MoneySavingMom.com
FREEBIE LIBRARY!
Join my email list and get FREE ACCESS to the MSM Freebie Library, including my top printables & eBooks.
Classic View
Grid View
23 Jun 2009   ·   37
Money Saving Mom

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins are a stand-by at our house. I’m not sure that they are necessarily the most frugal muffins ever and I certainly know they aren’t the healthiest muffins ever, but they are sure delicious. And if you can get the pumpkin for $0.25/can and the other staple ingredients on sale or at Aldi, it can be rather economical.

These muffins freeze really well and can pretty much be eaten straight out of the freezer. We love to use them for quick snacks or for a special breakfast treat, and they are one of my husband’s favorite things for me to pack in his lunch.

pumpkin chocolate chip muffins

23 Jun 2009   ·   23
Money Saving Mom

Homemade Bread and Homemade Pita Pockets

I began my Baking Day yesterday afternoon since I had a bit of time and wanted to get an early start while I had the chance. I first threw the ingredients for a loaf of Homemade Bread into the bread machine and while that was mixing up, I made up the dough for the Homemade Pita Pockets.

I doubled the recipe for the Homemade Pita Pockets and, in the process, discovered that it seemed to be a recipe not entirely suitable for doubling. The dough was a little difficult to work with. But that wasn’t all–since you are only supposed to cook two pita rounds at a time, by the time the last half of the rolled out pita dough rounds were ready to be baked, they had risen too much and then fallen, making them not bake as well.

005

009

However, despite all of this, they turned out yummy–just not as beautifully-looking as they usually do!

homemade pita pockets

It was also when I was baking the Pita Pockets that I realized this
whole Baking Day thing was probably not the greatest idea ever seeing
as it 100 degrees in the afternoons here this week. So heating up my
whole kitchen was not the brightest thing to do. Oh well!

012

Next up: our favorite Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

23 Jun 2009   ·   19
Money Saving Mom

Baking Day: Introduction

After taking a hiatus from my usual Baking Days, I'm back into the swing of things again around here with another fun and busy Baking Day planned for today.

Here's what I'm hoping to accomplish:
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
Banana Bread
Blueberry Streusel Muffins
Homemade Bread or Rolls
Waffles
Homemade Pita Pockets

For those of you who are new here and wondering what a "Baking Day" is, basically it is a day that I set aside every few weeks to bake up a bunch off stuff for the freezer. I usually make up muffins, waffles or pancakes, bread, and I sometimes cooked up chicken, rice, or ground beef as well.

I've found that spending a few hours of dedicated time one morning once or twice a month preparing food for the freezer saves me a lot of time in food preparation over the next few weeks. Plus, it saves us quite a bit of money since it allows us to have breakfast at the ready for a busy morning, snack foods available to grab on the way out the door, and makes dinner prep a snap on those days when I don't have time to spend in the kitchen.

If you've never baked up things for your freezer, I'd highly recommend it. You might find it becomes a time-saver and life-saver in your home as it has ours! You can scroll through some of my previous Baking Days here for more ideas and recipes. And stay tuned today as I'll be posting updates on my progress complete with recipes and pictures.

22 Jun 2009   ·   17
Money Saving Mom

This week’s menu and planned Baking Day

Mpm12

I'm finally getting back into the swing of baking and cooking around here and it feels so nice after taking an extended break after Silas was born. I'm hoping to have another Baking Day tomorrow so I planned for that when making out our menu and grocery list for this week. If you'd like to join in the Baking Day tomorrow, I'll be posting some pictures and recipes throughout the day and a Mr. Linky round-up at the end of the day. Stay tuned for that!

