Feb 082017
 

This page contains affiliate links.

While I am not necessarily a Nike enthusiast, I know some who are.  With spring around the corner, you may be looking at your shoes and realize you need a new pair.  Now is the time to start looking for sales and deals on items you are needing.

I have owned several pairs of Nike shoes, either for running track in high school or when found for a  good price as every day shoes.  They have always lasted me several years and I appreciate the quality of their product. (disclaimer: my running shoes became my every day shoes, my every day shoes became my play/garden shoes, etc.  I would wear a pair till it began to fall apart. In this way, I did not need to purchase many different pairs of shoes each year.)

If you love Nike stuff, not only their shoes, or know someone who does, you can get 15% cash back on all Nike Gift Cards during Nike Bonus Days on MyGiftCardsPlus! MyGiftCardsPlus is a site where you get cash back for buying gift cards – the cash back is paid out in the form of points from Swagbucks, which is a great website where you redeem those points (called SB) for gift cards to places like Amazon, PayPal… and Nike!

So to recap, you can get 15% cash back (in the form of SB) on Nike gift cards from MyGiftCardsPlus, which you can then use on Swagbucks to get more Nike gift cards!

Click here to take advantage of this great deal!

If you are a new Swagbucks member, this would help you earn your $2 bonus this month.  Click here to learn more.

Jan 042017
 

This post contains affiliate links. No shoveling of snow required.

Recently I participated in Swagbucks Team Challenge.  While I was no where near one of the top earners, and our team actually came in last, I was able to learn a lot from others on the team.  The encouragement was great, with a lot of positive talk happening in the chat box at the bottom of the page.  For me, that was the real prize of the whole experience.

Since that time, I have been using my new found knowledge to seek out various ways to earn point, called SB.  These points can then be redeemed for gift cards or PayPal cash.

This past week and a half, I have tried to be more diligent in participating in activities that, while they are worth fewer points, do not require as much focused attention on my part.  This has worked well for this time in my schedule.  With the Christmas holiday, my husband being home during the day, both kids being off school, traveling three days round-trip back to our old house to pick up the last of our things, and starting up home school again this week, I have still been able to earn 398 SB (with 42 more pending), the equivalent to almost $4.  This may not sound like a lot, but it really does add up.

Assuming I keep doing what I have been, even while being gone for three days and having a major holiday, at the end of the month I would have earned $17 in gift cards or PayPal money.

10 Days – 3 Days traveling = 7 days

30 days in a month / 7 days = 4.28 7-day-periods * $4 per 7-day-period = $17.12

However, I know it could easily be $25, due to bonuses earned from reaching daily goals and spending a few more minutes taking a survey. (Which is exactly what I did last night while waiting for the kids to fall asleep.  Jack still needs someone nearby to feel safe enough to fall asleep in his room, so I sit in the hallway. Why not get paid for my time doing so?)

Then there are the collector bills.  They sure do make the snow look fun, do they not?

One of my favorite things about using Swagbucks (okay, there are a lot of favorite things) is that I can get rewards for searching the web through their search engine. Every now and then they have “Collector’s Bills” worth bonus SB points that you can collect by simply searching the web. Collect them all, and you get an SB Bonus! Once you’ve collected enough SB, you can redeem them for gift cards to stores like Walmart, Target, and many more!

Here’s all the information for this week’s Snow Much Fun Collector’s Bills:
Search the web through the Swagbucks search starting Monday, January 2nd through Sunday, January 8th, and when you get a search win, you may get a special Collector’s Bill valued at either:

  • 5 SB
  • 7 SB
  • 9 SB
  • 11 SB
  • 16 SB
  • 22 SB

When you get a Collector’s Bill you’ll receive the value of the bill and the bill will be added to your “Collector’s Bills” ledger. Collect all 6 Collector’s Bills and you’ll instantly earn a 20 SB Bonus!

Keep searching til you find them all!

So far I have collected the 9 SB bill.  It was a great surprise when I entered my search term and earned money for doing so.  I love it.

Sign up through the link here to get a 300 SB bonus when you earn 300 SB this month, if you are a new member.  If you do the math, that is a great return on investment; much better than any bank can give you right now.

