Menu Plan Monday 12/29/08-01/04/09

>> Monday, December 29, 2008

Wow! We're heading into a whole new year with this menu. Wishing you all a Happy New Year! We'll be ringing in the new year with a low key but festive celebration with the kidlets. Here's what is on the menu this week.

Monday: Pizza
Tuesday: Grilled cheese sandwiches & soup
Wednesday: Appetizers--sweet & sour meatballs, pigs in blankets, chips & salsa, veggies & ranch dip and sparkling grape juice.
Thursday: Hoppin' John & salad
Friday:Black Bean Burritos
Saturday: Steak, baked potatoes, salad
Sunday: leftovers

For more great menu ideas check out Menu Plan Monday at I'm An Organizing Junkie.

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Chick-fil-A Breakfast Giveaway

Make any purchase on January 1, 2009 between 10:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. and get a FREE Chicken Biscuit on your NEXT visit. Go here to read the details and restrictions of this offer.

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Free Sample of Dunkin' Donuts Coffee

>> Sunday, December 28, 2008

Dunkin' Donuts. Dunkin' keeps me blogging. Try Dunkin' Donuts Coffee For Free. Get a Sample

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Preparing for Next Christmas

>> Friday, December 26, 2008

I know, the gifts aren't even put away yet and you may even have more Christmas celebrations to attend this weekend but it's time to start thinking ahead to next Christmas. This was my first year to have been completely prepared financially for Christmas. The gift purchasing and preparations were so much more enjoyable since I wasn't worried about the money and whether or not I was going to have enough. Last year the money ran out before all the gifts were purchased so I ended up charging part of the gifts. I was determined to not do that again so I set up an online savings account right after Christmas.

I am already thinking about next Christmas and have come up with two goals. The first is saving the same amount of money as I did this year. The second is for at least 50% of my gifts to be homemade. As I prepared for this Christmas, I came across so many wonderful homemade gift ideas but I didn't have the time to make all of them. I did make a few gifts this year but next year I want more of the gifts to be made by me. This is a bit of an experiment for me. I'm hoping it will cost less to do things this way and after next Christmas I will reevaluate the budget and see if I can reduce it.

So what can you do to prepare for next Christmas?

Evaluate- Think about what worked for you this Christmas and what didn't.
-Did you have enough money for your gifts?
-Did you meet your budget or did you even set a budget?
-Did you feel that you were able to manage your time well or did you feel rushed?
-Were you able to enjoy your time with family and friends or were you too stressed out?

Plan-Think about what you would like for your Christmas to be like.
-What is a realistic budget?
-What can you do to manage your time so that you can enjoy the season and not feel rushed?
-Are there traditions that no longer work for you and your family or are there new ones that you would like to begin?

Prepare-Write down your plan for next Christmas.
-Create a workable budget for your family. Think about what you can realistically save each month and set up a savings account dedicated to Christmas savings. I use an online savings account and just transfer the money once a month from my checking account.
-Go ahead a make out your Christmas list for next year. Throughout the year when you come across a gift idea for someone on your list write the idea down.
-Think about how you can best manage your time to create a peaceful and relaxed holiday next year. Maybe you need to start your Christmas shopping earlier. Consider wrapping the gifts as your bring them home so you don't have to spend a huge chunk of time all at once wrapping gifts. Maybe you want to put up fewer decorations and use the time you would have spent on that doing something else.
-If there are new traditions you would like to begin think about how they will impact your time. Do you need to give up something else that you normally do? What will this tradition add to your family's holiday experience?

A little preparation now will enable you to have a more relaxed and enjoyable holiday season next year.

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Merry Christmas

>> Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas. I'll see you in a couple of days.

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Sam's Club and P&G Gift Card Offer

If you are a member of Sam's Club, purchase $50 worth of Proctor & Gamble products between 12/14/08 and 1/31/09 and receive a $10 Sam's Gift Card. Must be submitted by 2/14/09. Read more about this offer here.

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9 cent prints from Kodak Gallery

Through January 8, 2009 you can get 9 cent prints from KodakGallery when you use the code NEWYEARPRINTS. 4x6 prints only.

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Amazon Deals

FREE after Rebate-Belkin F8N082-MHR 7-Inch Neoprene Sleeve for Netbooks. Expires December 31, 2008. See the deal here.

$5 off Magazine Subscriptions-Applied instantly at checkout. Expires December 25, 2008. See the deal here.

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Menu Plan Monday 12/22/08-12/28/08

>> Monday, December 22, 2008

*Updated with Christmas Dinner Menu*

I'm having a complete mental block when it comes to planning Christmas dinner. It's just the four of us so it should be simple but I find I'm wanting to make it special but also something my two kids will enjoy. Here's what I have so far. I'll update when I finally make a decision.

Monday: leftovers-had family in town this weekend so plenty of leftovers
Tuesday: Chicken Pot Pie
Wednesday: Chinese take out- a Christmas Eve Tradition
Christmas Day:Beef Roast, Crawfish Stuffing, Mashed Potatoes, Creamed Corn, Salad, Rolls, Holiday Poke Cupcakes and Spumoni for dessert
Friday:Breakfast for dinner
Saturday: Steak, baked potatoes, salad
Sunday: sandwiches or leftovers

For more great menu ideas be sure to check out Menu Plan Monday at I'm An Organizing Junkie.
Have a very Merry Christmas.

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Deals of the Week 12/14/08-12/20/08

>> Saturday, December 20, 2008

I used my Grocery Game lists to shop at Walgreens and Kroger this week.

