Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Deal of the Week

No special deals this week - we are staying out of the stores since we don't need anything. Instead, I'd like to share a great, EASY way to earn gift cards - like Starbucks, etc.

Instead of using Google, Yahoo, etc. to do my searches, I use a site called Swagbucks. Everytime you do a search you can earn "Swagbucks" - they come up randomly but frequently enough that's it's easy to get to free giftcards quickly.

Give it a try!

Search & Win

Monday, December 29, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

Well, still another holiday week, but a little bit back to normal:

Monday - leftovers - we have a TON!
Tuesday - Spaghetti with chicken and olives; salad
Wednesday - taking cheese and crackers to a friend's for a party
Thursday - Mexican - burritos with all the fixings
Friday - out of town - mini vacation, so we'll eat out
Saturday - still out of town
Sunday - Tempting Thai Chicken (Desperation Dinners cookbook - one of my favorites!)

No need to hit the grocery this week, but I'm sure the following week will be a big stock up trip!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Deal of the week

As an update, I'll be posting sporadically for the next few weeks. We are on "holiday" and taking some time off our normal schedules. After the first week of January, things should be back to normal.

Well the best deal was the CVS ECB's Sunday and Monday, but those are over now . . .

So, second best:


I typically don't shop at Kohl's, but a good friend of mine gave me her 30% off coupon. I did great - I picked up some birthday presents for upcoming birthday's, a few things for my husband and some socks and tights for me. A good tip for Kohl's is that they combine coupons and sales. So, I was able to use their 30% off coupon, on top of the sale prices. Plus, the promo they had going on gave me a $10 off $10 purchase to use next week - I ended up with several of those by carefully combining purchases!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Frugal Fridays

Okay, the Chicken Florentine was WONDERFUL!!!! My husband even told me how much he liked the spinach (which he normally isn't a huge fan of).

Today my daughter doesn't have school, so I'm taking the day off and we are going to exercise, run some errands and then go to a movie. I love going to the movies, but boy can they be expensive. So, a few tips to make it more reasonable:

1. Matinee - cuts your cost by a LOT
2. Entertainment book or AAA coupons/ advance tickets - look at the bar at the top of my blog for a link to purchase the Entertainment book.
3. Sign up for the theatre frequent movie programs - they all have them
4. Sign up for the theatre newsletters

So, for example, today we are going to see Bolt. I am a member of the movie program with Goodrich (the theatre we are hitting today). We are going to the matinee, but even if we weren't I could get discounted tickets by showing my card. I also signed up for their newsletter and they have TERRIFIC coupons each week with popcorn deals. Today I can get a small drink and popcorn for $2.75 with my coupon. So our total outing will be $12.75 for the movie, popcorn and a drink to share. Not bad for a special girls day treat!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Yummy dish

Okay, the Pasta with Sausage that I made for dinner last night was fantastic!!! Plus it's the perfect dish in that you can keep all the ingredients on hand and when you need a quick meal you are ready to go.

I followed the recipe in the book with a few adjustments:

I didn't feel like opening a whole bottle of wine for 1/2 cup so I omitted it and added a scoopful of the pasta water. I also didn't have any frozen artichokes, but I did have a bottle of marinated ones in the pantry, so I used that - it gave the dish a nice flavor. I used Rigatoni because that's what I had on hand, and I used dried herbs. Finally, I used a bag of the sun dried tomatoes I had made and frozen this summer from our garden excess, so they weren't packed in oil - YUM!!! Next year I'll be planting even more!

Can't wait to try to Spinach Chicken dish tonight!


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Deal of the week!

My favorite deal this week involves chocolate! Plus it's perfect to stock up on and give away to teachers, friends, etc.


Turtles are on sale for 99 cents using the coupon in the ad. The Smartsource ad from a few weeks ago (mid November) has a coupon for $1.50 off Turtles. So, free candy!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

I didn't really go to the grocery last week (or even the week before), so we are bare on things like fresh fruits and veggies. So, this week I'm going to be stocking up on the fresh stuff. I decided to pick a cookbook I haven't used lately and plan my menus from it - so half of this week's dinners are from "Giada's Family Dinners" - the rest are just my standard stuff.

Monday - carryout using a gift card
Tuesday - Beef stew
Wednesday - Penne with Sausage p.147
Thursday - Chicken Florentine p.87
Friday - stuffed shells (having friends over)
Saturday - leftovers
Sunday - Rigatoni w/ steak p.140

A lot more meat this week also since we have half a cow in our freezer!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Christmas joy!

I love Christmas time - everything about it from the sights to the smells! This year, I finished my shopping (and wrapping early) and plan on spending the month of December enjoying my family and this special time of year. As I've put some thought into it, I realized there is a lot I can do without spending much of anything. Some of what is on our agenda:

1. Baking Christmas cookies
2. Looking at the Christmas lights
3. My daughter's Christmas program
4. My "book" Advent calendar - I wrapped up (using scraps of wrapping paper), all of our Christmas books that I had packed away with the decorations. We had well over 25. Each day, my daughter opens one and we read it together.
5. A few neighborhood Christmas parties
6. Christmas Eve with the Grandparents
7. Decorating the house
8. Delivering cookies and homemade cocoa (or spiced Chai) to our friends
9. Baking some special goodies for my Grandparents
10. Church services filled with Christmas music!
11. Listening to Christmas music in the car
12. Popcorn and Christmas shows before bed
13. Some fun Christmas crafts with the kids
14. Christmas at the Zoo and a day at the Children's Museum (using our memberships)

So, aside from a bit of money for ingredients and maybe a Starbuck's splurge during our Christmas looking at lights drive, I don't anticipate spending anything at all this month!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

November recap

Time for my November recap! You'd think that since November was all about me, it would have been easy to accomplish all my goals - but you know, how life gets in the way . . .

1. Select and start a new personal improvement book. I found some I really like and have been working through (although not each day), The Total Mom Makeover by Hannah Keeley. I do think I'll try to pick a new book every month or so next year.

2. Take some time each week to relax. I did a little better in November than usual, I did go to the coffee shop once to just sit and read blogs, and I did a little shopping all by myself! I also went to the movies with a girlfriend one night - something I love to do and NEVER do.

3. Get up earlier. Much better at this than in previous months. I've been going to bed at a reasonable time and if I get up earlier the day goes so much better! I'm still not up before the kids, but my little guy is such an early riser (and light sleeper!)

4. Make my office more of a "haven". No real progress - maybe January?

5. Take better care of myself - consistent work outs, watching what I eat, etc. Much better job - I've worked out more days than I didn't and I've been doing less snacking - I haven't "seen" the difference, but for the holidays, maintenance is good enough for me!

All in all, a productive month. December's focus is Christmas!!! More about that one tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Deal of the week

Tough week for me dealwise - I did so well on Black Friday and I don't need to go to the grocery so I'm actually (big gasp here!) kinda shopped out . . .

So, this week, my deal is different:

When you don't need anything, don't shop. Yes, I probably could have gotten a bunch of free or nearly free stuff, but we all need a break sometimes and this week is my break. Plus, I didn't spend a dime! So, that is a bit of a deal right there!

We have been having fun each night this week decorating the house for Christmas - I'm pulling out one box at a time to keep the clutter down and the interest high for the kids. We've also been indulging in the great Christmas shows ABC has on each night! Last night was my favorite "Santa Claus is Coming to Town." Finally, this year I got my act together and wrapped up all our Christmas books (ones we already own) - each day my daughter gets to open one and we read it. It's only day three, and she is onto the routine - first thing she said this morning was "I get to open a new book today!"

Fun stuff around the house!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

Well, we have a whole cow coming to us later this week, so I'm working out of the freezer trying to make room for the meat! Any big items have to go!!!!

Monday - pan fried spinach ravioli, garlic bread
Tuesday - Turkey pot pie (using up the rest of the T-day leftovers!)
Wednesday - date night (mystery shop)
Thursday - ham, baked apples, fried green tomatoes
Friday - Daughter's Christmas program, so crock pot meal afterwards
Saturday - Pasta with roasted cauliflower and ham
Sunday - Shrimp with pesto pasta

Lunches will be leftovers, ham salad, soup
Breakfasts will be smoothies, eggs, cereal, pancakes and waffles
Snacks will be veggies & dip, fruit, homemade banana bread bites and peppermint chocolate cookies

The best is that all I have to buy from the grocery this week is milk, eggs, yogurt and champagne and orange juice! I'm having friends over for a cookie exchange Saturday morning and we'll be having mimosas!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Shopping fun!

Wow! We spent the day power shopping! Up at 5:00 and home 8:30 at night! We did take a little break mid afternoon to wrap presents and rest, but then went back out. We had a lot of fun - got some fantastic deals and I am FINISHED Christmas shopping. Tomorrow I plan on wrapping presents and cleaning the house!

Today felt like a Saturday all day which will make tomorrow a wonderful treat! I love long weekends.

Hope everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving!

