Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Just a reminder about our giveaway!

You could be the lucky one to win the keepsake boxes pictured on the home page. Please remember to sign up as a follower then submit your name and e-mail address for a chance to win! Don't forget your information is NEVER shared with anyone (absolutely no one!) Make sure you visit Clothes to Home as well to see what other items she may have in store for you. :)

Stay tuned on July 31st to see if you were the lucky winner. A new contest will begin on August 1st for Easier Said Vinyl. Make sure to keep checking back!

Clothes To Home

Some worthwhile "Daily Group-ons"

Washington D.C.-->Take a proper water road ride with today’s Groupon. Choose between two cruise options from Spirit Cruises:

* $58 for a Spirit Dinner Cruise (up to a $113 value with taxes and fees), with a complete dinner buffet, grand views of DC's waterfront, and on-board dancing. This deal is valid through December 30, 2010.
* $24 for a Spirit of Mount Vernon Excursion Cruise (up to a $46.54 value with taxes and fees), including the cruise to and from Mount Vernon, estate admission, and a narrated Potomac Tour. This deal is valid through October 30, 2010.

This Groupon can also be used for the Colonial Market & Fair on September 18 and 19 as well as Fall Harvest Family Days on October 23 and 24.

Chicago-->For $7, today's side deal gets you $15 worth of upscale pub fare and potables at Jefferson Tap & Grille in the Near West Side.

Jefferson Tap & Grille serves a variety of beers and seasonal cocktails alongside a menu of tasty traditionals. Sample appetizers such as five mini cheeseburgers on butter buns served with pickle chips ($8.99), or the healthy pita pizza on a crispy naan crust, topped with low-fat mozzarella, basil, onion, tomato, and red pepper ($8.99). Wraps, salads, and sandwiches are plentiful. Try the hearty sesame lime steak wrap ($10.99), grilled strips marinated in lime sesame sauce in a honey wheat shell. Or opt for a barbecue beef sandwich ($8.99), thin slices of beef smothered in house barbecue sauce and crowned with provolone, served with a choice of fries, tater tots, or hand-cut sweet potato chips and house-made coleslaw.

This Groupon is for dine-in only.

Orlando--> Back when the snickerdoodle and the Thin Mint were nothing more than dance crazes, sock-hopping teens secretly wished for tiny candied Frisbees to complement their moves. Wishes do come true with today's Groupon: for $5, you get a half-dozen specialty cookies (a $10 total value) from Breck's Gourmet Cookies, located in downtown Kissimmee. Shipping fees for phone orders are not included in the value of your Groupon.

More than six years of experimentation and concoctioneering has led to Breck's current lineup of more than 30 succulent cookie varieties, all baked fresh in-house from natural ingredients each morning. Creative daring abounds in the chewy and rich signature selections. Break a reverent tongue's sugar fast with a tasty handheld treat of toffee chocolate chip or butterscotch white-chocolate pecan. Traditional confectionists may appreciate the tastes afforded by classic cookies such as the chocolate chunk, while modernist cookie monsters speak highly of the delicious societal commentary present in each white-chocolate macadamia. Since Breck's conveniently allows you to order its delectable delights over the phone, today's Groupon makes an appealing deliverable treat while the public awaits cocoa-flavored stamps and salted packing peanuts.

Queens--> With your kitchen's paella pan and wine glasses inhabited by the evil spirits of dead rice and grapes, cooking Spanish meals at home has become both time-consuming and spooky. Get quality cuisine without interference from crazed kitchenware with today's Groupon: for $15, you get $30 worth of fine Spanish fare and drinks at Cocina Latina Bar and Grill, located down the street from the Queens Courthouse in Kew Gardens.

Pick up a few small tapas-style plates, such as chorizo al vino tinto (sausage sautéed with onions and red wine, $8) and camarones encocados (coconut shrimp with orange dipping sauce, $8) and pass them around the table, sharing the experience like a drum circle. After the communal service, stake your claim on one of the menu's 11 hearty entrees. For a traditional Spanish dish, opt for the paella Valencia: chicken, chorizo, shrimp, mussels, clams, calamari, and octopus (small $20, large $36). Or, side some yucca cheese fries ($5) with the arroz con pollo (slow-roasted chicken in sofrito sauce with rice casserole, greens, and sweet plantains, $12).

Cocina Latina's house wines (red or white) are $6 a glass, so ask your server for the current vino. Or, cool tonsils with a classic piña colada ($8) while the earthen tones and smooth lines in the dining room cool eyes hot from watching too many Internet videos of dancing hotdogs. The chicly clean space has tiny tables along the wall, high ceilings, and elegant fleur-de-lises crawling like caterworms along the warmly lit walls. Ample parking is available nearby.

To find these deals and others click here and enjoy!

(All descriptions were taken directly from Groupon's site.)

Looking for the best, the BIGGEST, and the boldest family resorts out there!

Okay, all of this budgeting has us needing a major vacation! I am looking for the best pool resort out there. Huge resort with a wave pool, rides, toddler area, etc. We've tried the Great Wolf Lodge Resort in Charlotte with limited satisfaction. It was way overpriced and simply "okay." I would have rather gone to Disney for the money we spent.

So, where do you all go? The Wisconsin Dells? Nickelodeon Theme Park? Myrtle Beach? We need something kid-friendly and with a phenomenal pool area. Let me know what you all find or what you have experienced that you would recommend. I've created a poll to get an idea of where you guys have gone and what places you may have loved. Please vote for your favorite spot and then add a comment below letting us know a little bit about your adventure. If it is a generic location (i.e., Florida), could you let me know what city and what resort? Thank you all!

Want a free backpack??

If you head into Staples between now and July 31st you can get a rebate for 100% of your money on any backpack. Yes, that means any backpack is essentially FREE... All you have to do is pick out the backpack, fill out a form, and you will get 100% of your money back in the form of a Staples gift card for future purchases. Backpack purchases may be made in-store, by phone or online to qualify.