Walgreens
I had a $5 Register Reward that was about to expire so I stopped in to get a few things I needed.
Original Price:$16.63
Total OOP after sales and coupons: $9.59
I was supposed to get another $5 in Register Rewards but it didn't print. The manager was very apologetic and just refunded me the $5 making my real OOP:$4.13

Kroger
Original Price:$78.83
Total OOP after sales and coupons: $49.97
Earned $2 OYNO

Weekly Summary: I paid $54.10 for $95.46 worth of products. A 43% savings.

For more great deals be sure to check out The Centsible Sawyers Drugstore Divas.

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FREE 8x10 Print from Walgreen's Photo

>> Friday, December 19, 2008

Get a FREE 8x10 Print from Walgreen's Photo when you use the code FREEGIFT.
Only one code per order and one use per account through December 20th. Get your free 8x10 here.

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Click and Earn

About a month ago I shared some information about Swagbucks with you. I had just learned about this program where you can win points while searching the web. I had read about other people's experience using Swagbucks and it sounded like something I wanted to give a try. After just a month of using it for my online searches I have accumulated enough points to get a $5 gift card to Amazon.com. At this rate I should be able to take care of a few Christmas presents next year with gift cards earned through Swagbucks. To make your Swagbucks winnings accumulate even faster you can invite your friends to become members as well. When they win points you win too. I have found this to be so easy to use. So go here to check it out for yourself. Start earning your Swagbucks for next year's Christmas gifts.

Another click and earn site I use is MyPoints. I occasionally shop through MyPoints but mostly I just earn my points by clicking and reading the emails. It only takes a couple of minutes of my time each day. I just completed my first year as a MyPoints member and earned enough points to get a $25 Target gift card which I used for Christmas presents, a $10 Papa John's gift card which I included in my "adopted college student's" Christmas care package, and a $10 CVS gift card which makes my CVS deals even sweeter. MyPoints also has a friend referral program which you can utilize by inviting your friends via email. If you're not already earning MyPoints go here to sign up.

Ebates is another site I use. With Ebates you earn cash back when you click through the Ebates website to make your online purchase. The percentage you earn back varies from store to store. Right now Ebates has a $10 sign up bonus for new members who join and make a purchase by December 31, 2008. In November I received my first payment from Ebates for $10.52. And with a holiday promotion combined with my online shopping I've done this holiday season I already have $15.55 in earnings to look forward to in this next payment cycle. Ebates also has a referral program in which you will receive a cash reward when your referral makes their first qualifying purchase. If your not an Ebates member go here to sign up.

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Walgreen's 2 Day Doorbuster Sale

>> Thursday, December 18, 2008

Walgreen's has a 2 Day Doorbuster Sale going on December 19th & 2oth. Here's a list of the deals you will find.

Buy 1 at $6.99 Get 1 FREE
Webkinz Lil’ Kinz Pet

Buy 2 at $6.99 Get 2 FREE Sale

Toys for Girls and Boys

Buy 1 at $6.99 Get 2 FREE
Candle or Diffuser
A Café Gel Candle, 11 oz.
Patriot Candles Mini Reed Diffuser

50% Off Sale
The Color Workshop Cosmetic Case
Reg. $9.99 and up.

50% Off Sale Men’s Razor or Groomer
Remington Code or Titanium 6 in 1 Grooming Kit
Norelco Cordless
Limit 1 each

50% Off Sale
W Photo SD Memory Card
1 to 4GB.

50% Off Outdoor Lighted Christmas Decorations, Light Sets and Trees

50% Off Sale
Digital Picture Frames
3.5 in……… $29.99
7 in………... $39.99

2/$5 Sale
Red Baron Pizza
22 oz.
Limit 4

79¢ Sale
2 Liter Soda
A&W, 7 Up, Sunkist, Canada Dry orHawaiian Punch
Limit 4

Buy $10 of Individual or Boxed Hallmark Christmas Cards and receive $5 in Register Rewards.
Good on your NEXT in-store purchase.

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Living Frugally: Putting It To The Test

I wanted to share a little bit about how I came to the place in my life where I'm making a conscious effort to live more frugally, which in turn led to me blogging about it. My husband and I have been married for 14 years. For several years early on we lived fairly frugally because we just didn't have much choice. I had graduated college just 7 months before we met and still hadn't found a job in my field and he had stopped taking classes and was working full time. We were engaged 4 months after we started dating and married 7 months later. We both worked as servers in a restaurant and there just was not much extra money. We both had some debt when we met, mostly credit card but I also had a small student loan. We decided we didn't want to start our marriage loaded down with debt so we focused on putting every extra cent into elimating that debt. We started our marriage with almost every last penny paid off and took care of the rest shortly thereafter. Unfortunately, we didn't get rid of the credit cards completely and over the years that surely cost us a lot of money. We mostly just kept the credit cards for emergencies. There was virtually nothing leftover to save so there was no emergency fund to fall back on. If the cars needed repaired or an emergency arose, we had to use the credit card. There were a lot of money saving skills that we just didn't have then.

A few years into our marriage , tax time rolled around and we discovered that the company had messed up the federal withholdings on my husbands income and we owed the government a chunk of change that we did not have. My wonderful parents gave us the money and we learned our lesson the hard way that we had to figure out a way to save up an emergency fund. I was determined to never have to go to my parents for a bail out again.