BTW, on the Target website, there are $1.00 off broccoli and cauliflower coupons - our SuperTarget has it on sale for $1.33, so $.33 for veggies! My husband teased me that I was the only one at Target buying broccoli at 6:00 am today!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Deal of the week!

Walgreen's was my favorite stop this week!

Hunts Tomato Sauce - 29 cents a can with the weekly ad, combine with the $.40/2 coupon from 9/21 and it's 9 cents a can. I had three coupons, so I purchased 6 cans. That will last us for quite a while!

Sure is on sale for $1.99, with the coupon in the EasySaver Catalog, it was
$.49, and I had a $1.50 coupon, so that one was a positive $.49!

Monday, November 24, 2008



Menu Plan Monday

I decided to try mostly new recipes this week from the latest Rachael Ray Magazine:

Monday - Salmon, salad, cresent rolls
Tuesday - Greek Wedding Soup
Wednesday - Pan Fried Spinach Ravioli
Thursday - Thanksgiving at Grandma's
Friday - Turkey roll ups
Saturday - Spicy Tuna Melts
Sunday - Thanksgiving at our house

I actually just got back from Meijer and they had so many good deals I easily have enough groceries for next week too! So, I may try to stop shopping for a few weeks (aside from milk, eggs and produce) and see what I can create from my overstuffed pantry.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Hallmark Greeting Card Contest

Doesn't this look like fun? I'm entering for sure!


Deal of the week!

Hmm, I'm just a day off this week! Not any super deals this week.


Hershey bars are 39 cents this week, and I had a ton of B1G1 free special dark candy bars. So, I stocked up - they make good Smores.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Menu Plan Monday - on Tuesday . . .

A day behind, but here goes:

Monday - leftovers from the birthday party
Tuesday - spaghetti & meatballs for the kids, mystery shop date night
Wednesday - hamburgers on the grill, mac & cheese, broccoli
Thursday - chicken fried rice (never made it last week!)
Friday - homemade pizza - deep dish this week I think
Saturday - chicken pot pie
Sunday - charity event at local mall

I actually have everything on hand, so I just need to buy milk later in the week and maybe some fresh fruit. Of course I'll also pick up any deals that are out there if they are good enough!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Friday, November 14, 2008

Free Birthday Cards

Along with the birthday theme, I have been able to eliminate spending money on Birthday cards. Now that I have kids, I let them color or draw a picture and write their name on it. Voila! Instant card. I think it also makes the gift giving seem more meaningful to my children - they are involved in the process.

Another benefit from saving money is that so often cards just get thrown away - even if the artwork gets thrown away, at least it isn't like just throwing away money. Of course the grandparents, Aunts and Uncles like to keep the pictures!

So next time you have a gift to deliver or a card to mail, set your child down with some paper and crayons and let them create the perfect card!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Save money on Birthday's

My little guy's birthday is Saturday - he'll be TWO!!! Hard to believe. Between him and my daughter, I've done quite a few birthday's already and I've never spent more than $25.

For my son, since he's so small still, it'll just be family and close friends. I'll serve a simple lunch that I make from ingredients I have on hand (burgers on the grill, potato salad, crackers and a cheese dip). I'll make the cake myself using a cake mold I bought at a garage sale for 50 cents, and I'll decorate the house with items I purchased at the Party Store in one of their clearance sections. For my son we are doing a Pooh theme and I was able to buy hats, plates, napkins, crepe paper and even a centerpiece for $5 total.

When I do goody bag's for my daughter's parties, I rarely spend more than $1 per bag. In the basement I have a box for "party supplies." Whenever I find a great goody bag item or party decoration on clearance, I stick it in there. This is also the box I raid for school parties or other times I need stickers or other small gifts.

Another thing I do to make birthday's special is decorate the kid's doorways while they sleep. I string crepe paper from the doorway and put a small wrapped present on the floor by their door. The cost is minimal and it is exciting for them to wake up to! We also have a family dinner on the actual day of the birthday with cupcakes for dessert.

I'm sure it'll be harder to keep the parties at a reasonable cost as the kids get older and want their parties to be at Chuck E Cheeses, etc. like their friends, but for now, my kids have just as much fun at their "homemade" parties and I have more fun planning them!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I've been tagged!

Note: sorry about the lack of actual links - for some reason Blogger won't let me create links today. I've tried numerous times and finally decided to just post this - I'll try to go back and correct later!!!!

Jaycie from Coupon Geek tagged me - make sure and check out her blog(s) - they are a lot of fun and full of great ideas!


These are the rules for tagging...
1) Link back to the person who tagged you and share the rules on your blog
2) Share 7 facts about yourself
3) Tag seven people and list their links in your post
4) Tell those 7 people by commenting on their blog!

It is hard to come up with seven things, but here I go:

1. I am older than most of my friends - I used to always be the youngest, but my husband and I waited so long to have kids that the tides have turned - these days my friends are much younger!

2. My husband and I have been married for 15 years - Yes, I AM OLD!

3. I love to save money, mystery shop, find good deals, etc. but I really don't have to - financially we are in fine shape. I just think it's being smart and I like the thrill!

4. I talk a lot about eating well and exercising in my blog, but until recently it's never been an issue for me! I used to be a skinny little 100 lbs. I'm not much more than that now, so I'm definitely focused more on being healthy for my kids than losing a ton of weight.

5. I would be a terrific SAHM - I love being with my kids, cooking, taking care of my home, etc. But next best thing I get to work from home. So, with the help of the Grandma's I get to work full time but be home all day and enjoy snippets of time with my kiddos during normal business hours.

6. As you know, I love to travel, and the most interesting places I've been are Thailand, India and the Philippines. These days I prefer the good old USA though!

7. I am working on writing a book! I'm not sure if I'll make it into an e-book or try the traditional route, but I'm very excited about it!

Here are the blogs I'm tagging!


Notice there are only three? These are three I enjoy regularly and as I'm trying to limit my time on the computer these days, I deleted most of my bookmarks! If you are one of these ladies and have been tagged before, please feel free to ignore this!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Deal of the week!

A couple of GREAT ones this week:

Target - on the coupon generator is $1 off Archer Farms Coffee. Our SuperTarget has the sample packs for $1.06, so 6 cents per package. I actually tried this coffee the last time they had this coupon out and discovered I really like it. I just ran out a few weeks ago, so I'll be stocking back up. I usually buy 8 at a time so I don't clear the shelves.


Walgreens -

I purchased the following for $4.17:
4 - 15 oz. cans Libby Pumpkin
2 - Betty Crocker frosting
2 - Progresso Soups
2 - Coffeemate liquid creamers
2 - clearance halloween candies (pumpkins and caramels)

I used two $1/2 Libby Pumpkin coupons, 2 - $.55/1 BC Frosting coupons, 2 - $1.10/1 Progresso Soup coupons and 2 - $1/1 Coffeemate coupons. The coffeemate coupons came from the coffeemate website, the frosting coupons were from my stash (so must have been a recent insert) and the Libby and Progresso coupons were printed off of a link from http://www.moneysavingmom.com (THANKS!) I combined these with the Walgreen's coupons in the ads for some amazing savings!

Menu Plan Monday

Yeah, back to a normal week!

Monday - spinach fritatta, biscuits with honey
Tuesday - Mystery shop - Date night!
Wednesday - Corned beef, cabbage, potatoes, rye bread
Thursday - chicken fried rice (going to use brown rice for a change)
Friday - Homemade pizza
Saturday - Pork tenderloin with spinach fritters
Sunday - Chicken pot pie, salad

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Travel Writing

One of my goals in October was to learn more about Travel Writing. Well, along with taking a class online, I submitted an article to Associated Content. I know it's very easy to get published there, but still, it was exciting to have an article accepted and even get paid a few dollars for it!

Here's the link:

Family Fun in Fort Wayne!

November Focus

My birthday is in November, so I thought this month I would focus on me. This one will be a fun one for me (obviously) and will hopefully encourage some balance in my life. That is something that has really been missing since I started my current project at work back in July. Luckily, the project ends this week, so I can jump in feet first next week.

My goals:

1. Select and start a new personal improvement book. I've been writing down tons of titles over the last few months, so I'm going to head to the library this weekend and pick one out. I love these and think you can really glean some good information but it can also be overwhelming if you try to read/ implement too many at once. This will be my month to try one out and if I like it, I may continue to "do" a few a year - one at a time of course!

2. Take some time each week to relax. I'm terrible at this one - if I have free time I find something that needs done. So, each week I'm scheduling some "me" time in my planner - even 1/2 hour enjoying a coffee and a magazine will help improve my frame of mind.

3. Get up earlier. I've been working so many late nights that I haven't been good at this. Getting up late throws the whole day off - we start out rushing and never slow down.

4. Make my office more of a "haven". I started this back in September with my new chair, and by cleaning it out, but it's still such a "drop zone." Since I spend so much time there, I'd really like to organize and make it an enjoyable place to be.

5. Take better care of myself - consistent work outs, watching what I eat, etc. In fact, thanks to Halloween last week our household is overrun with candy, so my husband and I plan on cleaning out the pantry of junk this weekend one night after the kids go to bed. We'll freeze most of the chocolate, put away a small bowl for "treats" and send the rest to school for the teacher's candy jar.