 

Dec 242016
 

This post contains affiliate links to a deal that made my life easier today. Hope you are able to be blessed by it as well.

Photo Calendars

Did you know there are only 7 days left in the year?  7 days!!

Did you know tomorrow is Christmas?!

Yeah, both of these facts, while all around me, have not really be a part of my reality these past few weeks.  Thankfully I got Christmas shopping completed without much pain and on time.  Utilizing online shopping, gift cards, store reward points, and free shipping to stores, I was able to find what I was looking for with very little out of pocket costs.

As for the New Year, it has been obvious for some time a new calendar was needed.  Every time I thought of it though, I was not out shopping.  The reality of leaving the house to battle traffic in order to pick up a calendar at the dollar store sounded more painful than helpful.  So, it never was accomplished.

And it is 7 days till the new year.  Yikes.

Today, when I saw I was able to obtain a personalized calendar using Amazon Prints, shipped to my home, for under $4, I paused breakfast and jumped on the opportunity.  (Not literally, as I still like this computer.)  It may not be the $1.09 I would pay at the dollar store, but there would be no traffic to battle, no gas used, and no need to put on shoes.  For those reasons, and many others, I will the extra $2.66.

The process was extremely easy, which made it all the more of a blessing.

Contrary to a few other formats I have used in trying to create calendars, this process was actually enjoyable. Being able to set the start month of the calendar, add photos to specific days throughout the year, add text to days throughout the year, easily drag over the photos I wished to use, and chose from several appealing formats were a few of the things I enjoyed about this process.

Once you have created the calendar to your liking, go to “Review and check out”.  You are able to scroll through the calendar, checking to see it will look like you want it to.  If you are happy, continue to check out.  This is where you enter the code NEWYEAR, and where your price drops from $14.99 to $3.75.  With your Prime membership, shipping is free.

 :

At this point it will not get to your home in time for Christmas, but should arrive in 8-15 days.

You are able to order as many calendars as you wish, till the offer expires.  You also have a set amount of time after submitting your order to cancel.  This is a nice feature; there have been times I submit an order only to realize I was not ready or a picture included was not the one I really wanted to use.

To begin making your own personalized calendar, click here.

 

Dec 202016
 

This post contains affiliate links.
yard sale boy clothes

Finding affordable kids clothes is always a challenge I enjoy facing.  Well, that is until one kids decides to grow 3 shoe sizes in a month!  Other than that, I feel like I have kept a fairly good handle on our clothing budget.

When the kids were little and we were needing to create a whole new wardrobe for the summer, we were blessed to find a local second hand store (whose proceeds went to help support a women’s shelter) running a $5 bag sale.  For less than $20 I was able to put together wardrobes for both kids.

Those were the days.  Today, I doubt I could get four pairs of pants for George in those shopping bags. The kid is growing!

Many of those same initial items were passed along to other families with little boys, as I knew the challenge of finding appropriate clothing at a reasonable price.  That particular thrift store no longer holds that wonderful deal during the summer months, so I have had to look other places.

Most of the clothes my kids have out grown were passed along before our move.  However, Jack is in a sort of odd size right now.  He can wear some 6’s, most 7’s, and some 8’s.  Within the past few weeks I have noticed he is finally out of the 6’s, or should be.  It does not matter here at home if his pants are a little short, so I had not taken the time to look through them.

A few weeks ago I met a mom at Jack’s P.E. class.  I had seen her the week before, but did not have the time to stop and say hi.  However, the second week, not only did I take the time to intentionally go sit by her, but I also actually talked to her.

By the end of our conversation I had found a new home for all the out-grown clothes we have hanging around our house; a few I am not sure how they made the move with us.  With 3 boys of her own, the age of my kids or younger, this particular mom was thankful for any clothes we were willing to pass along.

organize sort childrens clothes

While going through clothes to pass along, I realized that Jack has entered a size which George apparently went through during summer months.  Now I have few choices:

  1. Have Jack wear pants in the size he is currently growing out of.
  2. Have Jack rotate between the new pairs of pants he does have in the size he is growing into.
  3. Find new pants at a decent price at local stores.
  4. Find second-hand pants at a thrift store near us.
  5. Look online.

