I had my cell phone service thru a major carrier for over 10 years.  As my older girls have grown and gone out on their own, they have gotten their own plans and I was left all alone the plan I carried.  Since I was already “out of contract”, I started shopping around for my other options.  I ended up going with a “pre-paid” plan and I haven’t looked back or regretted it since.

I did this for several reasons.  I needed unlimited calling since we no longer have a home line and my younger children use my phone to call their friends and I use my phone to call my mom every day.  Not to mention the fact that I use the phone for everyday household stuff (dr appointments, etc).  I was tired of being signed to a contract.  I hated getting bills that varied every month, sometimes by a few dollars, sometimes by a few cents.  I wanted a nicer phone without the contract. 

I ended up with a Samsung phone that looks VERY similar to a Blackberry.  I paid $20 for that phone.  Free shipping.  My monthly rate for unlimited talk, text and web is $45.  No contract.  If I want a newer phone, I just watch the website for the one I want to go on sale (they have LOTS of sales at GREAT prices!).  There is no “asking for an upgrade” or seeing how much “credit towards a new phone” I have.  Oh, and I even got to transfer my same phone number over to my new phone!  It only took 30 minutes to become active!

I am so happy I looked waited and looked around before signing another contract!

 

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My two older daughters and I often do the “girl talk” thing.  Several times we have ended up discussing relationships.  What makes them work or not work.  Why they work or don’t work.  Can you MAKE them work or do they need to just function without a lot of effort?  Should things flow easily or do they need to be pushed sometimes?  This is what we have come to as a conclusion…..

My oldest daughter had a teacher a few years ago who had been married for over 50 years.  This particular woman was married to a man that she did NOT choose.  Hers was an arranged marriage.  Wow.  What an eye opener. 

After hearing what she had to say about her situation, it was clear that what makes a relationship work is NOT love.  It is commitment.  It is dedication.  It is being “all in” and not holding back.  Love comes later.  Love is built on the foundation that all those other things provide.  Think about it.  Can you truly love someone if you aren’t committed to them? If you aren’t dedicated to them?  If you are holding back?  No.  But the reverse IS true……. If you commit and dedicate yourself to the relationship and don’t hold back, you can love them based on that. 

I think that the hard part is in the “not holding back”.  So often, as humans, we wonder what’s in it for us (it may be consciously or subconsciously).  Why should we give of ourselves when the other person didn’t give us anything first?  Why should I do for them if they haven’t done for me?  Then it becomes a stalemate with no one giving anything of themselves and the relationship sours.  Sure, if you give of yourself first, you can get hurt.  That’s the risk that cannot be avoided.  But, if you don’t try, then you will never know what could have been and you may just miss out on the best thing in your life.

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I am finding more and more often that some companies just don’t care.  Seriously.  That’s sad, sad, sad…..

I recently placed an order for 422 photo prints from a LARGE online photo site (who shall rename nameless).  I have a habit of uploading my pictures and then never ordering them.  So, I got it all together and placed the order.  I anticipated perfection.  I have always been satisfied with this company.  Then the order got here and all seemed well.  Then I noticed that there were a few Halloween pictures missing. Hmmmmmm……

So, I counted the pictures.  Would you like to guess how many were missing?  There were 85 pictures missing!  Yep!  That’s right!  My order was 85 pictures SHORT!  OMG!

Whats worse it that it was not like there was a big clump in the middle of the order missing.  Noooooooooo!  That would be easy.  It was miscellaneous pictures throughout the order that were missing.  UGH!

So, I called “Customer Service”.  Uh, yeah right,  that’s what you call it.  The lady kindly told me she could “credit” me for 100 prints but that I would have to figure out which ones they missed and place a new order for them!  ARE YOU SERIOUS????  She refused to do anything else.  I told her she needed to find someone who could do better than that and who was authorized to FIX the problem.  It’s not my fault they messed it up and missed random photos throughout the order!  Do you know what she said to me?  She said “M’am in order to do that we would have to re-print all 422 photos”  REALLY?  No kidding!  Exactly my point!

Finally she got her supervisor who immediately said “No problem, we will reprint the whole order for free.”  Finally a voice of reason.  But why did I have to get so upset to get a company to fix an order that I paid for in full?  Don’t customers deserve to get the items they pay for these days?  Why is it becoming the customers fault more and more often?  This is a business I have been purchasing my prints from for 7 years.  You would think that they would provide better service than this.  <<<< End of Rant >>>>

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I decided to cross another thing off my perpetual “to do” list.  At the ripe old age of 40, I finally learned how to change the oil in my van.  I just got sick of wasting time and money going to have someone else do it.  It was really very simple!  The only part that I didn’t care for was when I took the filter off and the oil ran down my arm and made a puddle in my armpit….. totally gross!  I have since gotten a few tips on how not to let that part happen again. 