I'll try to post updates as the month goes along.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Deal of the Week!

Well, traveling again (last week on this project - hooray!!!), so I haven't had time to scope out the deals. I do have one for today only:


Originally the promotion was for anyone who told them they voted, but apparently it's illegal to "coerce" someone to vote, so Starbucks decided to give free coffee to everyone! Check your store to make sure they are participating. It's supposed to be for a tall regular coffee, but when I ordered my coffee, they gave me a Grande. My husband actually received a Venti!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Free book!

This is a great freebie - check it out!


Sunday, November 2, 2008

October Goals Re-cap

Well, time for my accountability! Not to make excuses but I did have to go on 3 business trips this month, so my schedule was very off . . . that being said, I didn't do too bad:

1. Take a travel writing class through continuing education. Completed - fun and easy online class.
2. Complete and submit three query letters. Completed but haven't submitted, however I did submit a travel article to Associated Press.

3. Investigate different blog ideas (i.e. weekly posts, series, revenue) Created "Deal of the Week" on Tuesdays, added a few ads to see what happens

4. Limit blogging (and reading blogs) to certain hours of the day - things were getting out of hand! Not so good at this, although I'm trying!!!!

5. Do another giveaway. Halloween Tee
6. Increase blog traffic. Seems like traffic has increased, and I did start up a traffic counter, so I can track it.

Although I didn't complete everything, midway through the month my vision did change. I decided that although I would continue to blog, I wasn't going to become a slave to it - so I'm not going to actively try to increase traffic, make money, etc. I'm just going to do it for fun, when I want to ramble or share deals I've found. Kudos to the wonderful bloggers who make this their full time job, but I've already got PLENTY to do and a good paying job, so taking on something else is just too much right now.

Next month's focus is on me! More on that to come.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Frugal Fridays

Yeah for Friday! Today's frugal tip is perfect for date night or a night out with friends: Check your local restaurants for happy hour.

Last Friday, the kids were at Grandma's so we went to dinner and a movie with friends. Instead of an expensive dinner, we went to the bar area (non-smoking!) of a very nice restaurant. All their appetizers were 1/2 price from 3 - 7 and they had drink specials also. One drink each plus six appetizers fed us all for less than the price of two of us to have dinner there!

Of course the movie was free from previous Walgreen deals I had done (AXE bodyspray and Mamma Mia Ponds). We didn't need expensive popcorn as we were full from the much healthier appetizers.

Listen to these yummy appetizers we enjoyed: sweet potato fries, chipolte blue cheese potato crisps, Kobe beef sliders, salmon scallop lollipops, fried calamari and buffalo wild wings.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Works for Me Wednesday

Just for fun, I thought I'd participate in Works for me Wednesday - it's a fun place to get all kinds of great tips!

My tip of the week is how I use bread crusts. My daughter won't eat bread crusts. I used to either eat them myself (didn't need those extra calories!) or throw them away. Now I just tear them up into pieces and put in a gallon sized freezer bag in the freezer. I also tear up heels and stick those in there. When it's time to make stuffing, I'm all set - no need to buy extra bread.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Yummy! Free chocolate!


Deal of the week!

A few good deals on restaurants and clothing this week!


Use the code TREATS at checkout (through 10/31) and receive 80% off your order. I was lucky enough to snag a $25 certificate at The Melting Pot for $2.00!!! It's off of two entrees and does include 18% tax, but it should still give us a relatively inexpensive night out. With my birthday coming up, I've just decided where I'd like to go to celebrate.

Taco Bell: Free tacos today from 2- 6 - we will all be heading over. Be sure to call your store before you go to make sure they are participating.

Ann Taylor Loft has an additional 40% off clearance. I've been looking for a few months now for a nice denim pencil skirt and I found one there for under $15. Score!!!

If you go to Restaurant.com or Ann Taylor Loft, be sure to purchase through eBates ( http://www.ebates.com/refer-a-friend/0809promo.htm?referrerid=XbrrVHIe6loxHLSmfRUsAw%3D%3D)
This will give you an extra % back on your purchases. Example - I just got $1 back from my two purchases of the day. It adds up! And if you register through the link above, you'll get $5 automatically!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

So glad to be home for a week! Only one more week of travel and them I'm switching jobs within the company! YEAH!!! This has been a hard few months - lots of late nights and weekend working and I'll be glad to be done with it before the holidays start.

This week, I'm back to menu planning, but we have ordered a cow, so I'm trying to clean out the freezer further. That will keep my shopping to a minimum.

Monday - chili, garlic bread (from freezer)

Tuesday - Free Taco's at Taco Bell!

Wednesday - Baked Potato Bar (with leftover chili)

Thursday - Chicken Fried Rice

Friday - Homemade pizza

Saturday - I'll be out of town (last weekend on the project) so hubby is on his own

Sunday - Taco Salad

Breakfasts will be pancakes, omelets/eggs, cereal, oatmeal and I think I'll make some pumpkin scones!
Lunches will be leftovers and sandwiches

Small grocery list so I think I'll stock up on baking items that are on sale right now!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Saving Money with Baked goods

I love to bake - muffins, breads, cookies, you name it, I love to make it. However, in my family with just my husband, myself and two small kids we often can't eat a whole batch of something before it tastes stale! So, after I've made something, I pull out what we will eat in the next few days and then freeze the rest. If it's bread, I slice it, freeze the slices on a cookie sheet and then combine into a ziplock - same for muffins, cookies, etc.

I've found that if I pull out a slice of something or a muffin as soon as I get up, by the time my coffee is made and I'm showered and dressed, it's thawed out enough to eat. This is a terrific time and money saver on days I have to leave the house early or just don't have time to make breakfast! It also allows me to bake whenever I want, and have a nice variety of baked goods on hand in the freezer.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

October goals

Well, I know October is almost over, but I HAVE been working on my focus of the month (http://savemoneybehappy.blogspot.com/2008/04/too-much-change.html). October I chose to concentrate on two things I enjoy and want to learn more about. The first is blogging and the second is travel writing.

Here are the goals I've been working on:

1. Take a travel writing class through continuing education.

2. Complete and submit three query letters.

3. Investigate different blog ideas (i.e. weekly posts, series, revenue)

4. Limit blogging (and reading blogs) to certain hours of the day - things were getting out of hand!

5. Do another giveaway.

6. Increase blog traffic.

It's been an interesting month to say the least - I'll be sure and post updates in early November on what I did and the results!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Deal of the Week

This was an easy one:

Free Starbucks! You can only print once, so I set my printer to print 2 out - one for me and one for my husband. According to the fine print, you do not have to be a B&N member to qualify for the free coffee, so I feel comfortable sharing. This will be our fun date night this week! Or it might be a family outing - one way or another, we'll use this one!

Free drink

Monday, October 20, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

Well, traveling for work - so not much point in Menu Planning . . . I stocked up on food my husband can easily fix, so they are on their own . . .

Friday, October 17, 2008

Free Giftcards!

Have you ever tried any of the search sites that award stuff? I've done a few of them, and my current favorite is Swagbucks:

"Get rewarded for searching the web with SWAG BUCKS! You'll never need another search engine!"

It's very easy to use and I use it multiple times a day - anytime I want to do a search, I open Swagbucks and use it instead of google, etc. It works great and I often get awarded "swagbucks". Once you've accumulated enough of them, you can trade them in for gift certificates - I'm almost up to a $5 Starbucks card after just a few weeks. Fun, easy and free!

I've also used Blingo and been very happy with it - if you are lucky and win, the person you signed up under wins also. Between my own wins and others I've won several movie tickets and several $5 gift certificates to Amazon.

Give these a try - if you start now I bet you can get a giftcard or two for free by Christmas!!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

We have a winner!!!

Thanks to everyone who entered - these giveaways are fun and I'll definitely do more in the future. I spent some time tonight after drawing the winner and checked out all the blogs of the participants and there are some interesting, talented people out there - you should be proud!!!

Check out the brand new blog of our Halloween Tee winner:


I'm traveling this week and quite busy with work, but I remembered to pick the winner - in fact, I'm in a hotel room, so the ice bucket got the coveted job of holding the names!

80% off Restaurants!!!

This deal is now over - but you can still purchase certificates - just not at 80% off. Hope some were lucky enough to get in!

Wow! Restaurant.com is offering 80% off until the end of today - great deal! This means you can pick up a $25 certificate for only $2!!!! Use the code: EIGHTY when you check out - I see a few inexpensive date nights in my future!


I just went to the site and purchased four certificates ($10 value each) for a total of $2.60. One was for my hometown (a restaurant we like to go to) and the other three were for various cities I know we'll be traveling to in the next few months. So, if you have a trip planned, you might want to search that location also - think ahead and you'll save quite a bit.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Deal of the Week!

Once again, two great deals this week!

Target - more free produce this week!

