December 26, 2010

End of Year Break


I hope all of you enjoyed a wonderful Christmas with your family. I'll be taking a break here to enjoy some time with my family (as well as get a head start on clutter-busting) until Saturday, 01/01/11.

Be safe this New Year's Eve!

December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!


"In the countryside close by there were shepherds out in the fields keeping guard over their sheep during the watches of the night. An angel of the Lord stood over them and the glory of the Lord shone round them. They were terrified, but the angel said, 'Do not be afraid. Look, I bring you news of great joy, a joy to be shared by the whole people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.'"

Luke 2:8-11

Merry Christmas!

December 24, 2010

This Christmas Eve...

I hope you are joyful.

I hope you are with people you love.

I hope you are rich in an abundance of blessings.

I hope you have hope.

And...

I hope you are as moved by this song as I am...


Oh Holy Night indeed.

Be blessed and well this holy night, my friends.

---Marianne

December 23, 2010

In This Sunday's Inserts | December 26, 2010 (No Inserts Scheduled)


It's always useful to know how many coupon inserts to expect each Sunday and even more useful to know which coupons you'll find in those inserts so you can decide as early as possible if it's a good week to order coupons from a clipping service.

This Sunday, 12/26/10, there will be NO inserts in the Sunday newpspapers. I have heard/read *rumors* that we might see P&G insert but I've not seen anything that confirms this 100%.

Be sure to check the Insert Schedule for 2011 this week if you didn't have a chance to last week; you can look ahead and see which weekends will be jam-packed with LOTS of coupon inserts.

It looks like the first Sunday of 2011 - January 2 - will be a mega-insert Sunday with (2) SS and (2) RP for a total of FOUR inserts! If you're in a region that receives the GM inserts, you may see one of those as well. WOOT!

To see the full 2011 Insert Schedule, check out this post (thanks, Sunday Coupon Preview).

Enjoy the rest of your Christmas weekend!

December 22, 2010

Freebie Roundup!

It's been a while since I did a good freebie roundup - it's not that there aren't good freebies out there, it's simply that finding and getting those freebies has fallen down to bottom of my time online priority list. ;-)

However, I've got a little spare time this week and I thought some of you may find yourself off from your daily schedule grind, too.  So click on through and grab the freebies that look good to you!

:: Click here to get a FREE pack of Kleenex Tissues. 

:: Get a FREE subscription to Lego Club Magazine for your little builder right here.  My 7 year old son gets these and he LOVES them - he carries all his copies (about 6 or so now) around and reads them constantly!

:: Feel like roadtripping in 2011 but don't want to do the driving? Megabus is offering 200,000 FREE seats for travel from Jan 12-March1, 2011. Get the full scoop right here.

:: Get a FREE sample of Purina One Pet Food from Walmart right here.

:: Get a FREE $5 credit at Snapfish (think of all the pictures you'll be taking this Christmas!) when you "like" them on FB and participate in their "Spread Some Sappiness" campaign by uploading a picture. Get the full scoop right here.

Enjoy!

December 21, 2010

Let's Go Krogering! Week of December 20, 2010


Wondering what's the deal with my weekly Let's Go Krogering! (LGK!) posts?
 Click here for more information.
 
My Kroger Trip, Monday, 12/20/10


Spent: $21.95
Saved: $18.42 (45%)

As I had anticipated last week, this week's sale at Kroger is a repeat of last week's sale - there are a few good deals but nothing stellar.

One deal that you might want to grab is an eCoupon deal from Kroger.com. Click here and load the $5/5 any Keebler or Sunshine Crackers if you haven't loaded it and used it already. When I realized that coupon was for ANY Sunshine crackers, I realized I could stockpile some Cheez-Its (one of the fave snacks of all time for all three of my kiddos) before Christmas break. It wasn't the *best* price for Cheez-Its but it still was better than paying full price. ;-)

I also made sure to check the bread aisle for Manager Special bread - bread that's marked down for quick sale. I lucked out and found 100% whole wheat bread marked down to $0.49 ea; those loaves will get stashed in my freezer and will save me $$ as we head into January. It's a good idea to check for those Manager Special mark downs on item you could/do stockpile for your family (bread, cheese, meats, etc) during these slow sale weeks at Kroger. You might luck out and find something you'll need/use. ;-)

Here are the coupons I used on Monday:

Sunshine Cheez-Its, $2.76 ea
$5.00/5 Sunshine Crackers, Kroger eCoupon
Final price: $1.76 ea

Minute Maid Orange Juice, $2.00 ea
FREE any MM Orange Juice, Kroger catalina I received last week (AWESOME!!)
Final price: FREE!

