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!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Summer Survival Kit: Angel Hands Apron


Today, I'm very happy to host my blogging buddy Andrea's Summer Survival Kit.

Each week, she or a host blog (like yours truly) will feature a fun and easy craft you can do with your kids this summer.

Check out her first week here and be sure to check her site every Friday for more ideas to combat the summer blahs. (Is it me, or do I hear echoes of, "Mom, I'm bored!")

Without further ado, here's my craft (I must warn you, I do adore a messy craft!)

Angel Hands Apron

I've done versions of Angel Hands with my children's handprints in the past. My favorite was making Angel Hand Christmas Cards with my daughter's hands when she was three. I still have some of those cards - they were that cute and meaningful to me.

When I made those cards, I used a Sharpie and simply outlined my daughter's hands. For this project, I upped the ante to paint. Lots of paint.


I'm making two of these aprons as birthday gifts for my mom and my dear MIL, both of whom have summer birthdays. While I would never label myself a domestic diva, I do love a cute apron. Wearing one while I'm cooking helps reduce the chance of splatters and splashes on my clothes, a trick I learned from my dear MIL.


My daughter and I even have matching aprons (I know, I know - you're shaking your head at me; I promise, we have no other matching outfits); she loves wearing hers as she "helps" me in the kitchen.


If you're not into messy crafts, I want to tell you that it's entirely possible to finish this project using just a wide assortment of colorful Sharpies. You'll just need to hold your child(ren)'s hand(s) very, very still while tracing them.


Here's what you'll need:


Craft Paint (I had some on hand, so this was a freebie for me; you can buy for around $1.00 ea. at just about any major retailer.)


Sponge (Again, on hand for me; buy a 2-pack in case you make a mistake.)


Apron (Courtesy of Wal-Mart, $4.97.)


Sharpies (Love 'em! Always have a bunch in my cabinet.)

Scissors (Grabbed the pair from the crayon box on the counter.)



Cute little hands (I have three pairs of these happily smearing up my walls each day!)

Step 1:



Cut your sponge like this (remember what I mentioned about mistakes?).


Step 2:


Spread out the apron on top of some newspaper. When I spread mine out, I noticed how the folds made perfect dividing lines and decided to use them as my centering points for each angel.


Step 3:

Grab your first little hand and slap some paint on it! I used some of the leftover sponge bits to "paint" my children's hands. Use a lot of paint - it should be wet on their hands.


Step 4:



Center the painted hand on your line and press it down firmly. Hold for at least 5-10 seconds, being sure to press the fingers firmly, too.

Peel up slowly, wash the first hand (to lessen the chance of smears) and repeat with the other hand. This picture shows the wings as well as the angel's head and body. I added the head and body on while the hands were still wet by "painting" my cut out sponges above and stamping them on the handprints. The head at the top of the thumbs, the body below.


I did the head/body while wet so there would be some bleeding through of the handprints - I wanted those to be visible.



And here's angel #2:


And the beginnings of angel #3.


You'll see I had some smears from my youngest around this angel's wings and that's ok! It's not supposed to be perfect (none of us are), it's just supposed to be made with love.



Step 5:


Let the paint dry overnight, then come back and finish the apron with your Sharpies. I added faces and hair to match my children.




Then I had them sign their names by their angels. I helped my littlest - who's 2 and a half and can write his "M" but not much more - and added a message in the middle along with the date we made the apron on the hem.




That's it! You're done! For less than $10, you can make this great gift for your fave chef in the family.


This would make a great BBQ apron for a Father's Day gift, too.


+++---+++---+++---+++---+++

Do not neglect hospitality, for through it some have unknowingly entertained angels. (Hebrews, 13:2)

I hope you find my little blogjoints to be hospitable places to visit; I appreciate and am thankful for all of my readers.

Walgreens $5/$20 Coupon, Friday (6/13) ONLY


Smoking hot dealio!

Click here to print your own $5/$20 coupon good for Friday, June 13, 2008 only at Walgreens!

Revised 6/12, 11:15 pm:

As one kind commenter noted below, this coupon is printed with these words:

Minimum subtotal must equal $20 or more before sales tax; subtotal must
include all other applied coupons and discounts.

If you do use this, expect to pay a full $15 or more oop. If you have your gift card recharged and can get some good deals on the Free After Rebate items or Register Reward items, it might be worth the trip. As for me, I'll skip this one, Walgreens. ;)

(Thanks to Denise for posting this; it didn't hit my inbox!)

If you've cooked up a great deal with this coupon, drop a comment here and spread the word!

Share because you care!

Gather Pennies: Little Ways I'm Monetizing This Blog

I've got some more undercover work to do here on the template/design of this blog; thanks for your patience while I make things better.

I also am increasing the ways I gather pennies by monetizing this blog. Blogging, as I mentioned in my last post, is a time-intensive endeavor. If I can gather pennies by earning a few dollars off my work here, then I've got a little more to throw at our monthly budget/debt reduction.

I want to share these ideas with you so you'll know what's going on here as well as perhaps give you some ideas of how you can gather pennies with your blog.

Advertising:

*I use AdSense from Google. As this blog is run on Blogger, this is an easy plug-in for me. I encourage you to check it out for yourself. The minimum payout by check is $100.00; thanks to your readership, I currently have a whopping $10.41 - hey, I'm not complaining! It all adds up!

AdSense is one of those programs that the more you educate yourself about how to best implement it, the better your ads will perform. I've yet to much analysis so I'm hoping to increase my performance with time.

*I'm an Amazon Affiliate, but haven't done much with it. Amazon offers many great ways to implement their programs across an infinite range of products. If you're a reader and have books you'd like to recommend to your blog's audience, that's a great starting point.

*I run BlogHer Ads on my other blog and I hope to add them here. If/when I'm approved, you'll see them in the top of one of my sidebars. You need to meet their application requirements; you can read them here. My other blog gets sloooow traffic, so I've yet to receive a payout. I'm hoping that adding them here will increase my revenue.

Affilite Programs that help me help you:

* I just applied to be an affiliate for Coupons.com. You'll be able to view/print coupons from the sidebar and I'll receive a small compensation (I'm assuming micro-pennies) from each printed coupon that is redeemed in-store.

