Shop with me: Saved 73%

Today I made a small trip into Harris Teeter (with no kids…does Carlton dance) to pick up a few needed items and get a few items that were on sale. I plan to pick up some more meat and produce later this week or maybe at Costco over the weekend since I have a good amount left in my weekly budget.

RP= Redplum

SS= Smartsource

B1G1= Buy one get one sale

 

Kelloggs Frosted Flakes: .75/1 coupon= .38 cents each

Eggs= .77 cents (eVIC price-limit 2)

Blackberries= .99 cents

Cottage Cheese= .88 cents (This may vary by store)

All detergent: $1.97 (eVIC price-limit 2) + $2.00/2 coupon (3/5/17 RP insert)= .97 cents each

Mariana Banana chips (4 total): B1G1 + $1/1 coupon (02/12/17 SS insert)= .19 cents each

Asparagus: $1.79/pound (normally $3.99/pound)!

Challenge butter: B1G1 + .50/1= .50 cents

Krusteaz pancake mix: B1G1 + 50/1= .50 cents each

Galbani string cheese: B1G1= $2.49

Sugar: $1.77

Total before coupons/sales: $69.26

Total Spent: $18.97

Total Saved: 73%

 

 

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20 Easy Upgrades For Your Home

I am always looking for ways to spruce up my home without spending a lot of money. Lets face it, we all love a great DIY project that is also friendly to the wallet.  There is just something about looking at a project and knowing that you did it that makes me feel good. Check out these easy and affordable upgrades that you can do in your own home.

1.) Plant baskets

Adding baskets to planters in your home adds flair and makes it look expensive. I found baskets marked down to $5.00 each at Target and I have started to add these to the plants around my house. I love this look!

2.) Paint hardware and vents

Rusteloum “oil rubbed bronze” is one of the best products for sprucing up a home. One $8.00 can of spray paint can refresh your hardware (door knobs, cabinet hardware, sink faucets) and make them seem new. I have spray painted almost all the hardware in my home and even went as far to spray paint my brass shower doors! Literally a brand new look.

See the directions here.

3.) Add canvases

Do you need pops of color or artwork in your home, but do not want to spend a ton of money? Create your own art using a canvas and hang.  Bonus: you do not even have to frame them!

See the directions here.

4.) Pillow case covers

My taste in items change frequently and lately I have not been feeling my couch pillows.  I was tempted to throw them out and purchase new ones until  a thought occurred to me.  It would be so much cheaper to just buy pillow covers and give them an update.  If you like to sew you can also make your own, but that is not up my alley.

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Chicken Taco Soup Recipe

I am a huge fan of using yesterday’s dinner to recycle for the next day’s meal, if there are leftovers of course. When I am in Costco and want a quick and cheap meal then I will pick up one of their rotisserie chickens. At $4.99 for a whole cooked chicken, who can beat that? My family loves rotisserie chicken and I have found that Costco tends to have the largest rotisserie chickens at the cheapest price!

We had leftover chicken last week and I wanted a quick and easy recipe for our leftovers. I went to my handy-dandy Pinterest and typed in leftover rotisserie chicken recipes (what did we do before Pinterest?!?) and viola! I tweaked this recipe from the original I ran across and I had all the ingredients on hand in my stock pile.

Ingredients:

3 cups rotisserie chicken (or cooked chicken)

2 cans of black beans (or pinto, whichever you prefer)

1 can of rotel (or diced tomatoes)

1 can of whole kernel corn (or frozen)

5 cups chicken broth

1 packet of taco seasoning

1 packet of ranch seasoning

Optional:

Cheese

Sour Cream

Tortilla chips

 

Directions:

Combine all ingredients together in a dutch oven (or pot) and simmer for 25-30 minutes. Serve with cheese, sour cream or chips if you like.

 

How easy is that? I love an easy and budget friendly meal! Our $4.99 chicken lasted two dinners and I still had soup leftovers for the next days lunch 😉

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10 ways to save at Starbucks

Starbucks is my weakness. There are not many things that I splurge on, but Starbucks iced coffee is one of them. I love to make my own cold brew at home, but it is never quite as good as Starbucks iced coffee. Here are some tricks to saving money while enjoying a nice cup of coffee.