Here's the plan for what we'll be eating around here this week:

Breakfasts
Oatmeal, blueberries
Strawberry smoothies, muffins
Granola over yogurt with blueberries
Cereal, peaches x 2
Waffles, cantaloupe, yogurt
Scrambled eggs, toast, juice

Lunches
Layered nacho dip with chips, fruit
Homemade pigs in a blanket, cucumber slices, apple slices
Leftovers
Macaroni and cheese, peas, apple slices
Cheese quesadillas, carrot sticks, cantaloupe
Baked potatoes with cheese and broccoli
Tossed salad with bard-boiled eggs, crackers and cheese

Dinners
Chicken Tetrazinni, tossed salad, homemade bread, green beans
Grilled steak, corn, sweet potatoes, fruit salad, homemade bread
Meatballs, twice-baked potatoes, homemade bread, sliced cucumbers, green beans
Grilled salmon, baked potatoes, corn, tossed salad, fruit salad
Farmhouse Chicken, fruit, tossed salad, homemade bread
Pizza Night (at church)
Dinner Out

Snacks
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
Blueberry Streusel Muffins
Crackers and cheese
Apples
Carrot sticks
Granola bars

Baking Day Plan
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
Banana Bread
Blueberry Streusel Muffins
Homemade Bread or Rolls
Waffles
Homemade Pita Pockets

For those who may have missed it, you can see what we purchased at the store this past week here. However, do remember that that is not all we're using to make the above food and meals since we shop using the "Buy-Ahead Principle".

See more menu plans for this week over at Organizing Junkie.

22 Jun 2009   ·   59
Money Saving Mom

Ask the Readers: Best deal on an mp3 player?

Ipod
I'm wondering how to find the best deal on a good mp3 player. Are there any great deal-comparing sites, coupon codes, or sales I
should know about? Also, I'm interested in thoughts on brands, styles, and models? What do people have and what do they like and dislike? -Linnea

Personally, I'm not a bells and whistles kind of gal (bet you could've guessed that!) nor am I a techno-geek, so I have an Apple iPod Shuffle 1 GB. I love it and use it every morning when I work out. It works great for exercising since it's so lightweight and can just clip onto your clothing.

However, the iPod Shuffle has very little memory (or is it called "space" or something else? See, I'm no techno-geek!) compared to other mp3 players and absolutely no bells and whistles. But it serves the purpose I use it for perfectly so I'm happy as a lark with it. Oh, and I got a really great deal on mine–I earned it free through Swagbucks (thanks to extra points earned from some of you signing up with my referral code on the sidebar!). Otherwise, I'd likely still be living in the "Dark Ages" and using a CD player or radio when I work out! 🙂

For those of you who have mp3 players or
ideas for where to purchase them inexpensively, I'd love to hear your
input. I'm sure Linnea's not the only one who could benefit from it!

20 Jun 2009   ·   24
Money Saving Mom

Super Savings Saturday: Stock-up shopping trip

I'm a little late in getting this posted today but for a good reason–I slept in until 9:30 a.m. this morning! And I went to bed before 10 p.m. last night so that's what you call one good night's sleep. Of course, since I have a nursing 7-week-old, I was up at least 4 times to nurse him during that stretch of sleep, but I still haven't gotten anywhere near that kind of sleep for at least a few months. Needless to say, I feel great! 🙂

I hit Aldi and Dillons last night for the weekly shopping trip. I had discovered when planning our shopping trip that I had quite a bit of wiggle room in our $40/week budget since I'd been under budget or we'd skipped shopping a few weeks in the last two months. So I decided to use a bit of that extra money to stock up on some of the good deals.

All in all, here's what I bought at the two stores:

055

I initially had gone to Aldi to pick up strawberries since they were on sale for $0.99, but they were all out. So I just got the blueberries (on sale for $1.49/pint!) and cantaloupe (on sale for $0.99 each!), plus cheese, apples, bananas, cucumbers, chocolate chips, tortillas, carrots, baking soda, tortilla chips, refried beans, and frozen veggies. All totaled, I spent $24.84 there. I'll likely freeze some of the blueberries and the apples and cantaloupe will last us two weeks, likely, since we still have quite a bit of fruit in our refrigerator from last week.

At Dillons, I mostly just hit the good deals. We bought more Santa Cruiz Strawberry Lemonade at $0.66/jar since it was still on sale and we found we really liked that kind. We also bought milk (on sale for $2.50/gallon), Kraft BBQ sauce ($0.08 after coupons), Kraft salad dressing ($0.19/bottle after coupons), Texas Toast croutons ($0.69/bag after coupons), Daisy sour cream ($0.65 after coupon), round steak (reduced to less than $2), Capri Sunrise Drinks ($1.11 after coupons–a splurge but my girls love these on a hot Summer day!), Barbara's cereal ($1.39/box after the clearance price and a coupon), Sara Lee bread ($0.99 after coupon), yogurt ($0.06 each after coupon), and Wheat Thins and Ritz crackers ($0.87/box after coupons).

