Sunday, June 29, 2008

Recommended Reading: Survey Sites

I have signed up for quite a few survey sites in the last few months and have only gotten one paying survey (from Pinecone). I like reading about others' experiences with surveys, so these are some of the things I've been reading about surveys lately.

A Final Update: My Paid Survey Experiment from Baby Cheapskate

Snack Time: Surveys to Earn Cash from Mommy Snacks

Personally, I am signed up with the following survey sites:
My Survey
American Consumer Opinion
LiveWire
Pinecone
E-Rewards (through UPromise)
Your2Cents

Overall, I'm a little discouraged with the lack of surveys I've received, and I have completed all that have been sent to me so far. I plan to give it some time, perhaps until the end of this year and see where I end up. I'll update as I get some more paid surveys! (Crossing my fingers that's soon!) In fact, since we're starting a new month on Tuesday, I am going to track my progress over the next month and see how I'm doing as far as surveys go.

Nonfiction: Ebates

After seeing information about Ebates on a number of blogs, I finally decided to give it a try after reading about it at this article: Snack Time: Ebates $10 Bonus Ends 6/30. Esentially, use Ebates to receive cash back when you shop online at a variety of stores. I do quite a bit of online shopping and found most of my regular retailers on the list of Ebates stores, so I am hoping this will work out well for me. Cash back is calculated quarterly, and you must have at least $5.01 in your account to get your "Big Fat Check". I'll update when I get my first check, but thanks to Mommy Snacks for the info on this company and this deal.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Bestsellers: Pampers Jumbo Diapers

Pampers Jumbo Swaddlers, Cruisers, and Baby Dry diapers are $7.99 during Meijer's Two-Day Super Sale on Friday, June 27 & Saturday, June 28. If you have a coupon, that will make this deal even better!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Reference Desk: Blogging

Well, I wanted a 3-column blog, so I read the article "3 ColumnTemplates: Rounders: Right and Left Sidebars". I have some tweaking to do, but overall, I was able to follow the directions and achieve the desired result. Be assured, I know very little about HTML, so this was a fairly simple and straight-forward set of directions. It did take me two tries, so be sure to save your original template!

Recommended Reading: Diapers Per Pack

This chart from Baby Cheapskate is an invaluable resource. I have already used it several times. Check out Diapers Per Pack (.pdf file) and you're on your way to figuring out the best price per diaper!

Reference Desk: Decorating

I just took a look at Christy's Thrifty Decorating this morning and am enjoying all of her fabulous projects and ideas. Check it out for some home inspiration of your own!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Free Music by the Band downhere

I was listening to the radio on Sunday afternoon and heard an advertisement for this free CD download. The Christian band downhere is offering a free download of their 2006 album "Wide-Eyed and Mystified". Just enter your name and e-mail at this website to get your free download through the end of June. One of my favorite songs from the album is called "A Better Way". Check it out and enjoy some great free music!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Selling Items on Amazon

I enjoyed reading this post about selling items on Amazon: Frugonomics 101: Makin' Money Monday... Makin' Money at Amazon. I know we have some books, CDs, etc. that we can clear out of the house and make a little bit of money. I'll be sure to post how this goes. Check out the article!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Sears, CVS, and Flowers

I had a fun end to the week as far as shopping/saving goes. First, on Friday, my mom and I took a trip to Sears to take advantage of the great Dockers deal for my dad for Father's Day and his birthday. While there, I did a bit of shopping and got this great outfit:

The skirt was $4.50, the shirt $3.00, and I also got a lightweight black sweater for $3.50. Total with tax: $11.68. You might want to check out Sears for some good clothing buys!
We stopped in to CVS this afternoon hoping to take advantage of some deals I had worked out and a $5 off $30 coupon that expires tomorrow. I was disappointed that pretty much all of the items I wanted were gone, but wanted to buy something small because I was supposed to get $10 in ECB for a survey I took a couple of weeks ago for CVS (through the CVS Advisor Panel). The ECB were to print beginning June 13, once my card was scanned. We decided to just get 2 candy bars for $1.00. When the ECB printed I got $10 for completing the survey, then an additional $15 also for completing the survey! It was a huge surprise and even the cashier commented on it. As an added bonus, a $3 off Revlon coupon printed.

Finally, this evening, we stopped by a local farmer's market. They really didn't have any produce, but they had massive quantities of flowers. All plants were buy 1, get 1 free. I hadn't bought any annuals for my flowerpots, so I got 8 packs of annuals for $7.20. I got zinnias, celosia, petunias, and a few others. Take a look!

I also made this frugal picture to put in our living room. I took a picture of our peonies when they were at their peak. I took it very close up (you might recognize it from my blog header). Then I took advantage of last weekend's free Shutterfly 8x10. It came yesterday and I framed it today with a frame I already had. This idea was in June's issue of Better Homes and Gardens. So those are my savings stories for this week.