While #1 and #2 are not bad options, especially since I found 2-3 more pair this morning in the size he is growing into, they may  not make it through the winter if he keeps being rough on the knees.

#3 is not an option.  Not only would I have to take him shopping with me, but … I would have to take him shopping with me in a large, colorful, florescent lit store with music blaring over the speakers.  Oh, and the price.  The ROI (return on investment) for me is not great enough to warrant paying those prices.  Maybe if there was a sale….. no, not even then.  Even if my  husband watched the kids, that would put me shopping on a weekend.  I HATE shopping on a weekend.  There are so. many. people.

#4 I could probably pull off during his P.E. time, though I personally need to be looking for pants for myself.

Option #5 is by far my favorite option at this time.  This is especially true when I see things like this appear in my inbox:

 

SChoola.com
For two days only, 1000s of items have dropped to only $3 at Schoola.com! Offer is valid December 20th-21st.

A few weeks ago I had gone to Schoola.com to look for clothes for George.  He has slowly sneaked up in sizes; it may have something to do with the 10 lbs he gained this past month.  My Mommy Radar is thinking another growth spurt is just over the horizon.

The bin of clothes for the next 2-4 sizes for him do contain some pants, though not near enough to clothe him appropriately for school.  I was happy to find the few extra pants for the size he is growing into, meaning I could throw away the ones in which he has recently created holes.  Making holes is a specialty of his.

I will for sure be going back and checking Schoola out today or tomorrow.

We have always been pleased with the quality of clothes from Schoola.  Their descriptions online have been honest and accurate.  The kids love ‘shopping’ with me and opening the box when it is delivered to our house.  No florescent light filled, music blaring stores required.

Don’t forget Free shipping on all orders over $25 at Schoola.com.

Dec 192016
 

This post contains affiliate links.
One of my favorite things about using Swagbucks are all the ways to earn points, called SB, which I can redeem for gift cards to some of my favorite retailers.

Getting rewards for searching the web through their search engine is an easy activity.  It is an activity I would be doing regardless; why not get rewarded for it?!

Every now and then they have “Collector’s Bills” worth SB points that you can collect by simply searching the web. Collect them all, and you get an SB Bonus! Once you’ve collected enough SB, you can redeem them for gift cards to stores like Walmart, Target, and many more!

Here’s all the information for this week’s Christmas Quenchers Collector’s Bills:

Search the web through the Swagbucks search starting Monday, December 19th at 12:01am PT/3:01am ET through Saturday, December 24th at 11:59pm PT/Sunday, December 25th 2:59am ET, and when you get a search win, you may get a special Collector’s Bill valued at either:

  • 5 SB

  • 7 SB

  • 9 SB

  • 15 SB

  • 24 SB

When you get a Collector’s Bill you’ll receive the value of the bill and the bill will be added to your “Collector’s Bills” ledger. Collect all 5 Collector’s Bills and you’ll instantly earn a 20 SB Bonus!

By either setting my search engine to default to Swagbucks, adding their tool bar to the top of my screen, or going to their site in order to perform a search, I can be adding to my SB total.  Each SB gets me closer to my goals for the up coming year.

Why not start the year off right, either paying off debt you have or saving ahead to avoid it?  Don’t wait for the New Year to begin working toward your goals.  Today is as good as any.  Besides, this method makes it even more fun!  I am pretty sure we could all do with a bit more fun in our lives.

Dec 132016
 

This post contains affiliate links.

Who doesn’t love a friendly competition? Especially when the prize is points to redeem towards free gift cards!

