Thursday, December 31, 2009
Love and Hugs,
I'm excited about 2010 and all the fun and anticipation a New Year brings. It doesn't look like I'll be holding a baby on my lap while watching the ball drop, however. This new little one is not following the path my other two took of arriving at exactly 38 weeks, but instead is teasing with lots of contractions and then nothing for a few hours.
2010 may be the year I develop a great deal of patience.
or completely lose my marbles.
the jury's still deliberating.
I'm not bringing a slow cooker dish (shocking, I know!) to our friend's house tonight for New Years At 9 because I wasn't sure if we'd have a newborn or be in the hospital. Instead, the kids and I are going to make a fabulous apple pie thanks to the totally awesome gluten free pie shells from Whole Foods.
and tomorrow? Tomorrow we'll eat Black Eyed Pea soup. This is the recipe I used last year, and I'm looking forward to making it again. I'm going to re-print it the way it appeared a year ago.
Have an absolutely wonderful 2010 full of lots of love and hugs.
because it's Leap Year.
Happy New Year's Eve! I made the most rockingest black eyed pea soup yesterday, and I take back everything I said last year about black eyed peas. They aren't gross. I just didn't know what I was doing.
And thank you also for all of the emails explaining pig anatomy. I get it now.
Although this is the end of my year-long challenge, the blog will not die, and I will not go hide in a corner in the fetal position. I promise.
Eating black eyed peas on New Years Day is good luck and is said to bring prosperity which can't be a bad thing. Ring in 2009 on the right note. Make this soup.
--1 pound dried black eyed peas
--1 pound spicy sausage (I used Aidells chicken habanero and green chile)
--6 cups chicken broth
--1 yellow onion, diced
--1 cup diced carrots
--1 cup diced celery
--4 cloves garlic, diced
--1/2 tsp Italian seasoning (not pictured. I didn't know I needed it at first. But I did.)
--1 tsp kosher salt
--1/2 tsp black pepper
--Tabasco sauce (to add at the end to taste)
Soak your beans overnight. Drain and pick out the undesirables (broken, discolored beans) in the morning.
Use a 5 to 6 quart crockpot. This will serve about 8 people. Dice the veggies, and dump them into your crockpot with the pre-soaked beans. Add sliced sausage. Pour in broth, and stir in Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper.
Cover and cook on low for 8 hours, or on high for about 6. Before serving, use a stick blender to smash up about 1 cup of beans. If you don't have a stick blender, scoop out 1 cup of beans, blend them in a traditional blender, and add back to the soup. Don't blend too much---just enough to get the broth thicker and creamy-looking.
Ladle into bowls, and add Tabasco sauce to taste.
This tastes amazing. I am so glad that I tried cooking black eyed peas again---they are earthier than other beans and make a fantastic soup base. I've got a few different tupperwares ready to go for lunches for the next few days. My brother and sister-in-law liked it too. The kids didn't taste it---they had spaghetti for dinner.
Monday, December 28, 2009
I am writing this end of year post as a thank you and as a final report for the 2009 frugal challenge year. Many of you who read this blog on a normal basis already know that my original 2009 challenge: Spending only $1200 for the entire year ($100 a month!!!) ended in June... well, that is how far we made it on $1200! So, we spent $200 a month, but this was big savings for us! We reassessed our budget here at the Frugal family household and determined that a more comfortable budget (read: realistic for us) was in the range of $300 a month. I know, I know!! A far cry from $100 a month. But, really, it was a shot in the dark number that I was basing on NOTHING other than a guess! I didn't even know at the time how much we spent every month for our family of 5, with 4 pets to feed! Well, let me tell you all, I learned A LOT those first 6 months and I had a great time tracking, photographing and sharing deals with you all. I did not feel like I failed really, though some readers were disappointed! LOL, it's easier to be disappointed when you aren't the one doing it!!
