Saturday, January 30, 2010

Life Skills Training - Breakfast in Bed

Last Saturday was wonderful. I slept in until 8:30 am and was woken by DD1 and DD2 with breakfast in bed!

I had taught DD1 how to make scrambled eggs in the microwave a few months before for a life skill training. Last Saturday I got hot scrambled eggs, a peeled clementine, and a glass of milk. They even brought up a dish towel as a napkin! All brought up to me on a cooling rack as the tray.

Then to top it off DD1 went downstairs and fixed scrambled eggs for DD2 and DD3 so I could rest a little more! I was so impressed and DD1 felt so grown up. She is definitely learning great skills for life!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Bye-Bye Pacifier Party

Trying to get rid of the pacifier? Throw a Pacifier Party! This is how:

1. Tell your child in ADVANCE that they are big now and you are going to throw them a party where they are going to send their pacifier to the babies in the hospital.
2. Let your child help plan what type of cake, activities, and they can request a present.
3. Before you have cake, ice cream, and presents, have you child decorate an big envelope. Then they put ALL of their pacifier in the envelope.
4. They put the envelope in the mailbox - before the party.
5. Go have the party to celebrate your child's bigness!
6. While they are busy with the celebration, someone sneaks to the mailbox and puts the envelope in the outside trash can where it will not be seen by child.
7. After the party chances are they will go back to the mailbox. Tell them that the mailman already took them. (I know not completely honest, but it is for the cause :)

**Notice how many steps the child helps with or does? This is very important so that they can take ownership in giving the pacifiers away. This is important when they are begging for them you can say, "Remember, YOU gave the pacifier to the babies because you are so big now and don't need them. You did a good job!"

We did this with DD2 and it worked like a charm!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Good-bye to a $avings Era

My FAVORITE store, SuperFresh, is closing this week. My average savings there was 75% and I am so sad to see that go.

Also leaving is my favorite cashier Robert (in the pic). One of my couponing tips is to find cashiers that you know and that know their stuff. Robert was one of these. He was meticulous with the coupons. In addition to that, he would tell me the good sales in the store that were unadvertised and the best time of the day/week to shop for the best savings.
He was also my biggest advertiser for my Coupon Binder Business and would hand out business cards for me. He would also keep an eye on the kiddos if I needed to run out to the car when I was struggling with two carts of food.
I hope that you can build a repor with the cashiers at your store. They can be worth their weight in gold!

Goodbye Robert, and Good luck!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Budget Class Reminder

My DH and I will be teaching a budgeting class tonight. See the posting for the details. I promise it is going to be GOOD!

Needs vs. Wants

Many people ask me how I am so good at being frugal and staying within my budget. I think the biggest thing is understanding this - needs vs. wants.

Whenever you go to spend ask yourself, "Do I really NEED this?" and go even further and ask, "Do I need this to sustain life?" If the answer is "no" then it helps you forgo the purchase much more easily.

We don't NEED name brand clothes, expensive cars, expensive trips, big houses, dining out, a house full of brand new furniture, spa days, etc., etc. Even lessons for our kids are not an absolute necessity and can be put on the chopping block if need be.

We do need food, clothes, shelter, and transportation. All other things would be nice to have and I try to find ways to reduce costs in ALL areas.

When I am able to asses a real need vs. just a want, it helps me curb my spending much more easily. I would love to hear how you curb your spending!

Monday, January 11, 2010


My DBIL (Dear Brother-in-Law) was recently giving me a hard time about my blog - I didn't even know he was a reader. (You need to sign up Randy :). He said that it took him a while to figure out who my DH, DD1, DD2, and DD3 were. He thought that my DH was my Designated Hitter. Actually that isn't so far off. He steps in for me quite a bit. So for those of you that are new here are some clarifications.