As if a game of Swago was not enough, no you can join the Dashing Through the Dough team challenge hosted by Swagbucks, a website where you can earn cash back on everyday tasks you do online. It starts on Monday, December 12th at 8am PST and goes through Friday so you have a whole week to contribute points to your assigned team. It’s so much fun to see which team you are placed on, and discover all the ways you can earn SB while you contribute to your team’s goal!
There’s so many ways to earn points for your team-  watching videos, completing surveys, shopping online, just to name a few. These activities and more will help your team get ahead. Once you have joined a team, click through on the icons at the bottom of the screen for the various SB earning methods.  This guarantees the points earned for the various activities to added to your group.
For example, I completed a survey worth 50 SB.  The SB were added to my SB total and 35 points were added to my team. Each additional survey I complete, I will be able to keep the SB and 35 points will be added to my team.
I also:
  • clicked through a questionare on a slide show to earn 2 SB and contribute 25 points to my team
  • did some online visiting of stores, thereby earning 10 points per visit
  • and entered 2 Swagstakes, earning 10 points for the team each time.

In total I have 145 points earned towards my team’s total.  That might sound like a lot, except that the top 5 people have contributed over 6,000 points each toward their teams’ total points.  It seems I have a lot of room for improvement. :)  It also shows how much room there is for earning not only points for your team, but also to add SB to your account in order to redeem for gift cards.

If you’ve never used Swagbucks before, now is a great time to join, especially if you participate in the Team Challenge because it’s an opportunity to win an extra bonus for trying out the site.

Christmas is only a few weeks away, the New Year is coming up, and I am looking towards 2017 events for which I may want some extra money.  Knowing that I was able to earn 145 points for my team with minimal effort last night has actually spurred me on to try harder today.  Not only will I get to keep all the SB I earn, but also a bonus.
All members who participate and contribute at least 400 SB to their team’s total will receive an SB bonus in the form of a rebate on their next gift card! I can’t wait to help my team come in 1st place for that 50 SB rebate.
The challenge lasts until December 16th so log in or make a free account!
Dec 052016
 

This post contains affiliate links.

kids-garden-containers

When I was younger, think college, my plan was to work for a few years to gain experience.  After a few years, I would move back to the rural county I grew up in.  I grew up in the same county as 99% of my family.  My friends were from the same county as 99% of their family.  We used to joke that no one left the county; we all were born there and would live there till we died.  Yet, I did not mind that fact.  I liked knowing the history of the area, who used to farm where, the valley where my great great grandparents raised their family (their two room house was still there, along with the newspaper insulation and back porch kitchen), and the fact that the lakes now used for fishing and swimming were CCC projects during the Great Depression.

Yeah, it did not happen that way.  Something I had not planned on took place and changed all my plans.  I met a guy who brought me flowers and walked me home from my late night job, even when it was cold and snowing. A few months later he asked me to marry him.  And so the tour of growing zones began.

Contrary to my previously self-decided plans of living and working in the county where I grew up, we proceeded to live in 4 states over the first 6 years of our marriage.  We are now married over a decade and living in state #5.  Yup, very much not what was in my plan.

While moving has not gotten any easier or more fun, I have learned that each move brings about things I never would have considered.  Whether it is finding different ways to save money, becoming foster parents, starting this blog, working for one of the largest cities in the country, having a road side stand, or utilizing some of my minor talents to find work, I have been able to experience new opportunities and grow personally.  Several of the opportunities were things I would never dreamed of having tried had I stayed in the county where I grew up; the box I had put myself into was too comfortable.

Now that we have moved again.  I find myself asking what does this mean for various aspects of our lives?

For the blog

Not as many pictures of snow, for starters.  With a reduction in items vying for my attention, I hope to get to some of those posts that have been flying through my head.  I also want to focus on improving my writing and following through with what I start.

For my garden

It means that my gardening this upcoming year may be mainly in pots, or in places where it can double as landscape, or that we may find a house to buy and have a traditional garden.  Or we may find a house to buy and it comes with fruit trees and raised beds. (Yes, I did see one for sale as such and was instantly attracted to it … I do not remember much about the house itself. Imagine that.)

I am very thankful to my friend who offered to share blackberry starts with me once we get settled into a more permanent place than the rental house.  It is a good thing I shared my blackberry starts with her a few years ago.  I am also thankful for the time I invested learning about improving soils for my beds, both vegetable and flower.  Looking at the soils in our new area, it will come in very handy.