Monday, July 26, 2010

A couple of coupons out there...

The Huggies $3 coupon is back out, they have some great Scott coupons (of course, I just bought toilet paper!), and Fruit of the Loom is trying to up their sales so look out for those valuable coupons.

Also, Kmart has started a new program (actually, they updated their old one) where now, if you sign up, you will get 10 points for every $1 you spend. Not bad! Might be worth checking out especially if you are interested in spending more time there.

Where did the time go?

This weekend just flew by, ladies! It is time for our Monday Money Update. Things are definitely challenging. I'm finding that things can be a little tighter than I had thought, but this is because of one payment that ends this month! After this August payment, about 12% of our budget will open back up PLUS I will be bringing in money from taking care of a friend's child. This will mean that we can loosen the belt a little bit and finally start feeling more at ease. This has been a rough start because we went completely cold turkey. I tell you, no matter how many times people tell me they are "doing the same thing" because they pay their credit card off monthly, I don't buy it. I've done both now, and living credit card free is much harder. I actually think that living on cash only might be easier because you have what you have in your hands; there is no risk of overdrafting. That being said, I am going to try out the Dave Ramsey method of cash-only. I know I had a lot of cons listed about going with cash only, but my foot is now in my mouth (ah, the beauty of the internet...) I think we'll have a lot more saved and left over if we don't have that temptation of The Card. Anyone else living on cash only? How do you like it? Any suggestions or discoveries along the way? I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Finally, has anyone checked out Mint.com in the meantime?

Just a little side note about the Grocery Game. I ended up having to go shopping again this week because I didn't have my normal stash. That was a little frustrating and an expensive recovery. I'm not 100% sold on it yet, but I keep hearing that it takes time.

That's it for now. I will update some deals for you all that I've found.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

My cake addiction

I just had a baby 4.5 months ago, and, rightfully so, I have some baby weight to lose. I'm down to the last 5, but you know how annoying that last bit of weight can be. You're "almost" in your old clothes, but yet NOTHING fits. How is that possible??? When I started the pregnancy and I gained my first 5 lbs. everything still fit now I'm 5 lbs. off and I can barely get my jeans halfway up my thighs. Ugh.

So, lately I've become more and more interested in baking cakes and decorating them. I am even taking a Wilton class. This is amazing for me because with #1 I didn't leave the house by myself until he was 15 months old!

In any case, I love my new interest BUT of course I had to pick something that is: perishable and costly. Oh, and did I mention fattening?! We've been eating cake for 2 weeks straight. Granted, my 3 year old LOVES what mommy is doing, but I think my family is hoping I take up sewing... everyone seems to be on a diet!

What I love about baking is how relaxing it is. I'm so anxious to learn more, but the class is only 2 hours a week so although I went today, I have to wait until next week to learn more.

I've thought about getting the Cricut Cake Machine. Anyone else have one? It seems like something great to have, but, for some reason, I feel like I'm cheating the system. I want to make gorgeous cakes on my own yet the machine seems like such a fantastic way to make beautiful cakes in a short amount of time.

Anyway, I would love to know if any of you bake, have the CC machine, or would like to share some recipes. Please e-mail me Mayheminthemotherhood@gmail.com with pictures of your creations, recipes you'd like to share, or anything cake/baking related. I would love to hear about it!

Orange Julius: Tuesdays are BOGO until October 26, 2010. Go with a friend and you can split the cost of the one you do have to pay for making your drink half price.

Snapfish: Right now spend $25 and get a $25 Restaurant.com certificate! Click here

The Children's Place: 15% off. Use coupon code F6ADKVW77A at The Children's Place

Crayola: Buy 1 get 2 free at Toys R Us! Click here. Shipping will be extra, of course.

Laura Ashley: Dresses for girls and infants are $9.95 plus s/h. Check out the sales at 6pm.com

Quiznos: Regular drink, chips, and a small sandwich for $2.99 until July 29, 2010. Click here to get your coupon.

Borders: A free coffee with a free Border eReader app download. Click here to get your java on.

AM/PM: 32 ounce fountain drink for $0.25! Get your coupon here.

I'll post more as I find it. Enjoy and happy shopping!

JoAnn's sale - Until July 24th

Not only does JoAnn's have a ton of coupons right now, but they are even running a pattern sale on their Butterick Patterns. They are each $0.99, but they exclude the See and Sew collection. MSRP is $7.95-$19.95.

Hobby Lobby is still running their 40% off coupon as of right now.

Michael's will match coupons from their competitors.

Lots of options here! Stock up while items are running 40-50% off.

And for you bakers (like me!!!), JoAnn's has the Cricut Cake Machine for $299! Great deal, ladies. Get one while you can.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Hendrick's County Couponers!

I just saw an ad today in the Flyer for the Indy Star (Thursday and Sunday editions) for $0.99 per week for one year! This is BETTER (or at least equal to...) getting your paper at the Dollar Tree/Store. Call the Indianapolis Star at 1-888-357-7827 or go online here: Indy Star. This promo is only good for 72 hours so hurry! Your total will be $4.30 per month for one year of the EZ Pay service. Make sure to use PROMO CODE X-72.

Some shopping tips for the Grocery Game

I am not interested in receiving the newspaper every Thursday and Sunday nor do I want to pay for it. So, a dear friend suggested that I go to the Dollar Tree on Saturdays to pick up the early editio for $1. Now I don't get a bunch of papers I don't need and I am saving money on the monthly subscription.

Also, trying to do the Grocery Game by finding all of the coupons online is impossible. The way it works is that they find a deal, match it up to a particular Sunday and print that on the list. For example, it will say "Venus razors on sale at Food Lion for $4.99." They will tell you the regular price, "Regular price $6.99," then they will tell you, "$2 off coupon 5/13." Meaning that on Sunday, May 13th, there was a coupond for $2 off. That's when you break out your accordion file, look up May, and pull out the May 13th coupons. That $2 off coupon may no longer be around if you tried to search for it now online. Also, Terri does her own coupon matching. They put a certain number of coupons on her site in three different categories: GG1, GG2, GG3. You may or may NOT find the coupon you are looking for, but if you do then it will match the sales she is mentioning on the list.

