March 28, 2009

Spring Break




As some of you may have noticed, I haven't posted in awhile.  I forgot to let you all know that my family and I were headed out to Galena, IL for Spring Break.  My husband's uncle owns a home out there where family can stay and retreat.  So we took him up on the offer!  Here's a snapshot of the inside of the house.



Our vacation started out visiting with family in Chicago and also going to my cousin's wedding. It was fun visiting and being able to see where they live.  


We enjoyed walking the streets of Chicago.  
Experiencing Zechariah's first "train" ride on the "L".


Since Galena was only a half and hour away from Dubuque, IA, we went to the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium there and that was a hit with the boys! Here they are looking at the Otters through a window:

video

We also had a good time visiting all the cute shops in downtown Galena.  My favorite shop was the "Kandy Kitchen" and I think Zechariah enjoyed it just as much as I did.  My favorite memory was of him going from barrel to barrel picking one piece of candy out of each barrel and putting it in his bag.  Precious!  Jason thoroughly enjoyed the "Galena Canning Company" where they had free chips and pretzels out for you to dip into all kinds of salsas, jams, melted chocolates, etc.  Here's my husband with his HUGE jar of Raspberry Salsa. The man loves salsa!



So, that was our vacation in a nutshell.  We had a fun time, and are glad to be back home. 

March 19, 2009

Free Sand



For those of you who have been following my blog, as you know we recently found a sandbox for free, but didn't have any sand to put in the box. Well, I was talking with a friend about our find and she said that they had 5-7 bags of unused sand that they had leftover from their landscaping project. And they were more than happy to get it out of their garage!

Yesterday, Zechariah helped me fill up our new sandbox! The kids really like it, and it's already a mess outside. Hopefully more warm weather is on the way so that we can head outside and play some more!

So I guess that I found out, the more people you ask that you're looking for something, who knows, maybe someone will have that item laying around in their garage! :)

March 16, 2009

$40 Grocery Trip



This week looks a little light, because in the past few weeks we've stocked up on ground beef, chicken and frozen meals. So this week is pretty much just some basic things that we needed and some fresh fruits. The kids go through yogurt and fruit like crazy!

My husband and I were most excited about the cereal deal at County Market this week. Each box was marked down to $1.49 and then with this coupon, we got each box for $1! Woo-hoo! The pasta and pesto mixes were also a dollar each at Schnucks, so I was equally excited about that find as well.

And the shampoo was on clearance for $.97 and I had a $1 off coupon! Yea for free stuff!

March 15, 2009

FREE Sandbox



Just wanted to share one of my findings today!  I was out taking a walk with my youngest son and we passed by a house that had this sandbox out by the curb.  They were out trimming up their yard, so I didn't hesitate to ask them if they were getting rid of it.  They were very kind and said they were moving to Switzerland!  I love finding these treasures!  Now all we need is a good deal on sand!

Target Findings



I went to Target yesterday and found some pretty good deals.  I bought 2 mega packs of Huggies diapers for $29.99 each, and then got a $10 gift certificate back, making them $50.  I also will send in for $3.75 money back through the Caregiver's Market.  Everything else in the picture came up to $12!  I thought that was a pretty good find!  The Huggies wipes were only $.50/each, and the tub of Huggies wipes I actually got $2.50 money back.  Check out this deal here from MoneySavingMom.com.   So I think we'll be stocked up on wipes for quite awhile!

March 13, 2009

FREE Spring Matinees for All Ages



Our local Goodrich Quality movie theater has kids movies playing on Saturdays and Sundays for FREE!  How awesome is that?  The movie this Saturday is Madagascar 2 and will be playing at 10am and 11am.  And the kids can get a $3 or $4 popcorn, snack and drink while they're there.  

We're going to try to take our kids to a show tomorrow and see how they do.  They might be a little young yet, but it's worth the try, no money lost!  

Just click on the above photo and it will take you to the website that has these movies available.  