Check out more savings stories at Money Saving Mom's Super Savings Saturday!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Budgeting

Over at The Centsible Sawyer, there is a post today about budgeting. My husband and I have had a written budget for about 3 1/2 of our 4 years of marriage. We use an Excel spreadsheet and have 28 (I know it sounds like a lot!) categories. For us, it has been a fabulous tool for tracking our spending. Each year (sometimes more often) we tweak the budget by adding categories and changing amounts. We've added additional tabs to the budget for us to notate our spending on gifts, our savings for various goals (we have a number of "funds" named on our spreadsheet that we put different savings amounts into.), and even to track our income. This may sound complicated, but it really has been extremely helpful for us.

When we set up our budget, we used a lot of resources available at Crown Financial Ministries. There are a number of forms, worksheets, calculators, and other tools available at this web site. Check them out at Crown's Free Publications Online. We used the suggested percentages from this site and Larry Burkett's books to create our initial budget. We also have used The Crown Money Map as a guide for saving and investing. Crown (and especially Howard Dayton, who used to do a radio show called "How to Manage Your Money") does an amazing job of discussing money and finances from a Biblical perspective. I hope to write more about budgeting and Crown's resources in future posts.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Sunday's Coupons, Staples, CVS

I was excited to find baby food coupons in Sunday's paper. $1.00 off 8 jars of Nature's Goodness baby food. Meijer carries this brand.

Staples had a few excellent deals in their ad this week. Sharpie Grip Permanent Markers (3 pk.), Uni-Ball Signo 207 retractable gel pens (micro, 4 pk.), and Sharpie Highlighters (6 pk.) are $1.99. Last week's Uni-Ball pens for $0.99 sold out quickly. Check these out for a start on back to school shopping (already??) or for a graduation gift.

Target has some good Father's Day gifts like Cherokee polo shirts for $7.99 and wallets for $8.99. My favorite Cherokee Ultimate tees are on sale for $6. I think I'll stock up on a couple. Sterilite storage containers are also on sale.

I had a pretty good CVS run tonight. I got 2 boxes of Cheerios, 2 boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios, 2 boxes of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and a 3-pack of Orbit gum. I used 2 $1 coupons on the Honey Nut Cheerios, 2 $0.55 coupons on the Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and 1 $1/2 coupon on the Cheerios. I also had a $1.50 CVS coupon on a 3-pack of Orbit gum, plus the 3/$15 coupon from the Akron Beacon Journal. Paid with $13.49 in ECB, $0.70 OOP, $10.00 in ECB back. I think that will be my only trip this week!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Super Savings Saturday - End of week recap

I feel like we did a good job of stocking up this week. I don't have pictures; I need to remember to start taking some! Here are a few highlights:

  • My CVS trips were good stock up trips. I am still trying to get CVS to work for me and after thinking about it further, I'm not sure how well I did...although I know I did save money and shouldn't need certain items (paper towel, TP) for quite a while.
  • We went to Target today. I got a great deal on Luvs diapers. $6.99 per jumbo, I bought 2 packs. Used $2.50/2 coupon from Target and a $2.00 manufacturer coupon to make the two packs $9.48. After tax, about 10 cents per diaper. Wipes were a good deal, too. $2.80 for 2 packs of Pampers wipes (used $2/2 coupon from P&G, 6/1).
  • Meijer was great this week. 10 for $10, plus 11th free. We spent $87.90 - including formula, saved $45.96. Savings of 34%. Thanks to MommySnacks for the coupon match-ups!
  • Garage sales yielded some good deals...including 2 brand new pairs of shoes for the little one. $3.50 for both -- plus an OshKosh denim jumper, new with tags for $2.00.
  • We didn't have a gift bag for a graduation gift for this evening. I stitched up a simple one out of some navy flannel we had. I tied it with a metallic bow and we're all set!

Check out some other great savings stories at Money Saving Mom's Super Savings Saturday!

Friday, June 6, 2008

WOW Music Giveaway

Rocks in My Dryer is doing an awesome giveaway of Christian music CDs. 18 CDs in all! Check them out here! WOW Hits 1 is providing the CDs for the giveaway. I have several of the WOW CDs and know I will enjoy this one. I will check it out even if I don't win this contest!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

CVS This Week

I'm definitely a newbie to CVS and the Drugstore Game. I've always enjoyed getting deals and using coupons, so CVSing makes sense to me. I am definitely not in the realm of spending less than a $1 each trip, but I know I am spending less on items that we need and beginning to create a stockpile of certain items. This is a breakdown of this week's CVS runs.

Transaction 1:
Fusion Razor - $9.99
SmartRinse Mouthwash - $3.49
Minus $4.00 Razor coupon
Total: $9.48
Paid for with $9.00 in ECB, $0.78 OOP
$7.49 in ECB earned ($4.00 on razor, $3.49 on mouthwash)

Transaction 2:
2 Pampers Swaddlers Sz. 2 - $7.99 each - $15.98
1 Pampers Cruisers Sz. 3 - $7.99
2 CVS Bandaids - $1.99 each - $3.98
Minus $2.00 Pampers coupon
Total: $25.95
Paid with previous $7.49 in ECB, $19.79 OOP
$8.98 in ECB earned ($5.00 on diapers, $3.98 on bandaids)