*On my left sidebar, you can click on my Revolution Money Exchange button (or click on the one below) and sign up for your own RME account - you'll get $25.00 for FREE and I receive a $10 referral fee.



Make your sign-up sweeter: sign up yourself ($25), then refer your spouse (you'll get $10) and sign them up (they'll get $25). Your household will receive a total of $60 FREE which you can opt to receive by electronic transfer or have sent to you via paper check (there is a $2.50 fee for the paper check).

My advice: spread the word! Add your own button to your blog or use the referral link provided by RME to email your friends and family. Share the knowledge and the green!

* I just opened an affiliate account with CPA Storm. This one is very exciting because I can bring you quality survey offers that fit the mission of this blog.

CPA Storm works by paying it's affiliates for referrals on surveys and also on referrals for new Affiliates. If this is something you'd like to explore for your blog, please click my referral link here: CPA Storm - Make Money! I'll be bringing those offers to you as soon as I sit down and get educated on their program.

I hope these ideas spark some ideas for you if you're looking for small ways to monetize your blog.

My best advice: blog about something you love because blogging is a labor of love, not a get rich scheme. Then educate yourself and make the best decision on whether or not any of these or other revenue-generating programs would work for your blog's readership.

How do you gather pennies with your blog? Which programs/ideas work for you and which ones are just a waste of time? Don't have a blog - that's ok! Feel free to share any ideas or programs you do online that help you gather pennies.

Share because you care!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

HELP: Why I Started This Blog

Blogging is not an easy endeavor no matter what your blog's subject topic is.

Blogging takes:

  • Time
  • Honesty
  • Research
  • Tech-Savvy
  • Dedication

and, let me say it again:

  • Time

So why did I start this blog when I already blog here about trying to find time to write while raising my three children?

Simply put: I started this blog to help others learn more about saving money through couponing and making more frugal choices. But most of all, I started this blog as a place to help me.

The level of personal accountability I have for my family's finances is amplified by writing about how I manage them here. Add to that all that I learn reading my fellow frugal blogging buddies posts and this blog becomes a great tool for me to use on my own Frugal Journey.

I share this with you, my Frugal Faithful, because it's important that I'm honest with you about who I am and our financial picture.

I am not a financial planner or expert.

I am not a die-hard Dave Ramsey fan (haven't read his books yet, but already think I disagree with a couple of his strategies as I've seen them explained in the blogosphere).

I am not coming under my grocery budget each week (although I'm doing much better than I was before I started serious couponing).

And, I am a very lucky, hard-working stay-at-home mom, married to my best friend. Because of the income/benefits he earns, I have always been at home with my children. This is a huge blessing, but one that hasn't just fallen into our laps unaided.

We've always saved, we've always invested, and we've always tried to stretch our dollars. But we've also been people of faith who are willing to take risks and assume some debt if it will get us to where we wanted to be - namely, here in SW Ohio, where my husband has a career he loves and where we can raise our children among family.

So, why do I share this?

Because I want you to know that while I'm blogging deals and ideas here, I don't have all the answers and would never assume to tell you how to best manage your family's finances.

Because, like PaidTwice's excellent post here, we sometimes backslide on our debt reduction journey, too.

Honesty in blogging matters; why should I expect any of you fine readers to drop by if I'm saying one thing but doing another, right?

So, here's to honest bloggers like PaidTwice and my blogging buddy Denise over at The "Cents"ible Sawyer - she just posted her story about trying to create a budget. I admire all of you who so bravely share bits of your financial life.

And to my fine readers, those of you have grabbed this feed and who drop by every day, thanks for coming over to my blogjoint for a while. I appreciate every single one of you even if I don't always get back to your emails or comments as quickly as I'd like.

Thanks for reading and keep pushing forward!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Guest Post by Kyle at Rather-Be-Shopping

Once again, it's Tuesday and Kyle from Rather-Be-Shopping is helping me out with another of his guest posts.

If you shop online, be sure to bookmark his site - he has an online coupon code for just about everything under the sun. And if you don't see what you need, email him. He'll do his best to find it for you!

This post is right up my alley as we share our home with two German Shorthair Pointers. They're not just pets but members of our family. I can't imagine not having a dog in our family (nor could my husband) even if pet ownership isn't a frugal endeavor.

Of course, I do have a lot of fun when telemarketers from home security companies call and try to sell me their systems - I simply hold up my phone, knock on the wall, and let the salesperson listen to my four-legged security systems!

Enjoy this post from Kyle!

+++---+++---+++---+++

Love Your Pets, Frugally!

My wife and kids, and I, have a couple furry friends at our house. A Golden Retriever and a Basset Hound to be exact. Quite a combo, they look like the old-time cartoon characters 'Mutt and Jeff'!

The bottom line is that pets can get expensive, especially if you give them monthly flea and tick medicine. Since we live out in the country and have ticks, this is a necessity for us. Now if I can only keep the poison oak off their fur! Our 1 year old girl came down with a poison oak rash a couple weeks ago and needless to say we don't let her pet the dogs now unless they have had a bath.

But there are some things you can do to cut down on the cost of being a pet owner. Here are a few things we do that help quite a bit.

~ Ask Around About Vets. - The veterinarian closest to your home might not be the most affordable. When getting a new pet, ask friends and neighbors with animals who there vet is and what their experience has been. Make an informed decision about the vet you will choose. Nothing worst than picking a vet and then getting your first vaccine and physical exam bill and having it be way more than you expected. I would recommend finding a happy medium as you don't want a cheap vet who you don't trust with your pets either.

~ Buy Supplies Online. - I buy all of their heart worm medicine and flea/tick treatments from 1-800-PetMeds.com. I get if for 15% less than what our veterinarian charges for the same exact stuff. I have not had any problems with their service and they send you handy email reminders when you need to order more. They also have online coupons which I have included at the bottom of this post.

~ Groom Yourself. - I assume you already do this every morning! But I am referring to grooming your pets yourself. Rather than using an expensive professional dog groomer, you can buy clippers and give him/her a haircut yourself. I do this with our Golden Retriever at the beginning of every summer and it saves us a lot of money. Although I have a feeling that people that do take their dog to a groomer probably aren't into frugal living in the first place!

