Friday, October 8, 2010

Frugal Friday -- Halloween Style

Halloween is fast approaching, and it is stressing me out.

For one thing, the town where I live has decided to do trick or treating the day before Halloween, but we don't normally trick or treat in our community. Does this mean I have to buy candy (which I haven't budgeted for) since we may actually be home on Halloween?

Possibly MORE pressing is the fact that I haven't bought my daughters costume yet. Costumes are so expensive these days, for something a child only wears once (maybe, MAYBE, twice).

Last year I bought her costume from CostumeSuperCenter.com and I was very pleased. I managed to find the costume at a reduced price, and was very pleased with their customer service and return policy, even though I did not need it. They have a clearance link on their website, with TONS of costumes at really low prices, including the exact costume my daughter wore for only $10! If you actually spend over $60 on their site, you can get free shipping through Sunday with coupon code FRs60.

Another online site I've looked at is Buy Costumes. They have LOTS and LOTS of costumes that I love. They also have a large clearance section of costumes, including a devil costume I'm eyeing for my daughter at $15! Don't worry, they the TONS and TONS for the teen and adult crowd as well. I plan to save even more with these coupon codes:

VAMP10 - 10% off Any Order
Skull20 - $20 off Halloween Costumes
MAD10 - 10% off $40 or more
bogo20 - Buy One Get One 20% off

Hey, look at that, I am a little less stressed about Halloween now. I think I've got this costume thing handled with out breaking my tiny piggy bank.

As for the Saturday vs. Sunday night trick or treating, I think I may print my coupon for free chips and queso and take the family to Chili's. That sounds less expensive (and more relaxing) than buying a bunch of candy. ;)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Frugal Friday -- Grocery Tips

Last night, I did our grocery shopping and spent just over $100 on two weeks worth of groceries!!!

Yeah, I am a little proud. =)

So to stroke my own ego, I am going to post my top 10 grocery buying tips. I really do hope you find some of them useful.

1. Try the store brand at least once, on everything. We have found that most store brand canned vegetables are great, except green beans. Store brand green beans suck.
But, try the store brand atleast once, on every product that you buy. Most of the time we are pleasantly suprised (some are even better than the national brand!)

2. Pay attention to how much things cost, otherwise how will you know when it is *really* on sale. I have found more than one store that advertises some thing "on sale" and it really hasn't been marked down at all.

3. Pay attention to how much you actually use/need/eat. If our family will only eat half of a dish, then we have the leftovers for lunch the next day. If your family despises leftovers, then freeze the left overs for another week.

4. Make a budget and stick to it.

5. Make a list before you leave, of exactly what you need, and a base price for that item. I usually use Walmart's price as my base price, because they rarely have weekly sales on grocery items. Also, our list with base prices should never be over what we set our budget as. If it is, obviously I have a problem, and our list needs to be modified.

6. Look at local sale papers and through your coupons to see what's on sale and what you have coupons for. Remember at Kroger, they double coupons up to $.50 and you can also load electronic coupons onto your shoppers card. The electronic coupons and any manufacturer's coupons you have can be used together!

7. Tweak your grocery list to reflect any items that you now want to buy. If I wasn't planning on have spaghetti, but spaghetti sauce is on sale and I have a coupon, I should probably have spahgetti.

8. Buy meat in bulk, when it's on sale. Meat goes on sale in cycles too! When meat is on sale, stock up. When I find meat on sale, I typically buy enough for 1 or 2 months. I buy whole chickens and cut them up. Even if I'm not stocking up, I only package and cook what I need. If a package of porkchops has 4 in it and I only need three, then I open and re-package it to three and one. Eventually I'll have three one chop packages that I can cook together. People, this is where I save the most money. Also pay attention to reduced meat that needs to sell quickly. As long as I freeze it, it's just as good.

9. Sacrifices are going to be made. We don't eat steak often, and sandwiches are on the lunch menu for about half the time.

10. Go grocery shopping alone. I'll be tempted enough to break away from my list without my husband or children there to help.

P.S. My best deals last night were: Fields Bologna (on sale at Kroger for a $1, plus I had a $.40 coupon that they doubled) for $.20, and Three cases of Kroger water (buy 2 get 1 Free) for $6.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Another Frugal Friday

It has been a while since my last frugal Friday.

We survived summer and found out just how much carpooling could save us! We used the saved money to take the kids to the Knoxville Zoo, Space and Air Museum and The Adventure Science Center.

We actually bought a family pass for $90 to the Adventure Science Center so we can take the kids back during the fall, winter and spring. They change exhibits often and truthfully, their “Adventure Tower” is better than any indoor play ground I’ve seen, so it is a good investment in our world.