Orville Redenbacher Popcorn 4 pk, $1.99 ea (I *love* the salt & pepper flavor!)$0.50/1, blinkie found in front of product
Final price: $0.99 ea

Safeguard Soap 2 pk, $1.00 ea
$0.35/1 ANY Safeguard, PG 11/28
Final price: $0.30 ea

Ronzoni Healthy Harvest Pasta, $1.00 ea
$0.75/1 Kroger loyal customer mailer coupon
$1.00/1, SS 10/10
Final price: FREE!

Notable sale prices:

Kroger Cheese (bar, shred, slice), 3/$5.00 or $1.67 ea

Kroger American Singles, 8 oz, $1.59 ea

To see the matchups for this week at Kroger, click here (thanks, Cincinnati Cents).

Did you find any unadvertised deals or awesome closeouts at Kroger this week?  Share 'em in a comment below or add your own LGK! post & superstar shopper picture to the linky below.

December 20, 2010

Fun & Frugal | Graham Cracker Gingerbread Houses 2010

Our Graham Cracker Gingerbread Houses 2010

One of our fave Christmas traditions is making Gingerbread Houses (you can see some of our past creations right here.)

I used to make the gingerbread from scratch but let me tell you - that is a PAIN! ;-) Not only did I have the prep time of making the gingerbread pieces, I had to let the pieces "cure" (dry out) for a couple of days. And then I had to cut them into the needed shapes and also slice them a bit so they would be of level thickness.

A couple of years ago, I had a lightbulb moment - why not use graham cracker sheets? It's SO much easier and ends up being fairly frugal. The biggest cost is the candy for decoration but if you have some candy on (and marshmallows, pretzel sticks, cookie sprinkles, & chocolate chips), you can make a nice little graham cracker house for very little out of pocket. Since these are inexpensive and quick to make, I let all three of my kiddos decorate their own.

We made ours yesterday evening; as I was rushing from one kiddos house to the next with the glue, I thought for a moment about asking my hubs to video us so I could vlog the directions for you.  But it was just a fleeting thought - I was too busy trying to keep my sugared-up kids on task!

If you want to try this at home, here's what you need:

:: Foil Cake Pans (3/$2 at Walmart) or a foil covered cookie sheet as the base of your house.

:: Graham cracker sheets, 6 per house.  You will cut (2) in for the tall ends of the house; the rest will simply be full sheets
.
:: Royal icing (this is the "glue" for the house).  I use this recipe to make it.  Beware: it will dry out quickly so keep it covered with plastic wrap.  I just use a knife to spread it on but you could use a icing piping tube if you wanted it to be more precise.

:: Candy!  Candy!  Candy!  Pretzel sticks, marshmallows (they make nice snowmen), chocolate chips also work well.  Be creative - raid you pantry and freezer for ideas!

:: Last - and most importantly - PATIENCE.   To keep things under control, I do the actual house construction WITHOUT my kids help.  I can put these together pretty quickly on my own since I've done this for a few years now.  Once the houses are "dry" and the glue is pretty set, I get the candy out and let the kids decorate their sugar-hopped-up hearts out - oh yes, there is MUCH sampling of the candy!  ;-)

I added text to the photos below but it's kind of blurry.  Here's the steps for construction:

1.  Cut (2) graham cracker sheets into the outlined shape below for the (2) tall ends of your graham cracker house.  I use a serrated bread knife to "saw" through the crackers slowly.


2.  Spread royal icing on top of cake pan/foil covered base in the shape of a rectangle to "glue" the four sides of your graham cracker house to your base.


3.  Spread royal icing on all the edges of your (2) tall side pieces (the ones you cut in step 1).  Stick the base of one tall side to the pan then add (2) long cracker sheets on either side for the long sides.  Add the second tall side piece to make the other tall end; hold the sides gently and firmly together until all (4) sides are "fixed" (glued together) on your base.


4.  Spread royal icing on the short edges/underneath the short edges of the (2) remaining graham cracker sheets and along the long edges that will form the peak of the roof.  "Glue" both pieces on to the top cut edge of your tall graham cracker sheets to form the roof.  Hold firmly until fixed in place.


5.  Using the last of your royal icing, add candy to your creation.  Spread gently with a knife or back of a spoon to coat the sides.  Be careful to add candy that isn't too heavy to the top or the sides - you may need to hold it in place/add extra icing to glue it securely.


Did I miss any steps? Have any questions? Feel free to drop a comment below and I'll clarify. ;-)

Enjoy having some Christmas fun in the kitchen!

Weekly Deals Roundup | December 19-25, 2010

Looking for the matchups for this week?

Check out these sites for the best matchups this week, December 19 - December 25, 2010.