This is why I say that it is worthwhile, but I would stock up for a few months on coupons before investing. Also, you don't have to do EVERY list available. You can do one list every 12 weeks for $40 per year plus $1 per Sunday newspaper = $92. The savings are much greater than that so it is worth the investment.

Finally, if you only do one list, pick your favorite store. You are not obligated to drive around to every store, but it makes the deals better. If I were to pick one list only I could still do very well. Anything is possible. You just have to be a little creative.


Perdue Farms "Great Value" frozen chicken nuggets with a code of "89008-A-0160" are part of the recall.

Read the rest of this article at CNN.com

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Hautelook - High fashion, low price

I came across this subscription website I thought you all might be interested in. It is called Hautelook and the premise is this: You register for free for an account. They find deals of up to 50-75% off retail and then they offer you those deals for 36-72 hours. Not bad. Might be a fun, and less expensive way, to stock up on the "finer" things for your little one.  Right now they have "Angel Dear" clothing on sale for the next 37 hours.

Here's an example to give you an idea:

                                                                         ONLY $5!!!

                                                                         ONLY $5!!!

Happy shopping!

Some yummy freebies for you all and a possible Twilight coupon!

Have fun! All you need to do is submit your name and e-mail address. If you are worried about disclosing an e-mail address you often use, create a fun and separate one through Gmail or Yahoo (for example), and use that address for all of your "junk" mail. :)

A FREE burger on your birthday. Simply sign up at Red Robin, Ruby Tuesday, or Fuddruckers and get a juicy burger for free! Who am I kidding? Sign up for ALL of them. Follow this link to find out more.

Why not follow up that free burger with FREE ice cream at Cold Stone Creamery or Baskin Robbins on your birthday? I said or again, didn't I? You could do BOTH! Simply follow this link and enjoy!

If you get the Sunday newspaper, check your Parade insert because tucked away inside is a coupon for a FREE smoothie or frappé at McDonald's! Enjoy!

Twilight fans there is an $8 coupon off the DVD "Remember Me" at Redplum. Unfortunately, it is telling me that either it has expired or it has reached a daily limit... so, keep checking it to see if maybe it just reached today's limit and will be available at a later date.

So cute! This would look great in any bathroom...

This is today only so HURRY! You have to pop on over to this site and see their clearanced," Wash your hands - Mom said so," vinyl sign.  SO CUTE!  And only $3 PLUS 20% off AND FREE SHIPPING!  Snatch that up, ladies.  Take a look around while you're there... the vinyl work is adorable.  20% off until August 1, 2010 but the free shipping ends today.  Use code "MYGIVEAWAY."

Vinylize It

Thanks to My Giveaway Today for hosting such a fantastic giveaway and sale!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Money Monday Update

Okay. Get ready, ladies. I am going to tell you about my Grocery Game experience. I took out the coupons I do have, printed off my customized lists, and planned out my shopping experience.

I won't lie, it was tough and lengthy, but I think this is because I am so new at this whole thing. It took me a little while to coordinate coupons, but Terri's lists are very specific and organized. I now see how, in a few months, once I've collected several Sunday newspapers, I will be able to get things free. So, here's what I did.

I went to Meijer. I had a $5 off my purchase coupon from my previous purchase of two boxes of Huggies diapers, plus a $3 off my next purchase coupon. The flyer said if I bought $10 worth of Kellog's products, I would get $10 off instantly on Fruit of the Loom products. Also, if I bought $15 worth of Betty Crocker mixes, brownies, or muffins, I would get $5 off instantly. Next, I had $1 off of any two boxes of Kellog's products. I had $3 off of any two Right Guard deodorants, which were on sale for $2.87 a piece. In addition, I had several $1 off coupons for pancake mix and syrup, and some other boxed products. Finally, I followed her list for sale items.

I ended up spending $97.12 for 12 pairs of underwear, 6 deodorants, 15 boxes of mixes, bread, syrup, pancake mix, 2 Porterhouse steaks, salad, fruit, applesauce, paper towels, 5 boxes of cereal, brats, 24 cans of soda, 2 jugs of orange juice, one of those gigantic containers of coffee, and brownie mixes. I am VERY stocked up right now. The biggest purchases were the underwear and deodorants. Those can be set aside and used as needed. Perfect. So, I saved about 40% using coupons and Terri's list. Awesome for my first time and especially for not having many of the coupons since I don't have a stash yet.

My recommendation would be to save up about 2 months worth of Sunday newspapers. Get a 12 month accordion binder, put a label for each month, put a little sticker on the top corner of the coupon pack with the corresponding date for the Sunday you purchased the paper, and put it away. After 2 months or so, go to the free trial. I think it is totally worth it. I am anxious to see what the next few shopping trips bring. My thought is that once my stash is complete, I may only need to buy some perishables for the week and maybe get the freebies that are listed or the essentials that I just can't pass up.

If you decide that NOW is the time for you, please put me down as a reference! I would SO very much appreciate it. :) My address is mayheminthemotherhood@gmail.com

I will keep you posted as I get better and better each week. It can only mean more savings from here!

On a side note, we are doing well. Things are starting to even out a bit more. I do regret not doing this sooner. I am going to research Dave Ramsey and will placing a review/post about his process online for you all to read. He sounds like a popular financier who believes that we should live on CASH alone... *gasp* More to come soon.

How to make your own blog button

I went to this website and followed her steps for creating a button.

Below, I've added my own directions below for using Photobucket instead of Picasa to save the picture of my choice for use in the button.