However, I did have many readers doing challenges of their own. I invited many of you to challenge yourselves, along with me, to see how little you could get your monthly budget to go for the year. Some really dug right in, some just watched! Some of you petered out during the year as life happens for sure, and some of you stuck with it! Soooo.. congrats to those of you who stuck with it for the entire year! Whether you adjusted or not, you were successful because you made an effort to save your family money, and you made sacrifices! Some of you made huge sacrifices! Some of you HAD to sacrifice because of family issues and an economy gone awry. I know we were amazed at how much money we could save, how little we could spend if we REALLY REALLY tried, and how nice it was to know EXACTLY how much we were spending each month on groceries, health and beauty items, pet food and eating out. Though we did NOT include dog food in our grocery budget, we did sometimes include it. I absolutely wanted that leg room because we have a large dog, and he eats a lot of doggy food. The truth? We most definitely can include dog food in our budget this coming year. I will miss the extra to play with, but we can do it!
We got really creative with our spending.. we used our monthly gas budget to buy gas gift cards at the grocery store to get our amount higher so we could use $5 off $50 coupons more often. We also gave away so much more this year! More than any year before! God blessed us with so much extra, and it seemed like as soon as I put together a huge package/box/bin for one friend, we were loading back up our storage shelves with new things to use and share. We were able to make smoothies for the first grade, give gifts to our girls teachers in school, Sunday school and for relatives. We were able to help with an entire ham, bread and cheeses for a funeral. We added hundreds of dollars, (and I mean hundreds!) to our church giveaway in December that included meds, soaps, shampoos, laundry detergent, pantry staples, razors, feminine needs, paper products, bandaids, hair supplies (brushes, etc.), makeup, office supplies and clothing. We blessed some of our friends this year with food, household items and more. We really had an abundance. Yes, we had to be creative, but it was more than do-able! It was a blessing!!
I have no doubt that through our giving, God blessed us with more than we could have had otherwise. As long as our giving was strong, our shelves were constantly stocked.. and emptied!
The most amazing thing to us, was that in December, we even used our $300 budget to get almost ALL of our presents for our kids! It included some Walgreens shopping for smaller things and stocking stuffers, but it was amazing how it all fell into place. The month of December at Walgreens was a little crazy as most of you know! There was a week where you could get about 8 items for free after register rewards..that was a busy week for me! I also made a profit on lots of those items because I had coupons. I then used those items (and lots of fillers, like Christmas bags, stockings, candies, etc. for stocking stuffers, gift wrap and more) for giveaways, presents and sharing. I used the profit (in register rewards) for buying things like eggs, OJ, cereal, honey, oatmeal, toilet paper, paper towels and more! As for gifts, we got a nice Conair hair trimmer for my hubby, journals for the girls, some pretty toy ponies (like the name brand, only not), some TY beanies, a bank, winter scarf/mitten/hat sets, candles, chocolate, books, cash register toy, puzzles, clay buckets, scrapbook kit, and more! So here is a BIG THANK YOU to Walgreens for really put out the deals this December..and for all of the employees that are SO NICE at my Walgreens, so helpful and always polite and courteous! Thank you!
So thanks, dear friends, for coming with us on this journey! What is in store for 2010? I'm not sure!!! I know we will continue to shop the deals, and continue to budget. Our new budget may be exactly like our current one.. $300 a month. What does this include? It includes for our family of five: eating out, all food and household items like paper products, cleaners, laundry, over the counter meds, pet food and supplies. What doesn't it inlcude? Prescriptions, usually gifts (for birthdays, anniversary, etc.), gas or other personal items like clothing and shoes. Many times I DO find a nice gift that I use my grocery budget for, but not always. Sometimes we get a prescription from Publix for only $4 or for FREE and even have used a coupon or two to get a free $25 or $10 gift card for filling a prescription there. Here are some other ways we saved:
Swagbucks: earn points by doing online searches. Even the people who sign up because you sent them a link or email invite earn points for you. I earned enough to get several Amazon gift cards with this!