As the years passed, my husband worked his way up the ladder of restaurant management and our income increased. When we had our first child in 2000, I was able to become a SAHM and even though money was tight, it was also manageable. We kept an emergency fund, had a mortagage and car payments and felt we were doing okay. We tried to never charge too much on credit cards but from time to time we'd slip and carry a balance for a few months.

A few years ago, we had our first wake up call that we'd gotten a little too comfortable with the new income level. We had 2 children to shop for and I was guilty of wanting to buy my girls cute little matching outfits, my husband bought a car we really couldn't comfortably afford as well as an expensive life insurance policy because he wanted the girls and I to be taken care of in case something happened to him. And suddenly, it seemed, we were starting to have trouble getting by each month. I had heard about Dave Ramsey from someone I went to church with. I bought Total Money Makeover and read it and suggested following his plan to my husband. He balked at giving up the credit cards but agreed to implement some changes to correct our financial situation. But we didn't fully commit to the plan. We sold the too expensive car, dropped the insurance policy and just had the one offered through my husband's work and I reigned in my clothes shopping. We made a few other small adjustments and, once again, felt like we were doing okay.

Shortly after that, my husband received a promotion and we moved to an area with a higher cost of living. Thankfully the promotion brought a pay increase which helped balance out the cost of living difference. Still we had those credit cards and sometimes the balance would creep up on us. Early this year, when my husband got his W-2s he was looking at it and commented that we should be able to save more than we were. I agreed and suggested Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover again. He agreed to it so I reread the book and then he read it. Then, we sat down and drew up our plan. We had a mortgate, $8000 in car debt, and $1800 in credit card debt. We also had about a month and a half of living expenses in an emergency fund and a good start on retirement savings. Retirement savings is the one thing we are good at. We made our first budget and were quite amazed to see how much money we were wasting each month. Note: I've always handled the money and never had much knowledge about budgeting. Each month I would write down all the money we owed for bills and then try to make whatever was left cover all the rest. Not a super budget plan by any means. So, we started looking at things we could cut out and reduce the expense of so we could save more and eliminate debt.

As soon as we received our tax return we eliminated the credit card debt. And we did make the commitment this time around to stop using credit cards. Then we began attacking the car debt as well as trying to build up the emergency fund. To create more money to do this we cut our grocery budget. I learned how to really use coupons to my advantage. We also stopped taking my husbands pants to the cleaners to have them cleaned and pressed. He continued to take his shirts because he likes them super starched but by me taking over washing and ironing the pants we saved ourselves $800 a year. We also changed my cell phone to a pay as you go plan. This saved us over $400 a year. We also began budgeting for items like clothing, entertainment, meals out, gifts, etc. We knew what we could spend and would not go over it. No more impulse buys that really add up. We had a plan and it was working.

On September 3rd of this year my husband lost his job due to restructuring, another company suffering the impact of all the problems with todays economy. We did not freak out. We had 3months of expenses in the emergency fun and had reduced the car debt to $4000. I also had an almost fully funded Christmas account so that was not going to be a worry. I knew I could cut the grocery budget some more and still have plenty, especially since I already had a stockpile to work with. We made a few more small cuts in things like entertainment, meals out, etc. and figured we could make more dramatic cuts if it looked like this period of unemployment was going to drag on. My husband also received a severance package which we promptly put into savings. We were able to live off of what we had in our checking account up until the last week of November when we finally had to dip into savings.

My husband spent his days the last few months working on finding a new job. I don't know if I've ever been as proud of him as during the last few months. He did not get down. He did not slack off. He just kept moving forward. He started his new job on December 8th. We are incredibly grateful that he has a job. This job does come with a significant decrease in pay from the last job though. While in training, he's making almost 40% less than he did at his last job. His pay will increase over the next 6 months to a year but it will still be 25%-30% less than he made before. So now we get to put all that we've learned about living frugally to the test. We know we can pay our bills but we're going to have to get creative to come up with extra money to save. But I'm confident we can do this because we've learned the skills and have access to the resources to do it. And I am so thankful to have these skills to pass onto my children so that they can go into their adult lives fully equipped with the knowledge to successfully manage their money.

All of these experiences led me to create this blog. At first, just because I was wanting to share all the great deals with others who would appreciate them but now even more I want to share what I've learned and what I continue to learn with others. I hope you will find what I share to be useful.

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Free Lego Magazine Subscription

>> Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Get a free subscription to Lego Magazine for the Lego fan in your life. Click on your country of residence on the right to sign up.

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Lemonade Award

>> Saturday, December 13, 2008


Many thanks to Amy at The Story of Amy for giving me the Lemonade Award. I really enjoy Amy's blog. She shares great recipes and I love reading about her goals. She has such a positive and uplifting outlook that she shares through her blog.
I'm going to pass this award on to the blogs I read that I feel present great attitude and gratitude.


Here are the rules:
1. Put the logo on your blog or post.
2. Nominate at least 10 blogs(okay, I did 8 as I'm fairly new to the blog world) which show great Attitude and/or Gratitude!
3. Link to your nominees within your post.
4. Let them know that they have received this award by commenting on their blog.
5. Share the love and link to this post and to the person from whom you received your award.

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Deals of the Week 12/7/08-12/13/08

Okay, this was a great week for finding deals. I should probably title this my "chocolate and batteries" week. I'll be using most of the chocolate in gifts. Goodness knows I don't need to eat all of it 'cause that's a lot of chocolate even for me. I also stocked up on mixed nuts, one of my favorite snacks and it helps keep me away from the chocolate!


