Thank you for joining me here at The New Frugal Mom. I blog about deals, frugal living, and gaining your financial freedom one day at a time.

If you're not already a new frugal mom, get started on your frugal journey today!

Monday, March 31, 2008

CVS: How To Save

If you're new to the blogosphere, or new to Going Frugal, you may be wondering about the amount of posts, blogs, and forums devoted to deals at CVS.

Below, I will briefly detail how targeted shopping at CVS can save you hundreds of dollars a year.

1. Find your local CVS Drugstore.

If you're unsure, check their website here; go to the "Store Locater" and enter your zipcode to find the closest CVS.

2. While you're at the CVS site, click the header tab marked "Extra Care."

The Extra Care program at CVS is their shopper card program. You apply, either here online or at the store. You'll be assigned an Extra Care account number and will receive your cards by mail if you apply online; if you apply at the store, you'll receive a wallet card and two key fob cards with the same account number on each.

Whether you receive your cards by mail or in-store, be sure to visit the Extra Care Rewards page online at CVS here to create an account linked to your Extra Care Card number and register your email address. You will receive two separate $4.00 off $20.00 purchase CVS coupon by email for doing each of these. And you will also receive other dollar off coupons and special deal coupons in the future from CVS by email.

The Extra Care program works two ways:

*By giving you instant sales prices on items that are on sale that week in-store (much like any Store Shopper Card); and,

*By allowing you to earn rewards called Extra Care Bucks (ECBs) on certain items each week (as found in the weekly ad) and each month (as found in the monthly Extra Care booklet).

ECBs are coupons generated at the point of sale when you purchase items that earn ECBs. These coupons entitle you to a certain amount of "Dollars Off" your next purchase at CVS. ECBs are in essence "CVS money" that you can use toward your next purchase to get it for less or for free.

3. Pick up a copy of the CVS Weekly Ad at the store along with a copy of the CVS Monthly ECB Deals booklet.

These are generally located right by the front entrance of the store in the newspaper rack.

(You can also view the CVS Weekly Ad here and search for the CVS Monthly ECB earning items list at Slick Deals - you can view April 2008's ECB Deals at Slick Deals here.)

Go through both the weekly ad and the monthly ad and note the products that are offering "Extra Care Rewards" back as ECBs. Many times, there are a few Free after ECB items - items that offer back the full amount of purchase as ECBs. For example, this week at CVS, you can purchase Soft Soap Spa Radiant Body Wash for $4.99 and will receive $4.99 back in ECBs.

Take note of the Free after ECB items and also the items that generate a good pecentage of the purchase price back as ECBs (ie: earn 3 ECBs on a $6.99 item - almost 50% back).

4. Make a small ECB earning purchase at CVS.

Be sure to get the best deal possible by using Sunday newspaper coupons or printable coupons. CVS will work best for you if you are diligently using coupons (which I will post about tomorrow) to reduce your total bill.

For instance, this week (March 31, 2008) you can earn $4.99 ECBs on Soft Soap Radiant Spa Body Wash. There is a coupon in the Sunday inserts for $1.50 off 1 Radiant Spa Body Wash. You would pay only $3.49 + tax for the Body Wash with the coupon, but would earn back $4.99 to use in the future at CVS, a net gain of $1.50. I detail this deal here.

5. Using the ECBs you earned, buy more items that will generate more ECBs to use in the future.

This takes time to do, but happens a bit more quickly if you:

1. Always try to use coupons to lower the cost of the items; and

2. Take advantage of the emailed dollars off coupons from CVS.

Ultimately, you're snowballing those ECB dollars into more every transaction so that you'll have them for the future. If you simply use your ECB dollars to buy non-ECB earning products, you'll be back at square one with no ECBs to use.

6. Carefully plan your deal scenarios with the Weekly Ad, the Monthly Extra Care Reward booklet, and with any CVS coupons, manufacturer's coupons, and your current ECBs.