Baby carrots are on sale for $.99 - $1.09 a bag. Use the coupon at A full cup coupon_generator for $1.00 off a bag and get free or almost free carrots! I plan on buying a few extras to shred and freeze for winter baking.


Buy 3 Children's Robitussin at $3.99 each. Use 3 of the $2 off coupons at Robitussin.com

If you have any register rewards left over from last week's deal, this is a great time to use them. You'll get a $10 Register Reward after this transaction!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

I'm out of town most of the week on business, so easy week of menu planning - but it means my family will have to fend for themselves a few nights . . .

Monday - Pork tenderloins with apricot sauce (we had spaghetti instead of these last week)
Tuesday - out of town (leftovers)
Wednesday - out of town
Thursday - out of town
Friday - homemade pizza
Saturday - Tacos, beans, rice
Sunday - Ham & Bean soup, cornbread

Friday, October 10, 2008

Money Saving Tip!

It's Friday and I like to end the week with a frugal tip if I can!

We've been going to garage sales quite a bit recently and there are deals to be had. However, it's good to keep in mind that even though an item is "only" $1, if you don't need the item, it's still not a bargain. To keep myself from going crazy when prices are rock bottom, I even do my garage sale shopping with a list - actually the same list I keep for all my shopping!

Example: Right now, my list includes:

Air Popper (going to try to roast coffee beans!)
Khaki and/or Denim skirt for me
White Turtleneck for daughter

If I see something that's not on that list, then I don't buy it. Once in a while of course I'll see something that isn't on the list that I have an immediate use for, but even then, before I purchase, I'll ask myself the following questions: "Is it a need or a want?" "How often will I use it?" "Will I get tired of it and get rid of it in 3 years?"

This will help save money!!!

Entertainment Book

I've mentioned this several times in my previous posts and the 2009 book is on sale right now!

Entertainment Book 2009

We get this almost every year, and I highly recommend it. Sometimes we even order it before a vacation. If you aren't sure, just go to the website and you can preview the coupons in the book before you purchase - that way you can be sure you'll get your money's worth!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Halloween Giveaway

I had such fun with my last giveaway that I decided to do another! This one is for a very cute (tags still on it) 24month tee.

To enter, just leave a comment or send me an email with your favorite fall or Halloween tradition. Easy Peasy! I'll take comments until Wednesday, October 15th at 8:00 EST.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Deal of the Week

Two great deals this week!

Culver's - $1 Butter Burger is Today! We are going to go over there for dinner(it's 5 min from home) , pick up a burger for each of us and take them home to enjoy with my homemade oven fries:

Oven Fries:
Clean and slice several potatoes (don't need to peel)
Toss lightly with some olive oil
Place on foil on a cookie sheet
Sprinkle with McCormick's Montreal Steak Seasoning
Roast in the oven at 425 until crispy outside and soft inside

Walgreen's - this one is a moneymaker! The Glade Wisp Flameless Candles are on sale this week for $5.99. In one of the ads a few weeks ago (either last week or the week before) there is a $5/1 coupon. So, your out of pocket cost is $.99. But - when you purchase one you'll get a Register Reward for $3 off your next purchase. You have to buy them one at a time to get a Register Reward for each of them, but still it's a little under $2 profit on each! (taking into account tax).

If you have the $2/1 Glade scented candle holder coupons, they are on sale for $3.99, so with the coupon would be $1.99 - and there is a rebate in the EasySaver this month for $2 off (up to 2), so they end up free. I'm going to use my $3 RR from yesterday to buy one of these and add on toilet paper or a sponge to get my total over $3.00. That way I'll be getting the rebate merchandise with no out of pocket cost and getting something I need for almost free!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

An easy week of menu planning:

Monday - Olive Chicken with Couscous
Tuesday - $1 Butter Burgers at Culver's
Wednesday - Mystery Shop - Pizza
Thursday - Homemade Red Sauce with shrimp and spaghetti
Friday - Beef & Blue Cheese Wraps, salad
Saturday - Family Cookout
Sunday - Apricot Onion Pork Medallions, mashed potatoes (from October All You)

I need to pick up some deli meat for sandwiches, eggs and maybe some fruit (other than apples), but that's it for the week.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Frugal Friday - mini vacation

By now, if you've read any of my previous posts, it's probably obvious I love to travel. Sometimes we just don't have the time to take a long vacation. So, we take a mini vacation. Not only are they time savers, they are typically budget friendly also.

This week Wed/ Thurs was a family "vacation." We drove to a city one hour north of us (not much in gas), stayed in a hotel (with an indoor pool and free breakfast) using our points, used coupons for dining out and spent yesterday at the zoo. We did spend more than we could have - (because we can afford to and we felt like it), but we figured out we could have done the entire two day trip for around $60 - including gas, free lodging, the zoo, rides at the zoo, dinner Wed and lunch Thursday.

We all had so much fun and it felt so relaxing to "get away." This morning as I was getting my daughter ready for preschool she said "I don't want to go to school today." I said "why honey, I thought you liked school?" Her answer: "I do, but I want to go on more vacations instead."

I think she's gotten the travel bug too!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Ham & Bean Soup

Well, the weather has turned colder, so it's time to make my favorite fall food - Ham and Beans! I have Ham Casserole on the menu for Saturday night, but with the colder weather, I'm changing it to this favorite . . .

bits of leftover ham (a couple slices cut into bite sized pieces)
2 cans white beans
cup of water
1 diced carrot
1 diced stalk of celery
1 small onion, diced
1 - 2 bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste

Put into the crock pot and cook on low all day - serve with warm cornbread drizzled with honey!

Yum!!! Easy and frugal to boot!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Deal of the Week!

Some good deals out there this week! Here are my two favorites:


Free grapes! Grapes are on sale $1/lb and on the Target website you can print out a coupon for $1 off a lb. of grapes. Target Coupons I was also able to score 5 of the travel size Tides using the $1 off Tide coupon in the Sunday (9/28) P&G insert - the coupon said "off any size," so it worked fine. I love getting these for free as they are perfect for us to take on our vacations. If you are lucky and your Target stocks the single size Horizon milk (mine didn't) you should be able to use the $1 off coupon on the Target site and get it for free or nearly free.


Pert Plus is on sale $3.49/ bottle with $2.50/ bottle off in the EasySaver catalog. Plus a few weeks ago there were $1.50/1 coupons in the paper. So, I bought 2 (didn't want to clear the shelves) and after tax made a profit of $.53. I also purchase 3 Children's Tylonel (bubble gum flavor) at $4.99/ each. In the EasySaver catalog is a $1.50 off coupon, plus I used a $3/3 coupon from an ad from a few weeks ago. Final price was around $8 and out came two Register Rewards - one for $2 and one for $5. I did these deals together so my 53 cent profit would help offset the OOP cost of the Tylonel and my final bill was $7.99 with $7 back in RR.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

We went to the apple orchard yesterday - what fun! So, there will be plenty of apple dishes this week:

Monday - Pork kabobs w/pineapple (didn't get to this last week)
Tuesday - Dinner w/Grandparents
Wednesday - Biaggi's (mini family vacation)
Thursday - Macaroni Grill Kit Dinner (received free from Psst), so we'll try it!
Friday - Dinner at SIL's
Saturday - Ham casserole
Sunday - Homemade Calzones

Dessert - apple cobbler, mini caramel apples
Snacks - apple bread, apples

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Frugal Fridays!

Okay, well I'm a day late, but I do have a great frugal tip:


We have several great family oriented places nearby (zoo, living history museum, children's museum) that we really enjoy taking the kids to. All of them have year round activities as well as many special events. To save money, we buy an annual membership to all three!

Example: Last weekend the living history museum was having a "country fair." Admission for the four of us would have been $26. We hadn't purchased a membership to this place yet as we hadn't had to pay for the kids until this year. A year long membership is $60. And this place is ten minutes from our house! So, we purchased the membership, enjoyed the day (even got a free chocolate covered marshmallow treat for buying our pass) and didn't spend a dime more than the membership (I had packed our lunch ahead of time).

Next month they have a special Halloween event, so we'll be hitting that one for sure - another $26 saved. Then come November we would have to start paying for our son, so the one trip price will rise to $33. By our third trip we'll be well over the $60 we paid in savings.

With three memberships we can easily visit each place once or twice a month and as long as I pack our lunches we won't spend anything except the gas to get there!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Spending out of guilt

I've been thinking a bit this week about some of the reasons we spend money. Spending out of guilt was really pointed out to me as one I've done in the past . . .

For context, I'm away from home for a few days on a business trip. Do I feel guilty about being away from my family? Heck yeah! After lunch yesterday, my co-workers and I stopped by the gift shop on the way back to our meeting room because there were big signs posted 50% off. Both of them picked up t-shirts and other small items for their kids. I started to do the same. Then I thought about it - my kids don't need anything, and in fact, I'm trying to simplify our life not clutter it up with more stuff. So, I put the items back. Instead I picked up my phone and called them - I know they would rather talk to me than get stuff that I'm buying just because I feel guilty about being gone.