CVS:


Transaction #1


4 bags Hershey Bliss Chocolates $12

1 bag Hershey Nuggets $2

1 bag Reese's Minis $2

1 bag Hershey Kisses $2

1 bag Hershey Miniatures $2

4 cans Campbell's Select Harvest Soups $6

4 packs of Energizer Batteries $23.96

2 Reinventing Beauty Magazines $1.98(each contain over $25 worth of coupons)

2 Reese's Trees $1(stocking stuffers)

Subtotal: $52.94

Qs Used:

$10 off $50

2-$2.50 off 2 Hershey Bliss

$1.50 off 3 Hershey miniatures, kisses

4-$1.00 off Energizer Batteries

2-50 cents off 2 Campbell's Select Harvest

$21.95 ECBs

Total with tax: $10.39 paid with a gift card

$0 out of pocket

Earned: $20 ECBs


Transaction #2


5 cans Planters NUTrition $15

Q Used:

$10 ECBs

Total: $5 paid with gift card

$0 out of pocket

Earned $5 ECBs


I used my Grocery Game Lists for Walgreens and Kroger this week.


Walgreens--I am loving the $5 Register Rewards with $25 purchase combined with their special sales they've been having this month.


Original price: $51.48

Total OOP after sales & coupons: $8.20

Earned $5 in Register Rewards


Kroger:

Original Price: $72.83

Total OOP after sales and coupons: $50.96

Earned $2 OYNO


Weekly summary: I paid $59.16 for $192.25 worth of products. A 69% savings








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Free Amazing Grace DVD

>> Tuesday, December 9, 2008

I just read about this over on Money Saving Mom. Register with Walden Media and you can get a free Amazing Grace DVD and a calendar. I love this movie. What a treat to be able to get it free. Go here to get your free Amazing Grace DVD.

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Free Holiday Song Downloads at Amazon

Amazon is revealing a new song to download for free each day this month up until Christmas day. Go here to download free holiday music.

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Menu Plan Monday 12/8/08-12/14/08

>> Monday, December 8, 2008


Here's what we have on the menu this week.
Monday: Spaghetti and meatballs
Tuesday: Salmon, brown rice, salad(we never got around to this dish last week)
Wednesday: Grilled cheese & soup
Thursday: Turkery burgers, baked fries
Friday: Stuffed baked potatoes
Saturday: leftovers or eat out
For more great menu ideas be sure to check out I'm an Organizing Junkies Menu Plan Monday.

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$10 Games

Hasbro's Deal of the Day is $10 games. Lots to choose from.
25% off coupon code: holiday25

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Amazon Deal of the Day

Do you have a Lost fan on your Christmas List? Amazon's Deal of the Day is the Lost-The Complete Seasons 1-3 DVD series for $58.99.

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FREE Redbox Rental Codes

I found this deal over at Slickdeals.net.
Get a free Redbox DVD rental every Sunday at any Redbox kiosk located at a Wal-Mart.
Use the following codes:
Week 1 – 11moms4uS (good Sunday 12/7 only)
Week 2 – 11moms4uA (good Sunday 12/14 only)
Week 3 – 11moms4uN (good Sunday 12/21 only)
Week 4 – 11moms4uT (good Sunday 12/28 only)
Week 5 – 11moms4uA (good Sunday 1/4 only)


Search here for a Redbox kiosk.

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Deals of the Week 11/30/08-12/06/08

>> Friday, December 5, 2008

This was a weird shopping week for me. I was out and about doing Christmas shopping and took advantage of some extra deals. I didn't buy my normal groceries last week so I spent a bit more this week.

CVS this week:
Transaction 1:
The little one was sick so I had to get a prescription filled. I had a CRT to receive a $25 GC with a new prescription so I used that.

Transaction 2:
1 Bounty Basic 8 Roll Paper Towel pack $5.99
1 Hershey Bar 89 cents
Q Used:
6 ECBs
Total OOP: 93 cents

I used my Grocery Game List for Walgreens and Kroger.
At Walgreens:
Original price: $51.59
Total after sales and coupons: $27.27
Minus GC balance of $7.69
Total OOP: $19.58
Savings of 62%
Earned: $12 in Register Rewards and will receive $5 in rebates

At Kroger:
I needed quite a few things like fresh produce, bread, milk, etc. that weren't on my list so my savings weren't as good this week.
Trip #1
Original price: $73.41
Total after sales and coupons:$50.95
Savings of 30%

Trip #2(One Day Sale)
Original price:$10.73
Total after sales and coupons:$4.63
Savings of 74%

For more great savings be sure to check out The Centsible Sawyer's CVS Superstars and Money Saving Mom's Super Savings Saturday.

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The One Dollar Give

>> Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The One Dollar Give

Okay, I just read about The One Dollar Give over at Frugal Dad and had to spread the news. This ties in with the spirit of my Small Ways to Give Big series and I'm really so excited to share this with you. This began December 1st but you can jump in anytime. Each day a different charity will be featured and those at The One Dollar Give are asking that people give just one dollar a day for a total of $31 at the end of December. If you can't give financially grab the button and share it on your blog to support the project that way. So head on over to The One Dollar Give and find out how you can change a life with just $1 this holiday season.

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Menu Plan Monday 12/1/08-12/7/08

>> Monday, December 1, 2008



Here's what's on the menu this week:

Monday: Steak, salad , bread

Tuesday: Black Bean Burritos

Wednesday: Turkey Joes, chips

Thursday: Chicken fingers, mashed potatoes, broccoli, corn bread

Friday: Baked Salmon, salad, brown rice

Saturday: Dinner out

Sunday: leftovers

For more great menu ideas be sure to check out I'm An Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday.