I have also jumped on the “a deal a day” bandwagon.

Most people have head about Groupon, where every day they have a deal for a local business. It is usually about 50% off, for food, drinks or service. It seems that *most* of their deals seem to be for food/drinks and salon services, but earlier this year they did have a family membership to the Adventure Science Center for $45 (and yes, I missed it.)
Today’s deal is 3 Laser Hair-Removal Treatments for $99, usually around $750. I don’t have the $99 to spend, but if you do, not a bad deal AT ALL!

Another good one is LivingSocial. Their deals are similar to Groupon, but besides great deals on restaurants, I haven’t seen much that is family friendly. Today’s deal includes a brow, lip, chin wax for $15.

However, my new favorite site is QponDay. QponDay also has deals on food, drinks and services, but I find more of theirs is family friendly and fit my lifestyle and budget better. Today’s deal is $50 towards ANY salon service for on $25, you can use it how you want. I love flexibility! Also, QponDay has some ongoing deals including two for one admission for an open bounce at Fun and Party Zone. A similar deal is also available at Middle TN Paintball, which I think would make for an interesting adventure with the hubby.

All three of these sites are free to sign up with, and they send the deals daily to your inbox. If you’re not interested, you just delete the email. I haven’t been spammed and I’ve been signed up for a while now (though QponDay didn’t start having deals in Nashville until the middle of August.)

Area schools are also selling Entertainment Books (formerly CityPass) for $25 (instead of the $35 if you buy via the websit.) This includes the 2010 and 2011 books. Most of the coupons in the 2010 books expire the beginning of November though. I still find this to be a good deal, especially if you can split the cost with someone. For example, I live north of Nashville, and won’t be using the coupons for the Spring Hill/Columbia area (or even the Bellevue area, or Mt Juliet….). If I split the cost with someone in my office that lives in one of these areas, the cost would only be $12.50 and I am likely to save that with the FIRST of MANY coupons I will use. I don’t recommend splitting the cost with more than one person, simply because many of the coupons are for places like the Zoo, Adventure Science Center, the Frist, etc. It could get tricky splitting those between more than two people.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Parents and Nutritional Idealogy

Last night I was reading an article in one of my parenting forums. The article itself was innocent enough, dispelling the myth that caffine stunts growth. The comments however, annoyed the crap out of me.

“I don't see the point of giving child soda…..They are pretty horrible for you. So why give it to my daughter? There are plenty of other options out there than soda. Caffeine free or not, they don't need all that sugar. The sugar alternatives are just as bad. Their little bodies are developing so fast, why not give them beverages that encourage a healthy mind and body.”

“What amazes me, in reading some of these community answers is how much artificial sugar parents are giving their children. Diet soda is no more healthy than regular soda, it doesn't contain sugar but it does contain chemically made ingredients such as aspartame or Nutra Sweet which the FDA says to consume in moderation because long term side effects need to be evaluated. Its unfortunate that even Pedialyte conatins Splenda (sucralose), another artificial sweetner. Honestly, why do children need their food to be "sweetened" anyway?”


And those are just the tip of the iceberg. When did it become O.K for parents to force their nutrition ideology upon me and my children? And it starts at the birth of your first child.

I am a well educated woman, who did tons of research and CHOSE to NOT breastfeed. I don’t feel the need to “defend” my reasoning to anyone, because there is nothing to defend. It s a personal choice you make for yourself and your child.

I was at the office one day a few weeks ago, and listened as co-workers explained to another co-worker why breastfeeding was the only option, and to not give up, no matter what. How do you think it would have went over if I had jumped in with ALL the reasons to not breastfeed?

I recently read that McDonalds was possibly going to be sued over including toys in their Happy Meals. What? I then read one possible “solution” would be for McDonalds to only provide toys in “nutritional” Happy Meals. When did it become McDonalds job to police what my kids eat? Last time I checked, I signed the birth certificate, not a corporation.

The media has been on a frenzy lately with how unhealthy everything is. But this is not new. In the last five years the media and research have declared that a certain red dye can cause behavioral problems in children, eating two eggs a week increases your risk of colorectal cancer and eating meat increases your risk of breast cancer.

What is new, is parents’ reactions. Parents now bully other parents and try to guilt them into conforming to some sort of nutritional ideology that changes daily. While I think that these nutritional mafia parents are actually in the minority, they certainly are the most vocal. I hope the other non conforming parents will stand up with me to declare: We are in charge of our children’s nutrition, along with their social and emotional health, their curiosity and creativity, and every other aspect of their little bodies and lives. We will feed our children what we think best given all the circumstances. We will not judge you, but we will not tolerate being judged either. We are the parent.

