel.  For 3 or 4 years I used The Grocery Game, Inc to help me decide when was the best time to buy particular items and when to wait, which coupons to use with which sales and where to find the coupons.  In short, I learned how to use coupons and shop with them well.

grocery aisle freezer section

After we moved, I found out that not every area has as good of a choice of stores as other areas.  Also your list is  put together by someone from your area, not 10 states away.  This can be a great thing, as it means the lists are more accurate for the stores you do use them for.  If the person putting the list together for your area doesn’t do a good job, then your list may not be as thorough as somewhere else.  Every area also has a different amount of choices as the stores are different and it varies as to whether there is a list available for the stores near you.  This is where the 4 week trial offer comes in handy.  It gives you time to evaluate the lists for your area and stores.

While writing this post, I looked again at which stores are available for my area.  There are no longer options for major grocery stores near me, though Walgreens and Dollar General shopping lists were available.  While these can still be very useful (both have some great deals), other places I have lived have offered lists to major grocery stores.  You can still benefit from lists to stores such as these, it may just be less than a larger grocery store as the stores are smaller to begin with.

I don’t use The Grocery Game, Inc like I used to.   Life has changed.  I had to change with it or drive myself crazy with unrealistic expectations.  Namely, spending 40 minutes one way driving to stores with better coupon policies and a list from The Grocery Game rather than the one 5 minutes away without a list just so I could keep doing what I “had always done”.  Now I print off the majority of my coupons from Inboxdollars, earning $.10 for every coupon I redeem, and use very few insert coupons.

I still have habits learned during those earlier years, such as keeping track of prices and waiting to pair a coupon with a sale.  It was very much worth it for me to learn how to coupon and to save time doing so.  Instead of spending hours trying to match things up by myself, Teri’s List had already done it for me.

If we ever move to an area with a grocery store nearby that has a list available I would very much use this service again.  It was a huge time saver.

If you are looking to learn how to coupon, save time, or to find help knowing when you should buy something and when you should wait I would suggest looking into The Grocery Game, Inc.

 

This post contains affiliate links.  All opinions are honest and my own.