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Deals of the Week 11/23/08-11/29/08

>> Saturday, November 29, 2008


This was a great week. CVS was particularly fun. Here are my deals for the week.

CVS
I bought:
1 KitKat King Size $1
1 Aussie Hair Spray $2.99
2 Bic Soleil Razors $11.98
1 Schick Quattro Titanium Razor $7.99
2 Colgate Total Advance Toothpaste $5.98
1 bag Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Filled Pretzels 49 cents(clearance)

Qs Used:
$1 off Aussie product
$1 off Colgate Total
$1.50 off Colgate Total
$3 off Bic Soleil
$3 off Bic Soleil
$13.49 ECBs
$5/30 CVS
Total OOP: $3.40
Earned $27.95 in ECBs

I used my Grocery Game list to shop at Walgreens this week. I paid $9.65 for $20.05 worth of products and earned $6 in Register Rewards.

For more great savings check out Super Savings Saturday at MoneySavingMom.com.

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Small Ways to Give Big

>> Tuesday, November 25, 2008

This is the final installment of my Small Ways to Give Big series. In case you missed my earlier installments, so far I have suggested:

Tip #1--Winter Heating Donations

Tip#2--Click it to Give it

Tip #3--Coupon Shopping Freebies

Tip #4--Be a Good Neighbor

Tip #5--Letters for our Troops

Tip #6--Foodbank Donations

Small Ways to Give Big Tip #7
Open your Home this Holiday Season--As we approach the holidays, our thoughts often turn to our families. We look forward to eating good meals, sharing laughs and creating memories with those closest to us. But if you look around you, there are people everywhere who don't have anywhere to go for the holidays. Perhaps it's a new family that just moved into the area and can't travel home for the holidays. Maybe it's an elderly neighbor or church member who normally spends the holidays alone. Perhaps it's a single parent at work whose kids are with the other parent this holiday. This suggestion is inspired by an anonymous person at my church. This year this person gave one of the pastors a stack of 20 invitations to Thanksgiving dinner and charged him with finding 20 people in the community to invite who needed a place to go for the holiday. The anonymous host didn't want to know who would be coming. They just said they would have enough food for 20 guests and looked forward to sharing the day giving thanks with those invited. I can't even tell you how much I would love to be in that house Thanksgiving day. I imagine that home will be filled with the spirit of Thanksgiving. Such a grand gesture, while lovely, is certainly not necessary. Inviting just one person, one couple, one family to share one day, one meal with your family this holiday season will be a blessing to them and to yourself.

I hope that in reading this series you have discovered new ways to give to others and that you will be blessed in your efforts to do so.

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Small Ways to Give Big

We're almost to the end of my Small Ways to Give Big Series.

Here are my suggestions thus far:

Tip #1--Winter Heating Donations

Tip #2--Click it to Give it

Tip #3--Coupon Shopping Freebies

Tip #4--Be a Good Neighbor

Tip #5--Letters for our Troops

Small Ways to Give Big Tip #6
Foodbank Donations--Foodbanks can stretch a dollar like nobody's business. My local foodbank suggests it can provide 8 meals for each $1 donated. So even if you're living on tight budget with very little wiggle room, you can still make a difference. I will give a few examples but these will reflect my experience with my local food bank. You will have to research what is available in your area. Okay, say you can spare $5 a month. Through my foodbank that would provide 40 meals a month or 480 meals a year. Borrowing from Tip #3, perhaps your grocery store has a rockin' deal on some non-perishable food. Some stores provide drop barrels from local foodbanks where you can place food items. So take those rockin' deals you got and place them in the barrel on your way out the door. You don't have to give monetarily though. Foodbanks are always looking for volunteers. Sort food, help with administrative duties like filing and mailings, answer the phones, sponsor a food drive or assist with planning special event fundraisers. The opportunities to help stop hunger by giving to your local foodbank are endless. All you have to do is figure out which way works best for you.

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Small Ways to Give Big

>> Monday, November 24, 2008

We're on day 5 of my Small Ways to Give Big Series. If you've not been following these posts here's a rundown of my tips up to this point:

Tip #1--Winter Heating Donations

Tip#2--Click it to Give it

Tip #3--Coupon Shopping Freebies

Tip #4--Be a Good Neighbor

Small Ways to Give Big Tip #5
Letters for our Troops--Chances are you have a friend or family member or know someone through your church, work or community that is serving or has served in our military. Our troops are separated from their families for extended periods of time and are putting their lives on the line for us and those around the world who need our help. A letter, card or care package can go a long way in lifting the spirits of a war weary soldier. Organize a card and letter writing campaign at your child's school, at your church or through a community organization and bring a smile to the face of a young man or woman serving this country. You can find a list of organizations with more information about where to send the letters here. It will only take a bit of your time and the cost of mailing the letters. A very small sacrifice compared to that of our service men and women.

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Small Ways to Give Big

>> Sunday, November 23, 2008

Welcome back to my series on Small Ways to Give Big. So far we've discussed Winter Heating Donations, Click it to Give it, and Coupon Shopping Freebies. Now it's time for Tip #4.