I am still learning as I go, but here are general instructions on how to make a button. First, find a picture, or take a picture of your own, that you would like to use on your button/badge. You can custom create one using Adobe, you can search the net, or you can take a picture with a camera. You can save it to an account such as Picasa or Photobucket. I chose Photobucket so my instructions will be based off of that.

Once you have chosen the picture you would like to use, save it to your computer. Next, create an account, or sign in (to Photobucket), and then go to "Upload images and videos." Find the picture you've saved and upload it. Once the picture appears, click on the image. (You can opt to tag it, if you want.) A toolbar will appear above the picture. Click on edit.

Next, choose resize from the new toolbar that has appeared above the picture on the next page. Resize it so that at least one of the measurements is close to 150. Ideally, you would like the pic to be 150x150. Once it is resized, click on "decorate" (in the toolbar above) and then click on "T" (for TEXT.) Choose the font, color, style, etc. you like then choose "apply" in the box to the right. I always save my pictures as copies instead of replacing the original.

Once you've applied your "decorations," and opted to save a copy, a new page will appear. On the left-hand side, there is a box that says "Share this image." Copy the code that is in the "Direct Link" box.

From this point on you can use the website above to finish the coding and place the code in an HTML box.

Let me know if you get stuck somewhere! Thanks for bringing this up.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Those seeking paid blogging opportunities...

I just came across a website called Social Spark and so far, so interesting. This website connects advertisers and bloggers on one site. This provides the bloggers opportunities to be chosen to market items for the advertisers. In turn, the advertisers receive fresh readership through the blogs, which means more marketing for them. I love the idea and am anxious to get the ball rolling. It will be a great way for me to offer you giveaways as well as honest critiques of what is currently out on the market.

Signing up was simple. You head over to the site and put in some general information. Then you are asked to choose some categories of interest that appear on your blog. After that, you are set to go. All you do is wait to hear back from them as to whether or not your blog was approved. I would imagine that once it is, the sponsors will reach out to you.

So, again, if you are interested in monetizing your blog, this may be one avenue to take in order to make that happen. You can always come back here and let me know how your experience went. Mine, couldn't have been any easier.

By request- White noise machine

Do you want to get a peaceful night's sleep by blocking out your child's cries? Okay, I'm totally kidding here people. But seriously, would you like to block out toddler screams while your new little one is sleeping? Or even create a more sound-proof environment? I found a white noise machine by Conair that gets good reviews and is reasonably priced. Right now you can get the machine for $26.99 at Overstock.com plus $1 shipping. Follow this link.

If $30 is too much, you can always go the creative route. We use a high powered fan in our son's room and it blocks out EVERYTHING. I mean, we can vacuum and he doesn't hear a thing.

You can also burn a compilation CD of nature sounds and play that on repeat during naps, etc. I used to have one that was all storms and I loved it.

Finally, you simply play a musical CD that you like. Just remember that with music and noise, your child might end up needing these environmental cues to fall asleep. So, a visit to grandma's house with an oops-moment of forgetting to pack said CD, could lead to a lot of tears. This will just depend on the child.

Anyway, feel free to add to the ideas. I would love to hear what other mommies are doing to help their kids sleep more.

Speaking of which, what are your thoughts on the different sleep methods? I have used Kim West in the past (a modified version) where you essentially sit next to the child to help comfort them. You start next to the crib, then in the middle of the room, then by the door, then you should end by being able to pass by his/her door and "shh" from there. That never happened to us, but I'm sure it did to someone!

What about Ferber, Ezzo, Sears, the CIO method, and so on. What do you guys use or what portions of the methods have worked best for you all?

Friday, July 16, 2010

More freebies!

First 10,000* to respond will receive a Ziploc® Back-to-School Gift Pack that includes Ziploc® Brand Sandwich Bags, Ziploc® Brand Containers with the Smart Snap™ Seal and Ziploc® Brand Storage Bags with the Smart Zip™ Seal.
Right At Home Once there, type "Ziploc" into the search box and click on Ziploc® Back-to-School Gift Pack!- Right @ Home Offers.

FREE Hershey Park Tickets (up to 4) for Chevy Customer Appreciation!

The FREE tickets (over $200 value if you get 4) are mailed to the registered owner of the VIN you enter!

Chevrolet owners and invited guest can request up to four complimentary passes to Hershey Park on July 10, July 24, August 14 or August 28 for Chevrolet Owners Appreciation Days. Tickets are going fast and you won't want to miss this event. Mark your calendars and get ready to experience a fun-filled day, Chevrolet-style.

Don’t wait to sign up, the first 500 participants will also receive free parking.

Complete this form to get your complimentary passes now, tickets are limited and are offered on a first-come, first serve basis. Chevrolet owners, you must provide your current VIN and model, in order to confirm that you are an eligible owner. Your address is required as tickets will be mailed to you within 5-7 business days. Limit one order per household. While supplies last.

Chevy Penn Click on Sign Up Today, then click on the Hershey Park Ad.

Disney Rewards points. Here are some codes for you all:

FM39V03SSW 5 Points Unknown before 6/17/2010
9FTMRYWEK 50 Points Unknown before 6/17/2010
ENCHANTEDCALL Free Princess Phone Call
FPSNN83JX9 25 Points Unknown before 6/17/2010
9EKSMN38SH 50 Points Unknown *NEW
Disney Movie Rewards Let me know if these work, ladies. I don't have a Disney Rewards account so I'll have to sign up to check them out.

Huggies Point Codes!

I've checked these and they all work! Enjoy and I'll try to keep adding more.

bfrjwlqpsgzjpgb (1 or 5 points; can't remember)

Enjoy the Ride Rewards

FREE... vasectomies??!!?

No joke. Came across a freebie for you all and if you are in Denver, you are IN LUCK!
56SD Health Services is currently offering free vasectomies. This is supposedly an agency working in conjunction with the Urology Center of Colorado. So... if you know you are DONE, you may want to plan your ski trip and a snip trip all in one.