*Kroger (12/20/10 - 12/26/10)*

Current deals and matchups here (courtesy of Cincinnati Cents)

*Meijer*

Current deals and matchups here (courtesy of Savings Lifestyle)

*Aldi*

Current deals and matchups here (courtesy of Cincinnati Cents)

*Biggs/Remke*

Current deals and matchups here (courtesy of Savings Lifestyle)

*Walgreens*

Current deals and matchups here (courtesy of Common Sense with Money)

*CVS*

Current deals and matchups here (courtesy of Bargain Briana)

*Rite Aid*

Current deals and matchups here (courtesy of Deal Seeking Mom)

*Target*

Current deals and matchups here (courtesy of Stretching a Buck)

*Walmart*

Current deals and matchups here (courtesy of Passion for Savings)

December 18, 2010

Coffee & Clicks | December 18, 2010 Edition


I subscribe to several (LOTS) of blogs in my Google Reader because it's the easiest way to keep up-to-date with information I need like ad matchups, coupons, and deals.

Using Google Reader also gives me the chance to hop through recent posts at different blogs and read what catches my eye. Whenever I find myself with a few minutes to spare in the kitchen (which is where my laptop sits on the counter), I scroll through and read a bit of this or a snippet of that.

There are always a few posts that stick with me and make me think - and those posts aren't always personal finance/coupon posts, either. My mind wanders down interesting and scenic side paths pretty easily. ;-)

I thought I'd capture some of those interesting posts in a weekly roundup on Saturdays so you could explore them, too. If you find yourself with a few minutes of leisure to surf on the weekends while you sip your coffee (or whatever fills your mug), feel free to wander through this list of posts and spend some time reading, reflecting, and relaxing.

Oh, and yes, I did make a catchy little graphic to go with this new Saturday post series. I am a *fool* for a good graphic!! ;-)

++++++++

:: This older post at The Simple Dollar about The Real Value of Stay At Home Parenting rang true with me.  There are so many books on the same theme at Amazon.com about living on one income in a dual income world/the two-income trap, too. I do agree with the post about the costs of working. After 10 years as a mom who was able to stay home to raise her kids, I'm glad I had the choice and I'm glad I took it (even though some days with three kids under 5 years old were just HARD). And yes, I am fortunate and lucky that it was a choice available to me - thank goodness for my hubs good job & good benefits.

:: Stockpiling Moms has some pictures of their Frugal Gingerbread House. Since I just blew $20 on candy for our gingerbread houses (gotta make them), I like the idea of a repurposing leftover Halloween/Easter/Christmas candy to cut down your costs. Now I just have to convince my three kids to not eat all their Santa candy so I'll be ready for next year...!

:: With 2011 around the corner, it's a great time to assess your spending and compare it to your family's priorities. Get Rich Slowly has a really good post asking Does Your Spending Match Your Values? It can be hard to face the truth if the answer is "no" but it does give you the chance to start readjusting your priorities to your finances and vice versa.

:: Don't let the killer deals available this week kill your gift budget! I loved this post at Wise Bread about How To Resist Buying One More Present. We're trying HARD to get to just 3 presents per kid (just like Jesus received) but I ended up missing my mark by 1 or 2 small things each. {Sigh} It just means room for improvement in 2011, right? ;-)

Enjoy reading, reflecting, and relaxing this weekend!

December 17, 2010

In This Sunday's Inserts | December 19, 2010 {NO Inserts} + 2011 Insert Schedule!


It's always useful to know how many coupon inserts to expect each Sunday and even more useful to know which coupons you'll find in those inserts so you can decide as early as possible if it's a good week to order coupons from a clipping service.

This Sunday, 12/19/10, there will be NO inserts in the Sunday Newpspapers. This is not unusual given the coming busy holiday week; usually over the course of a calendar year, you'll see a pattern of "no insert" weekends that coincide with the big (and very busy) holiday weekends/weeks.

However, the Insert Schedule for 2011 is now available which means you can look ahead to which weekends will be jam-packed with LOTS of coupon inserts.

It looks like the first Sunday of 2011 - January 2 - will be a mega-insert Sunday with (2) SS and (2) RP for a total of FOUR inserts! If you're in a region that receives the GM inserts, you may see one of those as well. WOOT!

To see the full 2011 Insert Schedule, check out this post (thanks, Sunday Coupon Preview).

Enjoy your weekend!

December 16, 2010

Time Management | 5 Great Ways to Spend a Snow Day

The view from my front door...
an hour after I shoveled the first four or so inches!

The snow is falling around the Greater Cincinnati area and my whole clan is home today - the kids are off school, my hubs is working from home, and I'm practically giddy with glee at a day off from the frantic pace of our daily schedule during this busy holiday season.

As a mom, I look at snowy days like today as a gift of time; it's like God knows just when I need these little breaks from the usual run-here-run-there busyness that is life with three active kids.

So as I sit here sipping my 3rd cup of coffee (maybe that giddiness is from over-caffeination?!), I'm making some quick plans to use this day off to catch up, get ready, and get ahead in some of the areas where I've been slacking.

1. Create some Advent/Christmas fun for my kids.

Each year, I usually have my kiddos make Advent chains; this year, between the busy Thanksgiving weekend and the following weekend (my hubs birthday), it fell off my radar.