Small Ways to Give Big Tip #4

Be a Good Neighbor--Your neighborhood is filled with opportunities to give. When you're out raking your leaves, rake your neighbor's leaves too. When that big snowfall comes, shovel your neighbor's driveway as well as your own. If you're making chili or soup for dinner, double the amount you're making and take some over to one of your neighbors. Craving Chocolate Chip cookies, whip up a batch and take part of them over to your neighbor. Invite your neighbors kids over to play with your own kids in the afternoon from time to time. You never know when that mom or dad just might need a break. The opportunities to give to your neighbors are truly endless. And the really wonderful thing about being a good neighbor is that you will be establishing and building friendships as well as building a greater sense of community.

Small Ways to Give Big Tip #1--Winter Heating Donations

Small Ways to Give Big Tip #2--Click It to Give It

Small Ways to Give Big Tip #3--Coupon Shopping Freebies

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Small Ways to Give Big

>> Saturday, November 22, 2008

If you've been following my Small Ways to Give Big series you know that so far I've recommended Winter Heating Donations and Click it To Give it. Now it's time for today's suggestion.

Small Ways to Give Big Tip#3
Coupon Shopping Freebies--If you're a coupon shopper then you know there are always free items to be had. Some are free with coupons, others through rebates, and even more through rewards dollar type programs like Register Rewards found at Walgreens and Extra Care Bucks which can be earned at CVS. Sometimes with a coupon these items are even better than free. But what do you do if these are items that you're family just doesn't use? Well, you buy them(for free) anyway and donate them. Most of the time these are health and beauty items like toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap & bodywash, lotion, shampoo, razors & feminine care products. These items are always welcome at places like shelters for abused women & children, homes for at risk teens & homeless shelters. I have a shelf in my pantry dedicated to storing these items until I'm ready to donate them. I've heard of others that keep a box where they place the items as they purchase them. When the box is full, they donate the items. This is one of the easiest ways to bless others with our abundance.

Small Ways to Give Big Tip #1--Winter Heating Donations

Small Ways to Give Big Tip #2--Click it to Give it

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Deals of the Week 11/16/08-11/22/08

>> Friday, November 21, 2008

Sorry, no pictures again. This was a pretty good week. I spent more than the $60 I normally budget for each week but I had $11.97 from last months Rite Aid rebates that I used to cover the overage.

Target--I was a little disappointed because they only had one box of the granola bars left and I had several coupons to use. Oh, well.

I bought:
2 boxes Kashi cereal bars $6.58($3.29 a box)
1 box Quaker Simple Harvest Granola Bars $2.50
Subtotal:$9.08
Q's Used:
1 FREE Kashi Product
$2 off Kashi cereal bars
$1 off Quaker Simple Harvest Granola Bars
Total OOP: $2.79 A savings of 69%

I used my Grocery Game list to shop at Walgreens and Kroger.

At trip #1 to Walgreens I paid OOP: $8.65 for $18.06 worth of groceries and earned $2 in Register Rewards. A savings of 52%
At trip #2 to Walgreens I paid OOP: $3.15 for $6.65 worth of groceries. A savings of 52%

At Kroger I paid OOP: $54.98 for $110 worth of groceries. A savings of 50%

Total before sales and coupons: $143.79
Total Spent: $69.57

Average savings percentage: 52%

To see more great deals be sure to check out Super Savings Saturday at Money Saving Mom and Drugstore Divas at The Centsible Sawyer.



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Small Ways to Give Big

It's time for Tip #2 in my Small Ways to Give Big series. If you missed the first tip you can see it here.

Small Ways to Give Big Tip #2
Click it to Give it-There are a multitude of websites where you can click on a link and a donation will be made to a particular cause. This requires no money from you, just a minute of your time. I've compiled a list of some places where you can click it to give it.

Free Rice--This one has a fun twist. Play a game and with each correct answer, grains of rice will be donated to feed the hungry around the world.

The Hunger Site--each click provides 1.1 cups of food to the hungry.

The Breast Cancer Site--help women in need recieve mammograms.

The Child Health Site--help provide simple and effective treatments to keep children around the world healthy.

The Literacy Site--help fund free books for children.

The Rainforest Site--help protect 11.4 square feet of rainforest with each click.

The Animal Rescue Site--provide food for animals living in rescue shelters.

click2donate--a full page of causes to donate to with a click. Sponsored by Care2.

Small Ways To Give Big Tip #1--Winter Heating Donations

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Small Ways to Give Big

>> Thursday, November 20, 2008

There's no doubt these are challenging financial times for many people. Budgets are tight and it's all some people can do to pay their bills. There is often very little, if anything, left over to give to others. We're a week a way from Thanksgiving, a day set aside to focus on our blessings no matter what our situation and give thanks for what we do have. In that spirit, I am starting a seven day series on Small Ways to Give Big. Each day I will introduce a way that you can give to others that requires very little, if any, money. I hope you will join me over the next week as we learn how to give to others, even when we don't think we can.

Small Ways to Give Big Tip #1
Winter Heating Donations-Most electric/gas companies have heating assistance programs. You can add money to your bill that will be directed to those programs. It doesn't have to be a large amount each month. Simply rounding up the amount you pay will help assist those in need. For example, if your bill is $142 round up the amount of your payment to $145 and put $3 in the heating assistance box on your bill. If you averaged a $3 donation over the course of a year you will have donated $36 and because you did it in small increments you won't even miss it. That $36 will help bridge the gap for someone unable to pay their bill.

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List of Grocery Stores that Double Coupons

One of the best ways to boost your coupon savings at the grocery store is to shop at a store that doubles or even triples the coupons value. I came across a post at Grocery Coupon Guide that lists the stores that double coupons in each state. Simply click on your state and find the stores that double coupons. Find out where to use your coupons here.