DH - Dear Husband, Dashing Hunk, Designated Hitter. This refers to Marcus - the love of my life and my biggest supporter.
DD1 - Dear Daughter 1. Our oldest daughter.
DD2 - Dear Daughter 2. Our middle child.
DD3 - Dear Daughter 3. Our youngest.
DBIL - see above
DSIL - sisters-in-law
etc., etc.

Randy also told me I needed more pics. I have been trying to be better about this. How am I doing? THANK YOU Randy for your suggestions!! I think they were right on!

What suggestions do YOU have for my blog? What topics would you like me to cover? What do you want to see more or less of? I would love to hear from you!

Life Skills - Bathroom training

Saturday took an unexpected, but pleasant twist. My kids ASKED to do life skills training a.k.a. chores. How could I say no to that? The skill - Clean the bathroom.
They got all jazzed and suited up in their cleaning aprons and I got out the cleaners. Then I went and sat in the bathroom on the side of the tub while I taught them. I would talk them throught how to do it. There were times that I had to show them the skill, then help guide their hands so they could get the muscle recognition. I also made sure that their quality was good. What good is teaching something if the quality is poor? I didn't seek perfection, just good work.

DD1 asked for toilet and bathtub training (I told her I was potty training her again. We both got a good laugh out of that :). DD2 asked for sink, counters, and mirror. They were both in charge of the floor. I was in charge of the shower walls.
The next time we do this, they will be doing the same things to solidify what they learned. Then when they are ready, they will switch and teach each other. When you are able to teach something, that shows that you really know it, and it further entrenches it in your own mind. (Learned that in education classes.)

They had done this once before during summer life skills training. However, I didn't expect them to remember all the details. In fact, I don't expect them to remember everything next time either. Most people take three times of being exposed to something to really learn it. Some people can take up to seven times. (I learned that in my education classes too.) With our kids I think it will be somewhere inbetween.

By the end their excitement waned, and so did my patience. However, we all knew this is expected and were able to help each other through it.

The end result? Their bathroom looked great, they were exausted, but very proud of themselves. Their score - 8 out of 10. Not perfect but actually pretty good.

I got the chore training idea from the book, "The Parenting Breakthrough" by Merrillee Boyack.
The cleaning method I use is, "Speed Cleaning" by Jeff Campbell.

Aren't the pics great?! I LOVE to see our kids working and learning. I think they love it too - at least they keep asking for more. :)

LOVE Coupon Shopping

It has been a while since I have been able to do serious coupon shopping. It has taken more time than I thought to start and run a business. However, last week was triple coupons at Superfresh. My friend Mary and I went and here are the results:
$254.76 Total worth of groceries
$187.43 Amount I saved with sales and coupons
$67.33 Amount I paid

I have to say it felt sooooooo good to do that again. Of that $187.43 only $60 was store discounts. The rest were coupons saving. I love the POWER of the coupon!

Christmas Lights Organizers

My DH came up with this great idea. Take the cardboard tubes from the wrapping paper and use them to wrap your Christmas lights around. Here's how:

1. Tape one end of the lights to the tube. (This will prevent the lights from sliding around.) Also for ease of putting them back on next year, you might want to start with the plug end. That way the beginning of the lights will be on top. It just depends on how you like to string your lights. It was easier to take them off by starting with the non-plug end and wrapping directly off the tree. But this may make it harder to put them back on. Either way, they won't be tangled and that will save time and frustration right there.

2. Start twisting the tube so that the lights coil around the tube.

3. Done. I store my lights directly in the Christmas Tree box so that I know where they are next year.

4. When you put them back up next year, the kiddos can hold the tube and untwist it as you hand the lights. What a great way to get them involved!!

I did this with DD1. It was so easy and fun that she kicked me off and finished it herself. I'm not complaining about it. :)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

FREE Redbox Rentals

This tip came from my friend Kate. She was one of my first Coupon Binder customers. She is now a Coupon $avings Queen. The following is her email to me.