March 12, 2009

Hair Cuts



Another way that we try to cut back on money is having hair clippers here at home.  We bought a set when we were just married because I was determined to cut my husbands hair and save the extra $15 for something else.  So what happened then was I would cut Jason's hair and then the next month he'd go to a barber.  Then the next couple months I would cut it.  He'd go to the barber to have him fix the mistakes I made in the beginning.  :)

But now I'm proud to say that I can cut Jason's hair pretty darn well!  And I have two little boys that I can give hair cuts to as well!  Granted, Grandma Fisher always notices when I cut their precious hair. :)  

Recently Jason has taken on my request to cut my hair! Yikes, you probably think!!  Yup, he's doing pretty well, I might add.  He's only cut it once so far, but practice makes perfect.

So all in all, I just wanted to post that another way to save money is to invest in some hair clippers.  It saves us $70/month, or $840 a year!  (That's if all of us got hair cuts at a salon or barber).  

Happy cutting! 

How Do You Only Spend $40/week on Groceries?



I've had lots of people ask how we only spend $40 a week on groceries.  So I've decided to let you in on some tips on how I've learned to cut back on spending.  

I've learned the most about cutting back on spending money from MoneySavingMom.com and CouponMom.  Do check out their blogs/website when you have time.  The following is an article that my mom sent me that pretty much sums it all up on how I have found to save money on our grocery bill.  ***I've put my own two cents under each title, to share my experiences.

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By Katie McCaskey, Geezeo.com

How is it that some people seem to get ridiculous savings with coupons — and some of us can barely remember to take our canvas bags to the grocery store, let alone remember to bring coupons? The answer is simple. It takes time to plan a grocery shopping trip. But the time invested can yield big savings!

Here are some tips shared in the free e-book, “Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half” from CouponMom.com:

1. Know Your Top 10 Grocery Items.
What do you consume the most? For example, growing up our household always had milk, eggs, and bread on the shopping list. Make a list of the items you regularly consume. If you track just the prices of these specific items you can reap major savings. Make a list of your “top 10″. Then compare the prices, apples-to-apples and week-to-week, in the stores you shop.
***I usually compare prices to Aldi's here in town, and if another store beats their price, then i try to stock up on that item.


2. Does Your Store “Double Coupon”?
Common sense says that the store brand is generally less expensive than the name brand. But, if your store doubles coupons a name brand item can end up costing less than the store brand. The secret is to track your top 10 items so you know first when the price is the lowest and second, if/when a coupon will be doubled.
***Our Schnucks doubles coupons up to .40, so sometimes it's a good deal, sometimes not.  But I've also learned that our Schnucks decides which coupons they double, so sometimes I just have to watch the monitor and see if it actually doubled.


3. How Is “Buy One, Get One Free” Calculated?
Ask your store manager how the “buy one, get one free” is calculated. Does one item ring up full price and the second item free? Or are both items rung in at half price? If the latter you can legitimately use two coupons for the purchase, thus saving more!
***This topic is still kinda confusing, I never really know until I make it up to the cashier and ask what the item cost.  


4. Can Coupons Be Electronically Delivered to Your Loyalty Card?
Some stores will automatically add coupons to your loyalty card so there is no need to cut them out of the paper, or remember to bring them with you! You can find out by going to the website of your favorite grocery store. If you use Upromise to save for college or pay off your student loans you can also link coupons electronically to your debit card.
***I've never done this, so I don't have any comment. :)


5. Will the Store Email You Coupons or Weekly Circulars?
If you subscribe to several grocery “weeklies” you can quickly see who has the best prices for your Top 10 items. Sometimes stores will email you coupons you can print at home, too. Keep all your coupons in an organized folder.
***Yes, I have the 3 grocery stores email me their weekly ad, that way I don't have to wait to find out what's on sale.  And I love when the store has an in-store coupon, because that will make some items even cheaper, see number 9 for more info.


6. Can You Join Specific Programs Like “Pet Care”?
Some stores will provide coupons for different shopper demographics. For example, new mothers can sometimes get emails for discounts on baby care items. Pet owners can get discounts based on the pets in a household.
***I've never dealt with this before, since we don't have pets.  Sorry.


7. Does Your Store Accept Competitors Coupons?
If so, it makes it a lot easier to choose which store to patronize. Choose the one with the best deals for you.
***Once again, I've never asked.


8. Are There Additional Loyalty Card Perks?
Will you get a money-off coupon if you spend a certain amount at their store? If so, know the threshold and factor that into your shopping decisions.
***Our Schnucks gives a certain percentage off their gas when you buy $25 or more.  And our County Market has a point system where if you earn enough points you get money back or gift cards.