56SD Health Services

They call it the Hassle-free vasectomy

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Still amazed

I had NO idea SO many families lived credit card free! Could it be a blogger thing? Maybe people are too afraid to talk finances? Is it a goal that just doesn't stick? You could call it researching, but I am asking everybody about their finances. I hope I'm not stepping on toes, you guys. I can't believe how many moms live on one income without credit cards! How fantastic is that and why didn't anyone tell me before???? My competitive nature would have kicked into overdrive had I heard these stories years ago.

So, I decided to do some more financial research on paying your mortgage off early. I am going to write this as if those reading know nothing about money so forgive me if you are already ahead of the game. First, consider refinancing now. The rates are phenomenal dropping into the 3s. You won't see that again for a very long time people. This is your chance. You can have the cost of the refinance rolled over into your mortgage so it doesn't have to come out of pocket, but it is your money so shop wisely! Also, many people think you have to stick with your current bank. NO! You can shop around. Call multiple banks and find out what they are offering then take the best two offers and pin them against each other. They will fight for you. I promise.

Next, find out about bi-weekly payments. This has actually helped our family because splitting our mortgage payment up into two has allowed me to have a little more wiggle room with our smallest paycheck. Find out if your bank offers this for free. There are pay services, but I wouldn't invest in those. Your better off saving up the money in a savings account and making a lump sum payment at the end of December of said year. You want to make sure you write PRINCIPAL PAYMENT nice and big on your check otherwise your check will pay off the principal AND interest. You don't want to do that. You want to bring down the principal so that the overall amount you owe is lessened. You can use a mortgage calculator online like Bankrate's to see how much you'll save over time.

If you can, try living off of one income and use the other income to save and pay off the mortgage. I mean, think about it. If you could have enough savings to pay for things in cash AND have no mortgage... the possibilities are endless! My father was telling me that we would want our mortgage because of the interest deductions, but the money we get back from Uncle Sam is a lot less than the money we are losing to interest on the loan. For example, let's say we paid out $10,000 in interest last year. We may only get $2500 back, which is great, but we just lost $7500 in interest! Not cool. Once you are done with your mortgage, however, you can open a HELOC (Home Equity Line of Credit), which will allow you to continue having tax deductions. Just be sure to pay it off. Nice little tidbit there.

Don't forget to check out ING Direct here and sign up for a savings account. A lot of people share my philosophy on ING; it is a great place to stash money and it is "far" enough away where you won't tap into it, but "close" enough that you can access it in an emergency. The best part is that you can set up automatic withdrawals so you never miss your money because it is gone before you can mess around with it!

I know coupons are the thing right now, and I am all for it (I'll be trying out the Grocery Game and reporting back next week), but I think one of the easiest ways to save money starts at home. Do an energy audit on your home. How can you seal up the house even more? A sleeve on the water tank? A tankless water heater? Turn off the lights when leaving a room? Be efficient at the fridge? It may just be pennies at first, but they will eventually turn into dollars.

Good luck, ladies! We can do this. We just have to remain determined and set easily attainable goals. Let me know what your goals are and how you are working to get there. I love a good challenge!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Some great deals for you all!

McDonalds- I rarely see coupons for McDs. Here's a link to a $1 off a real fruit smoothie or a frappé. Enjoy! Click here for your coupon.

Ann Taylor fans: Go to their FB page at this link and click on like to receive a special 20% off coupon! Looks like this Use code ANNFAN20 at checkout (20% off of one regularly priced item).

JCrew: Extra 20% off coupon plus free shipping on orders $150 or more. Get it here!
The code is EXTRA20.

Home Depot: I know we can't be the only ones doing home projects. Get $10 off of $100 at Home Depot using code SUMMER78 at checkout.

Like Amazon? Are you a student??? If you have a .EDU e-mail you can use it to get Amazon Prime shipping FREE for one year!! Click here for this special offer. With Amazon Prime you'll be able to receive unlimited free shipping and upgrade to one-day shipping for just $3.99 per item. How cool is that?

Half-Price books: (Avon mamas here's your chance!) Click here to link to the coupons. Here are the specials:
Wednesday and Thursday, July 14-15
30% off any single item

Friday and Saturday, July 16-17
20% off any single item

Sunday, July 18
50% off any single item

Office Depot: $10 off of $25. Here's the coupon!

Happy Shopping!


Okay. Why is it that THE ONE person in the house who needs the most amount of sleep is the one who gets the least?? I mean, I love my kids. Don't get me wrong. BUT my 3 year old should be capable of holding his pee 12 hours and my 4.5 month old should be sleeping through the night, right? I've been told the latter, but since #1 was a colic baby I had no idea what the back of my eyelids looked like for the first year. Now I'm getting the, "When are you going to give him table food?" questions. Totally cool. I'm fine with being asked that question, but since stuffing my first child full of rice cereal did absolutely NOTHING for his sleep habits, I'm a little hesitant to start with my second. #2 is doing totally fine with breastmilk and is growing like a weed. To be honest, I think I am doing something wrong. I think I am letting him nap too much during the day. He gets a good 2-3 hour nap in the morning, 2 hours or so in the afternoon then a 30-45 minute nap around 6 p.m. Those naps are too long and the last one is too late. So, tomorrow, I start the self-torture. I am going to try to only let him sleep 1.5 hours in the morning, the same in the afternoon, then a 45 minute nap early in the afternoon. Finally, I'll try to lay him down around 8 instead of 9 or 9:30 p.m. This may give me more time at night. I just worry he is going to wake up repeatedly. Oh, what a double-edged sword! We always seem to know what OTHER kids need, but when it comes to our own children it just pains us.

Well, speaking of sleep... *yawn* I think that hour has struck. Oh, but wait. What is that I hear? #2 waking after only 45 minutes in bed? Yep.


Business to Blogger

Hey all! I've been setting up an account with Business 2 Blogger and am very impressed so far. If you are a blogger and want to learn more about the trade, get more traffic, or simply get in on the action then check them out. You won't regret it!