Happy Savings!

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Become a Chick-fil-a Insider

>> Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I do so love Chick-fil-a. If you do as well, sign up here to become a Chick-fil-a Insider and you can receive information about the latest promotions and events at Chick-fil-a.

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Free Chex Mix Bar


Sign up here for the Betty Crocker email newsletter and get a free sample of a Turtle Chex Mix bar.

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Organic Coupons and Freebies

>> Tuesday, November 18, 2008

If you're like me, you're always trying to balance frugality with quality when it comes to the food you buy. I'm always looking for coupons for products I feel good about feeding my family. Here are some coupons and freebie deals I've come across recently to help you on your way.

Get a free sample of Bear Naked fruit and granola here.

Get coupons for Organic Valley products here.

Get coupons for Horizon Organic products here.

Go here to print coupons for Cascadian Farm and Muir Glen products.

Sign up here to receive a newsletter with recipes, special offers & promotions, & advice on healthy living from Health Valley. You can also opt-in to become a part of the Hain Celestial Group Advisory Panel.

Get coupons for Stonyfield Farm products here.

Get a free sample of Sundance Organic Life tea here.

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Receive A $20 Outback Gift Card with $100 Gift Card Purchase

>> Monday, November 17, 2008


Treat yourself when you treat others this holiday season. Purchase $100 in Outback Gift Cards between November 1, 2008 and December 31, 2008 and receive a $20 bonus card.
Go here to purchase your gift cards.

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Swagbucks


Search & Win


If you spend any time online, you undoubtedly find yourself using a search engine. Over at MoneySavingMom.com, I read about an online search engine called Swagbucks where you can get points for searching online. The points can be redeemed for gift cards to places like Starbucks, Amazon, Subway, Target and more.

I had to check it out myself and found the sign-up process quick and it required minimal information. When you sign up you'll earn 3 points. With each search you can win more points. Just 50 Swagbucks will get you a $5 Starbucks gift card. To increase your earnings
refer your friends. Send them your referral link and you can win points when they sign up. You'll also win points when they do.

So now you know a bit about Swagbucks, why not sign up now? Go
here.

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Deals of the Week 11/9/08-11/15/08

>> Saturday, November 15, 2008

Here's a run down of the deals I got this week.

I shopped at Walgreens & Kroger. And used my Grocery Game list for both stores.

At Walgreens I paid OOP $4.20(96 cents tax) for $34.01 worth of groceries. I saved $12.08 with coupons and sales and paid $18.69 with a WG gift card loaded with last months rebates. Total savings of approx. 90%. Plus I will receive $6.99 in rebates.

At Kroger I paid $53.84(64 cents tax) for $85 worth of groceries. I saved $31.16 with sales and coupons. Total savings of approx. 36%.

Total spent OOP this week: $58.04

For more great deals be sure to check out Money Saving Mom's Super Savings Saturday.

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Deals of the Week 11/2/08-11/8/08

>> Saturday, November 8, 2008

Ooh, this was a fun shopping week. Lots of great opportunities for stockpiling. Here's what I got.




CVS

I bought:
2 Hersheys Milk Chocolate Bars $1
2 Hersheys Special Dark Chocolate Bars $1
8 packs IceBreakers Icecubes Gum $8(great for OCC boxes and care packages)
2 gallons Arizona Diet Green Tea $5
2 Olay Quench Body Lotion $12
1 Crest Pro Health Toothpaste $3.49

Qs Used:
2 B1G1 Hersheys Chocolate Bars
4 $1/2 IceBreakers gum
$3/2 Olay lotion
$1 Crest Toothpaste
$9.98 in ECBs

Total OOP:$11.10
ECBs Earned: $13.49



Big Lots:




Our nearest Big Lots is 20+ minutes away so we don't go there often. However, we discovered several months ago that they carry the bread we like to eat at 1/2 the price we can normally get it. We usually pay $2.49 a loaf at our local Kroger. Sometimes I can get it on sale for $2. I'm usually over by Big Lots once a month so I try to stock up on bread when I'm there.

I bought:
4 loaves Natures Own 100% Whole Wheat bread $4.80
1 Garlic Powder $1
Total OOP: $5.80

Target:


2 boxes Kellogs Mini Wheats Strawberry Delight $5.48
2 boxes Kellogs Cocoa Krispies $5.50
1 box Kellogs Frosted Flakes $2.44
1 box Kashi cereal bars $3.29
1 bag Hersheys Halloween chocolate 69 cents(75% off clearance)

Qs Used:
5 $1 off Kelloggs cereal
1 Free Kashi Product
Total: $9.15
Used: $5 Target GC
Total OOP: $4.15
Earned another $5 Target GC


I used my Grocery Game list for Kroger this week. This was a super week at Kroger. I was able to do a lot of stockpiling. I spent $46.12 for $98.81 in groceries for a total savings of 53%.

For more great deals be sure to check out The "Cents"ible Sawyer's CVS Superstars and Money Saving Mom's Super Savings Saturday.

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Fabulous Freebies


Here are some of the Fabulous Freebies I've received lately:

-Bath & Body Works Coupon
-Multiple Coupons for Starkist Tuna Creations
-A Cottenelle Fresh Wipe (in the November Issue of All You Magazine-a great coupon resource)
-A Venus Embrace Razor with multiple coupons

What great freebies have you received lately?

