Thursday, March 25, 2010

Loyalty Programs - A Great Way To Earn Extra On Things You're Already Buying

I've already mentioned a few ways to make extra money doing things you're already doing: doing internet searches through Swagbucks and doing online shopping through sites like Ebates and Cashbaq.

But did you know that customer loyalty programs are also a great way to earn a little extra? Here are a few of my favorites:

Pampers Gifts to Grow - I have earned free diapers, gift certificates to, and free Cheerios just from entering codes from diaper and wipe packages

Disney Movie Rewards - Just from entering codes found on the inside of dvd packages or mailing in movie tickets, I earn great coupons for new movies (like $10 off a blu ray movie), free movie tickets and 2 free princess phone calls to my girls! And I haven't spent any points yet! I'm saving those for something big like tickets to a broadway show in New York or a gift certificate for a Disney vacation!

Huggies Enjoy the Ride Rewards - Much like the Pampers program, you enter codes off of diapers and wipe packages. I've just started using this program and earning points, so no prizes yet. Boy am I kicking myself for all of the points I threw in the trash for the first year of Ella's life, though!

Tropicana Juicy Rewards - I just discovered this one yesterday and one point earned me two "Buy One Get One Free Orange Juice" coupons! You can get great coupons for family activities (bowling, theme parks, etc.), lessons and classes (dance, karate, etc.) and much more! If you already drink Tropicana, it's definantly worth looking into!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Home Depot: Saving Money on Groceries

If you haven't already joined, head over HERE and register for the Home Depot Garden Club. They send out some great coupons once or twice a month. So far this month I've received coupons for "Buy One Get One Free Orchids" (I adore orchids) and "Buy One Get One Free House Plants"."

I also received a fabulous coupon for "Buy One Get One Free Glad ForceFlex Trash Bags 100 ct." I went to check out the prices on these HUGE boxes of trash bags expecting them to be outrageous. I ended up scoring these for under $6/box of 100! To put that price into perspective, Glad ForceFlex Trash Bags 38 ct. are on sale at Target this week for $6.

I'll be shopping Home Depot for bulk cleaning items more often! I'll also be checking out Lowes to see if there are deals there!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Getting Organized (Again)

Is it just me, or do you all find that getting organized and staying organized is consantly happening? I haven't found that happy place of being perfectly organized. I'm constantly trying out new "systems" or discovering new areas of my life that need organizing. For me, it's overwhelming.

My mom bought me a book for Christmas, Organize Now! A Week-by-Week Guide To Simplify Your Space and Your Life by Jennifer Ford Berry. Unforunately, my book was misplaced in one of my many hidden piles of clutter until recently.

Now that it's been recovered, though, I've decided to try it out.

I've already been working on Weeks 1-4 (Organize Your Mind, Your Schedule, Your Cleaning Schedule, and Your Priorities) Earlier this week, Life As Mom offered some fantastic free downloads to make your own planner. I've been adjusting these to fit my own schedule.

Already, I'm feeling super motivated. With my new, simplified cleaning list I got more done this morning than I had been doing in a full week! And my downstairs is looking MUCH better!

Every Monday I'll be blogging (with pictures) about my progress and solutions I've found.

This Monday we'll be organizing papers (my most dreaded task). I wonder which pile I'll start with...

Rainy Day Fun

It has been raining cats and dogs here this week. After all of the beautiful weather we had last week and all of the outside fun, we're all feeling pretty cooped up and BORED!

Here are a few things I save for yucky, rainy day:

Build a fort - You can use the kitchen chairs and quilts or the couch cushions. Either way, you've got DAYS worth of fun right there!

Bake something - cookies, cakes, ect. (maybe all of them) If you make too much you could always share with your neighbors!

Movie Time - stay in your jammies, pile in the bed (or make a big "bed" in the living room) and watch your (or you kids') favorite movie with a big bowl of popcorn

Decorate - Ella loves this one! Let the kids make decorations for the current holiday and decorate the house with them.