This is the most time-consuming part of saving $$ at CVS - you must sit down with your calculator and work out the best deals possible. By using CVS coupons and manufacturer coupons, and by paying close attention to the Weekly Ad (along with reading about other people's deal scenarios in the blogosphere), you can create scenarios with "overage" - situations where you actually "make" money within the transaction.

For example, using the Soft Soap Radiant Spa Body Wash deal above, let's say I bought 1, used the $1.50 coupon off the Soft Soap, paid $3.50 and earned back $4.99 in ECBs.

What if I turned right back around and did the exact same transaction again, using another coupon for $1.50/1 and the $4.99 in ECBs I earned the first time - what would it look like?

Buy 1 at $4.99

Use $1.50/1 coupon

Final total: $3.49

Pay with first ECBs of $4.99

Earn $4.99 in new ECBs

But the ECBs from my first transaction are for $4.99 and my total for the second transaction is only $3.49. I now have an overage on my transaction of $1.50 I can use to purchase something else I need for that price or less, something that may not earn me ECBs but that I need - like paper towels or tissues. I'll still earn back new ECBs on the second transaction ($4.99), along with getting a great product for free and getting a household item for free.

How to use the oveages you create in your scenarios is up to you to decide; that's the beauty of using the ECB system at CVS. Creating scenarios like this one, ones where you have overages within your transactions and still earn ECBs back overall, are how you maximize your savings at CVS and get non-ECB earning items for free.

Two more points to consider:

1. Ethical Couponing

Using your brainpower to get items for free is ok; having multiple CVS Extra Care Cards for one household is not.

Using several coupons gleaned from different sources to get great deals is ok; using reproduced or scanned coupons, or coupons not directly emailed to you from CVS is not.

Bottom line: fraud isn't frugal, it's illegal.

2. Start Small

CVS and the ECB rollover system may take you a while to master. That's ok. You may have some mistakes; if you stick with it and keep up with the deals online and on blogs, you will succeed overall. The blogosphere will be an immense resource for you in this savings quest.

You may also encounter some CVS employees who have never dealt with so many coupons for one transaction. Be courteous and kind, and remember that if you plan to shop there in the future, you want to leave a good impression. Do what I did: point the employees to the blog or site where you learned how to get such great deals. They'll thank you for it, I assure you!

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Much of what I have learned about saving at CVS has been through the blogosphere. To the many bloggers out there tirelessly posting information on deals, coupons, and sales, thank you.

And to the blogger who started me down this road, Crystal at Money Saving Mom, I thank you immensely! Please visit her blog - she's a frugal diva!

If you want an even more detailed description of how to make CVS work for you, visit Money Saving Mom's CVS 101 post here.

Happy Savings!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Shopping Scenario Sunday, March 30: CVS

Three items of note about CVS this week:

1. The CVS March Monthly ECB Deals expire 3/31;

2. The two deal-worthy coupons that have been out this month ($5/$15 from Wellness 360 and $3/$12 emailed from CVS) expire 3/31; and

3. The new CVS April Monthly ECB Deals begin on Tuesday, 4/1/08. This month is the Semi-Annual Beauty Sale, so there are tons of deals on makeup, cosmetics, and body products.

THE BEST I SEE

Buy 3 SoftSoap Radiant Spa Body Wash @ 4.99 ea for $14.97 (limit 5 total for this deal)

*use $3/$12 Beauty Coupon from CVS
*use $5/$15 360 Wellness Coupon
*use (3) $1.50/1 coupons from 3/30 Sunday insert

Total OOP: $2.47 (pay with ECBs if you have them)

Total ECBs Earned: $14.97

If you don't have the $5/$15 coupon or the $3/$12 CVS coupon - perhaps you're a CVS beginner - you can use this deal to earn ECBs to roll into new deals.

Buy 1 SoftSoap Radiant Spa Body Wash @ $4.99

*use 1 $1.50/1 from 3/30 Sunday insert

Total OOP: $3.49

Toal ECBs Earned: $4.99.

