Friday, January 31, 2014

Frugal Friday-Fast Food

Our Friday night's are very busy, so we've decided to stop cooking on Friday nights and eat out.  However, we still need to do so on a budget.  I've worked $20 into our weekly budget for Friday nights.  If you have eaten out lately, you know feeding a family of 4 on $20 isn't always easy, especially when you don't want to eat the same thing every week.  Below are some of our favorite places to eat and an idea of how we make it work.

Note: Most of the time, we get the food and bring it home. This way we can use the drinks we already have at home!

Little Ceasars: $5 pizza's.  Need I say more

Papa John's: They regularly run deals with $11 large pizzas.  If you sign up for the rewards program and order online, you'll end up eventually earning a free pizza.  Watch out for codes to get more points.  I've earned and redeemed SEVERAL free pizzas!

McDonalds: They recently re-did the value menu and our regular orders are no longer just a $1.  However, you can still easily score 4 hamburger or chicken sandwiches, fries (we generally get 2 large fries and split them), and 4 large drinks for under $20.  This is the only place we get drinks, every time.

Krystals: The sackfull combos are actually a very good deal!

Subway: Subway runs deals on footlongs during various months.  For January, all footlongs were $5.  We recently got 3 footlongs and 3 chips to share for $20.  That was actually supper and lunch!

Taco bell- If you just get Taco's you can get plenty to feed a family of 4.

What are your favorite fast food places to eat at on a budget?

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Sight Words

My daughter has always loved reading and I've always encouraged it.  We have always read books, and now that she is in Kindergarten, we have stepped it up a notch.  We have set a goal of her knowing 200 sight words before 1st grade.

This is the list we came up with.
We currently know 91!  We started with 15 words and I made flash cards.  Once my daughter can go through the sight word flash card in 2 seconds per card, we add 15 more words. (We are at 91, because mommy's math got off at some point!).  My daughter loves trying to beat the timer so this has become a game for her.  We also use the flash cards to practice alphabetizing.  We count the cards to work on numbers.  We've also put them in piles by the starting letter and made graphs!  Who ever said flash cards aren't "fun" is WRONG! We have a blast.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Why I yell at my kids, and don't plan to apologize

First let me start by saying, I understand that ÿelling" isn't the most preferable way to speak to my children, or anyone for that matter.  But, occasionally, I find it necessary.  And I don't plan to apologize.

Why do I yell?  Most often, because I've tried the speak clearly, calmly, sternly...and my kids are still talking over me.  Whining. Being loud.  Doing exactly what I am trying to tell them to not do.
Sometimes I yell because the situation calls for it, like when my 6 year old is about to touch a hot stove, or my eleven year old is about to ride his bike into the back of my car.
Occasionally, I yell because I'm at the end of my rope. And I NEED to get that point across.

I can here some of you parenting experts out there listing all kinds of other options.  Get their attention, get on their eye level, speak calmly but sternly.  Give them natural consequences.  Divert their attention.

I do these, I really do.  I am the QUEEN of natural consequences. However, sometime, these just don't work.  Or sometime, I don't have the time and patience for these to work.  Sometime, I really just need my kids to go play quietly in their room, or anywhere besides my kitchen.  And unfortunately, when I yell, that is when my kids KNOW I mean business.

"Maybe you should go take a time out in your room"I can here some of you saying.  Yeah, my kids just keep knocking on my door. Asking questions. The bathroom is not even sacred.

"Well, it's your fault, you've taught them that when you yell, is when they need to listen," um, well maybe.

But I'm not sorry.  What am I teaching my children?  That is is OK to get frustrated.  That mom does have a breaking point.  That they are going to make people mad/upset in their lives. That anger and frustration can be expressed without hitting/kicking, running away or calling people names.

I really don't think it's the end of the world.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Frugal Friday - Consignment Sale Time

I realize that is was below 0 degrees last week.

I fully realize that Spring does not öfficially" begin til late March.

That has absolutely no bearing on when Spring consignment season begins.

Spring consignment season begins February 1!

Even though it will still be too cold to wear those shorts, flip flops and sun dresses for several more months here in Tennessee, now is the time to take them out of storage and assess.  What still fits (you, the kids, the hubs), what is still your style, and what do you need.

If you plan on selling these items, you need to start collecting wire hangers, safety pins and index cards.  If you plan on printing your tags (and some larger sales REQUIRE this!), you will need to buy card stock.

Please check the individual requirements for the sale you will be consigning with, but here is a basic step by step process:

Week 1: Gather supplies and all the items you would like to sell (Spring/Summer clothes in good condition, toys that aren't stuffed animals, ANY baby items, furniture, and home decorations).  You will need a dedicated space in your house for the next several weeks (a dining room table, guest bedroom, etc). Register for the sale and confirm your drop off date/time.