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Free Ziploc Products

>> Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Home & Holidays Gift Pack from Right @ Home
The first 20,000* people to respond will receive free Ziploc® products, plus $8.50 in coupons for Ziploc®, Glade®, Pledge® and Drano® products.
Respond here and Hurry!

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Menu Plan Monday 11/3/08-11/9/08

>> Monday, November 3, 2008


Here's what we have planned this week:

Monday: Crab Cakes, Steamed Veggies, Bread
Tuesday: Chicken & Wild Rice Casserole, Salad
Wednesday: Spaghetti & Meatballs, Salad
Thursday: Steak, Potatoes, Salad(rollover from last menu)
Friday: Scrambled Eggs, Sausage, Biscuits & Gravy
Saturday: Leftovers
Sunday: Soup & Sandwiches

Chicken & Wild Rice Casserole ( a family favorite)
1 box Uncle Ben's long grain & wild rice(prepared as directed on package)
2 cups cooked, chopped chicken
1/2 small onion. chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 cup sour cream(light)

Saute onions & green peppers in 2T butter or cooking spray until onions are translucent.
Combine onions, peppers, mushroom soup, sour cream, chicken and rice mix in a casserole dish sprayed with cooking spray. Bake uncovered approximately 30 minutes at 350 degrees.


For more menu ideas be sure to check out I'm An Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday.

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Deals of the Week 10/26/08-11/1/08

>> Saturday, November 1, 2008


Lots of shopping this week. I made it back to CVS but was disappointed that both stores I went to were out of the Bic Razors. I made up a new plan in the second store and came out okay.


CVS

I bought:

1 bag Skittles $1.50

1 bag Milky Way $1.50

1 bag Snickers $1.50

1 bag M&M Peanut $1.50

1 CVS Bar Soap $2.99


Qs Used:

$1/2 Candy

$1/2 Candy

$4.50 ECBs


Total OOP: $2.67

Earned: $1 ECB

DH needed coffee so we made a trip to Costco. We bought 3lbs. of Sumatra coffee and a case of Minute Made juice boxes for $21 and change(can't find receipt for exact total).

I used my Grocery Game List for Kroger. Being in the cherry picking stage, I didn't need much off my list. Most of my purchases this time around was for produce, organic dairy products and a couple of non-list items we were using for meals this week. My Total OOP was $44.73 for $66.74 in groceries. A savings of 33%.

It wasn't all about the food this week. I needed some items for my wardrobe, so with $13 in the clothing budget, a $10 off $10 coupon to JCPenneys and 2 GCs with remaining balances on them I was off to get a pair of pants and a pair of dress shoes.

At JCPenney I got:

A pair of black corduroys

Original price: $36.00

Sale Price: $17.99

Minus $10 Q

Minus $3.42 on GC

Total OOP with tax: $5.05

At Stein Mart I got:

1 pair Liz Claiborne Black Patent pumps to replace my poor old dress shoes that were both split across the bottoms exposing the insoles. Yea, they were sad.

Clearance Price: $49.94

Extra 50% off: $24.97

Minus $19.50 on GC

Total OOP with tax: $6.97

I came in 92 cents under budget for the clothes. :)

For more great deals be sure to check out Money Saving Mom's Super Savings Saturday and The "Cent"sible Sawyer's CVS Superstars.

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>> Monday, October 27, 2008



Back after a week off. This is what's planned for this week.

Monday: Soup & Sandwiches

Tuesday: Fiesta Chicken Pasta(we never made this a couple of weeks back, had chicken pot pie instead)

Wednesday: Tacos

Thursday: Pork & Veggie Stir Fry

Friday: Mummy Dogs & Vampire Fangs

Saturday: Chili

Sunday: Steak, baked potatoes, salad

For more menu planning ideas be sure to check out I'm An Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday.

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Deals of the Week 10/12/08-10/18/08

>> Friday, October 17, 2008


I didn't step foot inside CVS or Walgreen's this week. I decided to branch out a bit as the Free After Rebate items at Rite Aid were too good to pass up. Here's the shopping round-up.
Rite Aid
I bought:
1 Triaminic Cough & Cold $3.99
1 Children's Advil $3.99
1 Excedrin Express Gels$3.99
Subtotal: $11.97
Qs Used:
$1 off Advil
$2 off Excedrin
Total OOP: $9.69
Will get back: $11.97 for a $2.28 profit


Another different store for me:
Wal-Mart
I bought:
2 Green Giant Valley Fresh Steamers Asian Stir Fry $3.74($1.87 each)
1 Green Giant Valley Fresh Steamers Cut Broccoli $1.23
1 Green Giant Valley Fresh Steamers Mixed Veggies $1.23
2 Hershey Dark Chocolate Bars $3.00($1.50 each, for me ;) )
2 Star Kist Tuna Creations $3.26($1.63 each)
1 Twist & Shout Cookies $1.88(for dear husband)
1 6 pk Onion Rolls from Bakery $1.20(reduced)
Subtotal: $15.54
Qs used:
4 $1 off Green Giant Valley Fresh Steamers
2 $1 off Star Kist Tuna Creations
2 $1 off Hershey Dark Chocolate Bars
Total OOP: $7.72
And just one shop from one of my Grocery Game lists.
Kroger total OOP was $36.69 for $56.42 in groceries.
Weekly Total OOP: $54.10
Shelf Price: $83.93
Savings percentage of 35% or 49.8% with the rebates.
To see more great deals be sure to check out The "Cents"ible Sawyers Drugstore Diva's.

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