You've spent $3.49, gotten a great deal on the SoftSoap Radiant Spa Body Wash, and now you have $4.99 - $1.50 more than you invested on your above purchase - to spend on other ECB earning products.

I'll post more on how to use CVS and Walgreens to lower your budget tomorrow.

Shopping Scenario Sunday, March 30: WALGREENS

I'm going to highlight the Register Rewards available this week, 3/30-4/5 at Walgreens - there are many good ones!

*Note: Register Rewards are a printed coupon at point of sale that works as cash toward your next purchase at Walgreens. You CANNOT use a Register Reward from one promotion toward doing the same promotion again; if you want to "roll" your Register Reward during the same week into a new Register Reward, you'll have to do so by using the first Register Reward (let's call this promotion A) to purchase products on a different Register Reward promotion (let's call this one B).

In a nutshell, this is how to roll over Walgreens Register Rewards during the same week:

Buy products for Promotion A, earn Register Reward $ from Promotion A (paying with cash, older Register Rewards from the previous week, or with Monthly Easy Saver Rebate generated Gift Card $$); then,

Buy products from Promotion B, pay with Register Reward from Promotion A, and earn new Register Reward $ from Promotion B; then,

Buy another set of products from Promotion A, earning new Register Reward $ from Promotion A, and paying for products with Register Rewards from Promotion B.

You can do this as many times as you like to better your deal. And of course, using coupons on the products in the promotions will sweeten the deal even further.


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THE BEST I SEE:

Buy $10 of participating P&G products, earn $4.00 in Register Rewards.

Buy $50 of participating P&G products, earn a total of $20.00 Register Rewards and earn a bonus $5.00 Register Reward - a total of $25.00 in Register Rewards!

Buy 7 Febreeze Noticeable Starter Kits for $7.00 ea
*Use (7) $3/1 coupon from 3/2 P&G Insert

Buy 1 Febreeze Air Effects for $2.50
*Use (1) $1/1 coupon from 3/2 P&G Insert

Total Cost: $51.50

Total OOP (Out Of Pocket) after coupons (these expire on 3/31, so get this deal now!): $29.50

Total Register Rewards Earned: $25.00

There are numerous P&G products available for this RR; check the ad at Walgreens to see what works best for you. All the P&G coupons from both the February 10 insert and the March 2 insert expire 3/31/08, so you'll need to flip your deal soon!

Other Register Rewards this week at Walgreens:

Buy (4) 12 pks Pepsi for $11.00, earn $3.00 RR

Buy Bertolli Frozen Dinner for $5.99, earn $2.00 RR

Buy $15 of Nexxus Hair products, earn $5.00 RR

Buy $30 of select Baby/Baby Care items, earn $5.00 RR

Buy Glucerna Cereal for $4.99, earn $4.99 RR

Other Deals of Note this week at Walgreens:

All Easter items %75 off (you might be able to use some candy coupons if you still have them to get overage on items if your store hasn't been picked clean yet); and,

Wednesday, April 2, get a FREE Printer Cartridge Refill! You'll need the coupon from the insert for this and you'll also need to check if your ink cartridge is compatible.

Shopping Scenario Sunday, March 30: KROGER

Frugal Faithful, grab your Kroger circular and prepare to save some serious $$ getting groceries this week!

Kroger is running a 10 Item Mega Event; buy 10 items (mix and match off the sale price lists of $1 items, $1.50 items, $2 items and $2.50 items) and receive an instant $5.00 off your purchase.

Limit of 3 rewards (buying 30 items and saving $15.00) per transaction.

In my region, this sale runs through April 13, 2008, so there is a lot of potential to make this deal work for you over the next two weeks.