In addition, I stocked up on quite a bit of shampoo and conditioner. I usually don't like to buy Suave, but our stock is running low and I've not found any exceptional deals on higher quality shampoo and conditioner, so I think Suave will just have to do for now. It was $0.50/bottle after the sale and coupons. Plus, I had a store catalina for $4/$20 any health and beauty items so I bought some free Suave deodorant, Skintimate and Edge shaving gel ($1 each after coupons–my target price for these), and hair gel which my husband needed. All of these items helped push my total spending (before coupons) to over $20 on health and beauty items, so I got an additional $4 off these already low prices!

One of my uncharacteristic expenditures of the shopping trip was buying the Shout. It was not on sale and I didn't even have a coupon for it. However, if you follow me on Facebook, you know that we had a few major catastrophes this week–including 4 bottles of finger paint spilled on our carpet (we found out that the "washable" label is a misnomer!) and neon orange silly putty running through with a load of laundry (it bedecked an entire load of laundry with permanent bright orange polka-dots!). Due to these mishaps, we managed to go through close to an entire bottle of Shout in a week. So, since we cannot seem to live without Shout–otherwise we have all sorts of ruined laundry–I decided it was worth paying full price for!

My total at Dillons was $27.42. Altogether I spent $52.26–and I still have quite a bit of extra grocery cash left. But seeing as our cupboards, refrigerator, and freezer are so well-stocked right now, I think I'm going to get to funnel some of that into savings. I'll wait until the end of the month to see how things pan out.

Stay tuned on Monday for our menu plan for this coming week!

———————————-

Did you snag any great deals or bargains this week or save money in other ways? If so, be sure to post about them on your blog and leave your link below. Please remember that this weekly round-up is to share deals you personally got and/or money you were able to save this week. In order to keep this weekly round-up focused on helping and inspiring others in their efforts to save money, links which have little-to-no content other than promoting affiliate links, etc. will be deleted. Also, to make it easy for everyone to navigate quickly through the links, your link must link directly to your Super Savings Saturday post.

19 Jun 2009   ·   18
Money Saving Mom

Guest Post: Using Skype to Save the Family Money

skype_logo

Guest Post by Karen at Saving The Family Money

In December of 2007, our cell phone company let us down and we decided to cancel them. Long story short, they changed my phone number without permission, and it was a customer service nightmare trying to get it resolved.

After long discussions with my husband and a lot of research, we decided to give Skype a try. I first heard about Skype on the Clark Howard show. I had always heard him talk so highly about it, that I thought it was worth a try. My husband is tech-savvy, so he was excited about testing the technology and seeing if it would work for us. I’m happy to say it is still our main line after 16 months.

The Technology–Skype is free software you can download onto your computer that allows you to talk over the Internet to anyone else with Skype–anywhere in the world. I wish we would have had Skype when my sister and her husband lived in Japan. It would have been nice to video chat for free anytime. Now we use the video chat with the grandparents and it’s fabulous. They enjoy seeing the kids more frequently and the kids think it's fun to see them on the computer!

The Money–The exciting part for me is we are only paying about $6 a month for our home phone service (no taxes)! Imagine the savings if you did this for your family. Although my sister is now in the same city, she signed up with Skype and is also using it as her main line.

Purchases

Skype has changed their pricing format a couple of times over the last two years. They've changed their subscription names for the bundles, so when you research it online, it can be confusing. Despite the changes, it has remained a cheap deal. There are three main levels of pricing:

  1. You can do Skype-to-Skype for free. (Includes video chat, IMs and file transfer capability, but only to other Skype members)
  2. You can upgrade for $3/month and get what I'd call "Skype-to-Phone," to be able to call normal (non-Skype) land-line phones and mobile phones. Voice mail also comes with this package.
  3. Lastly, you can pay for an actual number, so folks can call you. (This is where Skype becomes a land-line phone replacement.)

It's nice because you can take those baby steps to test the service before you commit. Even after you commit, you can choose short monthly service plans.