I view sugar, fats, caffine and all the other bad stuff, like scrapes and bruises. They are part of life. The bruise on your 9 year olds knee from falling while skating with her friends, well worth it. The scrape on your 5 year olds elbow from climbing the huge tree, he’s proud of it. The 2 or 3 ounces of Sprite I give my 2 year old for pooping in the potty, best decision I ever made. I believe the memories, pride, and accomplishments will long outlast the hurt from some bruises, scratches and sugar.

Monday, May 24, 2010

I just don't feel like it

I am well aware that I now have not posted in over a month.

I was going to write about the flood and post some pictures of all the water, but I just didn't feel like it.

I was going to write about volunteering at a Red Cross shelter, and the amazing people who were living there, but I just didn't feel like it.

I was going to gripe about our lawyer, but I just didn't feel like it.

I was going to give you the low down on some awesome sales and money saving ideas, but I just didn't feel like it.

I seem to go in spurts, I write, I don't, I write, I don't, I write, I don't.

I am not going to appologize for it anymore.

Until I get back to writing on a regular basis...

We are all doing very well.

Zachary is getting much better at fielding and his grades have been awesome.

Shiloh sings constantly and usually two or three songs at once.

Jeremy having weekends off has been awesome, I will be sad to see them go.

I am still here, looking at piles of papers and finding reasons to not actually look at the papers.

Until next time...

Friday, April 23, 2010

A Shout Out and Retail Therapy?

First of all, a BIG shout out to the hubby for THP Dispatcher of the year!!!

And he is a celebrity now, check out the News Channel 2 Video
He also was on channels 5 and 17!

I am so proud of him!!!!

Now that my shout out is out of the way, what about some retail therapy...on a budget ofcourse.

Use the code N1G7ZDK2WQ2T at Old Navy and save 15% on any Adult purchases. Also if you spend over $75,which I WILL NOT BE, you get free shipping.

Needing something for the kids? The Childrens Place has graphic T's for $5. Might as well stock up now, you know your kids will be wearing them, well forever.

Happy Frugal Friday!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

I'm a WOH! Mom

I am a WOH! (Work Outside the Home) Mom. I don’t have a choice. My Husband and I both have to work to afford a 1200 sq. ft. house in a small town 45 minutes out of Nashville. We both have to work to afford two older vehicles (2002 and 2003). We both have to work to pay the electric bill, water bill and car insurance. We don’t have cable or satellite, we don’t have internet and we don’t spend money eating out. Most months we barely get by. If one of us decided to stay home and we got rid of one vehicle, we could only afford to pay $200.00 in rent. We would still make too much to qualify for any kind of state or federal assistance. So we both work.

But, if I had the choice, I would still be a WOH! Mom. Don’t get me wrong, I would LOVE to not HAVE to work, but I would still work. I would still send my daughter to preschool five days a week. For me, Preschool is a God-send. The group of teachers at her preschool are brave. They let the one year olds finger paint!! Preschool has taught my daughter (and me) so much. We have learned sign language, colors, numbers, animals, sharing, manners, music and compassion, and my daughter is only two. My daughter has social skills that rival most second graders, the verbal capacity of a kindergartener, and the motor skills to keep up with the 4 year olds. And I love that I get adult conversation, on adult topics EVERY DAY.

Whether or not I HAVE to work, working is what is right for me and my family. I am a WOH! Mom and I am proud of it!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Easter Bunny Interview

The night the Easter Bunny was to visit our house, Zachary asked me: “Don’t you think the Easter Bunny is with Santa Clause and has Santa give him a ride on Easter?”

Well you know, I don’t know. I remember asking Santa how he made it to all those houses in one night. I don’t think I’ve ever asked the Easter Bunny….anything!

Now that Easter has come and gone, the Easter Bunny agreed to answer some essential questions.

Me: “Do you live at the North Pole with Santa?

EB: “No No, it is much too cold there for a bunny. I live in a hole in the ground.”

Me: “Is this hole in the ground on Easter Island?”

EB: “The location of my home is classified. Santa can give out his location since it is hard to travel to the North Pole, and the weather is frightful. My home is actually much more accessible and the weather is pretty nice.”

Me: “Are you and Santa friends?”

EB: “Oh yes! I am friends with the Tooth Fairy too!”

Me: “How do you get all the candy for Easter?”

EB: “Well, I started out making all the candy for Easter, but now there are so many good candy companies out there like Hershey’s, Nestle and Mars, that we’ve worked out a business deal. They get to use my likeness and I get free candy. It frees my year up a lot.”