Listed $1.00 items (with doubled coupons for $0.50, you may get many of these for free, creating an overage on your total bill!) for the 10 Item Mega Event (I'm in Cincinnati; this may vary region to region):

$1.00

Pedigree Canned Dog Food, 22 oz

Gatorade Sports Drink, 32 oz

Sobe Lifewater, 20 oz

Pepperidge Farm Goldfish, 6.8-8 oz

Lipton Side Dishes, Rice or Noodles, 4.1-6.4 oz

Haggen-Dazs, 4-4.23 oz or cup

Manwich Sloppy Joe Sauce, 15.16 oz

French's Mustard, 12-14 oz (*coupons in recent Sunday inserts for 0.50/1)

Hormel Chili with Beans, 15 oz (*coupons in recent Sunday inserts for $1/2)

Kroger Toaster Treats, 8 ct

Kroger Pretzels, 9-15 oz

Excedrin Extra Strength 10 ct vial (*coupons in recent Sunday inserts for $2/1 any size Excedrin! Overage!)

Hershey's Whoppers or Milk Duds, 10-12 oz

Betty Crocker Cake Mix, 18-18.4 oz

Pillsbury Biscuits and Crescent Rolls, 4-12 oz (*many, many coupons in recent Sunday inserts, 0.50/3 Biscuits and 0.50/1 Crescents)

There are also similar-sized lists of items sale priced at $1.50, $2.00, and $2.50. You can plan your shopping list to max out the 3o items/3 rewards per transaction and save $15.oo off your total transaction; with coupons on the individual items, you'll net some serious savings overall.

Check online at Kroger for what's available in your region. I know some of the regions (Atlanta) are already displaying the upcoming week's ad.

Do you have links to any printables for these products or the other products listed in the Kroger 10 Item Mega Event? Email me and I'll post them with credit back to your blog. Thanks!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Shopping Scenario Sunday, March 30, 2008



It's Sunday, time to grab your circulars, your fresh coupons, and plot your very best, most deal-worthy Shopping Scenarios!

Of course, we frugal faithful know that our planned scenarios can go awry. Items are out of stock, coupons don't work, and sometimes we simply don't get to all the stores we'd hoped to pillage visit each week.

But in the spirit of helpfulness, let's all post our most hopeful deal scenarios. Your ideas may help save someone else mucho cash.

And that, my dear frugal faithful, is a blessing indeed!

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The Rules:

1. Post your best deal scenarios for the week at your blog; if you have details on coupons - including links to printables - share the info with the world and help everyone be more frugal with their time. Scenarios should be fair and honest - ethical couponing only, please.

2. Come back here and enter your URL for the post into the Mr. Linky box, along with a brief description about your post.

3. Comment once you've posted your linkage.

*Updated 3/30/08 - Rather than overwhelm this post, I'll post my Shopping Scenarios/Deals separately then add them to the Mr. Linkybox .

I'm hopeful that by sharing our scenarios, we will help everyone better plan their time for the upcoming week. Thanks in advance to everyone participating in the first ever Shopping Scenario Sunday!

Ace Hardware: Ace Rewards Rebate Program

Spring is springing up everywhere!

And if you're like me, as you finally hustle the kids outside for some fresh air and playtime, you're also looking around the yard and making a mental list of TO DO's - grass seed, fertilizer, mulch, plants.

But where does a frugal shopper go in search of such goodies?

Well, this year we're trying to spend more of our Fix It Up $$ at our local Ace Hardware Store. Ace Hardware runs their own points/rebate program called Ace Rewards. Click here to learn more and sign up; you'll get 1000 freebie points just for signing up!

You get $5.00 back for every 2500 points. Along with freebie and bonus points throughout the year, you earn 10 points for ever $1 spent.

And Ace also has several instant E Rebates available for Ace Rewards members; once you have an Ace Rewards account, you can enter these online at the Ace Rewards site. Easy money!

I'm new to using Ace Rewards this year so I'll keep you posted on how it works for me. If you have any tips or experience with it, drop a comment and share your knowledge with the frugal faithful!

Other than CVS, Walgreens, Ace Hardware, and RiteAid, do you have any stores you shop that offer rebates, points, or cash back programs? Leave a comment and share the frugal joy!