The Ease and Convenience–My husband got hooked quickly because of the conveniences Skype offered. He loved how it worked on both PCs and Macs. I appreciated all the options Skype had; it's been a pretty seamless change and we use it 100% of the time now.

Over time, we've used a USB Handset, USB Headset,and even bought a Skype phone that works like a cordless. Yes, that's right, you can buy an actual phone so you are not bound to the computer to use the service. It can be worked into your home and used like a "normal" phone. I've even taken my laptop on location, where Internet is available, and by simply plugging in my headset, I've been able to receive and make calls.

Please note: Skype cannot be used for emergency calling. My husband
has a work-issued cell phone so in case of an emergency, we would use that.

Karen has had so much fun saving her family money that she is blogging about it at Saving The Family Money, in hopes that it will benefit other families.

18 Jun 2009   ·   33
Money Saving Mom

A Frugal Father’s Day: Share your links!

In honor of Sunday being Father's Day, I thought it would be appropriate to share some of our frugal ideas for making this a special day without breaking the bank. Reader, Lucky, emailed me with many of the great links below to get things started out.

::Perhaps you could consider surprising that man in your life with Breakfast in Bed? Berry French Toast is a great recipe and it can be inexpensively made if you use day-old Italian bread and only one kind of berries. Lucky said she often makes it up the night before and then just pops it into the oven to bake. Breakfast pizza is another delicious option. Or there's always just some of your classic standbys.


::And what about making some homemade gifts? There's paper airplane cards or notepads. Or perhaps you could check your stockpile and see if you could come up with some items to put together a car-washing kit? Looking for more creative and inexpensive ideas? Janet at The Money Jar has an extensive list here.


Those are just a few ideas and links to get things started. I'm going to open up the floor and let you share you all celebrate a frugal Father's Day at your house. Either leave your ideas in the comments section or post your ideas on your blog and leave your link below. I'm anxious to hear what creative things you've come up with!


17 Jun 2009   ·   27
Money Saving Mom

Is it Possible to Lose Weight on a Budget?

Salad

photo by Anushruti RK

Jessica, from Losing Weight on a Budget, recently wrote me about how she is losing weight on a budget:

After giving birth to my first child I started eating healthy and lost over
50 pounds. That being said I also lost a lot of money doing it. The cost can
really get out of control if you let it. By the time you buy all of the
special frozen meals and prepackaged snacks your wallet will definitely feel a
lot lighter.

After I gave birth to my second child, I wanted to lose weight again but I put
it off for several months because my family is on a strict budget and I really
thought that I couldn’t afford to eat healthfully again. This made me very depressed
and I continued to gain weight.

Finally, at the end of last year I decided that
enough was enough. I felt really tired all of the time from not eating right or
exercising and I knew that I needed to do something about it. So this is where my
journey began. On January 1, 2009, I began my journey of losing weight on a
budget.

I plan my menu every week and stick to it, I clip coupons, I do
without some of the convenience foods that I used to enjoy, and I definitely
go out to eat less. I even started a blog here to keep myself accountable and to share my ideas
with anyone interested in losing weight on a budget.

I have also tried a many new recipes which are
healthful and low in cost. Right now I am on a bean kick. I have found several
great bean recipes that cost very little but are low in fat and very high in
fiber. I am loving the fact that I can feed my family a hearty filling meal for
just a few dollars.

I have lost 17 pounds in my
first 10 weeks and I have no plans of stopping until I meet my goal. I love the
fact that not only am I losing weight but I am becoming healthy and so is the
rest of my family. It is such a great feeling to be able to teach my children
about eating healthfully and budgeting money all at the same time.

Jessica's story was quite inspirational to me–especially since I'm currently working on losing the rest of my pregnancy weight (14 pounds to go!). You'll not want to miss her post here on ten ways to save money while losing weight.

What tips or tricks do you have for losing weight on a budget? I'd love to hear! I blogged here last year
about some of the things which have helped me lose my pregnancy weight
without spending a lot of money and Tammy also has some great ideas here.

15 Jun 2009   ·   11
Money Saving Mom

This week’s menu

Mpm12

I'm trying to slowly ease back into cooking after taking the last few weeks off because we were blessed with so many delicious meals after the birth of Silas. (Can you believe our church friends and family brought us almost a month's worth of meals? How incredible is that?!)