9. Can You Use Both “Store Coupons” and “Manufacturer’s Coupons” on the Same Item?
Some grocery stores allow you to double up. If so, you can use the coupon issued for the store AND a manufacturer’s coupon and double your savings. Buy when an item is already reduced and you’ve got greater savings.
***This is where I save the MOST money, when there is a store coupon and a manufacturer coupon.  Just this past week I got 10 Yoplait yogurts for $4!  Which made them each around .43.  It was a sweet deal, cause we eat alot of yogurt! 


10. Are There Coupon Limits for the Same Order?
Some stores impose a coupon limit for each visit. No problem. Just send your kid, friend, spouse, or partner through another line with the other items to take advantage of deep discounts. Consider splitting large bounties with the person who helped you buy at a discount.
***Sometimes if the deal is a good one, I just make one purchase and then go back and pick up another and get in a different line.  Or next time I'm in the store I just make the same deal.  

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So, I hope that this has given you a little idea of how to start saving money on your grocery bill. Basically, look at your groceries ads.  Find who has the cheapest item you're looking for.  See if you have matching coupons.  And also plan your meals that week around the sale items for that week.  That will also help decrease your grocery bill.  

Thanks for reading!

March 11, 2009

Yummy Waffles

We had a gallon of milk that expires soon, so we decided to make a mega batch of whole grain waffles.  I had my little helper helping me out and "little pudge" was sitting in his high chair watching us make the waffles.  It was quite entertaining!  



Our plan was to triple the recipe so that we can store them in the freezer, like Eggo's, and then in the morning for breakfast we can just pop them in the toaster or microwave.  Yum!  



The waffles didn't take long to make, maybe 5 minutes each.  Then after we had used all the batter, I think we came out with 36 waffles!  We just bagged them up and placed them in the freezer.  I'm excited about testing them out in the morning!



I would like to thank MoneySavingMom for this recipe!  


Check out your library

We love to visit our library!  First of all it's free and we can get lots of cool books, videos, and CDs to enjoy for the week.  Today when I went with my two boys, we were a little pressed for time, but still got everything accomplished.  

First we went to the Children's Section and picked up a prize that my youngest, Silas, won for the book club!  I know, so exciting! He had to read so many books in order to win (he had his mom read to him).  We entered in the contest and so he got to pick out a prize from the glass case.  Here's a picture of his prize:



So, I would encourage you to participate in your local library contests, even if your child can't even read yet.  It's fun to see them learn while you read to them.  You never know what you'll find!

March 10, 2009

Pumpkin Dinner Rolls

I found out recently how to make pumpkin dinner rolls, and will be making them for our Bible Study tonight!

It makes a lot of rolls, so I usually only make them for group get-togethers:







Here's my eldest son, showing me how much he loves the rolls, and how much Thomas the Tank Engine and Salty love them too:



And of course my biggest fan of all time, my hubby, who absolutely loves and sort of bread:



I also wanted to mention that I got this recipe from Moneysavingmom.com. Here is the recipe!





Having a Budget


As most of you know, we are a frugal family. We don't spend a lot of money on frivolous things and we love to find a good deal. So here I am with my new blog! I am excited to share with you some of our findings, whether it be a frugal finding, or a simple way we have found to share with others, or just something new that we have found through playing with our children. It will be fun to see where our adventures lead us!

My husband and I recently sat down together and planned out our budget. We have been putting it off for a long time. When we sat down it was relieving to know where our money was going and how we can do a better job at managing our money. So now my new task is grocery shopping each week on a $40 budget. So far so good! I've been at it for 3 weeks now and it's fun to see what sort of deals we can get and at the same time try new foods and stock our pantry. At first I didn't think that I could do it, but now it's become more of a game.

I'm guessing that you're thinking....WOW....$40 a week, that's crazy! Yes, I know! Before my husband and I sat down with our budget, I would go to the grocery store at least 3 times a week and just run in and get something. So now it's ONE trip to get groceries. There are 4 grocery stores all within a mile of each other, so I just look at their ads for the best deals, clip/print the coupons necessary to get a good deal and off I go!

The picture above is the findings that I found this week for groceries. All for $40!