1.) Bring your own cup

If you bring in your own cup, such as the reusable ones sold at Starbucks, you will save .10 cents per cup. If you get coffee daily this will save $36.50 per year.

2.) Buy a venti/trenta and split

Having coffee with a friend? Buy a venti or trenta size and split into a tall cup. Many stores are strict about not giving you a tall cup when you order a venti (for this purpose) so bring your own reusable cup!

3.) Ask for light ice

When you buy an iced beverage, you are really paying for half ice and half beverage. Ask for light ice (or ice on the side) to get more of the actual drink.

4.) Ask for a size up (for room)

If you are one who likes cream in your coffee, then order a tall size coffee in a grande cup. For instance, “Can I have a tall coffee in a grande cup so I have room for cream?”. This way you are not sacrificing coffee to be able to add cream.

5.) Order espresso-then add extra

Do you want a cheaper latte?  Order 2-3 espresso shots (hot or iced) and then add in your own milk at the condiment section.

6.) Ordering iced tea? Ask for no water.

Starbucks makes their iced teas concentrated to be strong.  They will add water to dilute the concentration, so next time you would like a stronger cup of tea order without water.

7.) Join Starbucks rewards

Starbucks has a rewards program that you can use with a Starbucks card or download the Starbucks app to your phone. For every dollar spent, you will earn 2 stars.  Once you receive 120 stars  you will get a free beverage or sandwich. You also will receive a free beverage on your birthday for joining their rewards program.  You can sign up here.

8.) Order a grande

Venti drinks (except regular coffee) has the same amount of caffeine as a grande size.  For a venti, you are paying more for the ice, milk or cream.

9.) Promotions

Starbucks will occasionally run promotions for buy one get one free or buy one get one half off beverages.

10.) Free in-store refills!

If you are a Starbucks rewards member you can get free refills on coffee and teas while you are in the store. This only applies if you are dining in the store.  If I have time, I will order an iced coffee and sit in the store while I work or read and then get my refill and head home. Two iced coffees for the price of one!

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Declutter Series: How Decluttering Saved Me Money

My husband and I bought our home 5 years ago, this month. We moved in with enough furniture (bed, sofas, side tables) for the basics. I remember looking around in our home and thinking “how are we ever going to fill this home?”. Fast forward to 5 years later (and 2 kids) and now I look around thinking “where did we get all this stuff”.

A few weeks ago, I was standing in our bedroom.  The floors were filled with clothes, our kid’s toys, shoes and other miscellaneous treasures hiding from eye sight. I was stressed. No matter many how many hours I would spend cleaning and tidying it never stayed that way for more than an hour.

The clutter was so distracting that I could not focus when it came time for me to sit down to work. I would look around and my mind immediately shifted me into “clean” mode before I could begin to focus on the task at hand.

I thought to myself, “there has to be a better way to clean and stay clean”.

I began some research and ran across the idea of minimalism. No, I don’t consider myself a minimalist (yet…), but it has made me reconsider my whole concept of my belongings and how much I really need.

I picked up The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, which I recommend! The overview of the “KonMari” tidying process is simple.  Does a specific item bring you joy? If not, get rid of it. I never realized how many items I was surrounded by that I had just because. Just because I wanted another black dress. Just because two cutting boards sounded better then one. Just because my favorite movie came out on DVD (while also being available on Netflix).

Realistically they served no purpose, function and they did not bring me joy.

One of the many piles of discarded items to be donated.

As I mentioned before, I am not a minimalist to the degree of its definition. What I did find in the lifestyle of minimalism is clarity and frugality. Clarity, in respect to feeling as if the process of decluttering and letting go of non essential items decreased my stress. Frugality in its very meaning. Letting go of items that serve minimal purpose, has given me the opportunity to save dollars and shop smarter.