Play Games - Only one of my girls is old enough for board games, so we end up making up games that both of them can play. Put the laundry baskets and tupperware to use and see what you can come up with!

Have a Parade - Don't have instruments? Anything noisy will do! March around and be as loud as you can.

What do you do on a rainy day?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Deal For All You Parents and Label Lovers

I saw BumpyName Orbit Labels advertised in a magazine while I was pregnant with Ella. Being the new mom that I was, I had to have all of the newest baby things (you know, all the things that end up stuffed in the closest two months later). So, I ordered some of these labels with her name on them. Turns out, these actually are pretty cool. They can fit on bottles, sippy cups and snack cups. I loved that I could drop her off at the gym daycare or the church nursery and her name was already on the cup and it was easy for everyone to spot. I loved them so much that I just ordered more for Claire!

Right now you can get a great deal on these (and any other product on their site)!

If you place a $20+ order you get a free subscription to Parents Magazine. If you'd rather not have the subscription
(this magazine is pretty easy to get for free often), then you just print off this form (click on the big yellow banner at the top of the page). Mail it in and receive a refund for $9.97!

My order
total was $20.90 + shipping - so that was half off!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Once A Month Cooking: Does it work and is it worth it?

At the beginning of the year I decided to raise our grocery budget from $200 to $300 per month - a little splurge after Matt got a a new job. After just a couple of months spending that much, it makes me cringe looking at our final expenses. We're not really eating better food - just more junk. So, I decided to cut the budget back down to $200. Then I started think about cutting it back even more - just for fun (yeah, I know I'm slightly nuts).

I've been following two of my favorite blogs, Money Saving Mom (who feeds a family a 5 for only $40/week) and Life as Mom, for over a year now. They both regularly post about stocking their freezer with meals to eat over the next month. This month I decided to give it a try to see if it saved us any money.

Sunday, I made my grocery list. I picked some of our family's favorite dishes and a couple of new ones.

Monday, I went to the store. Luckily, I got to go alone. It would have been a quick trip if it hadn't taken me 30 minutes (literally) to check out. Long story... Anyway, I spent $87 on everything.

Tuesday, I got down to business. I put a movie on for the kids with a giant bowl of popcorn hoping that would keep them out of my hair and out of trouble for a little while. No such luck. They were under my feet the whole time. I had hoped to finish all of my cooking in 4 hours. It ended up taking 5.

I ended up with all of this:

1 Chicken Spaghetti
2 Chicken Pot Pies
2 Tacos in Pasta Shells (recipe to follow)
1 Chicken and Spinach Enchilada (new one - I'll let you know how this one is)
4 Chicken Salad (we like to eat this on yummy butter croissants with cucumbers)
1 Chicken Fajita
1 Pizza Casserole
1 Buffalo Chicken Pizza
2 Red Beans and Rice

I was hoping to add some hamburger patties and Brown Bag Burritos (for lunches) to the mix. I'll have to work on those next week, though.

So, was it worth it? I think so! I made all of that in just 5 hours. I was spending about an hour each day thinking about and preparing for dinner then I had to spend 30 minutes cleaning up afterwards (at least). Even if I had my menu planned, there were days that I just wouldn't get around to making dinner in time. So we were eating out at least twice every week (probably more). Now, all I have to do is grab something out of the freezer and pop it in the oven! AND (as if that wasn't enough already) all my clean up is already done! I only had to get the cutting board, knives, bowls, pots and pans out once! I'd say it is going to save me an enormous amount of time and money!

We have $113 left for our monthly budget and all I have to think about is milk and lunches! With some careful planning, I'm hoping we can get our budget down to $160 per month and eat just as well or better than we were before!

I'm going to do a big Baking Day next week to work on adding some breakfasts to the mix (tried doing that yesterday, but the kiddos needed some attention after being so neglected the day before). I'm hoping to eventually pre-make some lunches, too.