Our School Week collage

For the kids’ schooling

George will be starting a new school tomorrow.  The class sizes are smaller while the over all population of his elementary school is larger.  There is also a speech therapist who has been there for longer than a year, which is a great detail for a kid who has a motor speech disorder.  While I have my hesitations about starting over with a new school, I also have higher hopes for his progress here.

Jack will still be home schooled.  Different state, different laws, though thankfully I was able to find something that matched our beliefs and needs.  At first I bucked and groaned, overall throwing a HUGE internal tantrum. Then I sat down at the computer, after a few days… okay weeks, and did my research.  Now, I too have higher hopes for his progress here.

With me being able to give him more of my attention, we will not be taking December off as I had planned at the beginning of the school year.  Instead, we will slowly buckle down more and make up for lost time.  Why slowly?  Because it will be a change in routines and I would rather it be a pleasant experience rather than something that takes us another 5 months to recover from.

While we have been covering the basics of reading, arithmetic, and touching on other subjects here and there, we have not really been able to focus on them to the extent I have been wanting.  You know what, though?  I have noticed him still learning things we have not gotten to, making connections without me making any effort to lead him that direction, and his curiosity leading him to inquire and learn subjects which I thought he would buck at.

He has also improved upon how to appropriately entertain himself while bored.  If you do not think that skill is important, I encourage you to start paying attention to your day.  What do you do while:

  • sitting in traffic
  • waiting for someone to get to the car so you can leave
  • falling asleep at night
  • waiting for supper to cook or the waitress to bring your food
  • watching Kindergarten t-ball games
  • waiting in the checkout line at the grocery store
  • during that (sorry ministers) boring part of the sermon at church

These are things many of us naturally have learned to tolerate, finding something to keep our minds and/or hands busy.  These are things Jack greatly struggles with enduring. I have had to contentiously point out to him that these activities bore me also, and then share what I do to entertain myself.

There are also more outside the home activity options to take advantage of.  “Making friends” is still  the biggest reason he misses public school.  Apparently hanging with your mamma all day is not nearly as fun. 😉2 snowy seats and table

For other homemaking activities

For starters, we live closer than 30 minutes from more than one grocery store.  While I am going to miss one store in particular from our last home, it was actually in the country but was a source of huge savings, I am not going to miss sub-par produce from Small Town grocery.

Not only will be be closer to multiple grocery stores, the stores around here double coupons. :gasp:  It has been almost a decade since I lived near such stores.  While in Small Town, the closest store that doubled was 40 minutes away.  Not exactly a cost saving trip; it was often cheaper to stay in Small Town and shop the grocer there.

These past few months have shown me that the largest cost savings in the grocery category has been not shopping.  My husband and I both began making simpler meals and found we actually enjoyed it.  I hope to continue this activity to the reduction of our grocery shopping category.

Speaking of meals, my husband also works further from our house.  This means he will no longer be able to come home for lunches.  Jack suggests we find a home which would “make it possible for Daddy to come home for lunches again.”  We never took for granted the fact that living in Small Town and me not working outside the home meant we were close enough for my husband to have this benefit.  However, Jack does not remember it being any other way, and therefore did not know it was not ‘normal’.

With our current home being a rental house, I will not be focusing on decorating or painting or landscaping or any of those other activities that seems to have taken up a lot of my time these past few months years.  I will continue to use up, get rid of, or otherwise re-home items that we no longer need or love.

In addition to making our bed every morning, there are other habits which I plan to continue and hopefully build upon.  Keeping our kitchen counter clear of clutter has been something we have done well at these past few years.  In preparation of putting our home on the market, I took it a step further and cleared it as much as possible of other items.  Clean dishes were put away, only one spoon rest was left out, and the window sill was cleared of everything except one small plant.  The fruit bowl was left out, but the other small appliances and utensils were put away.

cleared off kitchen counters

When I first arrived at our rental house, my initial goal was to carry over the same counter clearing action for this kitchen.  This has been harder to do than I thought.  As soon as it gets cleared off, I find myself unpacking another box, doing a grocery shopping trip, or coming back from a long trip to visit family over Thanksgiving.  While I get items put away, new items without homes yet always seem to find their way onto the counter.