As silly as it may seem, learning this new task really left me feeling sort of empowered.  I like learning new things.  Especially things that are not typically the sort of things women do.  So I saved money and some time and really gave my esteem a huge boost all at the same time!

Have you done anything recently that left you feeling accomplished?  Come on, share with me!

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I am always in amazement that a lot of people do not know about BTFE (Box Tops For Education).  Box Tops for Education has helped America’s schools earn over $400 million since 1996. You can earn cash for your child’s school by clipping Box Tops coupons from hundreds of participating products. Box Tops also offers easy ways to earn even more cash for your school online.

You can get more info on this program and also see a list of participating products by clicking on this link:

http://www.boxtops4education.com/earn/clip/Brands.aspx

So many people still throw out the boxtops (really they are not whole boxtops, just little pink squares pretty much like the one pictured above).  It is easy to clip them and save them for your child’s school.  They earn 10 cents per boxtop turned in.  I do not know of a school that does not participate in this program.  If you don’t have a school aged child, then give them to your grandkids or neighbor’s kids to turn in.

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*** note *** this is not a technical or detailed review.  Just a brief blurb in cyberspace about me liking the movie :-)

I have been looking forward to renting the dvd  ”Take Me Home Tonight”   for some time now.  It looked so cute and I am a HUGE fan of all things 80′s (I was in high school in the 80′s).  This movie was no disappointment! 

It was raunchy (pretty raunchy, actually) but was really very good!  If you liked “Romy & Michelle’s High School Reunion”  then you would love this flick!  Topher Grace, Anna Faris, Dan Fogler  and Teresa Palmer star with Angie Everhart and Michelle Trachtenberg making appearances as well. 

The soundtrack was INCREDIBLE as well!  Can’t wait to get that! 

As far as my rating goes, TWO THUMBS UP!

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Just a thought here…….

Last year when it came time for back to school shopping, I did the usual inventory of the kiddos clothing so I would not be purchasing unneeded items.  Shelby still had two really nice pairs of sneakers in her closet with lots of wear left in them. I could not justify buying her another pair since those still fit.  They were a little dirty and, since I had nothing to lose, I just threw them into the washing machine in a bleach load.  I air dried them and they came out looking GREAT!  They ended up going thru another school year without needing to buy another pair for her!

Two years ago when I bought Ben’s back to school sneakers, I actually bought two pairs.  I had found some sneakers for him on clearance for $5 per pair.  I bought one pair for him to wear that year and then also bought another pair in the next size up that he used the following year.  Since he is so rough on shoes, he went thru that pair and we had to get him another pair a few months ago to get him thru the school year.  Since that pair is still in pretty good shape, I did a bleach load of all the sneakers tonight and will see how much longer those will last him.

So, all of that said, after hearing a rumour online about sneaker sales at Walmart, I ventured out with the kiddos to see what deals we could find!  We lucked out! I ended up spending $48  for a pair of leggings and two bras for Shelby as well as four pairs of sneakers ( two pairs of Danskin sneakers for Shelby and a pair of Starter sneakers and also a pair of Iron Man sneakers for Ben).  YES!  What a blessing!  $48 is less than most places want for just one pair of sneakers!

Even though my kiddos are a few years apart, Shelby and Ben usually wear the same sock size.  Since they both like the white, low cut socks, I just buy one large pack of socks for them to share.  This saves a few dollars too and every bit counts when it’s back to school time!

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Here it is….. the simplest way I know to save on toilet paper.  With a houshold full of girls, it saved me a lot of money!  Simply squish the roll of toilet paper before putting it on the spindle.  Yep.  That’s it.  Instead of free-flowing toilet paper, your toilet paper rolls with now go thunk, thunk, thunk when you pull some off and it WILL cause you to use less. 

If I am visiting at someones home and use their restroom, chances are good that while I am in there I will squish their roll of toilet paper out of habit ;-)   If there is already an un-squished roll on the spindle, you can squish it while it is still on the spindle.  If you can’t remember to squish them before you put a new one on the spindle, just squish all of the rolls when you bring the toilet paper home from the store.  Then no matter who puts a new roll on, it is all ready to go!