MyPoints.com many of you use this already. You get emails, or shop through their site to rack up points to redeem for gift cards and more.
Ebates.com Lots of readers use this already. You shop online? Then shop through ebates! You get cashback, depending on the amount you spend and the amount back offered by the retailers. You often get $5 bucks JUST FOR SIGING UP! You have to have $10 in your account to request a check. (I think)
Shop at Home This is just like Ebates, but some people like Shop at Home better. You also get $5 just for signing up!!
Freecycle.org A group formed by area/community where everyone helps others, reduces wastes, recycles and gifts others by giving everything away for FREE. Look here to see if there is one in your area, the rules (if any) and how it works.
Craigslist.org A great, FREE website for classifieds, free stuff, bartering, job postings, rentals and SO MUCH MORE! This is by area too, larger areas have more activity. A great place to find a good deal or sell something. Use common sense though, and stay safe!
You can also barter your stockpiles for fresh produce at your local farmers market...you may want to take a sample bag around with you and just ask a few of the vendors you are interested in if they would be interested in trading fresh produce every other week, or perhaps every month for things like shampoo, razors, cleaners, dry goods, or whatever you get for cheap that they might want. Try to find someone who wants to do this on a regular basis that likes a surprise! You get fresh veggies and they get to save lots of $$$ on things they would normally buy full price! A nice deal for both of you! I plan to try this still, but haven't found a trader yet. (haven't looked yet)
Also, remember to SHOP THE SALES! Don't plan your menu then go buy the groceries! Look over/study/examine the weekly ad at your favorite store(s) and then plan your menu around what's on sale! You tend to get more veggies that are in season this way, you spend less, and you can save a ton of money! If chicken is on sale for $.69 a lb... and pork isn't and is running $1.69 a lb, you will save $1 a lb of meat by just using the sale meat for your meals that week. If you buy produce at $1 a lb instead of $2.99 a lb out of season.. you also save alot!
Stockpile!! This is a big one!!! If the butter you use goes on sale, don't just buy ONE tub or box of sticks.. buy enough to last til the next sale! Especially if it is on sale for a REALLY GREAT price AND you use a coupon! If you normally pay $2.69 for Smart Balance, and it goes on sale B1G1F (buy one get one free).. you are saving 50% on each one!! If you have a coupon for $1/1.. you use 2 coupons and get 2 packages for only $.69!!! That is about 85% off your normal cost.. so stock up! Do this every week and you will see your costs drop dramatically!
Yard Sale! You can take all your stockpiles and share them, give them away..and you can also sell a bunch of them at your yearly or seasonal yard sale! This way, you can take anything you earn and add it back into your grocery budget! Or you can just go to Hawaii! :) We didn't get a chance to do our yard sale this year, but we are planning one for late Jan. or early Feb..it is so cold though that we might change our mind and wait til late Feb and early March!
So, should I do $300 a month? ($3600 a year) ( we spent $1200 through June 09, then $300 a month from July - Dec. = $1800 = $3000 for the year.) Or maybe shoot for $250 a month? I think we will go for $300 a month (this was easy, comfortable and I loved the ability to eat out twice or so a month..). I will shoot for spending $250 though, and if I make that goal each month, will put the other $50 aside for something special. If I can do that every month, we will have $600 saved at the end of the year!
How about you? What will be YOUR frugal challenge 2010? Don't forget to ask yourself:
- How many people do I need to provide for?
- How coupon friendly are my local stores?
- Does my budget include eating out? Gifts? Pet Food? Gas? YOU decide!
- What are some EASY, instant ways you can save? Cut out eating out once a month? Once a week? For our family, eating out just once can cost $35 EASILY. So cutting that just once made a huge difference. Do you know how many groceries you can buy for $35?? I do!