Rather than making a Advent chain or calendar for the remaining days until Christmas, I'm planning on making a "12 Days of Christmas" calendar that we can enjoy from Christmas through January 6 (The Feast of the Epiphany).

It won't be anything too fancy, just some simple paper origami baskets for each day/child that I can fill with little treats. I have some extra wrapping paper I'll use to make them look festive. Since I'll have the kids help me by each making their own, this will be a good activity for the soon-to-come complaints of, "Mom, I'm bored!"

2. Make some Christmas cookies to keep & gift.

We have some tried and true Christmas cookies we make every year. My daughter's fave are these Jam Thumbprints (they are very buttery - YUM!). My littlest boy loves these Old Fashioned Gingersnaps (they're soft & chewy - YUM!). And my older son likes just about everything so this year I'm making these Fudge Dipped Shortbread Sticks for him.

Of course, the kids won't get all those cookies; some will be for us but most will go into the freezer until next week when they'll be wrapped as gifts for friends, family, and teachers.

3. Get caught up on financial paperwork.

It's the season for falling behind on all the little details. Or it is for me, at least. From Thanksgiving until the end of the year, we are just jam-packed with family events, holidays, birthdays, school events...I could go on and on.

So there are a few tasks I need to sit down and attack in a concentrated fashion while the snow keeps falling (and it is STILL coming down might fast and furiously while I type this!).

--> Review this year's budget and plot next year's budget. If you're new to budgeting, you can read my 4 part series - Back to Basics: Budgeting - right here.

Bible Money Matters also has a good post up about Secrets of a Successful Budget. And I liked this post from Five Cent Nickel: Budgeting Mistakes That Everyone Has Made because it's on the money (pun intended!)

--> Make sure our Limited Purpose FSA $$ for 2010 are maxed out by March 15, 2011. This money is our "dentist/eye doctor" money (we have an HSA for our other health care costs) so this means I need to look at how much we have remaining in our LPFSA; based on that amount, I'll be scheduling some eye appointments for myself and my older son (he wears glasses) so we can get those $$ used toward the doctor visit costs as well as the cost of stocking up on contacts for me.

4. Take a realistic look at my time commitments for the coming year.

Like I chatted about in this post, I am really trying to get a handle on better managing my time in 2011. One thing I need to do is to make an honest account of all of my volunteer commitments and the time required to meet them.

While it's hard to say no to good causes/helping others, I need to do a better job at setting and meeting my priorities. Making a "time-budget" won't be easy but it is the first step toward realizing in black and white that I simply can't do it all.

Anyone else trying to become a recovering typeA personality in 2011? ;-)

5. Have some fun in the snow!!

Eventually, the snow will stop falling today (but not yet - it's still thick as thieves out there). And when it does, it will be time to grab the saucers and head for the hills with the kiddos!

We might even empty out the Lego/MegaBloks/Trio boxes (those boxes make great snow brick molds) and build some snow forts like we did during the BIG snow of February 2010 (pictures originally published on my personal blog, Writer-Mommy):

"The Guardhouse"


"The Castle"

I hope you enjoy your snow day, my fellow Cincinnati-area readers.  Spend your time wisely!

December 15, 2010

Let's Go Krogering! Week of December 13, 2010 {A Ho-Hum Sale Week}


Wondering what's the deal with my weekly Let's Go Krogering! (LGK!) posts?
 Click here for more information.
 
My Kroger Trip, Monday night, 12/14/10


Spent: $20.26
Saved: $21.60 (51%)

My Kroger trips the last couple of weeks have been a little later than usual due to snow; last week, my kids had a snow delay on Monday and this week they had a full off to play in the new snow.  And I've been late in posting my LGK! trips because it's the super-busy holiday season.  I don't know about you fine folks out there, but we've had something (or two somethings) extra going on just about every day this week.  I was actually glad for the kid's snow day -- it meant a day off from the schedule!!  ;-)

This week is a slim sale week at Kroger; I would imagine we won't see any fantastic sales through the end of the year.  What we'll likely see is this week's sale repeating in one form or another through Christmas week and New Year's Eve week.  Hopefully you were able to stockpile shop during the last Mega Sale to get you through the spendier weeks of feasts, parties, family dinners, and cookie exchanges to come.

There are some deals to be had, though.  There are always a few, even during the *off* sale weeks.   ;-)

Here are the coupons I used on Monday:

CoffeeMate, $2.50 ea
$1.00/1, RP 11/14
Final price: $1.50 ea

Buy (2) Jimmy Dean Sausage @ $2.50 ea, get (1) Dozen Kroger Lg Eggs FREE!
$1.50/2 Jimmy Dean Sausage Rolls, RP 10/10
Final price: FREE eggs + $1.75 ea for sausage

Honey Nut Cheerios, $1.88 ea (several GM varieties on sale for this price)
$0.55/1 printable here and here
Final price: $0.88 ea (stockpile!)