So far we have decluttered close to 1/3 of our home and you know what? My spending has decreased! I no longer feel the urge to purchase random items when out shopping.

Below is a list of benefits that you will truly experience right away. Benefits that are visible and non visible. I hope that you are able to breathe a little easier and enjoy life with happiness first.

1.) Less stress

With less clutter comes less cleaning which equals less stress. I now walk into our bedroom and feel relaxed, which is how each person should be able to feel in their own personal space.

2.) More time to focus on other things

When you have less belongings there is less to clean.  I have noticed, even within the first month, that I have more time during the day to focus on other things. I no longer have to walk into our home office and begin tidying before I can sit down to focus on my work. Imagine the things you can accomplish with an extra hour added to your day!

3.) Less spending

Before putting an item in my cart, I consider the purpose of the item. Does this item serve a function? Do I know exactly where the item will go in my house? Will this item bring me joy in my home? I learned that many of my purchases were in the moment. “Oh look, this vase is 70% off!”. Yes, the vase may have been 70% off, but I simply made a purchase because the price of the item was low, not because I actually needed a vase.

4.) Sell your items

One of the areas in our home that I began to declutter is my children’s toys. Trust me, they still have more toys than they need, but I was able to find a good amount that were no longer of interest to my kids. I took our discarded toys to a local children’s consignment store and sold many of the items.  I received store credit (you can also get cash back) to use on future clothing purchases for my children. Mom win!

Guys, this is a section of my closet before the decluttering began. What you do not see is is the countless amount of shoes on the ground and clothes about to pop out of the drawers. Stay tuned for the after! I am currently on the 3rd round of my closet declutter which has resulted in close to 20 garbage bags of clothes to be given away.

 

 

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St. Patrick’s Day Magical Activities

Last week my husband and I were on a tour viewing a potential preschool for our daughter to start this fall. I feel like it was just yesterday she was a tiny baby and now we are looking at preschools, WHAT?!? This makes me want to cry writing about it, so send me some good thoughts when September comes!

Back to the story, the school director was going over some fun activities that they like to do throughout the year. She landed on the subject of St. Patrick’s day and how someone would come in dressed as a leprechaun, they turn the water green and have coins spread throughout the classroom.

I thought to myself, “Why have I not been doing more for this holiday?”.

Sure, I have my kids dress up in green, but anyone who knows me or reads my posts know that most holidays are full of activities at my home.

I went searching on Pinterest to come up with some “magical leprechaun” activities and snacks for the kiddos. My personal favorites are the leprechaun trap, pancakes (no-brainer!) and footprints in the bathroom.  This may be one of my favorite holidays to celebrate with the kids now.  Enjoy!

 

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How to Have a No Spend Weekend

Are you looking for ways to increase your monthly savings or maybe you just want to have a relaxing weekend? Try doing a “no spend weekend” or week, whichever works better for you and your family. I believe the weekend, only being two days, is a small commitment that is manageable.

Set a time frame that works for you.

The basics of a no spend weekend is exactly what is sounds like. You eliminate spending for a weekend on all outings and extra spending. Of course, you may have to purchase gas, medications or needed grocery items, but we are focusing on the extra spending.

This means no dining out, going to movies, shopping, buying drinks, etc… Now don’t let this get you down.  There are many fun activities that you and your family can do during the weekend that requires no money spending!

Before you begin a no-spend weekend, I encourage you to sit down with your family and come up with a plan and ideas you would like to do. Meal planning and checking your pantry for all items you will need is helpful in preparing for a no-spend weekend.

If you have never had a no-spend weekend, I encourage you to try it.

Sit down with your family and create a plan for your weekend with fun activities that you may have never tried before. As a bonus, with the money you would have spent you can now put towards paying debt or a monthly savings!

Here are some ideas that you and your family can do on your no-spend weekend.

1.) Hike

Try and find a new trail or somewhere you have never been.  You can even make a day out of it and bring packed lunches and snacks!

2.) Watch a movie

Go through your movie collection and re-watch one of your favorite movies. You can even search on Netflix or Amazon Prime Video for a free new movie.