~ Get Creative / Thrift Stores. - I make my own dog toys! A little imagination and some spare parts and you are good to go. I take some old string or rope and old tennis balls, put a small hole in the balls and thread the rope through the hole and I have a great throw, chew, and pull toy that entertains both our dogs for hours. Also, keep an eye out for second hand toys, bedding, and supplies at thrift stores. We scored a great deal on a barely used dog house at out local thrift store a couple years ago.

Feel free to add your own tips. Does anyone make their own dog food? How about carry pet insurance? And of course, here are some online pet coupons to help you save even more.

1-800-PetMeds.com
Get $5 Off your Entire Online Order
Coupon Code: WEBC5
Expiration: 12/31/08
See All: Coupons For 1-800-PetMeds

PetCareRX.com
Get $10 Off your $100+ Online Order + Free Shipping through this Link
Coupon Code: None Needed
Expiration: 6/30/08
See All: Coupons for PetCare RX

Petco.com
Get Free shipping when you spend $40 or more
Coupon Code: affreg
Expiration: 6/27/08
See All: Coupons For Petco

PetSmart.com
Get $5 Off your $50+ purchase, $10 Off $75+, or $15 Off your $100+ purchase thru this Link
Coupon Code: None Needed
Expiration: 6/16/08
See All: Coupons For PetSmart

Entirely Pets.com (Minimum Purchase Way Too High!)
Get $5 Off your $150+ Online Order + Free Shipping
Coupon Code: MAY5
Expiration: 6/15/08
See All: Coupons For Entirely Pets

Target.com
Save $5 Off your $50+ Online Order through this Link
Coupon Code: None Needed
Expiration: 6/30/08
See All: Coupons For Target

Monday, June 9, 2008

Kroger Deals, 6/9 - 6/15

It's another lean week for deals at Kroger (Cincinnati region); let's hope that after Father's Day we'll see a few weeks of better sales as everyone gets geared up for the Fourth of July.


I'm posting these deals as part of BeCentsAble's Grocery Gathering. Be sure to check the Grocery Gathering on Monday and Thursday to find the best deals at your local stores.

Just a reminder, my Kroger doubles coupons up to $0.50 (doubling to $1.00); my final price reflects doubling. I hope your Kroger doubles, too!

Buy a $300, $600, or $1200 Kroger Gift Card, receive an additional 10% ($30, $60, $120) FREE. Good through July 31, 2008.

(Kroger, like many retailers, wants to grab those tax stimulus check $$. If you have the cash in your budget to do this and you're a dedicated Kroger shopper, this is a smart way to get some FREE money.)

Tropicana Orange Juice, 64 oz, $2.99

$1.00/2, RP 5/4

Final Price: 2/$4.98

Slim-Fast Optima Ready to Drink Shakes, 6ct, 2/$12.oo or $6.00 ea

$1.40/1, RP 5/4

Final Price: $4.60 ea

Healthy Ones Lunchmeat, 8z tub, 2/$5.00 or $2.50 ea

$0.75/1, SS 5/4

$0.50/1, SS 3/30

Final Price: $1.50 ea

Bob Evans Pork Sausage Roll, 2/$5.00 or $2.50 ea

$0.35/1, SS1 5/18

Final Price: $1.80 ea

Johnsonville Smoked Brats, 2/$6.00 or $3.00 ea

$0.35/1 (Turkey Sausage), SS 5/11

Final Price: $2.30 ea

Prilosec OTC, 42 ct, $24.99

$1.00/1, PG 6/1

$4.00/1 P&G eSaver Coupon (load to your Kroger Card here)

Final Price: $19.99 with both coupons (you can use both!)

Advil Pain Reliever, Ass't Varieties, 16-50 ct, $4.49

$1.00/1, 5/11 RP

$1.00/1 (Advil PM), 5/11 RP and 3/9 RP

Final Price: $3.49

Dove Hair Care, 4-12 oz, $3.48

$3.00/2, 3/16 RP

$1.50/1 printable here


Final Price: $1.98 ea

Dove Deodorant, 2.6 - 3 oz, $3.48

$1.00/2 printable here

$0.75/1, RP 3/16

1.00/1, RP 3/16

Final Price: $2.48 or $2.98 ea

L'oreal Hair Color, 2/$14.00 or $7.00 ea

$2.00/1, RP 3/16 & RP 4/27

$2.00/1 printable here

$1.00/1, RP 6/1 & SS 3/30

$5.00/2, RP 4/27

Final Price: from $4.50 ea - $6.00 ea

Huggies Diapers, 23-56 ct & Pull Ups, 21-29 ct, $9.49 ea

$1.00/1 Diapers, SS2 5/18

$1.50/1 Pull-Up, SS2 5/18

$2.00/1 Pull-Up printable here

Final Price: $7.99 (diapers) & $7.49 - $7.99 (Pull-Ups)

Colgate Total Toothpaste, 2/$5.00 or $2.50 ea

$1.50/1, SS 6/1 and printable here

Final Price: $1.00 ea

O-Cel-O Sponges Scrub and Wipe, $1.00

$1.00/2 printable here

Final Price: 2/$1.00

DanActive Yogurt, 4 pks, $2.50

$1.00/1, SS 4/27

Final Price: $1.50

Ragu Pasta Sauce, 13.5-26.3 oz, $1.64

$0.50/2, RP 5/18

Final Price: $1.14 ea

Knorr Side Dishes, $1.00

$0.75/2, RP 5/18

Final Price: $0.50 ea

Juicy Juice, 64 oz, $2.49

$0.50/2, SS 4/27

Final Price: $1.99 ea

Other Good Deals this Week:

1/2 Gallon Kroger Milk and OJ, 4/$5.00 or $1.25 ea

Kroger TenderTwist and Wonder Bread, $1.00 ea

Kroger Macaroni and Cheese, 7.25 oz, 4/$1.00

Kahns, B1G1FREE, these products:

~Bologna

~Wieners

~Franks

~Big Red Smokeys

~Bratwurst

Kroger Frozen Chicken, 2.5 - 4lbs bags, 25% off Shelf Price

Sweet Corn in Husk, 10/$3.00 or $0.30 ea

Driscoll's Strawberries, 16 oz, $2.00


Kroger BBQ Sauce, 18 oz, $0.79

Kroger Granola Bars, 7-10 oz, $1.69



Lysol Cleaning Products, 33% off Shelf Price


Please comment if I've missed a good deal!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

The $5.00 CVS Challenge, 6/8 - 6/14


Alright, time to help the CVS newbies again this week!