Week 2: Launder and clean all the items you want to sell.  Group them by category and clothing by gender and size.

Week 3: Tag, Tag, Tag Tag.  Your fingers will hurt. Your head will hurt. It will be worth it.  When tagging children's clothes, pair desirable items (a nice pair of jeans) with less desirable items (plain t-shirt).  Yes, the jeans would have sold by them selves, but the shirt maybe not.  Pair them together and price them for the total amount you would have asked seperately.  This only works on Children's clothing under size 14.  Also, make sure to mark items you are NOT willing to accept half price on. Most sales have half priced day the last day of the sale and if your item(s) are not marked "ND", it can be sold for half of what you are asking. You can mark some of your items "ND"and allow others to be sold for half priced.

Week 4:  Drop off your items. Make sure they are sorted by your sale's guidelines.  Shop the pre-sale and invite a friend!!

Week 5 or 6: Pick up your unsold items from the sale or allow them to be donated.

Week 7 or 8: Receive your check!  I will be placing my check this year in the vacation fund!

Consignment sales are a great time to buy new and gently used clothing, shoes, furniture, toys and baby items.  Here are my best tips:

  • Take a laundry basket to carry the items you would like to purchase
  • Always look at the size you are needing as well as a size both bigger and smaller
  • Start with shoes. Then hit larger items, baby items, clothing and then everything else
  • Shop opening day and closing day. Opening day you will get the best items, Closing day you will get the best deals.
  • Take a list of things you are looking for, but be open to finding other great finds.
  • Try to leave the kids at home.  This can be a long process and can involve standing in line for a while.
  • Make a budget and stick to it.
  • Look over your items VERY well before purchasing. You cannot return the items.
  • Bring Cash. Some accept other form of payments, but cash will be better and keep you on budget.
Below is a list of my favorite sales, where I make the most and find the best items. Some of these sites have not updated for the spring sales yet, keep checking back!
Encores North in Hendersonville
Grace's Closet in White House
24 Kids  In Pleasant View

To find more sales near you, please check out Kids Consignment Sales and Consigning Time.

What are your best tips for shopping consignment sales? For selling items at the sales?

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Child Care Hours Around Here Suck

Over the Christmas break, my baby sitter quit.  I spent the next 2 weeks searching for child care and discovered something.

I live in a child care desert. DESERT!

There is not one child care facility in my school zone. Not one.

My daughters school does offer after school care until 5:30 PM and that is where I currently I have her registered.  They do not offer before care.

However, I am used to having child care 6AM to 6 PM.

I live 45 miles from where I work.  By the time I drive (with traffic), park and get into work, it takes about an hour and half.

So I work for 8 hours, with a 30 minute lunch:  8.5
Normal traffic to work each morning:                1.5
Normal traffic from work each morning:            1.5
Total time I HAVE to be away from home:       11.5 hours.

See why I NEED 12 complete hours of child care. The normal traffic does not allow for wrecks or increased traffic due to weather.

I am becoming increasingly concerned that I will not be able to make this child care situation work. I have exhausted every resource and option I know.  It makes me wonder how other people manage child care and still make a living?

Unfortunately, this is the only option and therefor the only plan that we have.

I would love nothing more than to work from home or work the hours my child is in school, but we just can't make it financially.

Here is fingers crossed, this magically works out.

On the bright side, my daughter seemed to love her first 2 afternoons in the new program!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Frugal Friday- Making extra money

It's nice to save money, but it is even better to MAKE a little extra money, and now is the perfect time!

With the holidays officially behind us, now is the perfect time.  We all have more....stuff now, and likely need to clean out our closets.  Maybe you got some things for Christmas that you don't necessarily want to keep, but couldn't return. 

I know you were thinking Ï can re-gift this!" Why keep it around for a whole year, when you could sell it for a little extra cash now?

And what about all those Spring/Summer clothes that no longer fit (the kids of course, I know NONE of us have gained any weight over the holidays).

Why not get a jump on the spring cleaning and clean out the house and make some extra (vacation?) money.  Have I got you on board?  Then get to cleaning those closets out and compile all the stuff you want out of your house!

But now what, where do we sell these things.  There are tons of options for selling items, and I've tried my hand at most of them.

Yard Sale- Yard Sales  by far take the most time and effort on your part.  You have to set up, price and man the sale all day long.  You can get a good turn out, especially if you live in a high traffic area and get with a friend or two to make it a "multi-family"sale.  However, it is 5 degrees out side today, and not really yard sale weather where I live.  Plus, I just don't have a weekend to spend sitting in my front yard.  This is actually my least favorite way to sell, just because it is so time consuming and dependent on the weather.