3.) Make a new recipe

Look through your pantry and fridge for the items you have on hand and search Pinterest for some fun, new recipes.

4.) Go to the library

Go and search for a book that you have been wanting to read or find something that sparks your interest. Most libraries will also have kids time such as storytelling and crafts. As a bonus, you can even rent movies from the library to take home.

5.) Have a pot luck

Have your friends and family over for a pot luck. Ask each person to bring a dish of their choosing. Having a no-spend weekend doesn’t mean that you must be cooped up in your house.

6.) Camp outside

If the weather is permitting, pitch a tent in your backyard and camp outside!

7.) Play games

Try pulling out some board games that you may have not played in a while.  If board games are not your thing, then play video games.

8.) Volunteer

Use your time to volunteer for a cause that means something to you. Serve food a soup kitchen or play with animals at your local animal shelter.

9.) Visit a park

If your children get restless being at home, then try going to a nearby park. My children would play for hours at a park and never be bored!

10.) De-clutter

Use this time to go through your home and ditch items that are no longer being used.  You can even sell items and make extra cash.

Enjoy this time together. Try to relax and enjoy the simple things.

I would love to hear your ideas for no-spend activities!

 

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7 Ways to Save on Children’s Toys

1.) Buy secondhand

You can find many high priced toys for 50-70% (sometimes even lower!) buy shopping used.  There are so many avenues to find secondhand toys. Consignment sales, children’s consignment stores, thrift stores and yard sale are among some of the best places to find great deals on toys. Many of my baby toys for both children came from yard sales and hand me downs!

2.) Buy less

My husband and I are currently on a process to minimalize and declutter our home (more on that later) and this is one area that I am trying to get better at.  My daughter is just as happy painting on a piece of paper as she is playing with toys. And honestly, I myself get overwhelmed when there are toys EVERYWHERE.  My solution?  I am going through and donating and consigning toys that are no longer used. I now really consider the items (and toys) that I am bringing into our home.

3.) Buy clearance

This is one of my favorite ways to buy for upcoming birthdays and holidays.  The key to toy clearance is to know when to buy.  Most stores will start to mark clearance right after Christmas and continue to mark down late January- early February. Another great time for toy clearance is in July when many stores will begin to bring in their fall/winter items and clearance out spring/summer items!

4.) Trade or borrow

If you are lucky enough to have friends and family that also have children, then this is a great option! My friends and I will share toys and baby equipment and then return once we are finished or another friend has a child.  This is a great way to save some money and to return the favor for someone else! Maybe even consider splitting the cost of a high priced item if a few of you will be growing your families.

5.) Use Coupons

Yes, there are coupons for EVERYTHING. Closer to Easter and Christmas you will see more printable coupons for toys, games and books. Target will also have great discounts through their Cartwheel app during these times.

6.) Use household items

 

One of my son’s favorite toys is a wooden spoon and a pot. I swear this entertains him longer than any other baby toy that we own. Most evenings he will play with his pot and spoon by my feet while I cook dinner. This is a great way to get creative and see what items in your home you can use as kid craft projects as well. Moms be cautious to what your husband comes up with!

7.) Find free toys online

Freecycle- This is great option where all items listed are FREE!

Craigslist- There is a section for “free” where people will list items that they are going to give or throw away.

Local facebook groups-In my area, we have a local Facebook group for “all things free”. Try searching in your area for a similar group.

Always keep in mind when receiving free items you may have to pick it up from someone’s home.

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Creating a grocery budget

The first step in learning to save on your grocery purchases is to sit down and set a weekly grocery budget. This budget will be different for each person/family. I purchase groceries for a family of five on a weekly basis, so my budget may be higher than a family of three. The steps below, I based on my personal shopping habits and how I set my family’s grocery budget. I encourage you to make this your own and use the steps below as a guide.

1.) Make a list of essential grocery items (weekly).

