Thursday, July 28, 2011

Making A Few Extra Dollars

I wouldn't say that I'm raking in the cash but I am always on the look out for ways to make a few extra dollars or save a few extra dollars. And even though it's July I'm already thinking about ways to save for Christmas. I know every year my list seems longer (this year I get to add a new neice to the list! Soo excited about that).

Some of these are strategies I've mentioned before and some are new.

My favorite of all: Swagbucks

This one I've mentioned a few times but I want to say it again because I feel like people are signing up and not doing it! I'm often asked how to make money using Swagbucks and while searching is the most simple answer there are a few other things I do.

I search every day. For the most part it's something I'm going to do anyway but sometimes I do search for things I already know the address to just to see if I can earn a few more bucks :)

I answer the daily poll every day. It's only 1 Swagbuck but 1 adds up to 30 a month and 365 a year so it's worth my few seconds of time.

I check out the trusted surveys every day. This also earns me one Swagbuck but it's also to see if there's a survey that I might qualify for. For the most part I don't click on the survey unless it's a short amount of time and I have an 80 or 90% chance of qualifying. Otherwise it seems to be a waste and I don't make the cut.

I print almost all of my coupons from Swagbucks. Since I get 10 Swagbucks for every redeemed coupon it adds up quickly. And since they were coupons I would print and use anyway why not get paid to do it?

I scan the front page often to see if there are other small ways to earn more Swagbucks - lately they have had ads in the form of videos that you can watch and earn Swagbucks. Simple thing that doesn't take me much time at all.

I check out the Daily Deals on a semi-regular basis. I'm not a huge fan of paying out money to earn Swagbucks but there are times when the deal is so good that it's worth it and earning extra Swagbucks is a bonus.

Referrals! I love Swagbucks and I love it even more when I see other people figuring out how to use it and earning for themselves. If someone signs up under you then you will earn Swagbucks from that person (by searching alone - other ways are not passed on) up to 1000 Swagbucks. Please note - the link above is my referral code and I would earn Swagbucks from you when you searched - I would add that while I do enjoy the extra Swagbucks from referrals the little I earn isn't enough to have me lie to you about the huge help that Swagbucks is to my budget!

Recyclebank

This is one I haven't mentioned before but earning through Recyclebank is really easy. While it does take a lot of points to earn a gift card it doesn't take much to earn some pretty cool coupons such as:

$10 off $50 at Harris Teeter
$10 off $30 at Bed, Bath and Beyond

as well as coupons to restaurants and other places. Answer a few questions or enter points from Ziploc boxes and you are on your way to some rewards that will save you some serious money!

Ebates

This would be the one I use the least often since believe it or not I don't shop online that often. I buy more groceries than anything else and only order a few clothing items online. However, when I do order online Ebates is the best way to earn a little extra cash back and it's super simple to do. Before you shop anywhere online log on to Ebates and search wherever you wish to shop. Then click "Shop Now" and that's it. Your purchases will be recorded and within a day or so you'll have a percentage of your total in your account. You can still use coupon codes at whatever site you are shopping at so it's just an additional win all around!

If you sign up now there is a $10 gift card bonus as if you needed another reason to sign up!

Of course all these sites work on referrals so if you click any of the above links they are my own referral links but again I'm sharing the information because I enjoy passing on how I save and make money.

For other ideas check out Moneywise Moms - I know I enjoy reading her posts on how she makes and saves money too :)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Back To Menu Planning And Going Cheap


Technically it's the end of the month (if you check the calendar there is just one more week left in July), however since we recently changed up how we pay our bills and have switched to paying everything by credit card (and paying it off every month - all of it, no exceptions - just in case you were wondering) our beginning of the month is the 19th.

So, for me it's the quite close to the beginning of the month but that doesn't mean I have a desire to rush out and spend money. Due to some recent billing errors we went over budget last month so this month I have every desire to actually come in under budget wherever possible.

The best way to stay under budget on my groceries is to:

1. Have a plan for meals

2. Stock up when things are on sale

3. Use what you have in the pantry to cut down on your needs items

Monday: Enchilada Bake

Tuesday: Slow Cooker Cheesy Potato Soup with Salad and Panera Bread (love that stuff!)

Wednesday: New-Look Scalloped Potatoes and Ham

Thursday: Baked Ziti

Friday: Beefy Hash Brown Potato Casserole

Saturday: Cheesy Chicken & Salsa Skillet

Sunday: Chicken Taco Bake

Since the majority of the ingredients in all of these meals were in my pantry already it helped my grocery budget quite a bit and allowed me to stock up on a few sale items at Harris Teeter this week - gotta love that!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

What A Consignment Sale

I certainly meant to do this post days ago. I also meant to finish reorganizing the dining room, post about the living room re-do and maybe a recipe or two. Instead, all I have to share before another crazy week is the spoils of last week's craziness.