Me: “How is using your likeness beneficial to them?”

EB: “My likeness helps them sale candy to humans. While I bring the Easter baskets and bunches of candy, Moms, Dads, Grandparents, Teachers and so on buy candy at Easter to give to kids or put in eggs for their own Easter egg hunts.”

Me: “Any idea why Easter egg hunts have become so popular?”

EB: “Apparently adults like to hide candy from kids. Who knew?”

Me: “Why don’t you bring more toys like Santa?”

EB: “Because I don’t have a workshop full of elves.”

Me: “How do you get the toys you do bring?”

EB: “Santa taught me to make some toys and he also lets me use his elves for a few non complicated toys. It can’t be anything too complicated as they are very busy making toys for Christmas and cannot get behind. In exchange, I’ve taught his elves to make candy and I even make some of his Christmas candy myself.”

Me: “How do you make it to so many houses in one night?”

EB: “Well luckily I just have to make it to every house at night, not at a certain time. I eat lots of good food and work out so that I can hop almost faster than light.”

Me: “So you don’t hop a ride on Santa’s sleigh?”

EB: “Only if there is a blizzard, or I’ve hurt myself.”

Me: “Well thank you so much for your time. Would you mind doing a follow up interview later? I am sure my kids and their friends will have some more questions they want answered.”

EB: “Anytime between now and Christmas. I am very busy between Christmas and Easter.”

Me: “Ofcourse.”

Friday, April 2, 2010

Coupon Mania

My current obsession is coupons, therefor I will probably blog about them regularly. This post will be more of a list of where to get coupons (besides the Sunday paper) and where to not waste your time and energy.


Great Places to pick up printable coupons!

Coupons.com is possibly the best known place to pick up printable coupons. They have coupons for everything, and from what I can tell, the coupons are very similar to the ones you find in your Sunday paper. However, to print the coupons you have to download some kind of software. Since I do not have a printer at home and have to use public ones, I can't and therefor cannot print these.

Check out Purity Lovers for great coupons on Purity products. They change their coupons monthly, but currently you can get coupons for $1 off a gallon of milk and $1 off sour cream and more. Their coupons are in adobe, so no software to download (assuming you already have the reader)

At Wish Bone you can print a $.50 coupon off salad dressing. If you use the coupon at Kroger, it doubles to make it $1 off.

Campbells has four printable coupons for $1 off when you buy 2 or 3 of certain products. These are better than what you typically find in the Sunday paper.

Welchshas a coupon for $1 off 2 refrigerated juices.

You have to sign up at Betty Crocker but there is over $12 worth of coupons for the taking. They change their coupons monthly. Many of these coupons can also be found at Coupons.com

You also have to sign up at Pillsbury but they have over $15 worth of printable coupons, many of which can also be found on Coupons.com

Birds Eye has a $1 off 2 Viola meals and $1 off 4 bags of frozen Vegtables.

At Johnson & Johnson there are many great offers and coupons including $1 off Desitin and $1 off Shampoo.

If your looking for coupons for over the counter medications, check valuesforhealth.com They have $1 off coupons for Tylenol and Motrin,adult and childrens! They update the offers fairly often, so keep checking.


Contact these companies to receive awesome coupons by mail!

I had luck with Johnson & Johnsons. I simply asked them to send coupons I received 3 $1 off coupons for any Johnson and Johnson family product about 2 weeks later. I am unsure how often they will honor coupon requests.

I contacted Birds Eye and also received 3 $1 off coupons for viola meals. It is their policy to only send coupons once.

Purina will honor coupon requests every 4-6 weeks. I was sent 2 $2 off any pet food coupons with in two weeks of my request.

I contacted Welchs and received 3 $.50 coupons for any Welchs products.

Wish Bone will send a token of appreciation when you contact them about their products. I received a recipie book and coupons for many Unilever brands including $1 off Hellmans, $1 off Dove and ofcourse $1 off Wish Bone salad dressing. There were 12 coupons total that do not expire until Febuary of 2011.

I had already signed up at Huggies and had been receiving coupons about 4 times a year through the mail. However, they had started sending me pull ups coupons and my daughter still is in diapers, so I asked them to send me diaper coupons again. I received a one-time mailing of coupons that included 4 $1 off any Huggies brand products.

If you are a new mom who uses formula, you also need to sign up with Similac. They send coupons and samples quarterly until the childs first birthday.

Last, but certainly not least, Proctor and Gamble allows you to request samples and coupons once each quarter. You can pick the samples and coupons you want, and they will be delivered in about 4 weeks. The new quarter just started April 1 and I am loving that they offer a free sample of cascade and 2 great coupons for Tide!

