Hello everyone!  Sorry I haven’t been posting very much but I have been super busy getting my presentation ready for the 15th Annual Family Cafe  (which started today)!

A big THANK YOU to everyone who attended my presentation!  As promised, here is all the information I covered in my presentation, with active links to websites (just click on the highlighted text to get to the websites).

If you are looking for something I talked about and it’s not on here, please feel free to email me by using the link under my “About Me” section on the right side of this page.

FINE TUNING YOUR EXPENSES:

FIND MORE RESOURCES:

FUN FOR LESS:

  • How to get FREE movie tickets
  • Summer movie camps:  Cinemark and Regal
  • Cheap Movie Night:  Redbox  *  Netflix  *  Hulu Plus ** NOTE: Hulu is offering 2 FREE WEEKS!
  • Free Bowling & $25 bowling pass for adults:  Kids Bowl Free
  • National Parks pass for $10:  Access Pass
  • Websites to get good deals on places to go and things to do:  Living Social  *  Groupon  *  Half Off Depot  *  Ever Save
  • Great website to check for discounts on eating out:  Eat Drink Deals
  • Free events at:  Lowes  *  Home Depot (click on the “kids” tab at the top)  *  Lakeshore Learning  *  Michaels (kids club is $2 * family craft time is free)
  • Things to do at Down Town Disney:  Free Ghiradelli chocolate samples * play with the bricks at Lego and take your picture with the Lego Dragon * Go into the Trex cafe to see the Dinosaurs, then dig up some bones in the pit * Take the boat ride across the lake * get wet at the splash pad * build some awesome Mr & Mrs Potato Heads over at Once Upon a Toy * watch the fireworks
  • Legos :  Free magazine subscription and Free lego builds on the first Tuesday of every month (see local Lego store for details)
  • Have people do fun or boring stuff for you for $5 (had a Batman video done for Ben here): Fiverr
  • Amazon Music cd’s that you have purchased in the past may be available on MP3 for you for FREE on the Amazon website. Go to Amazon.com and log in.  Click on “Your Account” on the right side of page * Click onto “Cloud Player” * once the Cloud Player page loads, there should be a pop up saying how much of the music you purchased is available to “auto rip” to your cloud player as an MP3 format
  • Sell your unused gift cards on :  Cardpool or Ebay
  • Find a Freecycle group near you over at Yahoo Groups
  • Check over at Craigslist for deals
  • Check over at Freecycle for free stuff
  • Video Games:  find them for cheap on half.com or ebay.com  *  be sure to check how much they are new on Amazon.com before buying them used * also, go to your local Gamestop store and ask for a printout of the games that they have priced at under $5

FINALLY PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER:

  •  Just Between Friends consignment sales are a great place to sell your gently used items and get great deals on stuff you need and also fun stuff for the kids!
  • Find great DIY information on just about anything over at: Pinterest  and Instructables
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Today I was sitting here at the computer working on some things that totally do NOT motivate me.  I mean I was just about to cry out of frustration!  All I could think was, I don’t want to work on this anymore.  Then it occurred to me. I DON”T HAVE TO!  No one is making me work on those projects.  It is only out of some sort of warped sense of personal obligation that I was forcing myself to work on the project to begin with (sort of like when I start a book and it is terrible but I make myself read it anyhow…. but that’s a topic for another post).

Yep, its true! Realizing this helped me figure out that you don’t  HAVE to do a lot of things.  No one can make you.  You have free will.  I find this liberating and considering how obstinate I can be at times, it’s kind of amazing that I just figured this out.

So, look at your To-Do list for the day (if you missed my brilliant post on to-do lists and sharpie markers check it out now at Sharpie Love).  Do you really have to do all of it?  How much of it brings you joy?  How much of it can you cross off and let it go?  Go on, get your Sharpie out and get to it!

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One of my favorite quotes, from the movie “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”:

“For what it’s worth, it’s never too late, or too early, to be whoever you want to be.  There’s no time limit.  Start whenever you want.  You can change or stay the same.  There are no rules to this thing.  We can make the best or the worst of it.  I hope you make the best of it.  I hope you see things that startle you.  I hope you feel things you never felt before.  I hope you meet people with a different point of view.  I hope you live a life you’re proud of.  And, if you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.”

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Do you fill out those store surveys that seem to be on every store receipt these days?  I do!  You never know when you might win!  Most of the prizes are pretty big ($1,000 or so) and that would be a welcome addition to my income!

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After having four kiddos, I know most of the “tricks of the trade” for getting good deals on clothing for kids.  The number one, hands down, cheapest method of purchasing kids clothes is to find thrift stores that have “stuff a bag” deals  (of course getting free hand-me-downs is cheaper, but I am talking just about purchasing clothing).

I love those places!  Ususally they are run by charities or churches that just don’t have the manpower to handle all the clothing donations so they just dump them in a bin or on a table and let YOU sort thru it!  This is a GREAT way to find some wonderful deals!

I have gotten lots of tee shirts for Ben this way (Iron Man, Batman, Spiderman, etc)!  He loves them all!  I have found clothing for myself and my daughters this way too. 

Usually I can fit about 12 items into one bag.  My favorite place that does this charges $3 per bag, so I am essentially paying about 25 cents per item of clothing.  Don’t forget that this is a good way to find sewing notions too! You can remove and reuse zippers, buttons, and if the clothing item is large enough you might even be able to reuse the cloth!