After working 24 hours last week and shopping twice - here's what I picked up:



Included in the photo: my 5 highly impatient children, one toting his new guitar. Oh yes, I'm in trouble but not financially - it was only $5!



The best part? Because of all my work, the loot above cost me just over $38. Sweet :) But of course it's not all I spent. I went back on half price day and spent another $65. The kids got in on that one too picking out some little things for themselves. I spent most of that on books and clothes for Kaitlyn - that and not passing up on a princess vanity mirror for $11 :) Big spender here!!

I'm certainly glad to have last week behind me but my photo is more proof of how consignment sales are quite worth it and can save you a LOT of money. For example: those panda PJ's on top of my pile were just $2 - they are in excellent condition and contain 3 pieces - pants, top and shorts - can't beat that.

My next consignment step: tag all the fall clothes I have hanging up for our moms of multiples sale in the fall. Now that I brought new things in I have to get some other things out :)

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Book Review: Indelible

Interesting Storyline: Not What I Expected

I was very excited to get the opportunity to read Kristen Heitzmann’s Indelible. Because this is actually book 2 I went ahead and ordered Kristen’s first book, Indivisible. Some of the reviews stated it was a little violent but I didn’t find it to be so. There was some violence against animals but I didn’t find it to be done in poor taste and when the book is wrapped up everything makes sense. The writing was dark but so very well written that you wanted to keep reading.

After enjoying the first book I was very ready to read the second. While the main characters are different in book 2 many of the characters from book 1 are in book 2 as well so I highly recommend reading Indivisible first.

Natalie Reeve has a special ability – an eidetic memory for faces and the only way she can get them “out of her head” is to sculpt them which she does amazingly well, so well that she makes a living doing it. Natalie has set up shop in a small town in Colorado right next to door to Trevor MacDaniel and his outdoor survival business. The two characters are introduced when Trevor saves Natalie’s nephew from the jaws of a mountain lion.

From the beginning Trevor is being stalked by an unknown individual who begins to send Trevor disturbing photos. It’s a great set-up for a story yet every time the writing is in the stalker’s point of view the writing is strange and vague. I’m sure this is intentional but I found it to be annoying, confusing and unhelpful in moving the story along.

Other than the stalker’s point of view the story was very well written. The descriptions and characters were great though I wished to see more of Piper and Miles who are my favorite characters in the series.

As the story moves along Trevor and Natalie become closer and want to be together but Trevor feels haunted by his past; a dead brother that he feels is his fault and a spoiled skiing career, but when Natalie’s life is threatened Trevor realizes what he stands to lose.

The ending isn’t what I expected and I was disappointed by that but the writing is so good that it is worth the read. I am giving the book 4 out of 5 stars because the stalker really bugged me all through the book and I just feel that could have been written better and ended better. I also found Trevor's relationship with his business partner Whit and Whit's wife to be odd and confusing and maybe just a little bit disturbing.

If you enjoy character driven stories that have a twinge of suspense this book is for you. This series is full of highly unique characters in interesting situations that will keep you reading well into the night. I know I am certainly looking forward to another installment by Kristen Heitzmann.

To purchase Indivisible go HERE ; to purchase Indelible go HERE

Disclaimer: I received this book from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group's Blogging for Books program. All reviews are my own.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Another Kellogg's and Free Milk Deal

I really enjoyed the deal Harris Teeter did with Kellogg's and free milk back in March and so I am excited to hear that Giant is running pretty much the same deal this week until Thursday.

Here is what I picked up in 3 transactions:



I spent: $24.63 on everything which is just okay for 12 boxes of cereal and 2 gallons of milk - that averages out to around $1.75/each - a little high for cereal but great for milk :) Plus I have a coupon for another free gallon of milk.

At Giant the deal is:

- get $6.00 off automatically when you purchase 4 boxes of select Kellogg's Cereal (I have to say it seemed to be all of the Kellogg's cereal)
- get a Catalina (coupon printed at the register) for $4.00 towards a gallon of milk - sadly a Giant brand gallon of milk is $3.99 - OUCH!!
- use Kellogg's coupons you have on hand - I had some from inside other boxes of Kellogg's cereal (these are my favorite because it's usually $1.00/2 instead of a $1.00/3 from RP 6/5) as well as from Kelloggs.com

What makes this an even better deal is that most of Kellogg's cereals have Cars 2 codes inside them and every 4 codes earns you a $5 gas gift card or $5 at the concession stand at the theater. There are other options but those are my favorite :)

And to top that off 5 of the boxes I purchased are Crispix cereal and when I have 10 UPC codes I can redeem them for another $10 gas gift card from Kellogg's AARP Rewards program. Since I already have 5 UPC's saved up I can cut off my UPC's and send them in right away and have my gas card back in a few weeks. While it does say gas card you can use it anywhere as a credit card - if I had to guess I'd say it would be the same through the Cars rewards program.