Friday, March 28, 2008

My Steals and Deals, March 22-29


It's Super Savings Saturday over at Money Saving Mom which means it's time to highlight this week's Steals and Deals!

Walgreen's has extended the February FAR (Free After Rebate) on the Venus Embrace Razors (which are currently on sale for $9.99 and generating a $5.00 Register Reward to use as cash on your next Walgreen's purchase). As I understand, there were not enough Venus Embrace Razors in stock in Walgreens stores in February thus the rebate was extended. Simply send in the receipt as usual with your rebate form. On the rebate form, add #51 to the bottom and write in Venus Embrace Razor - Limit 1 - $9.99.

I'd already used my rebate $ from February earlier this month (rolling most of them into rebates for March, of course!) but with a $5 RR printing and the prospect of a FAR, it was time to cook up a deal!

Here was my planned Scenario:

Transaction #1

Buy 1 Venus Embrace Razor - $9.99
*Use $4/1 Coupon from 3/2 PG Insert

Pay $5.99 + tax OOP, earn $5.00 RR

Send in for full $9.99 FAR on Venus Embrace.

Transaction #2

Buy 1 Garnier Fructis Styler -$3.99
*Use $1/1 Coupon from 3/9 Insert

Buy 2 Scott 4pk Toilet Paper - $3.49 ea
*Use Walgreens 2/$5.00 Coupon from WG Weekly Ad, March 23
*Use 2 $1/1 Coupons from 3/16 Smart Source Insert

Buy 2 Lysol Toilet Bowl Cleaners - BOGO sale priced 2/$2.79
*Use 2 .50/1 Coupons from 3/16 Smart Source Insert

Use $5.00 RR generated by Transaction #1

Pay $2.78 OOP

Send in for full $3.99 FAR on Garnier Fructis Styler.

Total Planned OOP: $8.77 + tax
Total Earned Rebate: $13.98 + 10% (always get your rebate as a Gift Card to earn the additional 10%)=$15.38
Total Net Profit: $6.00 (after tax on OOP)

But, alas, as many of you frugal faithful well know, every carefully planned Scenario requires an open mind, flexibility in purchasing, and quick-on-your-feet math skills.

So my actual purchase was this:

Transaction #1

As stated above (thank goodness the Embrace Razors were in stock!)

Transaction #2

1 Scott 4pk - $2.50
2 Lysol Toilet Bowl Cleaners - 2/$2.79
1 Fructis Hair Styler - $3.99
3 Rubber Duckies - $0.50 ea (on sale 75% off)
1 Nick Jr Jellybeans - $0.62 (on sale 75% off)

I paid OOP: $4.10

My total OOP for the trip:was $10.74
My total Rebates I'll receive remained $15.38

I still netted a profit of $4.64 on this purchase.

And getting three little duckies for free for my three Royal Monkeys made both the kids and I happy we stopped in Walgreens this week!

This deal should still work today (Saturday); if you can think of a better scenario, post it in the comments and share the frugal fun!

***NEW UPDATE!***
Do you spend your Sunday afternoons or evenings with the latest coupon inserts and sales circulars plotting your shopping scenarios for the week? Drop by The New Frugal Mom tomorrow and join in my new Blog Carnival, Shopping Scenarios Sunday!

It's as simple as this:

1. Post about your best, most hopeful Savings Scenario for the week at your blog; then

2. Drop by The New Frugal Mom's Shopping Scenario Sunday post and enter the link to your post in the Mr. Linky box at the bottom of the post; and

3. Lastly, leave a comment and share the frugal joy!

Thanks for dropping by The New Frugal Mom!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Basic Household Budget Planning

The first step on the Frugal Journey is to create a Household Budget.

Relax - it won't hurt, I promise.

It will, however, show you where your money should be allocated and places where you can cut spending, a simple way to be frugal.