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I have been a member of Vocal point for a few months now and it is definitely worth the effort to sign up.  It is FREE!  In the past month I have gotten free trash bags (the Hefty ones with Frebreeze scents), a free bag of the new marshmallows made specifically for S’mores, a free coupon to try the new Bounce dryer bar, free coupon for Fresh Express Salads and a few other goodies!

I HIGHLY suggest you register today because the rumor mill is saying there will be a GREAT NEW offering on Tuesday!

You can register here:

 www.vocalpoint.com/registration/screener.aspx

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Pretty lazy Friday around here – it is just too hot to do too much these days!  So after cleaning up around the house, the kiddos and I ventured out to run errands. First stop was Blockbuster so they could swap out their movies (for free!) from our Club Wannawatchamovie memberships.  If you missed my post on that, you can read it here:  http://occupiedlife.com/2011/07/18/summer-school/

Then we stopped at Winn Dixie where I scored 4 boxes of Snackwell cereal bars (2 boxes of Peanut Butter and two boxes of Chocolate) and two boxes of family sized Pillsbury brownie mix.  Before coupons & deals the total was :  $17.94!  After deals, coupons, etc.  my total spent is 0.99!  YEAH!  Ninety nine cents!  How did that happen….. here is what I did (I used two transactions for this):

Transaction #1    

bought two boxes brownie mix (on sale bogo and had a .40 cents off coupon)

bought two boxes Snackwell bars (on sale for $2 each and also had a .75 cents off coupon for each one)

total before coupons and sale prices: 11.36 * after coupons and sale prices I paid $4.49 out of pocket AND I got a $3 catalina coupon back for my next shopping trip

Transaction #2

bought two more boxes Snackwell bars (on sale for $2 each and also had a .75 cents off coupon for each one)

total before coupons and sale prices:  $6.58 * total after coupons and sale prices I paid $2.50 AND I got another $3 catalina coupon

Total out of pocket for both orders was $6.99 AND I got the $6 in catalinas for the next time I am at Winn Dixie.  I did not try to use the catalina coupons today because sometimes if you use a like coupon for your order and those items are in the order, you will NOT get another coupon.  Not sure if I explained that clearly or not but basically you usually cannot “roll” catalina coupons because they won’t print other ones for you.

Winn Dixie also has the new Cocoa Puffs Brownie Crunch cereal on sale for $2 each box and a few weeks ago there were .75 cents off one box coupons that came out in the newspaper.  I got four boxes a few days ago for $1.25 each but just thought I’d put that in here so you can snag that deal too if you venture over there.

After that excitement 😀  we headed over to Cold Stone Creamery to use a $20 gift certificate that I got a few months ago over on LivingSocial.com   I paid $10 for the $20 gift certificate and so all four of us got HUGE portions of ice cream with one mix in each!  Total there was -0.04 cents!  LOL!  Not kidding, the total was NEGATIVE 4 cents!  I just let them keep the four cents.

Then we headed home to settle down in ice cream bliss while some homemade pizza dough is getting ready in the bread machine for dinner and movie night later today.  Since I had all the ingredients on hand (flour, yeast, etc) and I use leftover spaghetti sauce for pizza sauce, the only real cost to me for making a pizza is the cheese which I try to get on sale for $1.50 or less per 8 oz bag. Even cheaper than the $5 pizza deals at the chain pizza places!

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Lately a strange thing is happening at some nation-wide store chains….. it’s happened a few times and it is driving me crazy!

I go over the store sales ad (yes, it is the right one for my area).  I make a list. I pull my coupons.  I organize my trip.  I go to the store, list, coupons and store card in hand.  I get my cart.  I go in the store.  Guess what?  The items that are IN the flyer, ON sale, have NO chance of being in the store.  I am not talking about a store running out of an item.  I am talking about them NEVER having the item! 

Case in point:  went to CVS to buy the Schick deal they have going (spend $20 on certain Schick items and get $10 extra care bucks).  I am going to buy two Hydro Razors (in the ad, on sale, included in the deal) and two Skintimate shaving creams (also in the ad, on sale, included in the deal).  I tell the manager that I would like to get two of the razors (they are locked up on the rack).  She says “We don’t have any and we aren’t getting any in.  There are no more for distribution.”  WHAT?!?!?!?!?!?

WHY would a national drug store advertise a product that NONE of the stores will be able to get or have in stock for the sale?  This is happening more and more often.  Several times in the past few months in different stores.  I understand there are rainchecks, but this was a whole deal with extra care bucks and coupons involved.  A raincheck is just not feasable.  Won’t work. 

All I am asking is for stores not to advertise items on sale that they won’t have.  Is that really too much to ask?

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Recently I have been talking to a lot of people about the amount of money spent on groceries and household items.  This topic is really interesting to me because I am an avid couponer. 

For our household of four, I budget $50 per week for groceries and other household stuff (paper towels, toilet paper, toothpaste, laundry detergent, etc).  To me that is a reasonable amount.  Easily do-able.  Sure more money would be nice, but right now that’s what my budget allows.

When we are at the store and my kiddos ask for something that is not on the list or not in the budget, I explain to them that we spend less per month at the store than some people spend in a week.  Shelby gets a real kick out of seeing the before and after coupon totals.  I really enjoy that part too!  Usually they are so excited about whatever snack items were on sale that week that they don’t miss what we did not buy!

 

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