If I put off picking up the kitchen till after the kids are asleep, I find myself also falling asleep or with no energy to tackle this task.  The solution?  Try to stay home more. Too obvious?  Maybe, but it really does work.

We are back to cooking on an electric stove and non-convection oven.  I had to explain to the kids the differences with an electric stove, namely that the coils stay hot after they are turned off.

Cooking has also had a difference timing.  It takes things longer to boil, yet it keeps cooking once the heat is turned off.  I have not tried baking yet, as we still have muffins in the freezer.

purple flowers

While I can not ignore how things are different, it is up to me how I react to them.  There are a lot of changes, a lot of things I could dwell on as not being as good as it used to be.  Changes can be hard to adjust to.  It is easy to put on a pedestal the way things were.  However, taking this path only leads to discontentment, regret, and feeling depressed.

Choosing to keep how things were in the correct perspective, looking for the good in what is now around us, and finding ways to reach out to others rather than retreat into my shell will take me down a completely different path.  Just as I slowly found beauty in the flat corn fields surrounding us in Zone 5, I will eventually find some beauty here in Zone 7.  I may not like all the changes life is presenting to us right now, but I may grow to love them once I get over how they are not the same as they used to be.

Unit I reach that point, I will continue to challenge negative thoughts with lists of the good things I see happening.

Nov 282016
 

This post contains affiliate links.

Looking for the best deals on holiday shopping during Cyber Monday? Swagbucks is offering increased cash back from stores like Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, or Target and get cash back or gift cards to your favorite stores! Swagbucks will also offer amazing one-day deals to try out new products and services, earning you even more free gift cards.

Today’s one-day deals will have your home looking great in no time.  Earn 1250 SB when you spend $25 or more at Grayson.  As if that was not enough, receive 1300 SB when you subscribe to Loot Crate and receive a box every month with 4-6 mystery items.

There are still Double SB available from popular retails when you shop online through Swagbucks.

As if those were not enough, when you use MyGiftCard Plus you earn a 300 SB Bonus on a $50 or more purchase, plus a 200 SB Bonus for New Customers.  That is $5 free when you a gift card.

This page has everything you need to take advantage of some great “shopportunities” for Cyber Monday!
If you haven’t heard of them, Swagbucks.com is an easy, quick way to earn cash back and gift cards by shopping online or doing other everyday activities like taking surveys or watching videos. When you do those things, you earn points (called SB) that you redeem for PayPal cash or gift cards to places like Amazon, Walmart, Target, Starbucks, and more!

Just for signing up through me, you can earn a $3 (300 SB) bonus if you earn 300 SB before December 1st – if you spend at least $25 shopping through Swagbucks during that time, you’ll get another $2 (200 SB) bonus!

Take advantage of these great deals – sign up now.

Nov 242016
 

Swagbucks Black Friday Deals

Looking for the best deals on holiday shopping, especially with Black Friday and Cyber Monday coming up? Swagbucks is offering increased cash back from stores like Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, or Target and get cash back or gift cards to your favorite stores! Swagbucks will also offer amazing one-day deals to try out new products and services, earning you even more free gift cards.

This page has everything you need to take advantage of some great “shopportunities” for Black Friday and Cyber Monday and the entire week leading up to them! The page will be updated each day with new deals and opportunities to get free gift cards.

Today’s deals include getting 500 SB back with Thumbtack and 1,800 with Kiwicrate.  These deals are good for today only! Tomorrow there will be other deals for you to take advantage of.

If you haven’t heard of them, Swagbucks.com is an easy, quick way to earn cash back and gift cards by shopping online or doing other everyday activities like taking surveys or watching videos. When you do those things, you earn points (called SB) that you redeem for PayPal cash or gift cards to places like Amazon, Walmart, Target, Starbucks, and more!

Just for signing up through me, you can earn a $3 (300 SB) bonus if you earn 300 SB before December 1st – if you spend at least $25 shopping through Swagbucks during that time, you’ll get another $2 (200 SB) bonus!

Take advantage of these great deals – sign up now.