In order to effectively create a budget, you need to know where your money is spent. That information should be at your fingertips if you keep close tabs on your checkbook or your online banking. If, as you read through the expenses listed below, you find yourself unsure of what you're actually spending in each category, you'll need to track your spending for two to four weeks. Record every purchase and bill, saving statements and receipts. Then, with information in hand, sit down and run the numbers

A household budget will only work if both you and your spouse are in agreement of its necessity and aware of how your money will be spent. If only one of you is carrying the weight of bill-paying and day-to-day consumer decisions, you'll find that no amount of budgeting will help. Good communication is imperative, as is an agreed-to focus on sticking to the plan.

I would like to note that while money is a tool, one which helps you acheive your goals, it is an emotionally charged tool. The subject of money within families can evoke a wide range of differing emotional responses, especially when it comes time to discuss how money is spent. If you find that budget planning is difficult or impossible because of emotional clashes between you and your spouse on how your shared income(s) are spent, you should seriously consider the help of a professional third-party: a financial advisor; a therapist; or a religious pastor.

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Basic Household Budget Planning



Net Monthly Income from ALL Sources: $_______

Housing (including Rent, Mortgage, Equity Loan, Escrow Funds): $_______

Electricity: $_______

Natural Gas: $_______

Water: $_______

Phone: $_______

Internet and/or Cable or Satellite: $_______

Cell Phone(s): Plan and Phones: $_______
Trash, Condo or Apartment or Homeowner's Association Fees: $_______

Car Payment(s): $_______

Auto Insurance: $_______

Groceries and Drug Store Items: $_______

Gas and Oil Changes: $_______

Savings, both Emergency and Investment: $_______

Life Insurance: Self; Spouse; Children: $_______

Health Insurance and Health Care Costs: $_______

Child Care, Education, Tuition: $_______

Credit Card Payments: $_______

Student Loan and/or Debt Consolidation Loan Payments: $_______

Charitable Giving: $_______

Clothing, Entertainment, and all MISC. Expenses: $_______

Total Monthly Expenses: $_______

Subtract the amount in RED from the amount in GREEN: $________

If your final dollar amount is zero or positive and you have no debt, great job!

If your dollar amount is zero or positive and you have some debt, you're on track; debt reduction and elimination will hopefully be your next focus.

If your dollar amount is negative, or your dollar amount is negative and you have some debt, it's time to tighten the belt to get your budget back to zero.


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Items below are not covered on this budget worksheet but may apply to you (which is exactly why a detailed, personal budget is a must-do for each family); lump these in the Misc. Expenses category.

Pets: feeding, grooming, veterinary bills.

Home Improvement Fund: repairs, maintenance, landscaping, furniture and decor.

Restuarants: nights out with adults, and those quickie drive-thru meals, too.

Auto: license fees, annual registration fees, annual emissions testing fees, state taxes on vehicles.

Personal Care: dry cleaning, haircuts, salon visits, gym memberships

School Children Expenses: school supplies, field trips, lunch money, extracurricular activities such as sports, music lessons, dance classes, enrichment activities.

Alimony or Child Support.

Subscriptions to newspapers or magazines.

Memberships to professional organizations, unions, or social clubs.

Gift Fund for birthdays or Christmas/Hannukah/Seasonal Giving.

Vacation Savings Fund.

ATM Withdrawals and Fees and/or Cash in your pocket.

Lump any other monthly expenses not listed here under Misc. Expenses. Better yet, take the time to create your own budget worksheet that's tailored to your family's needs!

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Using this, or any, budget worksheet should give you a better idea of where your money needs to go as opposed to where it actually is going.

Several of the items that fall under Misc. Expenses should bear close scrutiny for cutting or eliminating if you find yourself coming up short on your bottom line. Other areas you can look at first for decreasing are Groceries (are you buying whatever strikes your fancy or are you planning a list with coupons and sales?), Cell Phones (do you carry a basic plan or do you carry several lines with the latest cell phone gizmos and gadgets?), Cable and Internet (are you paying for premium channels or basic cable? Did you shop for the best bundled internet/cable/phone package deal from the providers in your area?), and Entertainment, Clothing, and Restuarants.