"Here is a link to free Redbox Codes that are marked with percentages as to how well they worked. Tip: Print list before going to a Redbox stand and bring with you to try them out. The ones dotted with green are most definitely working. Never pay for a rental again! Also each code is good one per credit card, so if you (hypothetically speaking) had an ATM card and 3 credit cards you could get 4 free movies with a single promo card."

Thanks Kate! I know what we are doing tonight for FREE.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Free Wendy's Frosties!!

Right now at Wendy's you can buy a coupon for $1 that will give you free frosties for the entire year with any transaction. So you could buy a dollar hamburger and get a free frosty. The lady told me that if I bought one hamburger I could get six free frosties. (I bought six of these coupons.)

I was also told that they only do this at the beginning of the year and only offer 2,000 per store. I bought mine yesterday. She told me that they were selling about 100/day and they only had 1,000 left. So hurry in for a great deal!

*I went to the Wendy's in Royersford.

Something Scary

Two days ago it was time to take the girls to the bus stop. I went out to start the van....It wouldn't start. I had left the DVD player plugged in - and running- the day before. (I know, not smart.) The kids got a ride from a neighbor and I was left facing one thing I have been dreading for my entire life - jump starting my car.

I finally HAD to do it. There were errands I had to run, binders I had to ship. The men on the street were gone to work. It was just me and the van battery.

I was scared but decided I was bigger than this fear. Guess what? I did it and it really wasn't that bad!!

My challenge to you - Learn or do something that has been haunting you. You will feel so empowered!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Budgeting Class

Okay readers here is an opportunity to see me in the flesh. (Well not all the way in the flesh, but at least in person :). I am going to be teaching a class on budgeting and you are invited. Here are the details.

When: Wed., Jan. 27,2009
Where: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints building
2530 Stinson Lane
Norristown, PA
Time: 7:00-9 or 9:30 pm depending on how many questions there are.
Fee: FREE - my favorite word.

Details: My Husband, Marcus, and I will be going through how to set up and execute (not kill, but to make it work) a budget. It is encouraged, not necessary, that couples attend. Or come by yourself if you don't have a significant other. However, NO babysitting will be offered. (even I have to hire a sitter.)
We will be offering a budgetcomputer program that can help you in setting up your budget. The cost for that will be $1 to cover the cost of the cd. I am also hoping to be able to offer some of the budget tools we will be talking about. Since I haven't seen anything like them, I have to manufacture them. I have no idea how much they will cost or if I will have the time. But hopefully they won't be more than $25. (I am only charging for the materials.) If you are interested, please bring cash. Also, hopefully they will be simple enough that you can make them yourselves as well.

If you are planning on coming. Please reply in the comments area. I want to make sure that we have enough chairs and a room big enough.
*Do you know how hard it is to find a picture with just Marcus and me? Usually I am the one behind the camera. Luckily, I did find one. Isn't he cute? When he isn't squinting he is even cuter. :)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

How to Lower Bills part 2 - fixed Bills- car insurance

Yesterday, I was telling my DH about the cutting bills question and my answer. A funny thing happened. My first response to the cutting bills question had to do with variable expenses - ones that fluctuate. His first response was on fixed expenses - utilities, insurance, mortgage, etc. We had a good laugh because he is in charge of fixed and I am in charge of variable expenses in our family so we saw that question in a different light.

However, as I have been mulling this over, I think that in many instances - not all- that they can be handled in the same way. Keep in mind the questions 1. Is it possible to do this cheaper? 2. How?

Let's take a look at a bill that is considered more fixed. Car insurance. Let's use the questions. Is it possible to do this cheaper? Yes. I know you may not believe me but it is true. How? Keep reading.

Did you know that with one phone call, your insurance agent can lower your insurance rate? No lie. You just call them up, tell them you are looking around, and if they want to keep your business that they better give you a more competitive rate.

We did it, and had our agent scrambling. She got quotes from several other companies that she uses. We even found out that Nationwide started another company, with a completely different name, for the purpose of offering cheaper insurance! I'm not lying.