Fleischmann's Pizza Dough Yeast 3pk, $1.00 ea (on sale - the other 3pks are on sale at this price, too!)
$0.75/1 Shredded Cheese when you buy (1) Pizza Dough Yeast 3 pk, Kroger store coupon on a tearpad found under product (look at your store!)
Final price: $1.00 for yeast 3 pk; $0.92 for the shredded Kroger cheese I bought

Idahoan Potatoes, $1.00 ea
$0.40/1 printable (no longer available; can print a $0.75/3 here
Final price: $0.20 ea

Notable sale prices:

Kroger Cheese (bar, shred, slice), 3/$5.00 or $1.67 ea

To see the matchups for this week at Kroger, click here  and here (thanks, Savings Lifestyle).

Did you find any unadvertised deals or awesome closeouts at Kroger this week?  Share 'em in a comment below or add your own LGK! post & superstar shopper picture to the linky below.

December 11, 2010

What I Saved at the Stores this Week | Week 49 of 2010


I share my weekly savings with the hopes that you might be inspired; this weekly post also serves as a means of keeping me on track with my budget goals.  Thank for stopping in to check it out!

+++++++++++++++++++++++++

I made it out to Kroger a couple of times this week to take advantage of the last week of the Mega Event sale; there were several items that were great stockpile opportunities for me.  And right now (Fri 12/10-Sun 12/12), Kroger is also running a 3-Day Breakfast Sale with Kellogg's Mini-Wheats (and a few other varieties) on sale 50% off.  With this extra sale, I was able to stockpile some of our fave cereal this week, too.

I overall made a few trips this week to Kroger & Aldi; after having a lean week, shopping-wise, on the heels of a holiday shopping week for Thanksgiving, we needed a bunch of "regular" stuff.  ;-)

Here's what I bought this week:

Aldi, 12/06


Spent: $32.42
Saved: $0.00

Kroger, 12/07


Spent: $39.44
Saved: $84.83 (68%) 
(You can see the deals I found and the coupons I used
in my weekly Let's Go Krogering! post right here.)

Aldi 12/08
No picture; my youngest is on a cheese kick.  I needed more
cheese slices for him to snack on so we made a quick "Cheese Run."  ;-)

Spent: $3.98
Saved: $0.00

Kroger, 12/10
(3 Day Breakfast Sale!)


Spent: $9.83
Saved: $9.16 (48%)

Kroger 12/10
(I had forgotten my Mega Event coupons on my first run through Kroger so I made a second trip after lunch & recess duty to grab the last of the Mega Event deals I wanted to stockpile.)


Spent: $23.62
Saved: $37.36 (62%)
++++++++++++
Weekly Totals:

Spent: $109.29
Saved: $131.35 (54%)

I'm over budget this week (I aim for $80 per week/$320 per month); however, last week, I was way under budget and spent only $27.48.  If I average this week with last week, I still come under budget for the two week period which is good enough for me during this busy season of the year.  ;-)

I was also able to stockpile some great deals at Kroger by matching the coupons to the Mega Event sale & the Breakfast sale, items like the Healthy Choice meals for $0.89 - $1.18 ea (easy lunches for my hubs at work), dog food for FREE - $2.49 ea (big savings on that item which I actually have a separate budget category/$$), Mini-Wheats for $1.14 ea  (my kiddos fave cereal), and cookie mixes for $0.29 ea ('tis the season for sharing sugary treats!).  Saving on those items now will save me money in the future when I can merely "shop my pantry" when I need them. 

As I always say, anyone can save like I do.  Heck, you could even save more than I do if you are motivated to spend more time than I do on planning and executing your shopping trips.  All it takes is a little time, a little planning, and the deep-seated desire to do more with less.

If you're a new frugal mom or are just new to this whole couponing gig, feel free to read through the posts linked below to help you get started.




You can save like this, too!  In fact, I know you can do this; if you're surfing the web reading this site and others like it, you can learn all you need to know. 

If you have any questions, please ask in a comment!  I love to share what I know about couponing and saving money with you -- it's why I write this site.  ;-)

Did you save big this week at the stores? Be sure to link your post up over at Money Saving Mom's weekly linkup, Super Savings Saturday.

Thanks for reading and subscribing to The New Frugal Mom!

December 10, 2010

In This Sunday's Inserts | December 12, 2010 {1 SS, 1 RP}


It's always useful to know how many coupon inserts to expect each Sunday and even more useful to know which coupons you'll find in those inserts so you can decide as early as possible if it's a good week to order coupons from a clipping service.

This Sunday, 12/12/10, it looks like there will be (2) inserts in the Sunday newspapers - a Smart Source (SS) and a Red Plum (RP).