Essential grocery items for me are vegetables, fruits, bread, milk, eggs and some meats. I want you to make this list as detailed as possible.  For instance,

-6 bananas per week (individual)

-1 bag of apples

-1 loaf of bread

-1 gallon of milk

-2 dozen eggs

-Rice

-Peanut butter

-1 box of cereal

And so on…

2.) Put a price to those essential items.

I want you to estimate the price per item that you are currently spending.  Of course, as you continue to coupon and shop sales, the price that you pay for items will decrease over time.

-6 bananas or 1 package ($2.00)

-1 bag of apples ($4.00)

-1 loaf of bread ($2.00)

-1 gallon of milk ($3.00)

-2 dozen eggs ($4.00)

-Rice ($2.00)

-Peanut butter ($2.00)

1 box of cereal ($2.00)

As you begin to coupon and stockpile items you will be able to build a surplus of “essential” items (step 5) at rock bottom prices and not have to purchase on a weekly budget. Therefore, saving you money on future grocery purchases and lowering your grocery budget.

3.) Make a list of “extras”.

“Extra” grocery items are the ones that are not needed, but everyone should splurge a little so, let us be realistic with this budget. For instance,

-1 bag of chips

-1 box of crackers

-That box of cookies that your toddler MUST have.

Now do the same as in Step 2 and put an estimated price beside each “extra” item and total.

4.) Total

On average, my essential items total around $30 per week and my “extra” items are around $10.  This totals $40 per week. This should guide you into what your weekly and monthly budgets will look like.  Now a few more steps…

5.)Add a small stock pile budget.

Remember before adding a stock pile budget, be sure to total the amount for step 4 (essential & extras). Each family budget limits will be different. Once you see that your essential and extra items will cost $40 per month then you know, based on your personal limits, how much you can contribute to stockpiling each week.

I personally set aside $10 per week to purchase extra items that are at stock up price. This budget may vary per person, but I do encourage you to try and at least budget $5 per week to begin to see a decrease in your budget in the future.

6.)Final total.

Add step 4 (total) and step 5 (stock pile budget).  My total per week is $50 per week.

7.)Stick to it.

This step can be the most difficult while starting to shop on a budget. If you notice that after a few grocery trips that your essential items cost more than initially estimated, then adjust your budget accordingly. I would try not to add much more to your “extra” or “stockpile” as these are items that are not needed. On the flip side, if you notice you have money left over each week from your budget, then maybe you need to decrease your budget. Remember this is a process.

The two things that help me to stick to my budget are:

  • Make a list.

The key to success is planning!

  • Set aside grocery cash.

I set aside cash each month for groceries ($200 monthly total) and bring my allotted amount each week.                        This really helps me stay accountable and think about each item that I add to my cart.

I encourage you to try this approach for 30 days, which is the amount of time it takes to develop a habit.

 

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50 freebies on your birthday!

Birthdays are a time for celebration, so why not celebrate with all things FREE? I look forward to my birthday month for all my freebies that I get to enjoy throughout the month. You could practically eat for free your birthday week!

1.) AMF Bowling

Sign up for their Pinsiders Club and receive free bowling.

2.) Arby’s

When you sign up with Arby’s emails you will receive a free milkshake on your birthday.  You also will receive a free classic roast beef sandwich when you first sign up.

3.) Au Bon Pain

Join their Eclub and receive a free birthday lunch.

4.) Auntie Anne’s

Get a free pretzel on your birthday when you sign up for Pretzel Perks.

5.) bareMinerals

Join their Friends and Benefits Program and receive a free gift on your birthday.

6.) Baskin Robbins

Join their Birthday Club and receive free ice cream on your birthday.

7.) Benihana’s

Receive a FREE $30 gift certificate when you register for their Chef’s Table.

8.) Bonefish Grill

Sign up to be a Bone Fish Grill Insider to receive special offers on your birthday.

9.) Boston Market

Receive a free birthday offer when you sign up for their VIP Club.

10.) Buffalo Wild Wings

Join the Buffalo Circle and receive a free dessert on your birthday.

11.) Captain D’s

Join their D’s Club and receive a free offer on your birthday.