When you throw in a multiple car discount along with a home insurance policy, you can get even better rates. If you have teenagers, the good student discount helps out a lot. Also, driving in such a way that you don't get tickets or in accidents is very cost effective.

Here is another tidbit you may not know. If you go on vacation, you can call your insurance company and uninsure your car for the time you are gone. We had a car that we weren't driving anymore, so we didn't need the collision and liability insurances. We did want it insured in case it was vandalized or stolen. So for $7/mo. we were able to get those things covered.

So then you ask, can I get it cheaper? yes. How? Share a car, and the expenses, with someone. You could also drive older cars that are cheaper to insure. Or, you could give up your car all together and ride public transit or get a bike. Your cost is free, after the bike. But you could probably get a bike for free too. (Not that I am saying this is very viable for most Americans, but it is a possibility.)

I am convinced that with most things there is always a way to get it cheaper, even a little bit. It just takes a bit of asking and information.

**Real story. My dad used to sell insurance. I was his summer secretary so I saw a lot of people come in and out of his office. One time, I heard my father quote a man $700/mo. for car insurance. I couldn't believe it. I asked my dad if the company really wanted that much for insurance. My dad said that he had some leeway with the quotes he gave.

He knew this guy's car was impounded for D.U.I. and not being uninsured. This guy was trying to get his car out and needed to show proof of insurance. He also didn't want to shop around for multiple quotes. My dad knew that this guy was a huge risk and that after one month would default on his policy. Not a good thing for the company or my dad's commission.

So my dad jacked up the price and figured if the guy wanted it badly enough from him he would pay a lot of money, and the company would make some money for taking the risk. You know what? That guy paid it and the exact thing happened that my dad said would happen.

My point with all of this is that your insurance agent has more power then they let on. It takes a little nudging a.k.a negotiating, shopping around, being informed, and being willing to walk. But it is worth it. It could save you hundreds of dollars every year.

**The picture is of my brother-in-law. Pretty funny huh?

Monday, January 4, 2010

My Life on Film

The holidays are over, our family has left, the cold I have been running from all week has finally caught up with me, and I wanted to chill. I did something I rarely do, I sat in bed and watched a movie - Julie and Julia.

I thought I was settling into a movie about cooking. Strangely though, as the movie developed, I felt like so much of me was playing out before my eyes. A tall woman, with short curly hair. A big personality that LOVES people. And so competitive it drives her to do things that other people either say are impossible, or that they can't believe you are doing that particular thing. Sometimes I can't believe it and sometimes I drive even myself crazy.

Then there is a husband that is shorter than you, especially when you wear heels. He is so sweet and supportive that he not only puts up with the craziness of what you are doing, but actually encourages it. He listens and gets excited when you show him your latest trash find, or tell him how much you saved on groceries. He even helps clip and organize the coupons. And you are crazy in love to boot. (Only my hubby still has his hair and prefers no facial hair.)

You are driven by a passion that shapes your life into something you never thought it would be. You want to teach it to others so that their lives can be fuller too. For Julia it was cooking, for me it is frugal living.

There is also a blog. You want your ideas to be heard so you put them out into cyberspace. Hoping that someone will read them - and appreciate them. You think, "How hard can it really be?" and start to type.

Then you realize that it takes TONS of time and wonder if anyone is even reading it. And is it worth the time? Still, my mind mulls continually about what to write. What nugget of frugality can I possibly share that will make a difference in someone else's life?

And even if I don't have a ton of readers I will continue to write. I will write for my daughters. This will be the place where I write down the things I wish my mother would have taught me. I don't want time to dim the information that has been so powerful in my own life.

Don't get me wrong, I would love to have a ton of followers (and if you read this, please sign up :), but I think I have come to realize that I blog because I have a passion for what I do. I LOVE TO SAVE MONEY and I LOVE PEOPLE and I LOVE TO TEACH.

But for now I must go. It is 11 pm and I should have been asleep two hours ago to help with this cold.

Good Night.