Here's a few coupons that look good to me:

SS

$0.55/1 Armour Meatballs

$0.40/2 Campbell's Condensed Soups

$0.50/1 French's Worchestershire Sauce

BOGO Reese's PB Cups, 1.5 oz

$2.00/1 Whitman's Chocolate Sampler, 24 oz

RP

$2.00/1 Advil, 20 ct+

$2.00/2 Dunkin Donuts Coffee Bags, 11 oz

$1.50/1 Duracell Battery (4 pk AA and AAA, any size C, D, 9V)

$2.00/1 Millstone Coffee 0.5 lb

You can see the full list of coupons in this Sunday's inserts right here (thanks, Sunday Coupon Preview).

Enjoy your weekend!

December 9, 2010

Time Management: Setting Priorities & Boundaries for 2011


In this day and age with communication made instant by a few clicks, emails, FB updates, or tweet, it can be difficult to sort through the bombarding messages from all your social circles, be they professional, personal, or online communities.

What makes instant communication so great (it's instant!) also makes it overwhelming; when everything is coming at you right now, it can seem like every email, tweet, FB post is of utmost urgency.

When everything is urgent, it's near impossible to prioritize your time.

I speak from a personal place; I have a hard time with sorting through what needs doing right now and what can/must simply wait. The busy end of year season we're in right now just amplifies the situation for me.

The net result?

I waste time.

Oh, does it hurt to offer up that truth but there it is - see my clay feet?  ;-) 

I have found myself in a time management rut lately, one that could be avoided if I simply did three things.

1. Make a list of my responsibilities and rank them by priority.

I'm a mom, a blogger, a freelancer, a school volunteer, a church volunteer, a Girl Scout leader, a daughter (my parents live here in town and are still as feisty as ever but I still keep them on my daily radar), a wife to an awesome dude, a Catholic, an insane canine wrangler (really, he is a good dog!), head chef & housekeeper for our family, and lastly -- because we uber-mommies often forget the basics -- a human being.

I need to remember that I need to eat, sleep, exercise and take care of my own health as a top priority (I'm good at the first and last on that list but I don't get enough sleep, period). I can't do any of the other stuff if I'm not taking care of myself.

And while all those things I do are important in some way, only a few key ones really matter in the big picture of my life. This is where ranking by priorities comes in - I need to remember first things first. (And yes, I do love me some Stephen Covey.)

2. Write a daily/weekly schedule for myself.

I've done this in the past and it really does work because it forces me to admit to this simple reality:

There are only 24 hours in any given day.

When I don't have a firm grasp on my daily schedule, it's easy to over-commit myself to doing more than I can realistically handle. In this way, a daily schedule is like a financial budget - when you have to account for your time in the same way you account for your dollars, you get a clear picture of what can be cut from you schedule as well as what kind of goals you can create for the future.

I've been avoiding doing this for one reason: I know I'm over-scheduled. I know I'm going to have to say no to some things as I go forward if I'm going to better manage my time and create/achieve my goals.

3. Remember that saying no for now doesn't mean I'm saying no forever.

Saying no to some of the lower ranked priorities on my list right now - and some of them are priorities that are directly tied to my own personal long-term goals (like writing best-selling novels) doesn't mean those goals are gone for good.  They aren't. 

I think it's important to fly up a level, to see the forest and not just the trees, so to speak.  Example: I bought my first domain in 2004 with the goal of creating a website for moms who write.  I spent a LOT of time building it from scratch as I taught myself HTML and it was looking decent.  But I ended up deleting the whole thing.

Why?

My kids were 3.5 and almost 2 and I found out I was pregnant with #3; add to that the fact that we were in the midst of a job search for my hubs that eventually meant selling our house and moving.   I realized I needed to focus on what mattered - taking care of my family during (what turned out to be) one of the most stressful 18 months of our lives. 

That experience -as tough as it was on all of us in our little family unit - really hammered home the importance of living simply, living life now, and being fully present in your life with the people who you love. 

My goals aren't going anywhere and - as I remind myself - life isn't a race.  It's truly a journey, one I need to enjoy and appreciate.  If it takes me a little longer to get where I'm hoping to go, that's a-ok.

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Those are my three things I've been thinking about as I get ready for 2011 to arrive.  In the same way I purge the stuff we don't need from our home, I need to purge the stuff I don't really need from my time and I'm determined to do so.

If you're looking for some smart and doable ideas about time management, Money Saving Mom has been running a great series on this topic - it's what kicked me in the pants to face my own time management issues.  Go here and read the first post; if you scroll down to the bottom, you'll see oodles of additional posts on the subject.

Are you hoping to better manage your time in 2011?  What tools are you using?

December 7, 2010

Let's Go Krogering! Week of December 6, 2010 {My Mega Fantastic Mega Event Trip!}


Wondering what's the deal with my weekly Let's Go Krogering! (LGK!) posts?
 Click here for more information.
 
