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Archive for August, 2009

Becoming a Couponer

I know I know….most of you read my posts and think that I am insane for doing this couponing thing. 

Yes-it is a lot of work

Yes-it takes a lot of time

YES-it is worth it for us right now

It might not be worth it for you right now, but if you have time to watch TV for an hour or two a week, you have time to clip coupons!  If you take the time to read the sale paper and make yourself a shopping list, you have time to save money!

I found a great post called “10 Days to Becoming a KCL (Krazy Coupon Lady)” and I thought I would share it for those who are confused by how I make coupons work for us. 

Go here to read KCL’s post and get yourself informed on the how-to’s of couponing. 

Keep in mind that she is giving advise for someone becoming an ALL OUT COUPONER.  If you just want to see how it works, I recommend just buying one paper a week and starting slow ( I buy two, sometimes three papers now…..but only bought one a week for a month or so, until I really “got it”).

Anyway, we are off…..Crater Lake is calling our names and we need to get the cooler packed up and get on the road!  I hope everyone has a great weekend!

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So I read about this deal on Money Saving Mom awhile back, but I think that it was supposed to be a trial size bag.  I didn’t bother because it seemed like a lot of work for just a little sample of a snack….even if it did look really yummy! 

Anyway, when I was reading up on her blog today, Money Saving Mom mentioned that she had signed up and actually ended up receiving a FULL SIZED BAG!  So I decided that on the off chance that I will receive a full sized bag, I would go ahead and sign up! 

If you like Nature Valley products, go here and sign up to receive a “sample” (or maybe a whole bag) of the Nut Clusters product. I just did it ad they wanted my name, address, birthday, e-mail, and they asked for a friends e-mail (I don’t know if you are REQUIRED to give a friends e-mail, but that is typically one of the catches).  Also, you will need to “confirm” that you are signed-up by clicking a link in your e-mail, so make sure that the one you use for yourself is authentic!

I used my “couponing e-mail” for “mine” and my personal e-mail for my “friends”

That brings me to a subject that I keep forgetting to mention-e-mails.  If you are interested in couponing, or signing up for free products, or special offers, I would recommend starting a “junk e-mail account”.  When I started couponing, I quickly realized that all the online coupon printing sites wanted my e-mail and special offers (like the Mars Free Chocolate Friday deal) were a lot easier to cash in on with multiple e-mails. I have worked really hard to keep my personal e-mail junk free, so I decided to let my “couponing e-mail” be the stand in.  Now, my personal e-mail is junk free and my couponing e-mail allows me to take advantage of lots of special offers without hearing about them for eternity! 

Once again, I can’t guarantee that you will receive a full sized bag of this snack, but you might and you will get a granola bar as well….

and you should receive a coupon too!  Yay for Freebies!

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But I don’t want to…

So I just (like one hour ago), woke up and blogged about what FEW things I was committing myself to doing today….

….and here I am one hour later…..blogging because I don’t want to do them…..and thinking about how I MUST DO THEM! 

For anyone who thinks that God is somehow “too big” or “to important” to care about us, take it from me (and several experiences) that just isn’t the case.  For example, I was literally thinking of all the things that I would rather do than be productive today and clean and how I just wanted to chill in front of the TV all day, when literally OUT OF NOWHERE it popped into my head-Proverbs 10:4!

So since there is nothing that can convince you of something like the good old B-I-B-L-E can, here is a good verse to remind us that laziness is not something that God wants from us…or something that is becoming of us!

“Lazy hands make a man poor,
       but diligent hands bring wealth.”

~Proverbs 10:4 (NIV)

Whether that came to mind because I wanted to be lazy all day or because I was just thinking about finances, I don’t know….maybe both….

How amazing is it that the Bible can pertain to our life every moment of every day! 

After reading Proverbs 10:4, I decided to seek out another verse that has to do with laziness.  Here is one that I found that is even more specific to my laziness today (and to my role as a homemaker!)

“Because of laziness the building decays,
      And through idleness of hands the house leaks. ”

~Ecclesiastes 10:18 (NKJV)

…I think I will post that above the kitchen sink 🙂

                            …and the laundry closet

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Busy Busy

Well, sorry to be MIA for awhile!  This week has been a crazy one!  I have been trying to get my classoom finished this week and I think an hour or two next week will wrap it up!  It is starting to look like a preschool room and I will be sure to post before and after pictures as soon as I am finished!

I think I am going to go back in today and work a little on the room (then wait for my assistant teacher and we can finish up next week) and also to start running photo copies for the first two weeks or so of curriculum. 

I have been trying really hard to get the laundry all caught up and the house cleaned up, but have managed to accomplish very little.  My goal today is to finish up the laundry and to get our room and bathroom cleaned….there is so much more to be done, but I know that I can accomplish this, so that is my goal!

I also need to head over to Mary’s house and help her get a few more loads from the storage unit so that she can stop wasting her money paying for a unit with just a few things in it!  Also, I need to drop Monty off over there since he is going to be staying with her this weekend

…which reminds me that we will need some more dog food before then….the poor dog is skipping breakfast b/c we ran out last night and I was working so I couldn’t get to Costco for more!  Oh well, he never eats breakfast until 3 pm or so anyway!

Anyway, Monty is staying with Grandma Mary this weekend because Mark and I are FINALLY going camping at Crater Lake!  We are really pumped about this trip since we have been wanting to go for a few years and it just never happens!  Well, the reservations are made, so there is no way out of it now!  I just have to pack up all the food and clothes and things and then Mark and I will pack up all the camping stuff  tonight and we will be on our way bright and early tomorrow morning!  YAY!