Remember, your Frugal Journey is yours alone; your budget will look different than everyone else's in reflection of that basic fact. And the expenses you decrease or eliminate will also reflect that difference. Tightening the budget belt is challenging, yes, but remember that the first principle of the frugal life is embracing the idea that less really can be more - more happiness, more contentment, more time, and ultimately, more money in your pocket.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Are You a New Frugal Mom?

Who is the New Frugal Mom?

You. Me. Any mom, or any household manager, who wants to save money, stretch their budget, and use their time wisely.

Maybe you were lucky enough to be raised in a frugal household where your family taught you how to re-use instead of throwing away, how to plan and maintain a budget, how to save for your future, and how to make every penny count.

Unfortunately, this isn't the norm any more in American culture. The current sub-prime mortgage mess is testament to the I-Deserve-It-All-NOW attitude, an attitude that leads to a lifestyle that is impossible to upkeep when the house of cards falls down with a whoosh!

But the word is out: frugal is in. Clipping coupons is hip; Freecycling is green and cool. Garage-sale-hopping is the hottest hobby around.

Going Frugal is the new chic!

No matter what the state of your current finances might be, if you're trying hard to better manage your money, to consume less and save more, then you are a New Frugal Mom.

Welcome to the club!

The Frugal Journey

Welcome to The New Frugal Mom! If you're here, you're already on the path of what I like to call The Frugal Journey. Congratulations!

Before I continue, it's important that I tell you that I, too, am on my own Frugal Journey. By no means am I at the finish line! The beauty of the Frugal Journey is that there is no finish line; no matter where you are in your journey, there is always something new to be learned from the experience and the wisdom of others.

I'm an at-home mom to three who recently took the plunge into blogging last year (you can read snippets of my life at my personal blog, Writer-Mommy). While I've considered myself internet-savvy and deal-smart for years, I had no idea just what I'd been missing in the blogosphere. My long-held opinion that mommyblogs were just vehicles for ranting and raving about the frustrations that come with life as a mom quickly changed; the amount of useful information I found on other moms' blogs astounded me, especially money saving tips, ideas, and links to deal-worthy coupons. Truly, mommyblogging has evolved from it's infancy into an instant over-the-back-fence network of moms sharing information. It is exactly what the Internet should be.

My main inspiration for this blog is fellow blogger Crystal Paine. I discovered her blog Money Saving Mom late in 2007 and quickly learned that yes indeed, I could do much better on my budgeting, couponing, and everyday money management. She has inspired many other blogging moms and I do encourage you to visit her blog if you haven't discovered it on your own.

While I have nothing but good things to say about Crystal (she's blessed so many by sharing information and by her willingness to be transparent about her life), I know that some of the choices she and her husband make regarding budgeting and money matters aren't ones that my husband and I would make. And the beauty is this: there's nothing wrong with that. The details of my Frugal Journey will look different than hers, and yours, and everyone else's. We all start the Frugal Journey at different points in our lives, in our marriages, in our families, and in our careers. The key elements we do share are a willingness to work harder at guarding our financial resources and the open-mindedness to learn from others also on the Frugal Journey.

One last note: to those who might be feeling overwhelmed with debt, to those facing negative equity in their homes as the sub-prime mortgage crisis hits full steam, to those families moving from two incomes to one - or losing the one income they do have to downsizing or layoffs - I want to and need to tell you now that I am no financial expert. My husband and I have our own current debts to pay - along with other debts we've zeroed out over the years - debts we've willingly assumed as we moved six times in eleven years (both as a Navy family and as civilians, buying four homes, selling three) in order to finally get to a job that my husband loves and to the one place we wanted our children to know as home. There is no quick fix that I can offer you, as much as I would love to do so. But if you've come to a point where you know you can - you know you must - do better with your money management, I urge you to take one step more down the path that is The Frugal Journey.

You have nothing to lose and everything to gain!