Consignment Sale- Believe it or not, consignment season is just around the corner. Consignment sales are generally held in doors and you will only be responsible for tagging your items, others work the sale.  You need to be careful though, because some sales are very picky about how the items are brought in, especially clothes.  They may require wire hangers facing a certain way with the tag in a certain place, etc.  You will also be charged a fee to consign (around $10) plus they will take about 30% of your profit.  I generally do very well with selling Children's clothes and bigger toys/furniture at these sales.  Shoes also sell well.  However, tagging can still be very time consuming and you loose part of your profit.

Ebay- Ebay was the original on-line yard sale. For this to work best, you will also need a paypal account.  You list your item with either a set price, or allow people to bid.  You can also charge the buyer for shipping or pay shipping yourself.  I've always had my best luck by starting my item at $.99 and letting people bid and having the buyer pay shipping as well.  You can also sell clothes or other items in "lots" or groups.  Beware though, if you are new to Ebay, they will hold the buyers funds until the buyer receives their item, so you will have to pay shipping out of pocket at first.  Ebay will also take a small percentage of the sale and so will Paypal.  Shipping can also be time consuming and expensive up front. However, if you have the extra time and funds up front, I have gotten my biggest return from Ebay.

Craigslist- Craigslist, unlike Ebay, is free and local (and by local I mean everyone that considers themselves Nashville instead of Chattanooga).  You can post your item for free, along with your phone number and people will call you about your item.  Most people will try to haggle you and get a cheaper price.  Once you have a buyer, you and the buyer will agree upon a time and they will meet you to get the item.  I'm not as fond of Craigslist, because most of the questions/negotiations are done by phone and I don't particularly like having my phone number out in public.  However, it is completely free and you are in charge of all pricing.  I've found that Craigslist is the best way to sell very large items (boats, kitchen tables, etc).

Facebook- These days, everyone is selling things on their personal facebook pages.  I've had some luck with this myself.  The downside? you are selling directly to your friends, so your audience is limited.  Plus if the sale doesn't go according to plan, or your friend ends up feeling ripped off, there goes a virtual friendship.

Varagesale-  Varagesale is an app for your phone (iphone atleast) that allows you to join local (real local, not like craigslist local) or world wide online yard sales.  The app is free.  You post your item for free.  People comment through the app (they have none of your personal information!) and you decide on a place to meet (or you ship the item if its world wide).  Everything is free, personal info is kept confidential, and it can be truly local.  This is by far my new favorite way to sell!

Do you have any other good ways to sell your stuff?  What are your thoughts on how to sell items?

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Almost 6

Walking across the church parking lot, I reach for my daughters hand. 

"I don't need to hold your hand" says my daughter. 

Absent mindedly I ask "oh, are you too big to hold my hand now?"

"Well, I'm almost six. So the answer might be yes"

:short pause:

"But don't be mad " she finishes, "I'm almost six."

And in one poetic conversation, my daughter reminds me that she is growing up AND that I can't be "mad" about it. 

She is almost 6. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

How do you wear high heels, everyday?

I'm a pretty low maintenance girl.  I am happy in my flip flops, jeans and tennis shoes.  However, sometimes that girly side of me kicks in and I want to wear a cute pair of shoes.  Many times, this cute pair of shoes involve high heels. After wearing the cute shoes for a few hours, I'm left wondering ladies...HOW DO YOU WEAR HIGH HEELS ALMOST EVERY DAY?


I got a new pair of boots for Christmas with a modest heel.  They fit perfect and are super cute.  I wore them to work for the first time the other day and came home with huge blisters on the ball of my feet.  Now I don't have a job that requires a lot of standing and walking. I walk from my car to the office. From my desk to the break room or bathroom and back (2 or 3 times per day) and then back to my car at the end of the day.  And yet, by the time I was hobbling (yes it hurt so bad I was actually hobbling). Yáll is was below freezing outside and I was actually contemplating taking my boots off and walking to my car in sock feet.  I was desperate for relief.

So I need to know, ladies, how do you manage to wear high heels regularly?  Is this a get used to the pain thing?  Is there a trick that someone forgot to tell me?  Is this just something we must suffer through and only true females who have style find it worth the cause? If I wore heels more often, would I get used to them?

Please tell me I'm doing something wrong.  I'm kind of on side.  Wearing heels would be so nice.  I need every inch I can take.

To add insult to injury, my five year old prances around in her heels for hours every day.  They don't seem to bother her.

So, am I the only one who can't wear heels? Please let me know that I'm not alone. Or if you were once me, how you managed to start wearing heels.