My Kroger Trip, Tuesday, 12/07/10


Spent: $39.44
Saved: $84.83 (68%)
(Not pictured: beef roast on sale $2.79/lb this week -- I left it in my van!!)


I finally made it to Kroger late this morning after our first official snow delay of the school year for my older two kiddos; apologies for getting this up a bit later than usual.  ;-)

If you haven't yet shopped the current Mega Event sale at Kroger, be sure to get in there before the sale ends on Sunday (12/12) night. There are oodles of stockpiling opportunities!

I didn't need too much for my own personal stockpile; I think I'll be starting 2011 by making January a pantry/freezer challenge month!  I did take advantage of the deal on the cookie mixes for the upcoming Christmas Cookie Bake-a-thon in my kitchen.  ;-)  I also stocked up on the Healthy Choice Steamers because they make a great lunch choice for my hubs in Cubeland  at work.

One thing I didn't grab today was the FREE after coupon Bumblebee Tuna packets; the shelves at my Kroger were completely wiped OUT - bummer.   However, I'll check for those when I head back to Kroger later this week for the special 3 Day Breakfast Sale that runs from 12/9-12/11 - I plan on stocking up on Kellogg's Shredded Wheat since I have a bunch of coupons for those.

You can see the matchups for the 3 Day Breakfast Sale right here (thanks, Southern Savers!).

Onto the important stuff - the coupons I used today!

Mega Event Items

Purina Beneful Dog Food, 3.5 lbs, $4.99 | $4.49 after mega sale discount
FREE Beneful up to $7.49, Kroger catalina I received a few weeks ago
$4.00/1 Beneful, Kroger catalina I received a few weeks ago
Final price: FREE - $0.49 ea

Healthy Choice Steamers, $2.18 | $1.68 after mega sale discount
$1.00/2, Kroger catalina I received a few weeks ago
$1.00/2, SS 10/17
Final price: $1.18 ea

Krusteaz Cookie Mix, $1.79 | $1.29 after mega sale discount
$0.50/1, Blinkie coupon I found today right in front of the product!
$1.00/1, SS 10/10
Final price: $0.29 ea

Carnation Evaporated Milk, $1.19 | $0.69 after mega sale discount
$1.00/2, RP 11/14
Final price: $0.19 ea

Maxwell House Coffee, $6.49 | $5.99 after mega sale discount
$1.00/1, printable at Coupons.com
Final price: $4.99 ea

Hunts Tomatoes, $1.49 | $0.99 after mega sale discount
$1.00/3, Kroger mailer coupon
Final price: $0.66 ea

Quaker Quakes, $1.29 | $0.79 after mega sale discount

Barilla Pasta, $1.99 | $1.49 after mega sale discount
$1.00/2 Barilla Pasta AND Barilla Sauce, Kroger Best Customer mailer coupon
Final price: $0.99 ea

Barilla Pasta Sauce, $1.99 | $1.49 after mega sale discount
$1.00/2 Barilla Pasta AND Barilla Sauce, Kroger Best Customer mailer coupon
Final price: $0.99 ea

Private Selection Ice Cream, $3.99 | $3.49 after mega sale discount
$0.75/1, Kroger Best Customer mailer coupon
Final price: $2.74 ea

Wesson Vegetable Oil, $2.49 | $1.99 after mega sale discount
$0.40/1, RP 11/14
Final price: $1.19 ea

Oscar Mayer Deli Fresh Meat, $3.99 | $3.49 after mega sale discount
$1.00/1, Kroger Holiday My Magazine mailer coupon
Final price: $2.49 ea

Other coupons used:

Trident Layers Gum. $1.49 ea
$1.00/2, SS 10/24
Final price: $0.99 ea

Kroger Tampons, 20 ct, $2.89
$2.00/1, Kroger catalina coupon
Final price: $0.89 ea

I also used (3) $3.00 off your next order catalinas I had earned from my Krogering trip on 11/23 (details here) for an additional $9.00 off my total. WOOT!

To see the matchups for this week at Kroger, click here  and here (thanks, Savings Lifestyle).

Did you find any unadvertised deals or awesome closeouts at Kroger this week?  Share 'em in a comment below or add your own LGK! post & superstar shopper picture to the linky below.

December 4, 2010

What I Saved at the Stores this Week | Week 48 of 2010


I share my weekly savings with the hopes that you might be inspired; this weekly post also serves as a means of keeping me on track with my budget goals.  Thank for stopping in to check it out!

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As I mentioned here, I skipped my usual Kroger trip this week. I plan on gathering my coupons this weekend and making a big ol' run to Kroger on Monday to take advantage of stocking up during the Mega Event sale.

My only grocery shopping this week was at Aldi on Monday 11/29:


Spent: $27.48
Saved: $5.00 or 15% 
(Approximate savings on the  marked down produce - woot!)