Transaction 3:
1 Candy - $1.77
3 Glade Air Fresheners $0.88 each - $2.64
2 Bounty 8 Roll - $4.96 - $9.92
2 Charmin 9 Roll - $4.96 - $9.92
1 Huggies Baby Wash - $3.49
Minus 2 $0.25 Bounty coupons
Minus 2 $1.00 Charmin coupons
Minus 1 $0.75 Candy coupon
Minus 1 $1.00 Huggies coupon
Minus 1 $0.88 Glade coupon (B1, G1)
Minus 3/$15 coupon
Total: $19.61
Paid for with previous $8.98 in ECB, $11.54 OOP
$12.00 ECB earned ($10.00 on Charmin/Bounty deal, $2.00 on Huggies)

Transaction 4:
SmartRinse Mouthwash - $3.49
Minus $1.00 coupon
Total: $2.49
Paid for with $2.oo ECB, $0.59 OOP
$3.49 ECB earned (SmartRinse)

All told, I spent $32.70 OOP, with a lot of diapers (115 diapers, approx $0.14 per diaper)
And, I have $13.49 to spend in ECB. By the way...these were not separate transactions in a single visit. We were close several times this week, hence a few trips. :-)

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Works for Me Wednesday

This is my first time participating in Works for Me Wednesday. This week's edition is "Mom, I'm Bored" and focuses on ways to keep kids entertained during summer vacation. As a teacher and librarian, my ideas tend to be focused on books and reading. I can only reiterate to check out your local library. Most libraries run really great summer reading programs for kids of all ages. The theme that many libraries across the US will be using this summer is "Catch the Reading Bug". The best part (in addition to instilling a lifelong love of reading in your kids)? The vast majority of the programs are FREE!

For some rainy day fun with books at home, try Little Giraffes Story Props. This site has a wide variety of pictures to match children's books, songs, and fingerplays. Kids can use these to retell stories or act them out with friends or siblings. It's a favorite site of mine...I know it "works for me"!

Check out some other great at ideas at Rocks in My Dryer's WFMW feature!

Cookies from a Cake Mix

I like to bake and wanted to try a quick recipe yesterday. I've had good luck with recipes using cake mixes, so I hopped over to Betty Crocker, and found this recipe for Fudge Crinkles. I used a Chocolate Fudge cake mix instead of Devil's Food and they turned out great. Yum!

Fudge Crinkles

Prep Time:20 min

Start to Finish:1 hr 20 min

Makes:2 1/2 dozen cookies

1 box Betty Crocker® SuperMoist® devil's food cake mix

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

Powdered sugar

1. Heat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, stir dry cake mix, oil, eggs and vanilla, using spoon, until dough forms.

2. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll balls in powdered sugar. On ungreased cookie sheet, place balls about 2 inches apart.

3. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until set. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes. Store tightly covered.

Frugal Gifts

I know May and June are busy months for everyone for gift giving. It's exceptionally true in our family. In addition to Mother's Day, Father's Day, graduations, and weddings, we have a good handful of our small family's birthdays in May and June as well. As a result, I'm always looking for fun, frugal gift ideas. I tend to shop for gifts year round, stashing them in a box in a closet when I find something I like that's a good price. I don't always have someone in mind to give the gift to at the time, but 9 times out of 10, all of the gifts in the box get used.

For the graduations we're going to, my mom and I put together a college survival kit of sorts. It was put together using sale items and coupons that made things an excellent price. My husband gave us the ideas - these were all things he used at college, and with our graduates all being young men this year, we wanted to make sure they would be likely to use the items.
Here's a list of what we included and a cost breakdown:

1. Set of towels - $10 on sale at JCPenney

2. Hanging toiletry organizer - $4 at Target

3. Laundry bag - $4 at Target

4. Laundry basket - $6 at Target

5. Travel size ALL detergent - $1 at Target (free after coupon)

6. Travel size ALL softener sheets - $1 at Target

7. Band-aids - $2 at CVS (free after ExtraCare bucks

8. Paper clips - $1.29 at Staples

9. 2 Binders - $2.50 at Staples

10. Mechanical Pencils - $1.75 at Staples

Grand Total: $31.54 -- Remember, this is for 2 people together, about $15 each. I think they came out looking really nice.

For some additional frugal gift ideas, try the following:

I'd love some of your ideas for frugal gifts...especially for weddings and an upcoming 30th birthday (for my husband!). Enjoy all of these wonderful occasions for celebration!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Joining the Blogging World

I've been a visitor to blogs of friends, family, and acquaintances. These blogs are interesting because they help to keep others informed of families' day to day lives. More recently, I have found other blogs, mainly frugal blogs, that have helped me tremendously to learn even more about household finances.

I hope this blog can serve as a help to some as well as myself. I am a Christian trying to do the best I can each day for my family and those around me. As a new mom, I am interested in topics relating to children and families. I am a shopper, so I love a good deal. Coupons, both print and online, are becoming more and more integral to my shopping. As a teacher and librarian, I also always have good books on my shelf, and am constantly finding useful web site links to use in my professional and personal life.

These topics and more can be found here at Faith, Family, and Frugality. Pull up a chair and read on!
 

Blog Template by BloggerCandy.com