As I thought about it, I realize I often "justify" a purchase out of what is really guilt. My daughter and I are having a "girls" day and she asks for something - do I talk about why she doesn't need it or suggest she put it on her "Christmas list?" Sometimes. But sometimes I just buy it because "I don't get to spend time with her as often as I'd like to."

I'm not saying you should never buy your kids treats or toys, just think about why you are purchasing them - I'm certainly going to try to do so!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Deal of the Week!

I didn't run across anything spectacular this week, so I thought I'd share a fun freebie I enjoyed this week!

Herbal Essence Mani Pedi Offer

What fun this was! Earlier in the year I purchased two specially marked bottles of Herbal Essence (for about $4 after coupons). I entered the codes online and last week received a certificate for a free manicure or pedicure. (One caveat, it did take about six weeks to receive the certificate.) When I went to the online site there wasn't a salon listed near me, but there was a 1-800#. So, I called and within a few days had a pedicure scheduled at a posh day spa! I went Monday and enjoyed a fun little luxury for free! They even prepaid the tip.

Each household can do 2 of these offers this year, so I'm on the lookout for another good deal on Herbal Essence - another pedicure during the busy holiday season would be a terrific way to slow down and relax for a bit!

and the winner is . . .

Jaycie from Coupon Geek was the winner of my first giveaway. Thanks to everyone else for entering - I wish I could send something to everyone, but I'll do more giveaways in the future, so keep entering - your odds are good!

I really enjoy Jaycie's blog - she has terrific deals and I especially like her $2 outings with her little guy on Thursdays - check it out!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

What an easy week - I'm going to be out of town for a few nights, but my pantry is so well stocked I was able to spend a measly $12.32 at Kroger!

Monday - Olive chicken w/couscous
Tuesday - Leftover chicken pasta soup/ sandwiches
Wednesday - out to eat on Grandma!
Thursday -
Friday - Mystery shop (whole family!)
Saturday - grilled bacon cheeseburger calzones
Sunday - Pork and Pineapple kabobs

I made a loaf of applesauce bread for breakfasts, along with cereal, pancakes, and eggs

Lunches will consist of sandwiches, soups, and leftovers.

Don't forget to send me an email or post a comment in my giveaway - it ends tomorrow!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Frugal Friday - eating out!

We don't eat out often, but when we do, unless it's our local sushi joint, we always use a coupon. A great resource I've mentioned before is Restaurant.com You can purchase a $25 coupon for $10 at many different restaurants around the country. There are some stipulations (like gratuity included, specific total bill amount, etc.), so make sure and read the fine print before you purchase. The site also often has deals for 60% or more off - like right now if you use the code: FESTIVE you can get 60% off your order, so for only $4 you can purchase a $25 coupon.

We often use these when traveling. On a trip to Vegas this summer we picked up two for $8 total (a 60% off sale) and had two nice dinners for $20 and $14 (including the cost of the certificate).

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


My first giveaway - how exciting!!!! I was inspired by MoneySavingMom to do a giveaway. But what to giveaway . . . I decided to start with a Greeting Card Cakes - they are so fun and cute, perfect for anyone really. Here is a picture of the one that one lucky reader will receive:

I'll also throw in a slew of coupons from my stash. So, to enter, just go to this link:

and post in the comments which cake you like the best. Next Tuesday at 3:00 EST I'll put all the names in a hat and draw one lucky winner!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Deal of the week!

Not quite as many "freebies" as in past weeks, but here are my two favorite deals:

1. CVS - although it's not free, this one is for a great price for something I need: Purex is on sale for $2.99 a bottle. Buy two and use the $1.00 off 2 coupon from Sunday's paper. You'll get $2 back in ECB. You can do this 5 times, so I'll buy four and spend $6 (after ECB) - I use the HE which is hard to find for a good price, so I'll take $1.49 a bottle!

2. JCPenney - yesterday in the mail I got a coupon for a free bare minerals sample and brush from the Sephora shop in our new JCPenney - I had a mystery shop at that mall, so I stopped in and picked up the sample - it's a decent size and something I have been wanting to try!

Please post a comment if you know of any other great deals I shouldn't miss! Thanks!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Free Museum day!

Sorry for the lack of posts - I had a spinal tap last Wednesday and then developed the dreaded headache - that really knocked me out of commission through the weekend! So, I didn't really accomplish most of my goals for last week. However, that's okay, it's a new week - I feel much better, so I'm jumping back in!

For now, here's a deal too good to pass up:

Free Museum Day

Take a look and find a museum nearby that participates - I know we'll be hitting one of our local ones we don't have a membership to!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Favorite Weekly Deals!

I couldn't come up with a cute link to Tuesday for this, but I didn't think anyone really cared - if it's a good deal, then post it! I've decided to post these on Tuesday - that will give everyone plenty of time to go out and replicate the deal themselves! So, for this week, there are a couple REALLY good deals out there:

Walgreen's: I did two transactions at Walgreen's and was able to stock up on Shout - which we go through like water around here . . .

1st transaction: 3 Robitussin Cough Syrup at $3.99 each - I used 3 - $3 coupons, so my total was $3.12. Out printed a $10 on your next purchase Catalina coupon.

2nd transaction: 7 bottles of Shout at $2.49 each - here I used 7 - 75cent coupons from a recent paper insert and the $10 Catalina from the last deal. My total was $2.79. As a bonus, another $10 Catalina printed out, so I think I'll use that for part of the monthly Walgreen's rebates.

Total spent: $5.91 for 7 bottles of Shout and 3 cough syrups

Target: My favorite cereal for 25 cents a box!!! Here's how I did it.

I purchased 4 boxes of Kashi Go Lean Crunch at 4/ $11. I used $5.00 in coupons that I had received from Vocal Point. You might also be able to score some from the Kashi website (I haven't checked it lately, so no guarantees). Then, I used my $5 Target Gift card from last week's deal on PopTarts. So, $1 OOP.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

I missed last week - not real sure what happened - but aside from a quick trip to Target for the Pop-Tarts and some milk I did manage to skip the grocery!

Monday - Taco Salad with all the fixings
Tuesday - Mystery Shop (date night)
Wednesday - BBQ sandwiches, mac & cheese, homemade pickles
Thursday - Pepperonata Penne with Sausage
Friday - Black Bean Burritos
Saturday - Leftover buffet
Sunday - Spinach Tortellini and red sauce

Breakfasts - oatmeal, lemon poppyseed muffins, cereal, pancakes
Lunches - leftovers, sandwiches, gazpacho

No need to buy much at the grocery this week - I'm out of some staples and we need some fresh fruit, but that's about it.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Week 1 September recap & Favorite Deal

Well, week 1 went well - our Master Bedroom and Bath are clean and organized. The one area I am only halfway done with is the linen closet - I'm up to the third shelf and I think I can finish the rest by the end of the weekend! Next week is the family room, dining room and closets (linen, hall and laundry). A bit less cleaning and a bit more organizing in store.

I also thought I'd start highlighting my favorite deal of the week. I think I'll do it on Fridays so there is still time for anyone reading to go and complete it also.

This week I had several really good ones, but I think my favorite was all the free lipstick at CVS. The Covergirl Outlast lipstick is on sale B1G1 free and I had four of the B1G1 free coupons from Sunday's P&G Saver. So, eight free lipsticks! Obviously I don't need eight lipsticks, so I picked up a variety of colors: two to keep, two to add to the garage sale pile (at $1 each that will cover tax) and four to add to the woman's shelter pile.

There is one other deal I'll mention because there is still time to run out and do it today! Target has poptarts on sale at 4 for $9. We try not to eat too many poptarts around here, but I don't mind a few in the pantry for last minute snacks or if we don't have time for a proper breakfast. I used two of the $1/2 Kellogg's coupon that came a few weeks ago (I'm sorry I don't remember the insert). Then print 4 of the 50 cents off poptarts coupons on the Target coupon generator (courtesy of afullcup.com) Target coupons So, we are at $5 after coupons. Well, when you buy 4 poptarts you get a $5 gift card - so your poptarts are free! To make the deal even sweeter - look for the boxes with tokens for books. This deal gave me four tokens - it's one book per household so I was able to get two books - one for my household and one for my mom's - perfect for a Christmas gift for the kids - they'll each get a new book! Even if you don't have the Kellogg's coupon, you could get four boxes of poptarts, two books and a $5 gift card for $3!!!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Frugal Fridays - library

I know most of us use the library for our kids, but I always had trouble getting books for myself - my kids just don't like waiting around while I browse for "mommy books." In the past I'd always been lucky to get to pick up a few new releases (since they are near the videos!).

I also have a nice list of books I want to read. I keep it current by adding to it whenever I hear of something new and cross out the ones I've read. Our library allows us to search the catalog from home, but not put books on hold. However, I discovered a quick phone call to the research desk with a request for a few books from my list will enable them to put the books I'd like to read on hold. They call me when they are in, I can run in and they are bound by the check out desk with my name on them! Quick and easy and keeps me in new reading material for no cost!

Get more Frugal Friday ideas at Biblicalwomanhood

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Travel Thursdays - Disney!!!!