Remember, the goal for the $5.00 CVS Challenge is to grow that $5.00 into even more in ECBs to use in the future. Since growing or rolling over your ECBs is the number one rule of playing the CVS game, these scenarios are meant to help those members of the Frugal Faithful who are just getting the hang of how to make CVS work for their needs.

Come up with your best scenario that costs $5.00 or less out-of-pocket (paying with cash or with ECBs you have on hand), post it at your blog (or in the comment section below), then add your permalink below (the direct link to your blog post).

Please list the full scenario with details/locations on coupons used. If you use any of the CVS coupons out there (like the $3/$15 coupon expiring 6/14 - details on how to find it here at MSM), be sure to add info/linkage for those coupons.

If you want to right click/save (.jpg or .gif) on my button above (I'll get around to adding an html code box one of these days...) and add it to your post, I'm fine with that! Just be sure to link back to me/this post somewhere in your post. Thanks in advance - you're a peach!

For those of you just stumbling upon the mega-savings that is the ECB program at CVS, read more about how it works here.

+++---+++---+++---+++

My $5.00 Scenario:

All the stores are focused on Father's Day gifts (FD is 6/15). CVS has this deal available:

Buy $10 of any Nivea for Men, get $5.00 ECBs (prices start at $2.59 - my ad, Cincinnati)

Items included in this offer:

*Lotion, 1.7-2.5 oz

*Balm, 3.3 oz

*Wash, 5 oz

*Shave gel, 7 oz

*Scrub, 4.4 oz

*Eye Cream, 0.5 oz

*4 Step Starter Set

*Body Wash, 16.9 oz

CVS ran a similar deal on Nivea for Men back in December; if I remember correctly, the Shave Gel was the lowest priced item.

I've not been in CVS yet to confirm this deal (I'll be there tomorrow), so here goes my best scenario:

Buy (4) Nivea for Men Shaving Gels, $2.59 ea (I'm assuming this is the price; will confirm and revise this post after I go to CVS on 6/9)

*use $4.00/2 (Extreme Comfort Shaving Gels), RP 6/8

*use (2) $2.00/1 Nivea Body Product printables found here (print one, hit Back, then hit Refresh and you'll print a second coupon with a different bar code - totally legit)

....and then add this monthly ECB deal into the transaction:

Buy (1) CVS Bandages (Sheer, 40 ct or Plastic, 40 ct), 1.99 ea

*earns $1.99 in ECBs (FREE after ECBs)

Total after coupons: $4.35 + tax

ECBS earned: $6.99

Net Profit: $2.64 (minus tax on transaction)

***REVISED, 6/10/08***

I took a trip to CVS yesterday and here are the prices I found (I'm in the Cincinnati area):

Nivea for Men Extreme Shave Gel, $3.99 (bought 2)

*used $4/2 coupon above (it's for this product)

Nivea for Men Shave Gel, $2.99

*used $2.00/1 printable above

Final Cost with Coupons: $4.97 + tax

New ECBs earned: $5.00

So...unless you have a good $/$$ CVS coupon you can work into your transaction (like the $3/$15 one mentioned above), you won't net a profit on this ECB deal. But you will walk away with (3) Nivea shave gels for your $5.00 investment and $5.00 in ECBs to work with in the future!

+++---+++---+++---+++

Don't need that shave gel for anyone in your immediate family or circle of friends? Donate it! Food pantries are in great need of everything given the current economic climate.

Click here and see if there's a local food pantry near you where you can donate it; if there isn't, maybe you can start a donation box at your church, school, local community center, hospital, or YMCA.

Get creative, get Googling, and I'm sure you can find a way to use your extras from CVS and elsewhere to help others in need!

Thanks in advance for sharing your deals!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

CVSing 6/1 - 6/7: Getting What We Needed for $1.06

I'm linking this post up to The "Cents"ible Sawyer's CVS SuperStars and to Money Saving Mom's Super Savings Saturday. I hope you'll visit both posts and be inspired after taking a look at some of the great deals found by other bloggers this week.


I made two trips to CVS this week; I normally make only one trip (if I go at all), but ended up needing milk by the end of the week.

Trip #1:



(2) Listerine Smart Rinse, $3.49 ea

used $1/1 printable here

used $1/1, RP 4/27

(1) Chase & Sanborn Coffee, on sale for $2.00

Total after coupons: $6.98

ECBs used: $5.99

Cash paid OOP: $1.06

NEW ECBs earned: $6.98 ($3.49 on each of the Listerine)

We were out of coffee (horrors!) and my daughter uses this rinse every night; it was a small and effective transaction on something we need right now and something we'll most definitely use in the future.

I realized Thursday that I didn't have enough milk to make it to Monday (my normal Krogering day). So I grabbed my pencil, my ads, and checked out the coupon database at HotCouponWorld to create the best possible transaction I could.

Trip #2:



(1) Gallon Milk, $2.99

(1) Chex Mix, on sale $1.00

$1/1 printable here

(2) J&J Buddies Soaps, $0.99 ea

$1/1 printable here (printed two different coupons to use)

(2) CVS Bandages, $1.99 ea

Total after coupons: $6.95

ECBs used: $6.98 (earned in Trip #1)

Cash OOP: ZERO!

NEW ECBs earned: $3.98 ($1.99 on each CVS bandage)

Again, a small transaction to get what I needed most - milk. But I was also able to get the Chex Mix (we love this stuff!) and the J&J soaps (which my boys love to use) for free after coupons.

And although I lost a net of $3.00 in ECBs, I still earned back $3.98 on the bandages, another item we need as it's summertime and every day brings a new skinned knee, bump, or boo-boo.