Chocolate cake anyone?

I came across this website called Dinner Thyme and immediately fell in love with the picture of the dark chocolate cake before me. It sounds fantastic. You guys should check it out and give props to Spencer and Jamie while you're there!

Triple-Layer Chocolate Sour-Cream Cake

I've always made the same type of chocolate cake. Sometimes it's a texas sheet, sometimes it has chocolate chips, sometimes it has pudding, etc. But this chocolate cake is amazing!! I've made it three times now and every time people say it's the best chocolate cake they've ever had. You have to be sure to frost it only on the tops of the layers or it will be too rich. Yum, yum, yum!!


* 2 Eggs
* 1 1/2 cups Flour
* 1/3 cup cocoa powder
* 1 bag of Chocolate Chips
* 1 tsp. Baking Powder
* 1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
* 1/2 tsp. Salt
* 1/2 cup Shortening
* 1 1/4 cup Sugar
* 1 tsp. Vanilla
* 1 16-oz carton Sour Cream
* 1 cup Milk
* 1 12-oz bag of Chocolate Chips
* 1 cube Butter
* 4 1/2 cups Powdered Sugar


1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease and heavily flour three 8-inch round cake pans.
2. In a small bowl combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
3. In a large bowl beat shortening and sugar on medium spead until combined. Beat in eggs and vanilla until combined. Beat in 1/3 cup of melted chocolate chips until combined and then 8 ounces (1 cup) of sour cream. Alternately add flour mixture and milk; beat on low after each addition until combined.
4. Spread batter evenly in three pans and place all three pans on the same rack in the oven. Bake for 25 minutes or until the tops spring back when lightly touched. Cool.
5. Make Frosting. Melt the rest of your chocolate chips and 1 cube of butter in a small saucepan. Cool for one minute and put in a medium sized bowl. Add remaining sour cream and beat until combined. Add powdered sugar and beat until smooth.
6. Frost the tops of each layer of the cake with a thin layer of frosting and let it spill over on the edges a little so it looks good. Unless you don't like the way mine looks...then of course you can frost it however you want.

Yum!! Best Chocolate Cake in the world. Oh...if you like sour cream.

Other Groupons that may be of interest (Read here if your city begins with an "A")

Today I tackle the "A"s on the Groupon list:

Akron: If your husbands are like mine, this would be a great "get out of my face the house for a while" pass. The Edwin Shaw Challenge Golf Course is offering $8 ($16 value) for two jumbo buckets of driving-range balls at the Challenge Golf Course.

Albuquerque: Your Deal of the Day is $10 for $20 worth of food at Amicis! It expires in one year. The limit is one per table or 2 per table for a group of 5 or more. Buon apetito!

Atlanta: Oooh, you guys have a good one! $5 for $10 worth of ice cream and treats at Coldstone Creamery. There is a limit of one per visit and the expiration varies so check the fine print.

Austin: $15 for $30 worth of food at El Arroyo. This does have an expiration date of October 15, 2010, it is valid for brunch only, and there is a limit of 1 per table of 4.

For these deals, click this link and go to "Choose your city" at the top OR "Visit more cities" directly below that to find your city on the list.

Groupon Indianapolis Deal of the Day: Bounce U (Fishers)

Why are all of the fun bounce-house locations on the East/Northeast side?! In any case, this looks like a very good deal for those NE mamas. Check this out:

$15 ($40 value) for a single pass to a one day summer camp (you can buy up to 5 of this deal). Your child must be 4 yrs. old and potty-trained to participate in this all day activity.

$20 ($50 value) for a five-bounce flex pass and you can buy up to two of this deal. I couldn't find the open gym times, but I do know they do a 7 and under open-gym as well as an all-ages.

$175 ($350 value) for a two-hour "Spectacular 16" birthday party. This gets you two party pros, two hours of open bounce, three pizzas, unlimited drinks, and a T-shirt for the birthday kiddo.

I hope you all are able to take advantage of this deal. Sounds like a fun place to just let the kids loose. Get your Groupon here. Happy shopping!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Mealsmatter- Where was this all of those years???

I don't know about you, but I can be terrible about meal-planning. I fall into ruts. I call my mom, we talk, she tells me what she's making, I tell her what I have planned then we both sigh. I remember growing up it seemed we had delicious dinners on the table nightly, but I can imagine after all of these years of feeding my father and us kids, my mom has run out of creativity. So, how it is possible that after only 10 years my well has run dry?

I decided to do a search for recipe planning, and voila, I came across this website called Mealsmatter. It is what I have dreamed of for years and more! There is an entire bank of recipes, you click on the ones you click and add them to your saved recipes then you can place them on a calendar! You can also create your own recipe book, add recipes to your grocery list, print everything out and go! How awesome is that? They have breakfast, lunch, dinner, kid-friendly, make-ahead-meals, vegetarian, etc. So neat! The website can even help guide you on what to stock up on in your pantry. This has to be a money saver here! Planning out meals will most certainly reduce the temptation of eating out last minute. And, another cool feature is that you can move recipes around on the calendar. So, if you decide salmon just doesn't sound good, you can swap things around a bit. Also, once you add the recipes to your shopping list it even gives you the option of choosing what section the food is in (hot dogs: meat), what store (Super Target) and you can check the box next to coupon if you have one. Very practical.

Ladies, this is definitely worth checking out. Let me know what you think by leaving a comment below. I'm pretty excited to play around with it a little more.
Here you go: Mealsmatter. Hope this helps! I will also post this on my page dedicated to recipes.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Some deals for you guys to check out!

Free bagel and cream cheese at Brueggers if you simply sign up by giving them your e-mail address.

Free sample of Members Mark Formula. Fill out a short survey and they'll mail you a sample. Oh, neighbor- This may be a great way to get some formula for the kiddos. Round up the masses and have everyone fill out a survey! I'm sure everyone would oblige.