However, as many of you know, I cooked up a bunch of food before Silas was born so our freezer is still rather stuffed with casseroles, breads, and so forth. I'm planning to use a few meals from the freezer each week over the next few weeks and then make some simple meals from scratch the rest of the days. By then, it should be about three months after Silas' birth and things should be pretty back to normal around here.

I can't even begin to express how much of a help the meals we were given were or how nice it is to know our freezer is still packed with meals! If you have the chance to cook up food for your freezer before a big event like the birth of a baby, definitely take the opportunity. You won't regret it! Not only has it saved us time to have food already made up, it has also saved us a lot of money since we're not tempted to order carryout or buy convenience foods.

I'm especially excited about our menu this week because our little container garden is finally starting to produce lettuce. I'm looking forward to lots of fresh tossed salad this week as a result. Hopefully, our tomatoes will start ripening soon as well. There's just nothing as good as a fresh-from-the-garden tomato, is there?!

Here's this week's menu plan:

Breakfasts
Cereal, juice
Granola over yogurt with peaches
Toast, scrambled eggs with hashbrowns and cheese, strawberries
Oatmeal with brown sugar and peaches
Strawberry smoothies, toast
Pumpkin waffles, peaches
Cranberry muffins, yogurt, strawberries

Lunches
PB&J, carrot sticks, cheese, fruit
Tossed salad with hard-boiled eggs, whole-wheat toast
Baked potatoes with steamed veggies and cheese
Crackers, cheese, fruit, carrot sticks
Homemade mac and cheese, steamed veggies
Leftovers x 2

Dinners
Grilled Salmon, baked potatoes, tossed salad, corn on the cob, homemade bread, strawberry shortcake
Turkey sub sandwiches, fruit salad, cucumber and tomato salad
Marinated steak, sweet potatoes, corn on the cob, homemade bread, fruit salad
Lasagna casserole, green beans, fruit salad, french bread
Beef hot dogs, corn on the cob, fruit salad, twice-baked potatoes
BBQ Chicken Pizza, fruit salad, tossed salad, ice cream
Dinner out

Snacks
Cereal
Fruit
Veggies
Muffins
Crackers/cheese

By the way, we spent $41 on groceries this week. You can see the groceries we purchased this week here, in case you missed it.

Check out more menu plans for this week over at Organizing Junkie.

13 Jun 2009   ·   25
Money Saving Mom

Super Savings Saturday: This week’s $41.40 shopping trip

I'm so excited to be more back into the swing of coupon-shopping again; how I've missed it!

This week, we just hit Dillons. I'd planned to hit Aldi, too, but we didn't get out of the house in time. However, I was very happy with what we ended up with from our Dillons' shopping trip and we likely really wouldn't have saved much more to have taken the extra time to hit Aldi, too.

Here's what we bought:

072

My favorite score for this week was the six bottles of Santa Cruz Organic juice that I got for $0.66/bottle (they were on sale for $1.66 and I had coupons for $1/1 from organic coupon booklets I picked up at the health food store). {Edit: I just found out from Lorrie's blog that there is a PDF coupon available here, too! So if you have a Kroger store and your juice is on sale and you didn't get any of the organic coupon booklets, you can use that coupon to pick up some juice very inexpensively!}

All in all, we spent $41.40 for all the groceries pictured above. According to our receipt, we saved $76.92. However, I pretty much never pay full price for most anything, so those numbers aren't exactly accurate. But it's still fun to think how much using coupons and stocking up on the sales really does save us money compared to paying full price.

We're under budget for this month, even though I went a little over our $40/week grocery budget. We've spent less than $40 for the past four weeks, so I still have some surplus to work with.

And speaking of our grocery budget, as many of you know, we raised our grocery budget to $60/week while I was pregnant to accommodate for more splurging, quick foods, and buying extra protein. There are seasons of life when you just need to cut yourself some slack when it comes to couponing and budgeting and much of this past year (with moving, a big job change for my husband, pregnancy, and a number of other factors) was definitely one of those seasons.