And I only spent $1.06 cash overall, keeping me on track for this week's $70 grocery budget for my family of five.

Kroger: $61.52

Wal-Mart: $7.45 (for $22.36 of goodies; see the photo and coupon details here)

CVS: $1.06

Walgreens: $1.35

Total: $71.38 --- close enough!

+++---+++---+++---+++

New to CVSing? Learn more about how CVS can save you serious moola here.

And feel free to email me or comment below (or at these fine blogs here, here, and here) with your questions on how CVSing works; I'd be happy to help and I know my blogging buddies would, too.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Succeeding at Frugality: Competition and Greed Need Not Apply

The blogosphere is such an interesting place. One thing I've noticed as I've been blogging here and here is how when one blogger reflects upon certain thoughts in a post, other bloggers who read that post then reflect and share their thoughts on the current bloggy buzz.

As I skimmed my Bloglines today (my reader of choice for now; I'll probably go GoogleReader at some point), two posts caught my full attention.

One, Kristin over at BeCentsAble, talked about how reading personal finance/frugal living blogs can make it easy to forget that you should challenge yourself to do better at managing your finances based on your family's needs and your past financial history, not on how someone else manages and allocates funds to their budget (her full post is here). I couldn't agree more.

You shouldn't feel like you're competing with others in the blogosphere and somehow failing because you spend more than they do on groceries. Nor should you feel like you're failing if you're working hard to pay off some debts you have (I'm right there with you on this one!).

I touched on this idea in my Frugal Journey post when I started this blog. I really believe this is a healthy way of approaching couponing, CVSing, budgeting, and being more frugal with your finances and resources in life. We're all on that same Frugal Journey, yes, but all of us carry on that journey:

  • Different motivations
  • Different financial responsibilities
  • Different life experiences and differing ages/stages in life

Bottom line: if you're trying to do better financially, you're taking ownership of your financial life which makes you a success even if you have minor or major setbacks along the way.

Setbacks and challenges are par for the course in anything worth doing in life; how many times have you watched a one-year old child pull themselves up to stand only to fall down when they took their first step? And then pull themselves right back up again? That child hasn't "learned" that failure means giving up. Falling down isn't failing; giving up is. So keep pushing forward!

The second post I read this morning (I've had five kids under the age of seven in my house most of the day - three of which are mine - so I've been understandably late to post today) was Kacie's post on frugal living obsession over at Sense To Save.

She asked some thought-proving questions and I admire her for putting herself out there on the issue of overdoing frugality and deals/stockpiling.

Can you overdo all this deal-making, couponing, and CVSing? Well, yes, I believe you can. If its consuming your time to the point that you're missing out on life, then you may well be. Or if you've got a huge stockpile but still continue to add to it rather than simply stop for a while and enjoy what you have on hand, or decide to donate to a worthy charity or church.

I don't grab every deal out there; I simply don't have that much time or motivation to do so. And while I'm thankful that I stumbled into the blogosphere and found ways to reduce our spending through better couponing strategies and store rebate programs like CVS, I hope that those of you out there reading this blog and others see the photos I and other bloggers post about our shopping trips as inspiration, not as gloating or greediness.

I hope you see those photos as proof that real people just like you, armed with the Sunday paper coupons, some printables, and a calculator, can do this crazy couponing thing, too. Speaking for myself, I can tell you that's my motivation for sharing pictures of the great deals I find with details on how you can find them, too.

And the best part of sometimes having more than my family needs is the chance to share with with my family, my friends, and with the Food Pantry basket in my church lobby. I hope you find ways to share some of your extras, too.

Have you ever gotten discouraged by small setbacks on your journey to improve your financial health? Or do you think stockpiling can be taken to extremes?

Share your thoughts!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

My Wal-Mart Trip, 6/4 -- Deals!

I am not a big fan of Wal-Mart for many reasons, including:

  • Customer service (more specifically, lack of customer service)

  • Pricing (Alyssa has a great post here on how their Rollbacks are really just price manipulations; always pay attention to prices week over week)

  • Produce (much fresher elsewhere)

  • Effect on small businesses in small towns where they open new stores

  • I read this book many years ago; I doubt Wal-Mart has radically changed how they treat their employees since then

I'm also fortunate to have a Kroger Marketplace in my town. Not only do I benefit from the great deals to be found at Kroger, the customer service is the best I've ever experienced in any grocery store (and I've lived in six states). That's true of every Kroger I've ever shopped. And a Kroger Marketplace has everything Wal-Mart does, minus the clothing.

But I decided to take a trip to Wal-Mart after seeing some of the deals posted by Denise at The "Cents"ible Sawyer. I'm trying to stick to my goal of $70 this week for my family of five (and I'll chat about how May just about killed my budget for various reasons in a later post) for groceries, household products, and personal care items. If a quick trip to Wal-Mart can help me do that, then off I'll go.


Here's what I found:


Total Cost with tax before coupons: $22.36

Total Cost with tax after coupons: $7.45

Breaking it down:

(1) 16 oz Strawberries, $1.88

(1) Blue Bunny Ice Cream, $2.98

used $1/1 found here

(1) Kotex liners, 14 ct, $1.00

used $1/1 here

(2) Farmland Original Sausage Roll, $1.23 ea

used (2) $1/1, SS 5/4

(1) Post LiveActive Harvest Crunch, $3.12

used $3/1 here

(1) Post HBO Chocolate Clusters, $1.98

used $2/1 here (Denise has three more locations for this on her post here)

(1) Kashi Granola Bars, $2.67

used $2/1 here

(1) Shick Disposable Razors, $1.97

used $2/1, SS 5/11

(1) Oral-B Floss, $0.97

used $1/1, PG 6/1

(1) Band Aids, $1.97

used $1/1, RP 5/18

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All in all, not a bad trip. I lucked into finding a friendly cashier who was happy to help me with my coupons. And I made sure my three children behaved in line (like they have any other choice!); polite children go a looonnng way in gaining the goodwill of cashiers everywhere!

I'll be linking this up to Jennifer's Super Saving Stories over at Sisterly Savings. Post your Super Saving Story and be entered into her $25 Restuarant.com giveaway this week!