12.) Cinnabon

Get a special gift on your birthday when you sign up for Cinnabon Club. You will also receive a coupon for a Free Minibon once you register.

13.) Cold Stone

Receive a BOGO coupon on your birthday when you sign up for My Cold Stone Club.

14.) Cracker Barrel

Go to Cracker Barrel on your birthday and you will receive a free dessert, no sign up needed!

15.) Dairy Queen

Sign up for their Blizzard Fan Club and receive a BOGO blizzard coupon on your birthday.

16.) Denny’s

With ID, you will receive a free Grand Slam on your birthday. Don’t forget your license!

17.) Dunkin Donuts

Sign up for their DD Perks and receive a free beverage on your birthday.

18.) Friendly’s

Join Friendly’s BFF Club and receive a free sundae on your birthday.

19.) Fuddruckers

Join their Fudds Club and receive a special offer on your birthday.

20.) Hard Rock

Receive a special offer for your birthday when you sign up for Hard Rock Rewards.

21.) Hooters

Join Hooters Eclub and receive a free birthday gift.

22.) IHOP

Receive a free meal on your birthday when you sign for their Pancake Revolution.

23.) Jack in the Box

Register for their emails or text messages to receive a special offer on your birthday.

24.) Joe’s Crab Shack

Sign up for Joe’s Catch and receive a special offer on your birthday. Plus, you will receive a free appetizer once your register!

25.) Krispy Kreme

Join their eClub and receive a free donut on your birthday.

26.) Macaroni Grill

Sign up for their email club  and receive a free dessert on your birthday.

27.) Maggie Moo’s

Sign up for their Slab Happy email  and receive a free birthday surprise.

28.) The Melting Pot

Join Club Fondue and receive a free chocolate fondue for two on your birthday.

29.) Moe’s Southwest Grill

Join their eWorld and receive a free burrito on your birthday.

30.) Noodles and Company

Receive a special offer on your birthday by joining the Noodles Family.

31.) Olive Garden

Join Olive Garden’s eClub and receive a free appetizer of dessert on you birthday.

32.) On the Border

Sign up for their Club Cantina and receive a special offer on your birthday. You will also receive free queso on your next visit once you register!

33.) Panera Bread

Sign up for MyPanera and receive a free pastry on your birthday.

34.) P.F. Changs

Sign up for P.F. Chang’s Preferred and receive a free appetizer or dessert during your birthday month.

35.) Qdoba

Sign up for Qdoba Rewards and receive a special offer on your birthday.

36.) Redbox

Receive a free one night birthday movie rental when you sign up for Redbox Play Pass.

37.) Red Lobster

Join the Fresh Catch Club to receive a special offer on your birthday.

38.) Red Robin

Sign up for Red Robin Royalty and receive a free burger during your birthday month.

39.) Rita’s Italian Ice

Sign up for their Birthday Club and receive a free birthday treat.

40.) Ruby Tuesday

Join their So Connected email club to receive a free burger or garden bar entrée on your birthday. You will also receive a free appetizer for signing up!

41.) Sephora

Sign up for their Beauty Insider rewards and receive a special offer on your birthday.

42.) Smashbox

Sign up for their rewards program and receive a free gift during your birthday month.

43.) Sonic

Receive a special offer on your birthday when you create a My Sonic account.

44.) Starbucks

Receive a free birthday drink when you sign up for Starbucks Rewards.

45.) Steak n’ Shake

Receive a free menu item on your birthday when you join their eClub.

46.) Texas Roadhouse

Sign up for their email club to receive a free birthday gift.

47.) TGI Fridays

Sign up for TGI Fridays Rewards to receive a free dessert on your birthday.

48.) Ulta Beauty

Sign up for their Ultimate Rewards program to receive a free birthday gift.

49.) Waffle House

Join the Waffle House Regulars Club to receive a free waffle on your birthday.

50.) Zaxby’s

Join the Zax Email Club and receive a free Nibbler on your birthday.  You will also receive a free sandwich meal for joining!

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