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Category: Earning & Managing Money

My Top Four Tips For Those in Financial Despair

1) Put God first and recognize that all you have is given to you by Him. He is the Creator and Sustainer of life, we owe everything we have and are to Him. The least we can do is give back the “firstfruits” of our earnings to Him in gratitude for all He has given us. (By the way, if you are unfamiliar with your Creator and would like to know more, please email me. I’d love to tell you more about how I’ve found true peace and contentment in my soul for Eternity–something which all the money in the world can’t buy.)

2) Have a positive, grateful attitude. I cannot tell how much a can-do, cheerful attitude can affect your finances. As the saying goes, “Can’t never did anything.” If you sit there and sulk about how hard things are for you financially you’ll never get very far. If you instead seek to be thankful for what you have, to make the most of your situation, and to be creative with what you have, you might just be surprised at the possibilities.

3) Become a Dave Ramsey “junkie.” I know I talk about Dave a lot and some of you might get tired of me plugging his stuff till I’m blue in the face. I was once there, too. My husband had started listening to this “Dave guy” on the radio and kept telling me I really should listen, too. I didn’t get what the big deal was but I finally heeded my husband’s encouragement and I’m so glad I did! If you feel financially hopeless or like you are stuck in a hamster wheel, go get yourself a copy of The Total Money Makeover. You can thank me later. 🙂

4) Get on a budget. Read Dave’s book first, he’ll walk you step-by-step how to do it and give you all the motivation you need. You can also download a FREE budget spreadsheet here to help you out. And here’s a free 5-day Jumpstart Your Budget Challenge.

Reader Tips: Bring Your Own Bags, Price Chopper Kid’s Club

Discounts for Bringing Your Own Bags – From Diane:

Recently I discovered some stores give a discount for those customers
who use the cloth shopping bags. I called all the stores in my area and
asked several questions. Here is what I learned:

Kroger takes $0.04 cents off per bag filled–it is corporate
policy. They sell their bags for $1.00 and they also sell thermal bags.

United Grocery does not have a policy to give $$ off for this. (I have been told some United Stores do
give $ so it is not company policy but may be store to store.)

Publix–I was told by one store they do give $$ off and by another that
corporate memo went out to stop giving $ back.

Wal-Mart–They do not give $$ off.

Target–They do not give $$ off.

Hannaford’s–A friend told me that they do a $0.05 rebate and a $0.02 rebate for reusing
plastic bags.

I would imagine if enough people contacted other stores they might
adopt a policy of offering a discount for those who use the cloth bags.
I know it saves the stores money. I had one manager tell me the plastic
bags cost between $0.03 and $0.05 cents each and the paper ones are $0.10
each.

Price Chopper Kid’s Club – From Amara:

If you sign your children up for the Price
Chopper Kid’s Club, you will receive a coupon in the mail monthly for a
free item–one coupon per child. Past "free items" have included ice
cream, Lunchables, Powerade…and even small containers of milk!

Becoming a WAHM: Prioritization and Organization – Part 2

Last week in our Becoming a WAHM series, I talked about how
working at home is just that—it’s work. If you are not prepared to put in lots
of hours and lots of effort, there’s likely no point in starting in the first
place since I can guarantee you that it won’t be easy. Building a successful
business takes time, diligence, and lots of plain ole’ hard work.

Once you are determined that you’re willing to exert the
energy it will require, you’re not ready to start working from home just yet. First, you need to
take some time to examine your life. Step back and ponder
how organized (or disorganized!) your life is.

Do you feel like things are running smoothly most days and
that you have extra time to devote to a new endeavor? Or do you feel like you
are running around like a chicken with your head cut off barely keeping your
head above water?

If the latter describes you, then now is definitely not the
time to be adding something like working from home to your plate. Instead, I
recommend that you take the next month and evaluate your priorities, schedule, and activities. Are you willing to cut activities from your life in order to
focus part of your time and energies to starting a business? If so, what can
you start cutting back on today to free up more time for entrepreneurial things?

Don’t just think about cutting back or paring down—do it! If you’re
really serious about becoming a WAHM, it’s going to mean some temporary
sacrifices in order to achieve your long-term goals.  You can’t do everything so in order to say “yes” to something, you invariably need to say “no” to something else.

I also highly encourage you to spend a few months
developing a good routine and solid organization into your life. Running a successful
business requires organization—not only
on business pursuits, but also when it comes to home management. Balancing
business stuff with your much more important priorities of being a wife, mom, and
home manager mean you must have a plan and you must have order in your life.
Otherwise, you’ll become slave to the tyranny of the urgent.  Ask me how I know. 🙂

If you are struggling with time management, I wrote a series
on this subject on my other blog which you can read here (I’ll warn you, it’s rather long–start at the bottom of the page to read the posts in order!). For those interested, I also recently did a series on Successful Home Management with Toddlers.

Please know that I’m
still sorting things out myself and we definitely have days when I run around
in circles and accomplish next to nothing besides putting out fires; however,
by purposefully committing to develop organization and routine into our home,
things run much more smoothly. And it’s most assuredly only the grace of God and purposeful organization that enables me to be a wife, mom, homemaker, and blogger.

Just for fun: For those of you who work from home or have quite full plates, what’s your biggest time management tip or helpful idea for those who feel like they are drowning? I’d love to hear!

Reader Tips: Best Buy, Half Price Books, Ace Hardware, EBates, Pampers Gifts to Grow

Best Buy: Free Gift Cards for Report Cards* – From Stacie:

Our local Best Buy store is offering "gift cards for scholars". It
breaks down like this:

1 A= $5 BB gift card

2 A’s=$10 BB gift
card

3 A’s= $15 BB gift card 

4+A’s= $25 BB gift card.