We go to Disney every year - but we do it very inexpensively. I'll outline our last trip (although not in as much detail as the ski trip) below:

Tickets: Since we go every year, I purchased ten day passes with no expiration, park hopper and the water park extras. Two adult tickets and one child was about $1000 - I used Mousesavers to find the best deal. Yes, this was expensive, but I bought those tickets three years ago and we've made three trips to Disney since - we still have four or five days left - when we go to Orlando we only actually visit the parks two or three days. With the water park addition, tickets are about $30 a day - versus the $70 one day front gate price!!! Three days: $270

Transportation: We stayed two weeks, so we drove - gas cost us about $272 (for our minivan).

Lodging: We used our timeshares - a mere 28K points scored us a nice two bedroom at the Sheraton Vistana (excellent location). Then we spent four nights at Vero Beach with our Disney points - Sun - Wed, so low point nights and we decided on an ocean front inn room - so not much bigger than a hotel room, but a great view! The rest of week two was spent visiting friends. Total cost: $553

Food: While in Orlando, we only ate out four times - we used the Entertainment book (purchased end of the year with an ebates refund for $12) for two of those - total cost was $90. One of those finds was a WONDERFUL new place for us - we are already looking forward to going there again next year! We went to the grocery when we arrived (and brought some food) $65. This enabled us to take our own snacks and water into the parks. In addition, we got to the parks early, left at lunch time and went back after dinner. Saved money and good rest for the kids. We did eat out more at the beach as we didn't have a full kitchen. But, we found some great local spots by asking around. We also enjoyed a few early bird discounts while there - good for us since our kids need to eat around 5:00 anyways, so $160. Total food: $315

Entertainment: Three days at the parks, many days at the pool and beach, a little window shopping, a few stops at playgrounds and some visiting with friends kept us very busy. We also took advantage of the kids programs at the timeshares. All of them were free except for one cooking class my daughter took. Since I already included park tickets above, this total was $7

Laundry: I only packed seven days worth of clothing for each of us, and both timeshares had free laundry, so this time the cost was 0 (I packed my own detergent - those free samples are perfect).

Extras: We let each kid pick something special to buy and encouraged them to wait until the end of the week to decide. My daughter picked a Minnie Mouse from WalMart for $6 and my son was so little we just picked up a water ball for him to play with at the pool. As the kids get older we'll probably set a price limit for this category. We also got my son his first haircut on Mainstreet - $15 including Mickey Ears!!! Finally, at Goofy's Candy shop we made our own pretzels - they are three for $3.50 so a real bargain and fun for all of us. Total cost: $28.50

So, a two week trip to Disney and the beach: $1445.50

Yes, this was expensive, but much better than those commercials - 5 nights/ 4 days for $1500 . . . I'm pretty pleased and since we go every year, we get better at making it more affordable each year!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Found my chair!!!!

I am so excited. Yesterday I took my daughter to gymnastics and on the way we did a mystery shop for lunch - a fun little mom and daughter time (as I promised myself to do once a month back in July). We had a bit of time between the two activities so we ran over to the Kittle's Outlet. I have been looking for a chair for my office for about six months now. I had found a great one, but it was quite a bit more than I wanted to spend.

We walked through the outlet store, sitting on various chairs to try them out, when all of a sudden I saw it - a nice BIG chair and half! It was perfect - and including scotchguard and tax, a full $300 less than the one I had previously found. I paid for it, we loaded it into the minivan and took it upstairs - it looks great!!!

I'm so glad I didn't purchase the one I had originally found - by waiting for a few months and looking around I was able to save a significant amount of money. Now, aside from a bit more decluttering, my office is done!!!!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

September Already!

Wow! How can summer be over? My DD starts preschool tomorrow - she was at this place last year, but they have made some changes, so I'm not sure how I'll like the new program - I guess we'll wait and see.

I'm also busy getting my financial house in order - I'd like to find a way to stop working my full time job, and making sure we are financially sound will go a long way towards convincing hubby!

Finally, my September goal is to get my actual house in order - I'd like to get everything deep cleaned and organized so as the busy holidays approach I'll simply be in maintenance mode. My plan for the month is to take on a few rooms at a time:

Wk 1: Master bedroom, bath, laundry room
Wk 2: Family room, dining room, closets
Wk 3: office, basement
Wk 4: Kitchen, kid's rooms

So, tonight I am off to tackle the master bath room!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Frugal Fridays

Take advantage of all the free events in your town. We live in a suburb of a medium sized city and there are so many free events every weekend - there is no excuse to have nothing to do. Pack a lunch or snack and head out. If you don't know how to find something, look on the internet, in your local paper or visit the tourism bureau.

We have several free events this weekend to pick from - not sure which one we'll attend, but it will be fun.

Check out all the other Frugal Friday ideas at Biblical Womanhood

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Travel Thursdays - Real life examples

I thought it be fun to wrap up this series with the details of some of our recent trips:

Ski vacation on the cheap!
Our daughter was almost four and so we decided to get her on skis this year. Flying to one of the big resorts out West seemed like a waste of money for such a beginning skier, so we decided to drive up to the Boyne, MI area - it's about a seven hour drive for us - very doable. Skiing can be a VERY expensive vacation, but I think we did pretty well.

We knew we would need someone to help us watch our daughter while we skied, so we enlisted the Grandparents to come along - a free trip for them in exchange for some childcare! On the agenda was skiing, a little shopping and a waterpark day - this was based upon what we knew was available in the area from previous trips and a little internet research.

We took one vehicle so gas (at the time) cost us about $55 each way. We used one of our timeshares - trading in a measly 42K points got us a two bedroom slopeside. Cost of 1/3 of our points and the RCI trade in was $347.00.

With transportation and lodging covered, we needed to get down to activities and food. We are lucky in that we have our own skis, but my daughter did not. Rental skis for her were $15. We decided we would ski two days, sign up for one lesson for her and take her ourselves one day. Luckily the resort we went to had some nice deals. The beginner lift (which had two nice runs) was free if you asked for a lift ticket the day before. Sundays there was a ski special $22 if you ski 12:30 - 4:30. Finally, you could purchase half day tickets (any four hours) for $33. We found out all this info by checking out the site before we left home.

Food was covered by packing our own breakfast, lunch and snack foods - this was easy since we were driving. Once we arrived, we picked up all the dining guides and entertainment guides and spent some time looking through them. We found some great deals and coupons this way!

Here's how it panned out:

Friday - we left afterschool and arrive late night. We stopped at Ruby Tuesday's on the way for dinner - we all got salad bars and one kids meal for the kids to split. A little pricey at $50 for the 6 of us.

Saturday - breakfast at the condo then we walked over, signed dd up for ski school (very pricey at $60) and bought ourselves two half day lift tickets ($66). I bought a large pizza at the resort with a 10% off coupon for $20. This was lunch for all of us today along with our drinks at the condo. We skied all afternoon, then came back and went exploring for dinner. I actually can't remember where we ended up for dinner, but I'm sure it was reasonable - no more than $40 for all of us.

Sunday - relaxed at the condo in the morning, then hubby and I skied the afternoon session $44 - a great deal! My parents took advantage of the kids program at the timeshare and the kids did free activities all afternoon. We ate leftover pizza and sandwiches for lunch. Dinner was a local whitefish place (the area is known for whitefish) we found in one of the dining guide - it was fantastic and inexpensive. We purchased one dinner and one kids meal for the four of us and my parents split one meal. $30 including drinks for all of us.

Monday - we got up early and did the timeshare presentation - both my husband and I first and got three free waterpark passes, and then my parents did it and got $100 in gift cards. Breakfast was also included. It was interesting to see the other resorts as we really liked this place. The kids participated in activites in the morning while we took turns doing the presentations. After a lunch in the condo we went to the waterpark while my parents relaxed and did some sightseeing. The kids had a blast and we spent the entire afternoon there. We spent $4 on a pretzel and drink for a snack. For dinner that evening we tried a local Mexican place that had a happy hour special of $2 for any taco or enchilada. With free chips and salsa, a side of rice and beans for our kids and even a few drinks the price was an amazing $20 for all of us - and the food was FANTASTIC!!!! That night, the kids stayed at the condo with my parents and we took my dad to the local casino. They had quarter roulette and $3 tables - we gambled $20 each and spent several hours there.

Tuesday - we had gotten the free lift tickets so took my daughter skiing on the beginners runs - it was a blast and cost $15 for her rental - what a bargain!!!! In the afternoon we went to downtown Petosky and shopped around. At the timeshare presentation yesterday we had also received coupon books so we had a couple of buy one get one free lattes at the local coffee shop. Total cost was $5.00 for 3 lattes and one hot chocolate. YUM! Dinner was another local spot - decent food, but nothing spectacular. We used some of my parents gift cards from Monday, so the cost was $20 out of pocket for all of us. We went back to the casino for a few hours and my dad ended up winning $1500 - good bonus for him.