Today's Groupon is for Akron, OH:$5 for $10 worth of All-American Eats at Metro Burger. Yum!

Old Navy is running a great deal with $5 tanks, etc. Check it out too!

Happy shopping!

Monday Money Update

Good morning! It has been a tough week, let me tell you. We had some last minute expenditures I wasn't expecting so we had to dip into the savings account. No credit card usage though!

I hate using our savings to get by, but, as of right now there isn't much of a choice. After this month I should be able to start replacing some of what I have borrowed and then we should have some kind of a system down. I am currently using a spreadsheet format that tells me how much I have for each category. Since I use a debit card, I can easily keep track of the spending online through our back account, however, it is easy to go over what I've budget for one category. So, at the advice of a friend (who posted a comment) I've decided to check out Mint. Can I just say how phenomenal this website is? Let me explain.

Last night I was invited to dinner at a neighbor's home. The ladies ended up sitting around discussing finances and we each disclosed our "system." One has been doing this for a long time (over 7 years) and using the detailed spreadsheet format with the Grocery Game coupon format(more on this later.)*A special thanks to a certain mama for forwarding this to me.* The other neighbor uses the cash only/envelopes system. They both had mainly pros regarding their systems. Here's what they had to say:

Spreadsheet - Pros
1. Keeps detailed track of expenditures
2. Allows them to use the debit or cash only
3. Allows them to allocate funds easily and see their usage throughout the month

1. Sometimes slight overspending can occur because of the debit card vs. cash-only usage.

Cash-only - Pros
1. You pull out the money you need, put it into envelopes, and your set!
2. Once the money is gone, it is gone. No fear of overdrafting.

Granted some of these were not mentioned as "cons" but I wonder if these could be drawbacks?
1. Since you are not using your debit card, you have to manually "monitor" the expenditures by keeping any and all receipts.
2. Missing cash, or, worse yet, missing envelopes!!
3. Security issues with carrying (sometimes) large sums of money. At least with a debit card there is some protection via your bank for stolen funds. (Probably pretty rare, but possible...)
4. The hardest one: You have to start off with having a month's worth of funding to get the ball rolling. Ouch.

So, now onto Mint.com and the advantages. It allows you to create an entire profile including your net worth. You can put in all of your current debts, liens, and even find out the value of your home. All of your cash assets are added up as well as your debt leaving you with concrete numbers. Furthermore, you can set up a budget AND goals. The goal part is pretty cool because you can track it as time goes on letting you have a visual as well as a sense of success as you creep closer to obtaining the final prize! Now, I won't lie to you. There is some legwork to be done. Once the accounts are set up I've had to do a lot of manual work so that the amounts debited to my accounts are categorized correctly, but I think once that is done, it should be smooth sailing. *A special thanks to Crafty for bringing this site to my attention.*

The website also compares your expenditures to averages nationwide, which I like. I always like to know where I stand compared to other consumers. I will write more about the website as I continue to explore it. For now, that is what jumped out at me.

Hope everyone had a great Monday!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Friday freebies and deals

Half off at iSushi Cafe in Carmel, IN. Get $40 worth of food for $20! Check it out at the Indianapolis Groupon Deal of the Day. Follow this link

Rayovac batteries- FREE! Target and Wal-Mart have them for a $1 (this is what I hear) Target has them in the $1 section. Click here to print out the coupon.

Coppertone sunscreen sticks- FREE! Wal-Mart has them for $3.97 and there was a coupon in the Sunday paper for $4 so if you were lucky enough to get that coupon go claim your free sunscreen stick! There are supposedly a bunch of them (coupons) for sale on Ebay as well.

Finally, Restaurant.com has an 80% off sale going on right now. Get a $25 cert for $2. Put the coupons down, stow the apron, and give yourself a break. It IS Friday after all. Use code FUN to get in on the deal. Save yourself here!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

We'd like to welcome Clothes to Home to our website!

Thank you to Clothes to Home for sponsoring the July 2010 giveaway. Having taken a pledge to make everything by hand, this website offers not only creativity in the products you will find, but a mom's touch. You know when you buy something from CTH that it was made with lots of TLC.

Read below for a description of this month's prize:

Handmade adorable keepsake box made of old cardboard card box and decorated with expired stamps from all over the world. Perfect gift for the one in your life who cherrishes the little things. Can be used as jewlery box or a place to keep your own stamp collection! Box size is 4x4x1 inches.

Clothes to Home is committed to donating 10% of all net profit to local social services and environmental protection agencies.

Here is the entry form.  Be sure to read it carefully and good luck! This giveaway ends on July 31st and the winner will be announced on August 1st. Check your e-mail to see if you've won!

(July 2010)

Check out her Etsy store here.

5 ways to handle your finances

Here are a few simple ways we manage our money. These are tried and true so check them out.

1. Sit down and have a conversation with your partner about expectations and needs you may each have. Do you have separate accounts? If so, is one of you more frugal than the other? Does that cause tension? It is so important to be on the same page financially otherwise there could be cause for resentment. Make sure that in this conversation you discuss setting aside "play" money for each other, who will handle the bills (maybe set up a bi-weekly meeting time to touch base), and money for savings accounts (i.e., recurring bills, retirement, college savings, etc.)