But now that I'm almost recovered from pregnancy and the birth and am feeling much more energetic, we've decided to lower our grocery budget back down to $40/week–at least on an experimental basis. I wasn't sure if we'd be able to do it, since we've moved to a new town with fewer stores to choose from and no CVS at all, but I'm enjoying this new challenge! And so far, it's going a lot better than I anticipated!

I'll post this coming week's menu on Monday so stay tuned for that! And if you're new here and wondering how on earth we'll get a week's worth of meals from the groceries pictured above, be sure to read my post here which explains more how I grocery shop.

———————————-

Did you snag any great deals or bargains this week or save money in other ways? If so, be sure to post about them on your blog and leave your link below.

Note: Please remember that this weekly round-up is to share deals you personally got and/or money you were able to save this week. In order to keep this weekly round-up focused on helping and inspiring others in their efforts to save money, links which have little-to-no content other than promoting affiliate links, etc. will be deleted. Also, to make it easy for everyone to navigate quickly through the links, your link must link directly to your Super Savings Saturday post.

12 Jun 2009   ·   20
Money Saving Mom

Monthly Financial Check-up

It's June and guess what that means? It's time for our monthly financial check-up. How did you do in May?

We began May at 45.5% of our house savings goal and we ended the month at 48.5%!

We're almost halfway to our goal and I'm hopeful that by the end of June, we'll at least be at 50%, if not more. We'll see!

By the way, if you're new here, you can read more about our financial goals for this year and our progress so far by scrolling down on this page here.

——————————————–
How did you do in May? Whether
or not you posted financial goals for 2009, please take a moment to
post about your financial successes and failures in May and, if you'd like, the areas
you hope to improve in June. Then, come back here and leave your link
below. If you don't have a blog or would rather share anonymously, feel
free to leave your update in a comment. Let's all keep each other
accountable to be better stewards of
our resources!

11 Jun 2009   ·   18
Money Saving Mom

100 Different Ways to Save $100 This Year – Part 6

6a00e552792fa28833011168eea13a970c-800wi

If you missed the first parts of this series, you can read them here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5. Here's the sixth installment in this series of ideas of ways to save $100 or more this year:

23) Recover your furniture instead of replacing it. When my husband and I were first married, we spent a total of $100 to furnish our apartment. We accepted hand-me-downs for almost everything and then purchased a used matching sofa and chair we found in the newspaper.

Four years later, when we had made it through law school a had a little more wiggle room in our budget, we decided it was about time we replace our living room set. We had scrimped together a few hundred dollars and naively figured we could likely find something for this amount. However, we quickly found that a few hundred dollars doesn't go very far when it comes to furniture.

We scoured garage sales, second-hand stores, surplus stores, and Craigslist, all to no avail. Either the furniture was very used, hideously ugly, or just plain too expensive.

Finally, a friend suggested we consider buying slipcovers instead of replacing our furniture. We'd never considered that, but after a little digging, we discovered you can buy brand-new slip covers off of eBay for about half of what they'd run retail. And the price of these slipcovers paled in comparison to buying new furniture!

So, after buying two slipcovers and making some matching throw pillows, we re-did the entire look of our living room for less than $150!

(If you were more handy with a sewing machine than me, you could likely make slipcovers or just up and recover your entire sofa for even less than we paid.)

24) Constantly challenge yourself to improve. My husband and I are fairly competitive people so we've found we can really use this to our advantage when it comes to saving and giving. We set goals every month for how much we hope to save and give and how we hope to accomplish it and then we have a running competition to see if we can actually pull it off.

Some months, we'll commit to not going out to eat, or reducing our energy usage, or driving less, or spending less on groceries, or not spending any money on anything but basic necessities. Each month, it's a little different so that it keeps life interesting and we never grow bored of the challenge. In addition, we always set our goals a little higher than what we think we can pull off, just to challenge ourselves to think outside the box and be more self-disciplined.

Making it like a game to see how well we can live while still reaching our financial goals makes it fun and exciting. Who says that living on a budget and living beneath your means needs to be a miserable experience?!

The biggest benefit of challenging ourselves in this way is that it really does seem to allow us to save and give more. We don't always quite make our monthly goals, but I am positive we go a lot farther than we would if we didn't set any goals and didn't come up with creative challenges each month to help us try and meet them.