- Can you barter? Can you grow some, or all of your veggies? Can you use reward points from websites, credit cards or elsewhere like Swagbucks to save even more? Even ONE earned gift card of $25 a month can stretch far!
- Why do I want to save money? Will this be enough of a reason to keep you going all year?
- Is my family supportive? You can change their minds.. or just not tell them you are cutting back in the food area, just serve what you buy! I found it was really a family effort for us. If it wasn't in the budget, we didn't get it! Even my 6 year old twins got in on the challenge, helping me sort coupons, arrange items for my blog photos, or helping me think up creative ways to serve what we had on hand. My 10 year old even started getting her own "small" stockpile going with her own money and coupons! She is doing great!
- What MUST you buy each month (milk? Organics? Chicken? Eggs? Formula? Diapers? Pet food?), and what can you do without? (sweet cereal, steaks, brand name products instead of store brand?)
Saturday, December 26, 2009
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Did you know that if you give your email address to Kohl's that they will send you a one time use coupon for $5 off a $5 purchase? You can sign up every email address you have, but you can only use each coupon once and only one per transaction. The coupon does take 7-10 days to arrive in your email, but if you sign up now, it should come in handy for some after Christmas clearance deals!!!
Thanks Money Saving Mom
I just received an email about this fun giveaway from Money Saving Madness! Go enter and give yourself a chance to get a little Christmas gift for yourself! Thanks MoneySavingMadness for the giveaway! Her email message is below:
I don't know where the time has gone. I meant to do this giveaway a week ago but never got around to it! The winner of this $25 gift card giveaway to Marshall's or T.J. Maxx will hopefully be able to snag some post holiday bargains, birthday gifts or a little endulgence for themselves!
I recently was given the opportunity to shop at both stores and found them to be well stocked with bargains! Both stores have everything from the latest brand-name toys to electronics, beauty products, to gourmet food and entertaining essentials.
Marshall's and T.J. Maxx provided me with a $25 gift card to each store. I was able to snag several name-brand gifts at each store for well below retail. I really enjoyed their home section of rugs, towels, decorative pillows and other items and will definitely go back someday when I am buying for me!
I am giving one lucky reader a $25 gift card to their choice of Marshall's or T.J. Maxx!
How to enter:
1. Leave a comment in this post, along with your email address so that I can contact you if you are the winner.
2. Become a Subscriber to my blog via email or subscribe to my feed (very bottom of the page) and leave a comment with your email letting me know you have done so. If you already subscribe, just let me know you are a subscriber with a seperate comment.
3. Tell Your Friends: Follow me on Facebook and/or Twitter, tell your friends via a tweet or post about it on Facebook (or any other forum or blog). Be sure to let me know what you did to gain another entry.
Good Luck! This giveaway will end on Christmas Eve!
T.J. Maxx and Marshalls provided me with two $25 gift cards to their stores for review purposes. All opinions of the stores are expressly my own. The $25 gift card giveaway is provided by Money Saving Madness.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Looking for a last minute stocking stuffer? Target will have the Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure DVD combo on sale for $19.99 starting Sunday 12/20. Get it for just $4.99 after coupons!
But wait — that’s not all. There are two different mail-in rebates available that could make this a better than FREE deal! Each DVD has two proofs of purchase, so you can remit them both.
Tinker Bell Rebates:
The rebates expire 1/31/10, so you’ve got plenty of time to submit them after Christmas.
Though the curbside recycling is not available yet in our area.. (it may be in yours, you can check), you can still get the initial points for registering..and for a couple of other things. With these points, you can get some goodies!
- 10 $1 off any Coke Product coupons
- 10 $1 off any Dasani product coupons
- 10 $1 off Powerade product coupons
- 2 $5/50 Publix coupons
- 1 BOGO Huggies wipes coupon
- or many other coupons
After registering and signing in, click on “Get Rewards”. Then click on “Grocery & Food” on the left side. Scroll down until you see the coupon you want. Add the coupon to your cart once. View your cart and there you can change the quantity before submitting it!