Jennifer is one busy frugal mom and she's a great resource online. If fact, she gave me my first Blogging Award, one I need to finally pass along to more great frugal voices in the blogosphere.

Could you help me with this award? Do you have a frugal blog you frequent, one not on my sidebar/blogroll, that you'd recommend? Comment with their address and I'll go check 'em out! I'd love to find some more great frugal voices in the blogosphere.

Share because you care!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Identity Theft, Part II: Do Your Research

Which is exactly what I should have done before signing up for and posting about LifeLock.

Kind reader ktoth04 commented that LifeLock is part of a class-action lawsuit.

Uh-oh.

So, I did what I should have done first: googled "LifeLock".

Here's an article about one of the class-action suits filed in Maryland and New Jersey:

http://www.lawyersandsettlements.com/features/lifelock-deceptive-business-practices.html

In the article, it's noted that the founder of LifeLock - the one who pastes his SSN on the side of a truck because he's so sure he's protected - has had his identity stolen 20 times as a result.

Double uh-oh.

So, here's my best advice to you: be vigilant about checking your credit. You can request free copies of your credit report from each of the three bureaus at Free Credit Report. Those requests are free once a year.

When those reports come, don't just read your credit score on the front - read and compare each report for mistakes or for fraudulent accounts. You should also check for accounts that have zero balances that you haven't closed yet and begin the process to close those accounts to limit the risk of fraud.

And be vigilant about checking your accounts. Whether or not you pay your bills online (as I do), you can still access your accounts online through your bank's website. Check them at least weekly to be sure that there's no suspicious activity.

And never carry your SSN (or your spouse's or child{ren}'s) in your wallet -- either the original card or just a note with the numbers written on it. That number is a goldmine to an identity theft. If your wallet is stolen with your SSN in it, you'll be that much more at risk for a headache of troubles.

I'm off to cancel my LifeLock membership - thank you to ktoth04 for alerting me to what I should've researched on my own!

Identity Theft: Has It Happened to You?

The idea of someone stealing my or my husband's identity, ruining our credit, and creating mountains of paperwork to try to make things right again terrifies me.

I hate paperwork.

In all seriousness, this actually happened to us on a small scale in 2004; my husband had his credit cards stolen out of his wallet at our local Y in the small town where we lived in Illinois. He didn't notice (despite our current debt from moving and moving and moving again, we're not spenders); I did.

I'd recently started online bill paying with our bank that summer and I happened to be checking our accounts within two hours of the theft. When I saw over six charges, high dollar amounts, to stores I didn't recognize, I called my husband right away. He was aghast when he opened his wallet; his exact words: They cleaned me out!

But, in reality, they didn't. The thieves (who were never caught) only took his credit card and his debit card. The real goodies - his driver's license and his Social Security Card - were still in his wallet. We both breathed a big sigh of relief on that good fortune, then got busy with the process of contacting our bank and starting the process of closing the old accounts and opening new ones.

While we were protected financially by our bank, the entire situation took almost six weeks to resolve. My husband had to file a police report, we had to close our accounts and open new ones, and we also had to file the theft with the three credit bureaus so they could red-flag us as potential fraud victims.

It was not fun and I'd like to go through this life without experiencing anything like it ever again.

+++---+++---+++---+++

Since I write this blog and I also write and publish here, I'm becoming increasingly aware of how precarious having an online presence can be. While I wish to be honest and as transparent with my readership as my comfort level allows me to be, I don't want to put myself or my husband at any greater risk for identity theft through information found on my blogs.

So tonight I signed myself and my husband up for LifeLock. We'll pay $18/month after our free 30 day trial ends. I'm sure I can scrape that amount out of our budget one way or another for the peace of mind it gives me.

If you're interested in LifeLock, read more about them here. And if you do decide to join, you can go through CVS online. You'll get a slightly reduced rate and you'll also receive a $10 CVS Gift Card for signing up.

And, just in case you're wondering, neither LifeLock or CVS is paying me to post this or had even suggested that I post about it. I'm just doing what I always ask of you: share because I care!

Have you experienced identity theft on any level? Share your experiences (as much as you care to - it's highly personal) and how it affected your day-to-day life. You might just help another reader!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

RME $25 FREE: Still Available!

I noticed that my fellow blogging buddy Andrea still had her RME link up; the original promotion ended 5/15/08. I finally had time to go back to RME's site and check to see if they'd renewed the promotion.

Oh happy day! They sure did!

As far as I can see (as I squint at their legalese), there is NO expiration date on this promotion. There is this bit of legalese which I copied for you:

You are limited to 50 referral bonuses per calendar year as part of this Program’s promotional offer, which means that the maximum dollar amount of referral bonuses you can earn from your Contact referrals in any one calendar year is $500.

So, if you haven't signed up, go over to RME via my button above and sign up for an account today. You'll get $25 for FREE.

If you're married, get another $35 FREE today. Sign yourself up ($25) then refer your spouse and sign them up. You'll get a $10 referral on your spouse and your spouse will get the $25 sign up. An easy $60 which you can either have transferred to your bank account or issued to you as a paper check (you'll pay a $2.50 fee for the check).

If you have a blog, you can grab your own referral button to post on your sidebar. If you don't have a blog, you can still refer people via email. You'll net a $10 referral on each sign up.

For the 12 people who have already signed up through my button, if you're reading this...

:) THANKS SO MUCH! :)

And if you'd rather sign up through another blogger's button/referral, or just go to RME's main page, that's fine, too! I just wanted to spread the word that this deal is here to stay for a while. Go grab it!

If you're wondering what RME is all about (they're competing with PayPal for business), you can read more about RME here.

Guest Post by Kyle: Frugal Home DIY

For those of you who don't know Kyle, he's the mastermind behind Rather-Be-Shopping, a site chock full of online coupon codes. If you shop online, be sure to bookmark his site.

Read more about Kyle at my Q & A interview with him!

While it's still only a good deal if you actually need it, home repairs and improvements are a great way to increase the value of your property over the long term and your enjoyment of that home over the short term.

Without further ado, here's Kyle!