I haven’t been posting any deals lately because last week they were boring and this week I am basically skipping shopping in order to save some money for gas to get to Crater Lake.  I only need to get to the store to pick up some hamburger buns and maybe some bananas and I think we will be good to go!  By keeping my shopping list so short, we will be able to pay for a whole tank of gas which should get us slightly more than half way there-it pays to save!

Speaking of saving…..Mark and I have officially started an emergency fund which was a big step for us in starting to be more proactive with our finances.  Mark has been putting money each month into a 401 K through his work, but that won’t do us any good when we can’t make the mortgage, God forbid.  So, we are starting an emergency fund which will eventually (and I mean long term here) be enough to pay the mortgage for 3-6 months if necessary (we are going to shoot for the middle and say $5000).  Now, we don’t have any misgivings about just how long this is going to take us while we are trying to pay off debts, so we are going to take this nice and slow!  My goal is that by the end of this year, we will have $1300 in the emergency fund (just $100/ month….).  I know that is not alot but we are also starting a “useable savings” in which we will be attempting to put a few hundred dollars per month so that we have a place to go for all the things that you know are coming but aren’t regular enough to have in a monthly budget (hair cuts, oil changes, birthdays, social outings, vets, etc.).  How have we been making it for two years without having this sort of system? 

With a lot of stress and fights about money (or the lack there of).  Using the envelope system has helped dramatically and we have been sticking with it (with the exception of vacation) for almost three full months!  It feels really good to know that we only spend what we have coming in, for sure, and aren’t getting ourselves into a hole.  Saving is going to be a BIG step because, quite frankly, there isn’t much money to save!  But, with the Cypress paycut being removed in September(hopefully) and me starting work (even if my salary is not much to speak of) in Sept., we will be a little better off.  We should also be able to start using Mark’s company stock purchase plan to pay off debts and save as he cashes it out (about every 6 months) instead of using it to just get through six months until the next stock purchase comes along!  

….Having limited money is exhausting…..

So anyway, I plan to post at the end of each month with an update as to where our emergency fund is at.  I won’t post for August, since the month is almost over, and we are emptying out our envelopes for our Crater Lake Camping trip, but I will post once or twice in Sept. to give a status update!

Here are my goals to make this happen…..

  1. Cut Bulk Buying allowance back from $40 to $20/month
  2. Cut Grocery Budget back from $35 to $25/week
  3. Skip grocery shopping one week/month
  4. Car Pool with Mark two days/week (once I start working)
  5. Sell some stuff around the house (we have two extra TV sets and the Elliptical is not getting used much since we got gym memberships, so that might get sold and we will see what else we can find)

By doing those things, we should be able to save $75/month plus whatever we save in gas and whatever we make selling things. 

No it’s not much, but it is something!

Well, it is time to make Mark some breakfast and get moving! 

Have a Happy Friday!

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I recieved a question about this bread and I wanted to make my answer more public. 

I noticed today that the recipe for Homemade wheat bread says to use “instant active dry yeast”, when it should either say “active dry” or “instant” yeast. 

I have put in a question to Tammy over at Tammy’s Recipes to find out what kind of yeast she uses.  I will post when I know the answer!

I used Active Dry Yeast, but followed the directions which seem to be written for Instant Yeast since I wasn’t paying good enough attention.  My bread did get a nice rise, but I gave it much longer than the recommended time (I was busy around the house and just left it). 

If you tried the recipe let me know how it turned out.  If it didn’t turn out, what type of yeast did you use and how long did you let it rise?  Hopefully Tammy will be able to clarify and soon we can ALL enjoy this yummy yummy bread without any problems!

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Menu Planning Monday

Here’s to another busy week!  School prep is in “full swing” and I feel like I haven’t sat on the couch to just chill in awhile, and instead have spent most free time trimming laminate off posters and room decorations or making name plates….at least I enjoy that kind of stuff, right?!?!

I really enjoyed “cooking” more last week and trying lots of new recipes.  I won’t always make so many new recipes, but I think I will try to keep up the cooking! So here is our menu plan for this week…

Monday: Grilled Ham and Cheese (we still have some yummy Homemade Wheat Bread that makes delicious sandwiches)

Tuesday: Dinner at Marys (she mentioned something about stuffed peppers…YUM!)

Wednesday: Spaghetti with Meatballs and Marinara

Thursday: Enchilada Casserole

Friday: Leftovers

Saturday: Pepperoni and Pepper Pizza (with Homemade Pizza Crust)

Sunday: Mac and Cheese with Broccoli

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I chose this recipe to use up a can of white beans that I had in the pantry, but it ended up being a fantastic recipe that I think we will make over and over again.  I was a little unsure about this one, since it is Vegetarian (and Mark likes his meals with meat in the them), but Mark thought that it was great!  Success!

Again, this recipe is from Tammy’s Recipes (what can I say…..that woman can cook!).  The original recipe called for jalapenos and an anaheim pepper, which I left out because I didn’t feel like picking them up at the store….lazy…..yes….

Black and White Bean Chili:

Ingredients: 

1 teaspoon butter or oil
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon (packed) brown sugar
2 cups diced tomatoes*
2 cups cooked Great Northern beans*
2 cups cooked black beans*
3-4 cups water or vegetable broth
1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
Shredded cheese, sour cream, fresh cilantro, and tortilla chips: optional, for topping

Instructions: 

In stock pot over medium heat, saute peppers, garlic, and onion in the butter or oil until vegetables are tender.

Add seasonings (except salt), tomatoes, beans, and broth or water. Stir well..

Cover and bring to a boil. Stir and simmer, covered, for at least 45 minutes or until chili is to desired consistency. Add salt to taste.

Spoon into bowls. Top with desired toppings.

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