I'm way under budget this week (I aim for $80 per week/$320 per month) which is great because last week's Thanksgiving shopping was a budget buster! Once I average the two weeks together, my numbers look just fine which is why I prefer aiming for a monthly budget total.

And yes, if you follow this blog weekly (and thank you if you do - I just love ya!), I am very behind on posting my weekly savings. I have my totals (because I save my receipts and track my spending; I'm nerdy like that); I've just fallen off on getting those posted.

As part of my overall blog clean up (which is moving at my usual glacial speeed!), I plan on having all my totals for the weeks in 2010 on the My Coupon Savings page with links to the weekly posts. My hope is that by doing so - by showing that yes, week in and week out you can coupon your way to 50% or more savings on your grocery budget - I might be able to inspire frugal/couponing newbies. And of course I'll continue adding 2011 savings as well.  ;-)

As I always say, anyone can save like I do . All it takes is a little time, a little planning, and the deep-seated desire to do more with less.

If you're a new frugal mom or are just new to this whole couponing gig, feel free to read through the posts linked below to help you get started.

Couponing Crash Course

How to Save BIG at CVS

How to Save BIG at Walgreens

You can save like this, too!  In fact, I know you can do this; if you're surfing the web reading this site and others like it, you can learn all you need to know. 

If you have any questions, please ask in a comment!  I love to share what I know about couponing and saving money with you -- it's why I write this site.  ;-)

Did you save big this week at the stores? Be sure to link your post up over at Money Saving Mom's weekly linkup, Super Savings Saturday.

Thanks for reading and subscribing to The New Frugal Mom!

December 2, 2010

In This Sunday's Inserts | December 5, 2010 {1 SS, 1 RP}


It's always useful to know how many coupon inserts to expect each Sunday and even more useful to know which coupons you'll find in those inserts so you can decide as early as possible if it's a good week to order coupons from a clipping service.

This Sunday, 12/05/10, it looks like there will be (2) inserts in the Sunday newspapers - a Smart Source (SS) and a Red Plum (RP).

Here's a few coupons that look good to me:

SS

$2.50/1 Excedrin PM 20 ct+

$1.00/1 Hershey Bliss Chocolates Bag

$3.00/1 Huggies Pure & Natural Diapers

$0.50/3 Kleenex boxes (Kroger Mega Sale item!)

$1.50/2 Ziploc Containers

RP

$10/$30 Build A Bear Workshop

$1.00/2 Folgers products

$1.00/1 Hefty Basic Paper Plates

BOGO Nivea Lip Care Product, up to $3.99

To see the full list of coupons available in this week's Smart Source (SS) insert, click here (thanks, We Use Coupons). Please note that this coupon insert preview is from New Jersey; the coupons in your local insert may vary in type and value.

You can see the full list of Red Plum (RP) coupons right here (thanks, Sunday Coupon Preview).

Enjoy your weekend!

December 1, 2010

Menu Plan Monday | December 2010 Printable Menu Plan


I plan my family's dinners in five week blocks to maximize my savings at the grocery store and minimize my stress at dinner time. You can read more about my strategy here in my Q&A post here.

I also answered several more questions about how I plan my big ol' menus and how I stockpile shop the weekly sales with coupons; my goal is to get the best deals on items for my monthly menu plan for the lowest cost.  For more Q&A (because you're just dying to know, right?), click here.

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A new month starts today - can you believe it's December already? Where did this year go?!?

With a new month comes a great new chance to get a handle on your time by creating a simple monthly menu plan. And during the busy holiday season that is December, it's even more important to find ways to save time and lower your overall stress and menu planning is a great tool to do both of those. We all have more than enough to do this month, right?

I've got my December menu planned and published as a printable Google Doc.  I sure hope it's helpful to you!

Click here to view and print TNFM December 2010 Menu Plan.

As for how I come up with recipes for my monthly menus, I shared with you a few weeks back my MELLY list (Meals Everyone Likes List {for} Your {family}).  You can read that post right here; for a printer friendly list of the recipes (with links to the online recipes) on my MELLY, click here.

If you're new to menu planning,  I encourage you to make menu planning your New Year's Resolution for 2011.  The three keys to saving time AND money with menu planning (imho) are:

:: Having a master list of dinner recipes that fit your family's budget, palate, and your time available for food prep.  

:: Creating a personal stockpile list based on commonly used recipe ingredients from your master list of dinner recipes

:: Combining coupons & sales to restock your pantry & freezer with those personal stockpile items when you can get them for rock bottom prices. 

If planning a month at a time is too daunting, try two weeks.  If you're totally new to menu planning, aim for one week.  Start with a realistic goal for *you*, keep records of your plans for future reference (either on paper or on your computer), and remember to challenge yourself when you've mastered your first goal - either weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. 

And be sure to check out the Menu Plan Monday links over at OrgJunkie each week for more inspiration.  If you're a blogger, post your own MPM (this is a great way to create an archived record of your menu plans) and link up, too!