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Frugal Home Maintenance and Repair

Last week my 3-year old daughter decided to see how much toilet paper she could stuff down our toilet. I plunged and snaked the commode for what seemed like hours, all to no avail. But I was not about to call a plumber, instead I researched the problem and was able to pull the toilet, remove the HUGE blockage, and put the toilet back with a new wax ring all by myself. I probably saved close to $100 fixing the problem myself. Here are a couple excellent resources for those do-it-yourselfers out there. Followed by some useful online coupons.

~ Seek Free Advice. - While many employees at your 'big box' home improvement stores know very little more than how to tie an apron around their waist, there is always at least one expert in each department. Find out who they are and get to know them by name. They will be a great ally! Invite them to dinner, buy them a hot dog, whatever it takes. They have always given my great free advice.

~ Find a Great Resource Book. - I have one book for the do-it-yourselfer that I carry around like a bible. It is the Readers Digest Complete Do-It-Yourself manual and it is fantastic. It has big ol' pictures and great diagrams for those out there like me, who would prefer to look at a picture than actually have to read! Worth a look, and not very expensive. Now on to some useful related coupons that may help you save some money on your next home repair or maintenance project.

Home Depot.com
Save $5 Off your $50 or more Online Order
Coupon Code: DAD2008
Expiration: 6/10/08
See All: Coupons For Home Depot

Home Annex.com
Save 5% Off your Entire Online Order + Free Shipping
Coupon Code: HARBS06
Expiration: 12/31/08
See All: Coupons For Home Annex.com

Ace Hardware.com
Save $10 Off your $50+ Online Order
Coupon Code: ACEMCHE
Expiration: 6/30/08
See All: Coupons For Ace Hardware

Lowe's
Printable Coupon, Save $10 Off your $25 or more purchase
Coupon Code: None Needed
Expiration: 7/31/08
See All: Printable Coupons

JCPenney.com
Free Shipping on your $69 or more order
Coupon Code: FSH4DAD
Expiration: 6/09/08
See All: Coupons For JCPenney

Office Depot.com
Save 10% Off your Entire online order
Coupon Code: 78445094
Expiration: 7/05/08
See All: Coupons For Office Depot

Monday, June 2, 2008

*New $3/$15 CVS Coupon via MSM*

There's a new $3/$15 CVS coupon available through the Beacon Journal. It's good through 6/14/08. ~~ Thanks to Joan for emailing me this deal.

For details on how to get this coupon, visit Crystal's post at MoneySavingMom here. She'll walk you through it, step-by-step.

I'm contacting CVS directly to get their position on using this coupon if you download and print it after signing up for the free two-week trial (thus making you an online subscriber to the Beacon Journal).

As much as I'd like to use it (don't we all just love free money at CVS?), I'd like to know what the final word from CVS is on whether they consider this a legitimate and legal means of acquiring this coupon.

I'll keep you informed!

Kroger Deals, 6/2 - 6/8

It's been a couple of weeks since I posted the deals for Kroger (Cincinnati region) as part of BeCentsAble's Grocery Gathering.

By the way, BeCentsAble just underwent a huge blog re-design that looks amazing! Nice job, Chrissy and Kristin!

Just a reminder, my Kroger doubles coupons up to $0.50 (doubling to $1.00); my final prices reflect doubling. I hope your Kroger doubles, too!

+++---+++---+++---+++

There aren't too many stellar deals at Kroger this week; here's what I've found so far and I'll update it tomorrow if I see any new deals at Grocery Guide.

Buy any 3, Get 1 Gallon FREE Milk (limit 2 per transaction)

Keebler Chips Deluxe or Sandies Cookies, $1.99

Keebler Cookies Take Alongs, $1.99

Kellogg's Fruit Snacks, $1.99

Kellogg's Cereal, 12 -31 oz, asst. varieties, $2.99

Kellogg's Pop-Tarts or Go-Tarts, $2.49

Final Price: varies on the (3) items; 1 Gal milk FREE (This is a good stock your pantry deal with snacks/treats for the summer if you have children out of school. Not such a great deal on the cereal - if anyone sees any Kellogg's cereal coupons or any other coupons for this deal, please comment with locations!)

Chef Boyardee Pasta with Meat cans, 14.5-15 oz, $1.00

Chef Boyardee Pasta with Meat microwavable, 7.25-7.5 oz, $1.00

$0.35/1 (either variety), SS1 5/18

Final Price: $0.30/1

Pillsbury Rolls, 8 ct can, $1.88

$0.50/1, ShortCuts (load it to your Kroger Card here)

$1.00/3, GM Insert, 5/25

Final Price: 3 for $4.14 using both the ShortCuts and the GM coupons (you can use these together!)

Dannon Light & Fit or La Creme Yogurt, 4pk, $2.00

$1.00/1, SS 3/2

Bluegrass Brats, 2/$5.00 or $2.50 ea

$0.50/1, SS2 5/18

Final Price: $1.50 ea

Final Price: $1.00

Frigo String Cheese, 13.6 - 16 oz, $3.50

$0.55/1, RP 3/16 and RP 5/11

Final Price: $2.50

Kraft American Cheese Singles, 16 oz, $3.50

$0.55/1 (Singles Select; not sure if this is in the sale), SS2 5/18

Final Price: $2.50

Jell-O Pudding or Gelatin, 6 pk, $2.00

$0.50/1 Dark Chocolate Pudding, SS 6/1

Final Price: $1.00

Red Baron Classic Pizza, 6.4 - 25.8 oz, $3.33 (3/$10)

$1.00/2, SS 4/6

Final Price: 2 for 5.66

Edwards Gourmet Pies and Mrs. Smiths Premium Pies, $4.99 ea

$1.00/2 Edwards or Mrs. Smith's Deep Dish Pies, SS 3/9

Final Price: 2 for $8.98

Tide Laundry Detergent, 48-64 loads, $9.99

$0.35/1, PG 6/1

Final Price: $9.29

Downy Fabric Softener, 52-60 loads, $5.99

$0.25/1, PG 6/1

Final Price: $5.49

Scott Bath or Extra Soft Tissue, 12 rolls, $6.99

$1.00/1 4pk or larger, SS2 5/18

Final Price: $5.99

Windex Glass Cleaner, $1.99

$0.40/1, SS 5/11

$1.00/1, printable from CleanHomeJournal

Final Price: from $1.19 or $0.99 depending upon coupons used

Fancy Feast Cat Food, 24 ct, $12.99

$1.00/1 24 pk, SS 4/20

Final Price: $11.99

Schick Quattro Trimmer Razor, $1.00 off with Shopper Card

$3.00/1, SS1 5/18

Final Price: varies depending on shelf price

Duracell or Energizer Batteries, 2/$11.00

(AA or AAA, 8ct; C or D, 4ct; 9v, 2 ct)