The coupons will be mailed to you!
Monday, December 21, 2009
UPDATE: You may get a message that the server is busy...keep trying. You should be able to get through after several clicks!
Click here to receive a FREE sample of Mariana Dried Plums. You will need to enter promo code SUPERFRUIT. Your sample should arrive in 7-10 business days. Yummy and healthy!!
- A free sample of Easy Ups Trainers
- High Value Coupons
- Fun Stickers and coloring pages
- Step-by-step Potty Training tips
- Potty Progress Chart
- Dora or Diego Training Trophy
**Expect delivery of your kit within 4-6 weeks!
This holiday season, Save-A-Lot is making it easy to serve your family a delicious Sugardale® Ham dinner for under $20. Get your holiday ham and trimmings all for well within your budget. (Participating stores only.) Plus check out these delicious holiday recipes to make your purchase go even further.
Get an an additional $5 off with this coupon!
Benihana – Buy $50 in gift cards and get a $10 bonus card.
Bonefish Grill – Buy $100 worth of gift cards and you’ll (A) get a $20 rewards card and (B) be entered into a contest to win $5,000.
Bruster’s – They have a few different deals going: a free $5 gift card with the purchase of a $25 gift card, as well as $10/$50 and $20/$100.
Buca Di Beppo – Get a $25 reward card for every $100 in gift card purchases.
Buffalo Wild Wings – Buy a $25 gift card and get $5 back
California Pizza Kitchen – Purchase $100 in gift cards and get a $20 rewards card.
Carrabba’s – Buy $100 in gift cards and get a $20 bonus card.
Chick-fil-A – Buy a $20 giftcard and get a free 2010 calendar, which contains over $20 in of coupon.
Claim Jumper – Buy $50 in gift cards and get a $10 bonus card. This is getting a little repetitive, huh?
Corner Bakery Cafe – Buy a $25 gift card and get a $5 bonus
Cosi – Buy $50 in gift cards and get a $10 bonus card.
CVS – Get a $5 eGift Card for every $25 you spend.
Denny’s – Buy a $25 gift card and get a $5 Denny’s card.
DSW – Buy a $50 gift card, get a $10 bonus card between now and 12/24.
Fandango – If you purchase a gift card, you’ll receive a special thank you rewards valued to to $100.
Fazoli’s – Buy a $20 gift card and get a $5 off coupon.
Flanigan’s – Buy $100 in gift cards and get a $20 gift card.
Friendly’s – Buy a $25 gift card and get a $5 Bonus Card.
Half Price Books – Buy a $25 gift card and get a $5 coupon.
Hollister – Make a $75 in-store purchase and get a $25 gift card. They also have a $150/$50 offer.
IHOP – Buy a $25 gift card and get a $5 coupon for your next visit.
Margaritas – Buy $25 in gift cards and get a $5 rewards card.
McCormick & Schmick’s – Buy a $50 gift card and get a $10 dining certificate. They also have a $100/$25 option available.
Moe’s Southwest Grill – Buy a $25 gift card and get a $5 Moe Buck for yourself.
Ninety Nine – Buy a $25 gift card and receive $5 off your next meal.
P.F. Chang’s – Buy a $50 gift card and get a $10 Be Our Guest Card.
Pappas – Buy a $50 gift card and get a $10 gift card.
Pedro’s Mexican Restaurante – Buy a $50 gift card and get a $10 gift card or $100/$25.
Potbelly Sandwich Works – Buy $25 in gift cards and get a ticket good for an originals or skinnys sandwich.
Qdoba – Buy a $25 Q-Cash Card and get a $5 voucher for yourself.
Spring Creek Barbeque – Buy a $25 gift card and get a $5 holiday bonus card to use on your next visit.
Souplantation & Sweet Tomatoes – Buy $100 in gift cards and get a free meal pass.