So with all my codes and rebates I should get about $20 back leaving my total for 12 boxes of cereal and 3 gallons of milk at just $4! And that's a price I can afford :) I think I'll be going back for more!

Hope you all can get stocked up on some cereal and milk :) Unfortunately we can never get too stocked up on milk because we drink it SO fast!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

July Meal Planning and A Happy 4th

Happy 4th of July! I hope that you all have a very safe and happy holiday planned. We always enjoy the fireworks at a huge outdoor event by us and I'm excited to go again this year. The girls absolutely love fireworks and get very excited whenever they seem so I'm really looking forward to them seeing the big fireworks this year.

Know what else the 4th of July means? Grilling! Summer! All the great stuff in the menu planning :) Though it's my husband who grills. And he made some GREAT burgers for us and some friends last night at a cook out.

Because next week is incredibly busy since it is once again time for Classy Kids and I will be working all week I have gone ahead and menu planned into the next weekend. The week after that we will be gone with some friends for a few days so that is a totally seperate menu plan. It's a good thing I enjoy menu planning and couponing :)



Saturday: Burgers grilled by Kirk

Sunday: Easy Herb-Baked Chicken

Monday: Chicken Enchilada Pie

Tuesday: Velveeta Baked Spaghetti Squares

Wednesday: Beef and Bean Taco Casserole

Thursday: Chicken Pot Pie (my recipe)

Friday: Chicken N Peppers Pasta Skillet

Saturday: Slow Cooker Cheesy Potato Soup - I know it's a little warm for soup but it still sounds good :)

Sunday: Angel Chicken

Monday: I'm working so the kids and dad get mac and cheese

Tuesday: Tator Tot Casserole - this is one the kids actually like and it will be easy for Kirk to make it for them while I'm at work

Wednesday: Spaghetti (another dad and kids night)

Thursday: Beef Tacos (last night for dad and the kids)

Friday: Creamy Baked Ziti

Saturday: Chicken Divan

Sunday: Leftovers - cleaning out the fridge before we leave

I'm definitely hoping to do some more grilling and salads with my next meal plan because I really enjoyed Kirk's burgers yesterday - I just need some new recipes - anyone have any good ones?

Friday, July 1, 2011

Month End Money Recap

I know it's technically the first of the month but June was so incredibly busy and I just didn't get many chances to update. BUT since the beginning of July marks the years halfway point I thought I should update.

Soooo... how am I doing?

Honest answer - not as great as I hoped. We have a lot of unexpected this year and that always stinks. On a positive note, the Lord has faithfully provided and we have avoided much debt!

1. Organization. I wasn't home in June so not much got done however, I have been making very steady progress on this front through the year and plan to continue in July and the rest of summer. My big goal this month is the dining room which has recently become my dumping ground for all other rooms. Unless I get completely bogged down in cosignment sale prep I should be able to get it done next week.

2. Decorating. YES! Finally :) My dad drove myself and the kids home from Florida and due to a minor incident he didn't have enough time to renovate the kids bathroom so instead we re-did our living room and for under $200 the whole room is re-made. I'll share in a later post when it's all put together but I am SUPER excited with the results - even more excited about the price!

3. Spending less and saving more. Ummm, June is THE worst month for this. We're on vacation and Kirk is in VA and I'm in FL with the kids. On the plus side, my parents had stocked up a LOT on groceries so we are way ahead in that area :) For July as well so that will help a lot but I'm still hoping to be more on track come August.

4. Do a little more deal hunting. I was able to do this in Florida and stocked up on a few grocery items which was fun. It also helped my stockpile here in VA (yes, I brought groceries home!) so that I can continue to do it through July and August proving that the better stockpile you have the less you have to spend because you just don't need as much. You've also seen that I've done more at CVS trying to roll my ECB's into more deals and a larger stockpile. I was also able to save money on clothes by using sales and coupons at Gymboree as well as getting a great deal on used clothes from some other multiples moms.

5. Monthly meal planning. Didn't have to for June since we were at my parents but I'm back at it for July and still loving it :)

Writing out my goals and successes helps! Instead of feeling like I've accomplished nothing I see what I have done and look forward to the second half of the year to get even more done. Looking forward to doing even better in July!