We went
last night and got some great FREE goodies!! I have also heard that
the clothing store Limited Too does the same.  Do you know of any other
chain or franchise stores participating in a program like this?

(*Note from Crystal: The Best Buy deal might only be a local deal available at Stacie’s Best Buy store. Anyone know? If you know of any other great report card offers, please share them in the comments section!)

Half Price Books: Make A Profit Off the Free Magazines – From Catherine:

As I’ve been going to Half Price Books once a week
to get the kids’ the summer reading program sheets and free books
, I have
been taking in some books we don’t need anymore and haven’t
successfully sold any other way.

One week I noticed that our Half Price Books has a
magazine section, so this week I took in several of the magazines I
have already flipped through but didn’t want to save (now that I get
tons of free magazine subscriptions I’ve found out about through Money
Saving Mom!).  They gave me a great price for them, between 50 and 75
cents each.

Given that I didn’t spend anything on the magazines in the
first place, I thought that was a pretty good deal, and it more than
paid for my gas to get over there (although fortunately for me, HPB is
on my usual errand route anyway). I just thought I’d pass that along,
as other people may have basically new magazines sitting around the
house. Getting money for them is better than throwing them away!

ACE Hardware: Rebate Sale This Weekend – From Renee:

I just wanted to let you know that
Ace Hardware is having a huge rebate sale this weekend. They have many free items after rebate and many items
that are just $0.99 cents after rebate. More details can be found here.

Ebates: Refer a Friend and Make $5 – From Becky:

Did you see the ebates.com
tip in the AllYou magazine this month?  Apparently, if you refer
someone, you and they get $5.

(Note from Crystal: For those who haven’t signed up to EBates yet, I highly recommend it. You only have to spend an initial $5.01, and you get $5 back for signing up. And then you can encourage your friends to join and earn an additional $5 for each friend who signs up with the promotion going on right now. Sign up here.)

Pampers: Gifts to Grow Program – From Jessica:

I know you mentioned Pampers recently on your blog and I wanted to be
sure that you knew about Gifts to Grow. We use Pampers too and I just
recently discovered what the stickers on the packages are. You can
find out about it at www.pampers.com. Every Pampers product comes with a code that you can enter into your
profile on the site and you can use the points to earn free toys, gift
cards, etc.

(Note from Crystal: I have not used this program yet–bad me for all the Pampers I’ve purchased (well, I got them mostly free at CVS, but that still counts!) in the last two years!–but I just bought another package and can’t seem to even find the code on it. Where should I be looking? And how many packages do I have to buy in order to earn anything of value? Just curious.)

What’s your best money-saving vacation tip? (24-Hour Giveaway, too!)

It’s Summer and that means that many of us look forward to special memory-filled vacations with our families. Our family is planning a short vacation this Summer and we’ve been saving a little bit each month for the past six months in order to fund it. By the time August is here, we should have plenty saved up to be able to enjoy a simple and fun few days at a lake in Arkansas. We’re so excited about it!

Do you take a trip or two in the Summer? If so, what are your best money-saving vacation tips or great ideas for an inexpensive family vacation?

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Leave a comment by Friday evening with your idea or suggestion and just for fun, you’ll be entered to win one of two $25 gift certificates from Hanes for Kids! (Winners will be posted late Friday evening.)

By the way, did you know that Hanes for Kids has teamed up with Disney World and they will be giving away entire vacation packages to seven families this Summer? Every time you purchase a Hanes® product, you could be one of seven winners of a Walt Disney World®
vacation. And you don’t even need to buy Hanes products to enter to win! You can go to official rules to see how you can get a free code. It’s your chance to experience
The Year of a Million Dreams in Hanes comfort! 

Writing to companies = Free stuff and coupons!

I often receive emails from people thanking me for all the money I’ve helped them save. While I’m so glad to be helping save you money, I have to tell you that this blogging thing is a two-way street: I’ve saved so much more money myself since I started blogging on saving money.

Case in point: a number of you have mentioned writing to companies when you have a problem with a product. Honestly, the thought would have never crossed my mind to do so but with your encouragement I tried it twice in the last two weeks.

And guess what? Both times I scored free coupons.

First I wrote to Pampers because I recently bought a package of diapers that was cut funny and the tabs kept pulling off. We are almost exclusively a Pampers family and I have purchased who-knows-how-many diapers from them in the last four years I’ve been diapering babies, so I knew that this was not typical.

I shot off a simple emailing explaining what had happened, telling them how much we like Pampers, and asking if there was anyway they could send me some product coupons. In less than a week, I’d received an email back and a letter with two $5/1 Pampers coupons. Thank you, Pampers!

Armed with this success, I wrote to Lipton tea as I’d bought a box of tea a month ago which had mostly-defunct tea bags in it. When I’d pour the boiling water over the tea bags, they would explode and I’d have to throw out the now-tea-leaf-filled tea and try again.

Once again, I explained the situation, expressed my appreciation for their products (which I usually enjoy), and requested a coupon for a free product to replace the box of tea bags I was unable to use.
I promptly received both an email and a letter containing not only a coupon for a free box of tea, but a sheet of high-dollar coupons for other UniLever brands. Talk about going above and beyond the call of duty–I’m impressed!

So folks, it never hurts to write and ask. Don’t complain and don’t take advantage of companies, but if you sincerely encounter a problem with a product, drop the company a line. Your few minutes of effort might pay off with free stuff and great coupons!