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Today Ben had a dentist appointment for his regular checkup.  Since we lost our insurance recently, I called ahead to find out how much this visit would be.  $135.  Okay.  Budgeted that in for the month, but since this is also back to school month and a month where we have three family birthdays, things were going to be really tight!  So, when we got there, I asked the hygenist if we could please not do xrays this time (even though they were due) and just do them next time.  She looked at his chart and since his teeth are always in great condition she said that would be fine.  Money saved for asking this one simple question ……….. $30!

After his dental appointment, I had the rare chance to do all of my grocery shopping at 4 different stores, in one straight shot.  Literally, all four stores I wanted to go to were within the same 5 miles on the same road!  So, since opportunity presented itself I took advantage of it.  Here is how things turned out:

We went to Publix, CVS, Winn Dixie and Dollar General Market (not the regular Dollar General, but something more like a “superstore” version of Dollar General). 

Grand Total (before coupons, sales and discounts):  $93.54

Total after coupons, sales and discounts:  $42.45

Total savings:  $51.09

Here is what we got:

4 boxes of Fruity Pebbles (that have $4 in coupons in each box)

2 bottles of Sunny D

1 gallon of T G Lee Milk

3 dozen eggs (2, 18 count packs)

1 loaf of Natures Own bread

1 package of hot dog buns

2 pounds of ground chuck

2 jars of Classico alfredo sauce

1 can diced tomatoes

4 jars of Skippy peanut butter

1 jar parmesean cheese

1 bottle pancake syrup

4 packages of Yakisoba japanese noodles

2 boxes of  Betty Crocker cake mix

2 boxes Kraft mac & cheese

1 package cream cheese

9 pounds of chicken legs

3 pounds of chicken tenders (boneless skinless)

Most of the chicken will be used for a birthday party I am hosting on the 14th.  When I get deals like these, it really is a combo of sales & coupons & reward card discounts.  I am a HUGE fan of clipping my coupons.  I know a lot of couponing sites out there tell you to just file your booklets of coupons and you just clip them as you need them. If you do that, you are relying on other people to know what coupons you have.  If you clip and file all your coupons, you ALWAYS know which coupons you have on hand and you can take advantage of all the opportunities available to you.

I love sharing that it is possible to get GREAT grocery deals, even here in Florida where we don’t have double coupons (BOOOOOOOO!).  At the same time, I don’t want to bore anyone with too many details.  If any readers out there want me to post detailed ways I get these deals, just let me know by commenting on this post and I will do that for you!  Also, if you want me to post all the shopping trips I do (one grocery trip and one drugstore trip each week, usually) then let me know that too!

Some people might think that this takes a lot of time.  I do spend time each week (usually Sunday and Wednesday) going over the flyers, clipping and filing my coupons and pulling the old ones out.  Most of the time I watch shows I have recorded or movies on the Netflix streaming.  I usually spend a few hours (maybe 5 or so????? at the most).  I usually do two shopping trips per week (CVS and Walgreens on Sunday then the grocery stores on Thursday or Friday) but they take one hour for each trip.  I don’t spend 40 hours clipping and then 6 hours in the stores or anything like that!  I look at it this way, if I save $100 per week (not hard to do between the drug store sales and the grocery sales) and I spend a total of 7 hours (5 clipping/filing  plus the 2 shopping) then I made almost $15 per hour TAX FREE for my efforts ($100 saved divided by 7 hours).  That is money I don’t have to spend and I get all the things my family needs!  That is a pretty good deal to me!

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We don’t have a dishwasher.  In all honesty, the times I have had a dishwasher we just never used it enough to justify even having it.  I can’t understand how it is useful when you have to rinse the dishes off anyhow.  So, I have pretty much always done dishes by hand.

Some people prefer to wash the dishes as they dirty.  Simply putting soap on the sponge and washing them a few at a time.  While it does get the dishes clean, it tends to use too much water and soap. 

When I was a kid, one of my chores was to do the dishes after dinner every night.  The procedure was as follows (we had a sink with two sides) :  fill one side of the sink with hot soapy water (use the drain plug) and put the dishes in the water to soak for just a few minutes.  Wash them and put them into the empty side of the sink.  Then rinse them all off and put them in the dish drain or on a towel to dry.  This is still how I prefer to do dishes to this day.

The beauty of this system is that if I run the sink of soapy water in the morning, the dishes can just be added to the water as the day goes on and I do one big load of dishes after dinner.  It takes very little time. 

Aside from saving on water and soap, this also helps keep my hands in good condition (I have eczema flareups on my hands and they hurt really bad if I am not careful).  Also, a sink full of soapy water with the dishes under the bubbles looks a lot better than a sink full of dirty dishes with food stuck on them!

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