Steak n Shake – For every $20 eGift cards purchased, you’ll get a $5 eGift card.
T.G.I. Friday’s – Buy a $25 gift card and get a $5 Bonus Bites card.
Ted’s Montana Grill – Buy $100 worth of gift cards and get a free $20 Bonus Card.
The Container Store – Purchase $100 in eGift Cards and get a free $25 eGift card for yourself.
Unos Chicago Grill – Buy a $25 gift card and get a $5 Holiday Bonus Voucher.
Thanks Mom @ MyLitter
Want to know if you should buy the paper or not? Find out what coupons will be in the paper to to help you decide.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
UPDATE: Target had this BLU-RAY version for $22.99... minus $10 is $12.99 and minus $5 is $7.99. This combo pack Blu Ray has a Blu-Ray DVD, a regular DVD AND a digital version..all in one package! So, though the price was higher (I had heard the price was $15.99)..It was still a worthy deal in my book and I got it! Thanks all! (I did not try to price match!)
This is a great deal I wanted to share with you! At Target, the Blu-Ray combo was released Tuesday. Target has the G-Force Blu-Ray/DVD Combo for $22.99 this week. Stack the $10 coupon here with the $5 Target coupon here to get it for just $7.99! The $5 Target coupon has a picture of Transformers on it, but it states (and is good for) $5 off any Blu-Ray. I already got my copy!
Additionally: Walmart reportedly has the DVD/Blu Ray combo priced at $19.96, so only $9.96 after the $10 coupon.
Many people are having sucess price matching the Walmart ad at Target AND using both coupons for a total paid of $4.96! This is totally up to your Target store as to whether or not they will accept the $5 Target coupon on top of price matching Walmart's ad. I didn't bother trying this one myself, but if you are brave, give it a go, but personally, if it didn't work out, I wouldn't try to make an issue over it, but that's just me! In any event, the coupons make this a great deal and possibly a great Christmas gift!
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
As a member, you can save up to $11.15
in BettyCrocker.com coupons this month!*
You must be a member and logged in to print coupons.
Great coupons (and these are in a different location than coupons.com, so you can print these TOO if you have already printed from there!) like:
when you buy any flavor Box or Pouch Betty Crocker® Potatoes (Except Potato Buds®)
when you buy ONE any variety Green Giant® Valley Fresh Steamers™ frozen vegetables
when you buy ONE TUB any flavor/variety Betty Crocker® Frosting
when you buy any TWO Progresso® Products (Excluding Soup and Broth)
when you buy TWO any flavor Betty Crocker® Box Supreme Brownie Mixes
when you buy THREE any flavor Progresso® Soups
when you buy any flavor 17.5 OZ. OR LARGER Betty Crocker® Cookie Mix
when you buy ONE any variety Progresso® Broth
when you buy 40 OZ. OR LARGER Original Bisquick® OR Bisquick Heart Smart® Baking Mix
when you buy any flavor Wanchai Ferry™ Frozen Entrée
when you buy ONE any flavor Betty Crocker® Warm Delights® Bowls OR Betty Crocker® Warm De...
when you buy any flavor 4.5 OZ. OR LARGER Chex Mix® OR Chex® 100 Calorie Snack
when you buy TWO any variety Green Giant® Frozen Boxed Vegetables
when you buy any TWO General Mills cereals listed on coupon
when you buy any variety 19 OZ. - 24 OZ. ONLY Green Giant® Frozen Bagged Vegetables
Monday, December 14, 2009
Wow! Hurry and jump on this Amazon deal while you can! Currently, you can score this V.Motion Active Learning System - Pink for just $24.99--down from $69.99! The reviews all seem pretty positive too!
**This item ship FREE on $25 or more with Super Saver Shipping! So, add a small filler item to get that free shipping! Or you can score FREE 2 day shipping with Amazon Prime (no minimum order amount)! Check out more details on Amazon Prime and the FREE one month trial they're offering up here.