25) Drink water. Okay, so this might not be your favorite way to save $100 this year, but if you want to spend less and save more, curbing the caffeine addiction is something to seriously consider.

Water is the beverage of choice in our home. We enjoy coffee and even soft drinks on occasion, but these are reserved as a treat, not an everyday occurrence. And we've saved a lot of money over the years because of this.

I know you often hear about how you can save money by "cutting the Starbucks habit" and I'm sure it has almost begun to seem cliche at this point, but have you ever really done the math? If you regularly get drinks from the soda machine at work or stop in often at the drive-thru at a local coffee shop, have you ever taken the time to add up how much these little expenditures are really costing you? If you spend $3 five times per week on lattes, that's over $750 each year! Or even if you only spend $1 five days a week on a drink, that still is over $250 a year.

If giving up your daily latte is unthinkable, perhaps you could consider learning to make it at home? You'll save a tremendous amount of by doing so and you might find you can make it even better than the local coffee shop. But I still recommend water–it's a lot fewer calories than most caffeinated beverages and it's really good for you, too!

To be continued…

photo by Refracted Moments

8 Jun 2009   ·   16
Money Saving Mom

This week’s menu plan

Mpmpencil

I'm finally getting back into regular menu-planning after taking a few weeks off to have a baby. And it feels so good! I'm sticking to simple meals since it's our first week of our official
homeschool year and the goal of this week is to be consistent with our
new schedule. I can quickly get side-tracked in the kitchen so I made the menu really easy to try and deter myself from losing focus!

We're mostly eating from the pantry and freezer as these are rather full and in need of a little pairing down. We did spend $33 at the store buying produce and dairy products, but the main staples for these meals we already had on hand (which is the beauty of stocking up on sales!).

Here's the plan:

Breakfasts
Kashi waffles, strawberries, yogurt
Strawberry smoothies, muffins
Banana bread, oranges, yogurt
Cereal, juice or fruit x 2
Oatmeal, grapefruit
Pumpkin waffles, strawberries

Lunches
Spinach Rice and Cheese Casserole, fruit
Tossed salad (using fresh-from-the-container-garden lettuce!) with hard-boiled eggs and cheese, bread
Baked potatoes with broccoli and cheese, peaches
Pot roast, corn, toast, tossed salad
PB&J, carrots, applesauce
Leftovers x 2

Dinners
Ham and Cheese Stromboli, broccoli
French Toast with strawberries and freshly-whipped cream, hashbrowns
Chicken BBQ Pizza, corn on the cob, fruit salad
Turkey sub sandwiches, chips, veggies
Mini Meatloaves, mixed steamed veggies, bread, sweet potatoes
Steak, corn on the cob, grapefruit, cucumber and tomato salad, bread
Dinner out

Snacks
Yogurt
Fruit
Granola bars
Muffins
Cereal
Cheese/crackers

Check out more menu plans for this week over at Organizing Junkie.

8 Jun 2009   ·   17
Money Saving Mom

MyPoints: Earn free gift cards for reading emails and taking surveys


Back when my husband was in law school and we were living on our bare-bones beans-and-rice budget, we rarely ever had any extra cash to use for dates. However, I didn't let that deter me from coming up with creative ideas for fun dates. We'd take a picnic to the park, we'd go to the library and browse books, we'd take walks. If we could scrounge up a few dollars, we get a meal or two at a fast food restaurant with coupons or hit the $0.99 bowling night.

One of our favorite things to do was to head to a bookstore and get an iced coffee and just spend a few hours looking at books. We'd browse the shelves and then take a stack of books to a cozy corner and read for a while. We usually paid for our drinks with a gift card I'd earned from MyPoints so the whole evening ended up costing us nothing out of pocket and would be a very relaxing and refreshing time for us to spend together away from the pressures and deadlines of law school life.

If you are strapped for cash but would love to also get to have a bookstore date on occasion, I'd definitely recommend MyPoints. It's free to sign up for and you can earn points to cash in for gift cards by reading emails and taking surveys. It takes a bit of time to accumulate enough points to cash in for a gift card, but if you have more time than money right now, it's a great way to be able to enjoy a few free dates every year.

Go here to sign up.