Wednesday - we had to get back to school, so we had to forgo the last few days of vacation. We drove home, stopped at Subway for lunch $25 but used a gift card so $15 out of pocket.

It was a fantastic trip - we all had a blast and agreed it will have to become an annual vacation.

Gas: $110
Lodging: $347
Food: $214 for 4 adults and 2 kids (15 meals) I packed food from home, didn't buy anything special.
Skiing: $200 - 2 half days, 1 day ski school and 3 hours "free" skiing on one lift
Waterpark: $0 (included the snack in food)
Other: activities at the condo were free; gambling ended up free as we won back all our money plus some (and we started out with their money signing up for the awards card)

Total cost: $871 for a ski vacation for six - pretty darn good as our old trips out West were easily $2500 for the two of us!!!

Lessons learned: hit the Mexican place twice - it was THAT good; don't bother with the ski lesson; get our hands on a coupon book earlier in the trip`

Sorry this was so long, based upon that I think I'll wait until next week to review our recent trip to Disney! Hope this was interesting - it was fun for me to re-live our fun time!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

August Goals update

Well, I didn't accomplish everything (but it was pretty ambitious) mostly because my job got out of control - I logged an actual 63 hours last week - that means any free time was strictly spent with my family. Hopefully things will slow down next month. But, regardless, here are my goals and an update:

1. Office:

Find a chair - there is a perfect spot in the front of my office for a nice big chair and a half. This would be a great spot to take a quick work break, read late at night without bothering my DH or for my kids to read books while I work. We found one, just waiting for it to go on sale!

Rearrange furniture - I have a floorplan, just need to take the time to do it. I moved most of it, but I haven't flipped the desk yet - I'm not sure I want to actually.

Clean up the piles - there are about four or five "piles" that need sorted, put away, etc. As I look around, I only see two piles left - so definite progress!

Sort and purge files - didn't get to this one

2. Scrapbooking:
Put all old pictures in albums (not scrapbook, just put them in photo albums) Halfway done!

Sort & purge supplies Progress, but not finished

Finish organizing supplies in the credenza in the office - this is where I am currently keeping the bulk of my supplies and I'd like to get them all in there Progress, but not finished

Buy plastic page protectors, pages and put together all the finished pages in an album Purchased two sets, need to buy two more - waiting for more coupons!

Create space on the bookshelf for an "idea book/ files/ etc." Haven't done this one yet.

Actually, not bad overall - based on how busy I've been, I'm pretty pleased. I'm still very happy with my monthly focus plan Monthly Focus - it has been nice to really focus on one area of my life each month. September is deep cleaning and organizing the house and that couldn't come at a better time - things are way out of control!!!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Greeting Cakes

You may have noticed the link on the side of my blog to the Greeting Card Cakes - I thought I'd take a quick moment to explain. These are little microwave cakes (like Warm Delights) that you can send in place of a card - they come complete with cake mix, icing, sprinkles, a tiny spoon and a candle. It's a fun way to brighten someone's day and you can order them with a ton of different designs. They would also be a great fundraiser.

My daughter really likes them (she's a big baker already at 4!) so I signed up to "sell" them, just to get a ready supply for her to give to her friends as part of their birthday gifts. I thought they were so cool I figured I'd add a link to my blog in case anyone out there needs an unusual (and inexpensive) gift. So, take a look if you are interested!

Tomorrow I'll share my progress on the August goals - I didn't accomplish them all, but I did make a difference! Thursday will be the last of the Travel Thursday series and Friday I think I'll share my goals and plans for September.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

Lots of tomatoes from the garden this week - we are using as many as we can and drying what we can't!

Monday - Shrimp Diablo; fresh bread
Tuesday - Red beans & Rice with sausage
Wednesday - Salmon on the grill with cucumber salsa
Thursday - Fresh tomato sauce with pasta; fresh bread
Friday - Grilled Shrimp cocktails
Saturday - Onion soup and grilled cheese
Sunday - Balsamic Chicken over spinach salad

Sounds yummy doesn't it? I have a few packs of shrimp in the freezer so that's why we are having it twice this week - also a pretty light menu (except for Saturday) as it's very hot outside!!!

For lunches: Gazpacho (YUMMY!), BLT's, leftovers

Breakfasts: Whole wheat blueberry muffins, pancakes, cereal, oatmeal

I'm also going to make some snacks this week - oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, and I'm going to try a recipe I've had for a while for baked "fried" chickpeas.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Notebook Experiment

Amy over at MomAdvice has a fun weekly post called notebook experiments Notebook they are great ideas that would be fun to try. This week she has opened them up to her readers and so I thought I'd join in. This week I've been busy working on a price book. Here's the link to the original post: http://joannal.blogspot.com/2007/10/finally-price-book.html.

And here's my start of a pricebook - this is something I've been wanting to do for a while, so thanks for the kickstart Amy!

Give this a shot - it's a lot of fun!!!

Travel Thursdays - Miscellaneous Tips

This has been a fun series to write - one of my favorite topics. We are nearing the end - next week I'll showcase a few examples of some of our recent trips. Today I thought I'd share some miscellaneous tips.

1. Read guide books - this is a great way to get ideas of things to do, places to go, etc. Don't buy them however, get them from the library. They are typically updated annually, so why spend money on something that will be out of date in less than a year.

2. Keep a file for future trips. Whenever I find an article about a place I'd like to go, I rip it out and put it in my vacation file. Then, when it's time to plan a trip I pull out the file and see if there is anything useful. I do clean this file out annually to keep it from getting too big!

3. Involve the whole family. If the kids (and spouse) are involved in the planning, they will be more excited about the trip. This also takes the burden off of you as sole entertainment provider!

4. Go with the flow. It's good to have some things scheduled, but it's also fun to just go with the flow sometimes. Often the best memories are unplanned - and a little flexibility can make for less stress and sometimes more fun!

5. Ask the locals. I know I've mentioned this in past weeks, but I can't emphasize it enough - you can get such great tips on everything from where to eat to what to do - information you could never find on your own. Plus, you will meet some interesting people along the way.

6. Try something new. Just because you haven't done it, eaten it, etc. doesn't mean it's not fun. Vacations are a great time to step outside your comfort zone - your kids will love it!

7. Don't overpack. If we are gone for more than a week, I'll still only pack a week's worth of clothing (or less). It is easy to find a laundromat (if your lodging doesn't have one) and it only takes an hour to do laundry. I send the kids off with hubby, get a coffee and read a book while the clothes are being washed. It's relaxing and so much easier to have less stuff to lug around.

8. Take pictures. These are the best souvenirs. We will usually buy each child one item on the trip - we encourage them to look at everything and think about what they want - it's often a $5 stuffed animal versus the $50 lego set - lol!!! Then we take lots of pictures. When we get home I'll scrapbook some and sometimes make a photo book at CVS or Meijer with the rest.

9. Speaking of souvenirs, buy ahead. On our last few trips to Disney, I've shopped the Disney store for clearance items in the months before the trip. I'll also pick up a few new DVD's or CD's on clearance here or there. Then, I wrap them up and pack them in my bag. The kids get a nice little surprise and I'm not paying an outrageous price for it.

10. Check out the outlet mall. When we go to Orlando, we always visit the outlet mall - there is a Disney outlet located there and we often find great gifts for the kids, Christmas presents, etc.

11. Do the unexpected. Have ice cream for breakfast, pack a picnic lunch, let the kids stay up late for fireworks, say yes when they ask for that $1 treat at the gas station, go to McDonald's if that's where the kids really want to eat. Vacation is a great time to break the routine and do things you would never consider at home - it's fun, the kids love it and it creates great memories.

12. Just go! Even if you can't afford a long trip, try to create something close to home. There are deals out there - camp at a nearby State Park, stay overnight at a local budget motel with a pool, whatever you can do, just do it - the memories will be priceless.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Check your receipts!

Remember to please check your receipts at the store. When I got home from the grocery I reviewed my bill (as I always do) and I was overcharged by $12!!! Three different items were incorrect. Luckily the store is nearby so I went back the next day and got my money back.

Although it isn't really cost savings (just a mistake) it's still $12 back in my pocket.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

I hit Meijer last night and got some fantastic deals! I should be stocked up for at least a week and a half! I spent $79 (which is high for me), but I saved $60 in coupons/ deals. That also included 5 packages of panties and 1 pack of socks for my daughter and food for euchre night.

Monday - corned beef and potatoes - we didn't get to this over the weekend
Tuesday - Chicken enchilada soup, salad, bean dip
Wednesday - it's cards at my house, so a ton of appetizers: shrimp cocktail, cheese and crackers, veggies and dip, chile con queso and chips, cheesecake dip and graham crackers, chocolate chip oatmeal cookies
Thursday - pasta with chicken in pesto sauce
Friday - at my mom's
Saturday - Birthday party
Sunday - turkey burgers on the grill (something fancy a la Rachel Ray), oven fries

Breakfasts will be: pancakes, oatmeal, cereal
Lunches will be: sandwiches, leftovers, mac & cheese, BLT's

Friday, August 15, 2008

Frugal Friday

I thought I'd join Crystal and the other ladies over at

BiblicalWomanhood.com in Frugal Friday today.