While the above brands have some great offers, others do not.
Here is my "don't waste your time" list:
Campbells-corporate policy to not mail coupons
Con-Agra Foods (Chef Boyardee, Hunts, etc)-corporate policy to not mail coupons
Playtex-signed up online and never received any correspondance
Dr.Pepper/Snapple Brand- Received email that did not address my request
Suave- signed up online nad never received any correspondance
Kraft- corporate policy to not mail coupons
Knorr- corporate policy to not mail coupons

Happy savings to all the coupon-ers!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

My Breaking Point

I have been meaning to write for a while. I have planned posts, but never got around to actually writing them.

I had planned to write a post about coupons. I have become a bit of a coupon nut.

I had planned to write about my first bike ride since I was twelve, and how sore and out of shape I have apparently become.

I had planned to write about how my sweet, innocent two year old is now throwing tantrums about everything, including that Mommy isn't holding the sippy cup exactly right!

I had planned to write how suddenly my toddler refuses to sleep, especially in her own bed. And about my hours of research and theories, just incase there are any other parents out there who are experiencing a similar situation.

However, after about three hours of sleep (since that is all my sweet and innocent toddler thinks she needs these days), realizing that I am way behind at work and I just CANNOT catch up, and just finding out the me and my hubby will each be loosing part of our life insurance, I just want to rant. RANT! RANT! RANT!

RANT RANT RANT RANT RANT RANT RANT RANT RANT RANT RANT

I will still enlighten all (hopefully) with my coupon post one day soon. I have put a lot of work and effort and planning into that post. I just haven't actually written it yet. I hope you will find it useful when I do.

I probably will not recount my bike ride. Perhaps another bike ride another day.

There will be plenty of tantrums to share with all.

I will definately write about toddler sleep problems VERY SOON. I am sure some out there will be able to relate and it is definately one of the main things on my mind these days.

I will get caught up at work, eventually. I am just not going to stress about it anymore.

And I will go home tonight and look through all of our insurance papers for the original handbook. They are quoting me a clause from a handbook from two months AFTER we got coverage. If the same clause is in the original handbook, fine. I made a mistake. If it is not in the original handbook, I guess I am taking on an insurance company. Woo Hoo!

There will also be posts to come about Facebook, Twitter, Shopping, Money, Fashion and other blogs.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Why I Am a Bad Mommy

I am a bad mommy because...

....I let my daughter eat M&M's before dinner because she was good at the store.

....I've told my toddler that something was her's so she would quit saying "mine" when in reality it was mine...or her brothers...or some other childs...or etc.

....I have answered yes to a question when I was not paying attention and have no idea what I answered yes to. I am really hoping I haven't promised to buy my step son a motorcycle when he turns 14.

....I have let my daughter fall asleep and stay on the couch with me because I did not want to miss any of NCIS Los Angeles.

....I sneak snack food behind my kids back...constantly.

Yep folks, I am a bad mommy. If you have ever thought about telling your son that the boogey man lives under your bed to keep him from snooping for Christmas presents, you just might be a bad mommy (or brilliant) too!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Christmas Traditions

Yes, I know this post is three weeks late, but...

Christmas is a time for tradition. Growing up our tradition included me waking up the WHOLE house on Christmas morning to see what Santa brought and “Last gift of the night” where we had one last gift Christmas night when we went to bed.

This year I decided I wanted to start my own family tradition for Christmas. The Husband and I decided our Christmas tradition would be to give each of the kids something that WE had to put work into, not just buy at the store. Of course we decided this in December so we had to scramble.



For my daughter, I gave her all the stuff to make a cute scrap book/picture album that is all her own. She is about to turn two and loves pictures, but frequently gets in trouble for trying to handle mine. I gave her all the stuff, but we still haven’t actually made it yet. But we will…as soon as I get pictures developed!!! (uploading now)



For big man, he got his Daddy’s hunting rifle (No I have no idea what kind it is). His Daddy replaced a couple of parts and mounted a scope for him. He loves it! For those of you freaking out that we gave a seven year old a gun, I need to point out a couple of things. First this is Tennessee and he will take his hunters safety course at nine…in a year and a half. Secondly, the gun is in a case in our room. Third, the bullets are locked up separately from the gun. He does not have access to get the gun whenever he so chooses.

I happen to have gotten a sewing machine for Christmas, so next year I know we will do better…and start planning for our “homemade” items in July.

All in all we had a fabulous Christmas, we were blessed to be all together for five full days. I hope each of you also had a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Now I wonder what Christmas traditions other families have, care to share?