2. Save, save, save. Here are some easy ways to get extra money without feeling strapped all of the time.
A. You have a car payment that you've made for 4 years. Then you finally get it paid off- hooray! Instead of redirecting that money towards misc. spending, continue "making" that payment into a savings account. In this way, when you are ready to get another car, you have money in savings to either put a partial, or even a full, down payment. Even when you make that happen, continue saving that money and you will never need to take out a loan where you lose thousands of dollars in interest.
B. Open a Roth IRA and try to max it out. Even if you can only set aside a $100 a month at first, this will be money that you can take out tax free at 59 and a half years of age (you've already paid taxes on this money with every paycheck.) The latter is unlike a 401K where you pay taxes when you go to withdraw the money at retirement.
C. NEVER give up an employer match. If your employer offers a match then at least deposit that 2%, 3%, 4%- whatever it may be. That is money you have worked hard for! Don't give that up. Once you get your accounts automated, you won't miss that money. I promise! Just sign up and have them start taking that money out. Then, when you feel comfortable, increase the amount 1-2% every 6 months or so until you reach that 10-20% mark. The last thing you want is to have to work the rest of your life to make ends meet.
D. Have your bank create several savings accounts for you. This is so simple and effective because the money doesn't get lumped into one savings account where it can get "lost in the mix." You can see where it is going and how much of it is going there. Here are the accounts I had created for us:
1. HOA, lawn care, and hazard insurance
2. Car registration and car insurance
3. Home and car repairs
4. General savings
5. School tuition fees
What I recommend is taking the annual fee for your bills and dividing it by 12 then adding about 10% (or more, if you can) so that you end up with a padded account. Let me give you an example. Let's say my HOA is $144 per year (I wish!), lawn care is $280 per year, and my hazard insurance is $350 per year. I add all three of those up and get $784 that I need per year. I divide that by 12 months to find out how much I need monthly and get $64.50 so I'll round up to $65. Then I want some cushion in that account so I'll add another $6 (to $12) per month leaving me with $71 per month in account number one. At the end of the year I will have an extra month's payment in there because I am saving that additional 10% and over time the account will just have more and more money in it so that I never worry about, "How am I going to pay that next month?" It's a great and easy way to set aside funding.
E. Save that change! Get a money jar and save all of your change. You really should try to limit your cash transactions because it is hard to keep track of the green, but, on those occasions where you do use cash, save the change, don't reuse it! At the end you'll have a fun little account saved up.

3. Take the credit cards out of your wallet NOW! Just having them on you is temptation in and of itself. Cut them up, freeze them, put them somewhere where they are not readily available. You can live on what you make alone, and, if you can't then it is time to reevaluate your budget. What can you cut out? As suggested in the comment below, maybe turning off your cable would be a good alternative saving you hundreds (or thousands) a year. Call your local energy company and find out if they have an economic alternative (our co-op allows us to lower our base premium by agreeing to essentially shut our electricity off for minutes a day and only use certain appliances during predetermined hours.) What about eating out? I've mentioned it before and I think this is where many of us spend the most. And where do all of these extraneous expenditures end up? On the credit card! I applaud you for paying off your credit card bills monthly; I was there and did the same. BUT beware: Should there be one off month where something happens, you need extra money, or there is an emergency, you could fall behind and possibly never really recuperate. That is why living off of what you have at the moment works most effectively.

4. Barter services instead of trading. I know it sounds strange, but essentially trading involves some form of currency whereas bartering is simply exchanging one service/item for another. So... barter with people! If you NEED a date night, have a neighbor watch your kids in exchange for you watching theirs. If you provide tutoring to kids, offer free lessons in exchange for babysitting. Do you garden? Trade your fruits and veggies for eggs, meat, and the like. You get the idea. We have more available to us than we think. Make use of it! Do you like to sew? Shop yard sales, find plain onesies and you are on your way to making it big in the baby market, which you can then exchange with someone for... well, anything. Be creative! Use your talents and resources to put more cash back in your pocket.

5. Finally, find everything and anything free! Remember the library (free movies and books!)? Free summer movies at the theatres? Is someone offering you furniture that you don't want? Take it and sell it! Maybe they don't want to go through the trouble of posting an ad so a little of your time can go a long way. Go to the parks, run through sprinklers, go on walks, let the kids use scrap papers to make art, use hand-me-downs, and remember that at the end of the day, you are looking to be happy. So, volunteer with the kids and spread the joy a bit. The Humane Society, Habitat for Humanity, Meals on Wheels, etc. these are all ways that you can give back yet fill your days while teaching your family how to have an open heart.

How this blog came to fruition.

I have been asked a few times why I am all of the sudden putting this blog together. I guess I felt that we needed to stay away from the CC because we kept using it as a crutch. Whenever there is that need, it means something has to give. I knew that if I made a public announcement to vow to stay away from CCs that I would stick to it. That is just how I am; I can really stick with something because the fear of embarrassment from failure goes above and beyond my fear of coming up short monthly.

This is probably a terrible time to test this out as, again, we're down to one income, but once we get this under control, I think we'll find ourselves very comfortable when I return to work. So, that's yet another question I get: Will you really go back to work? Yes, I will. Honestly, the long-term benefits are too much to pass up. Fortunately, it is a part-time job, giving me plenty of time with my children.

I welcome anyone to join me in this one year challenge. I am going to create a page where you can sign up to be a part of this test of true self-control. At the end of this year we can all celebrate together having completed, what can be for many, a daunting task.

In addition, I don't want us to just stop at ridding ourselves of CCs, but to make it a point to save. Save money in advance so that you're not stuck with a bill for hundreds of dollars in one month. Save for retirement. Save for your kids' college tuitions. Save for annual vacatins, car/home repairs, and splurges. We've seen what excesses can do to a nation. We don't all have to live that way.

Check the site for some financial resources and join me as a follower as well as in the CC challenge. There is power in numbers. You know how you never make it to the gym because you have no one to go with you? Well, I'm here! I need you guys as much as you need me.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Some great deals at BRU right now

Here are a few deals I came across that I thought I would share with you.

The Safety 1st Complete Air Convertible Car Seat in Harvest is on sale from $249 down to $159.98 plus an extra 10% off AND free shipping!

The JJ Cole Bundle Me in pink AND in khaki is on sale for $19.99 (50% off!) at BRU. Might be a good buy for the approaching cold winter season.

Bundle Me in Khaki

Bundle Me in Pink

PLUS... get an extra 10% off right now AND free shipping if you purchase $49 or more!

Happy shopping!