$1.00/1 any Duracell, SS1 5/18

$1.00/1 any Energizer, SS 5/4 and SS 6/1

Final Price: 2 for $9.00 with (2) coupons

Always Pads or Liners, 14-60 ct, $2.79

B1G1FREE, P&G eSaver Coupon (load it to your Kroger Card here)

Final Price: 2/$2.79

Crest Pro-Health Toothpaste, 2/$4.00 or $2.00 ea

B1G1FREE, P&G eSaver Coupon (load it to your Kroger Card here)

$0.75/1 Crest Pro-Health Sensitive, PG 6/1 (can use this with eSaver for maximum savings)

Final Price: 2/$2.00 (with eSaver); 2/$1.00 (eSaver + {1} PG coupon)

Crest Pro-Health Mouth Rinse, $4.99

B1G1Free, P&G eSaver Coupon (load it to your Kroger Card here)

$0.75/1, PG 6/1 (can use this with eSaver for maximum savings)

Final Price: 2/$4.99 (with eSaver); 2/$3.99 (eSaver + {1} PG coupon)

Old Spice Red Zone Deodorant, 2/$7.00

$1.00/2, PG 6/1

Final Price: 2/$6.00

Old Spice Bodywash, 2/$7.00 or $3.50 ea

$1.00/1, PG 6/1

Final Price: $2.50 ea

Gillette Body Wash, 2/$7.00 or $3.50 ea

$1.00/1, PG 6/1

Final Price: $2.50 ea

Final Price: 2/$4.99 (with eSaver); 2/$3.99 (eSaver +{1} PG coupon)

Oral B Indicator Toothbrush, $1.00

B2G1FREE, PG 6/1

Final Price: 3/$2.00

Oral B Indicator Floss, $1.00

$1.00/1, PG 6/1

Final Price: FREE

Secret Platinum Deodorant, $3.50

$0.50/1, P&G eSaver Coupon (load it to your Kroger Card here)

Final Price: $3.00 (these do NOT double)

Tag Body Spray, $3.50

$1.00/1, P&G eSaver Coupon (load it to your Kroger Card here)

Final Price: $2.50

Head & Shoulders Shampoo or Conditioner, 2/$9.00 or $4.50 ea

$1.00/1, P&G eSaver Coupon (load it to your Kroger Card here)

B1G1FREE, PG 6/1 (can use this with eSaver for maximum savings)

Final Price: $3.50 (with eSaver); 2/$3.50 (with eSaver + {1} PG coupon)

No Nonsense Socks, $1.00

$1.00/ any No Nonsense product, SS 3/9

Final Price: FREE!

Dial Liquid Hand Soap, 7.5-11.25, $1.00

$0.30/1, SS1 3/16

$1.00/3, SS1 3/16

$0.60/1, SS1 5/18

$1.00/3, SS1 5/18

Final Price: $0.40/1; $2.00/3; or FREE depending upon coupons used

Nature Made Vitamins, B1G1FREE

$1.00/1, SS 3/2

$1.00/1, SS 4/20

$1.00/1 SS 6/1

$1.50/1 (softgels), SS 6/1

Final Price: varies depending on shelf price. Use (2) coupons for best price.

L'oreal Cosmetics, B1G1FREE (face, nail, eye only)

$2.00/1, RP 3/30

$1.00/1 eye product, RP 3/30

$1.00/1 eye product, RP 6/1

Final Price: varies depending on shelf price. Use (2) coupons for best price.

Fructis Hair Care, 2- 13 oz, 2/$6.00 or $3.00 ea

$1.00/1, RP 2/3 and RP 3/9 and RP 5/4

Final Price: $2.00 ea

+++---+++---+++---+++

Other good deals this week:

Kroger Eggs, Grade A L or XL, 12 ct, $1.00

Kroger or Country Club Butter, 1 lb, $2.00

Kroger Yogurt, 6 oz, 2/$0.89

Red Seedless Grapes, $0.99/lb

Kroger Lunchmeat, 4 x 6, any variety, B1G1FREE, save up to $2.99

Ball Park Franks, including Beef or Fat Free, B1G1FREE, save up to $4.19

Kroger Frozen Vegetables, 9-16 oz, $1.00

Sweet Corn in husk, 10/$3.00 or $0.25 ea

Fresh Pineapple, $2.99

+++---+++---+++---+++

Be sure to visit the Grocery Gathering at BeCentsAble before you shop your stores this week!

If you see any Kroger deals that I've missed, please comment - share because you care!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

CVS $5.00 Challenge, June 2 - June 8

It's the start of a new month at CVS; you can view all of the June ECB deals here (thanks, SlickDeals).

The best way to "grow" your ECBs as a newbie at CVS is to buy the FREE after ECB items and use manufacturer coupons for those items when you purchase them. You'll net an instant profit.

There aren't too many FREE after ECB items this month, but there is one which will help you grow your $5.00 (real $$ or ECBs).

My $5.00 CVS Challenge Scenario:

Buy (2) Listerine Smart Rinse 250 ml (Limit 2), $3.49 ea

*use (2) $1.00/1, RP 4/27; or,

*use (2) $1.00/1 printable here; or,

*use one of each of the coupons above.

Total after (2) coupons: $4.98 (pay with real $$ or ECBs)

New ECBs earned: $6.98 ($3.49 on each)

Net Profit: $2.00

+++---+++---+++---+++

Have a $5.00 CVS Challenge scenario you'd like to share? Post it at your blog, then add your post's permalink below. Please link directly to your post and link back to The New Frugal Mom, too. Thanks!

If you're still learning the ropes at CVS, read more on how to save at CVS here.

Share because you care!