I make myself a pot of coffee every morning - usually I drink most of it, but yesterday got away from me and I only drank half the pot. Sometimes if I don't drink it all I freeze some of it in ice cube trays to add to homemade coffee drinks. Yesterday I didn't even do that. So, this morning I got up to make my coffee and realized in my extreme laziness I hadn't even emptied the pot. I almost threw it out, but I do buy fairly expensive coffee (one of my little luxuries) and it's a hot day, so I grabbed some coffee cubes from the freezer, put them into my Magic Bullet, poured the rest of the coffee in, added some skim milk, some French Vanilla Coffeemate and blended it up.

Sweet caffeine . . . for something I was going to pitch in the trash!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Free Gift Pack

This is a great freebie - you have to be one of the first 10,000 to sign up, but I've gotten in before and the goodies come quickly:


This is gone now, but thanks for checking it out.

Travel Thursday - What to do?

Almost at the home stretch of this series! So, now that you know where you are going, how you are getting there, where you are staying and how you will eat, what else will you do?

This is a fun and pretty easy topic. There are definitely ways to save money on almost anything you want to do. Since you looked at the area when you decided where to go, you probably have a good idea of at least some of the activities.

1. Sit down with your family and brainstorm what you would like to do - get everyone involved. If your kids are too little, think about their favorite things to do - for many little ones a pool or a playground is as much fun as an amusement park.

2. Make a list of 5 or 6 "must do" activities - include something for everyone.

3. Do a search on the web for the location you are visiting. Look for the tourism office, check citysearch and check a few travel forums like frommers or fodors. Check for activities as well as discounts.

4. Go to the library and check out a tour guide on the area.

5. Combine your ideas from #2 -#4 and pick out your top ones. If your kids are older, consider letting them each take a day and "plan it out" - that can be a lot of fun for them and if they are more involved in the trip, they will enjoy it much more.

6. Now, get back on the internet and look for deals - type in the name of the attraction and then the word "coupon" or "deal" - this will often pull up a few sites where you can get discounts. If that doesn't work, call the location and ask about deals. For example, last time we went to Sea World I called and asked them if there were any deals on ticket prices. They told me that if I brought in a Pepsi can or bottle we would save $10 off admission - quick and easy. Another place to look for deals is if you are a member of AAA. There are often discounts associated with that membership. Of course check the Entertainment book also.

7. Don't forget while you are on vacation to ask the locals (at restaurants is a good place) if there is anything special you should do while you are there. Last time we were in Florida near the ocean the waitress at breakfast (a nice local joint) told us where to go to see Manatees. It was free and fun! This is a good way to find State or County parks which can be a lot of fun - especially if you pack a picnic lunch.

8. Finally, don't pack your days too full - especially if you have little ones. Sometimes the most fun can be had playing in the pool at the hotel, stopping at a school playground to play or just relaxing on the patio with a good book and a coffee while the kids nap or play in the room.

If we are visiting a place like Disneyworld, we usually only go to the parks 2 days out of 7. Then 2 or 3 days are spent at the pool and the other days just exploring Orlando - the outlet mall, parks, other attractions, etc.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Spending money challenge!

The last few months, my hubby and I noticed our credit card bills were getting out of control. We pay them off each month, but the amounts to pay were creeping up higher and higher . . . So, on our last date night (a Mystery Shop of course!) we created a new challenge. Until December, we are limiting ourselves to $50 a week (or $200 a month) each for spending. That's a bit high, so we may lower it to $25 in the next few months, but for now it's $50. That is for anything we want - clothing or fun stuff for the kids or ourselves, restaurants, scrapbooking supplies, tools, etc. Basically everything except groceries and gas. We decided to go to the bank that night and withdrawl $240 (we had $60 on hand) for the remaining three weeks of August. Now for the fun part:

Whoever has the most money left at the end of the month, gets $25 of the other person's money. That can be saved for later, used for something unnecessary, or whatever, but it can't count towards the next month's $200 - we start fresh each month.

It's going to be a lot of fun to try to out do each other and I think it will really help us curb spending. We are also going to track everything we do spend our money on - which I do already in a little notebook by my computer - to will help keep us honest.

Our other goal is to keep groceries at $400 a month. I think I can do it for $300, but DH thinks we should keep more in that category in case there is a killer deal out there (like the Walgreen's diapers last month).

Fun ways to budget and save money! Feel free to join in with your own challenge - I'll post our totals at the end of the month!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

Back on a somewhat normal schedule (is there ever a normal one?), so here is my menu plan for the month:

Monday - Thai Chicken with Peanut Sauce (one of our favorites)
Tuesday - leftovers
Wednesday - Meatball sandwiches, corn on the cob, oven fries
Thursday - Ham casserole; fruit
Friday - Chicken enchiladas, refried beans
Saturday - Chicken pot pie
Sunday - Corned beef, cabbage, potatoes

We are STILL eating out of the freezer. In fact, this week all I have to buy is cabbage, pinto beans, eggs and a loaf of bread.


I am always on the hunt for new de-cluttering methods - I've read Pete Walsh's books, books on 30 days to a Simpler Life, numerous blogs, etc. The latest method I've discovered is a great new e-book on de-cluttering. As I'm currently working on my office I thought I'd give it a try. It seems promising for me, so here is the link Click Here! take a look if you are interested.

Today in my office I'm finishing up the piles and I'm going to sort through part of my scrapbooking supplies.

As promised, above is a before picture! Scary, I know!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Need more coupons?

It's nice to have multiples of the good coupons - that's how you can really get the great deals! I'm not keen on buying them online (although I have in the past) and I don't have any friends or family that will give me their inserts. I'm not into dumpster diving and I haven't gotten up the nerve to try to work out a deal with one of the gas stations. In the past, I've always just bought an extra paper if there are enough good coupons to cover the cost of the additional paper.

Luckily for me Village Pantry (VP) has a terrific new promotion. For every $15 of gas you purchase you can get a free paper. I don't know if this deal is at all of it's locations, but all the VP's near me are running this special. So, we've been waiting until Sunday to get gas. Then, we make several stops. On the way home from church we'll stop at the VP near church, put $15 in, I run in and get a paper and then my husband pulls up to another pump, puts another $15 in and he runs in to get another paper.

We have two other vehicles and a VP very close to our house, so we make two more trips over for two more papers - one per vehicle. That gives me a total of 5 sets of coupons every week! Score!!! My husband figured out it costs 30 cents more per $15 than the gas station across the street, so in reality I am paying 30 cents for the paper. I can do that! I am running into the problem of coupon storage though! My little coupon folders can't handle all the wealth!!!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Big Restaurant Savings!

Today and tomorrow, go to http://www.restaurant.com and you can save 80% off of your purchase. I just picked up three certificates (one for $25 and two for $10) for less than $4.00!!! I've mentioned this site in my blog before. Make sure you read the fine print as there are restrictions for use - must spend a certain amount, 18% tip is usually added to the bill, one per table, etc. but overall this is a terrific way to save money on a meal out. I bought three for my hometown this time, but I have purchased them for vacations before - in fact on our recent trip to Vegas I used two $25 certificates, and we had $35 - $40 meals for $14 - $19.

After you select your items, use the code: FIRST at the checkout.

Enjoy! This will be some fun inexpensive date nights or vacation meals!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Frugal Friday

Yesterday was a fun one! My hubby and I celebrated our 15 year anniversary by running around town - which we love to do. That included a stop at CVS, Walgreens and Walmart! We also looked around for a chair and a half for my office. We topped the day off with a wonderful dinner at Kincaids. Here is what we did - it's a great frugal tip for a really nice meal out:

If you have a Kincaids near you, you must check to see if they have this awesome deal. From 3 - 7 they have a half price appetizer menu in the bar. We got three of their appetizers - Seafood Deviled Egg Trio (not that good), Spicy Ahi Tostada (WONDERFUL), blue cheese & chipolte chips (yummy and huge for only $3.50). I got a margarita (for $4) and my hubby got a diet coke. Our total bill was under $30. We ate outside on the patio. For the atmosphere, quality and amount of food, this was fantastic. Perfect for a special event!


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Travel Thursday - Where to eat?

Well, it's technically Wednesday night but since tomorrow is our anniversary I'm not going to be online at all!

Next in the series is all about food! What to eat?

This is a great area in which to save money. You can blow a lot of cash by eating out while on vacation, but I have some great tips to help you keep the costs to a minimum!

  1. You don't have to eat out for every meal. How easy is that one? Seriously, there are alternatives. If we are in a condo, we almost always eat breakfast in the room, often lunch and even a few dinners. I pack easy foods from home if we are driving or make a stop at the grocery when we arrive if we fly. I also always pick up a case of water, pop, etc. as this will really cut your costs. It can be fun to eat out on the patio with the kids after a full day of sightseeing. Or sandwiches on the beach, or after dinner drinks looking out over the ocean, etc.
  2. When you do eat out, ask the locals. My family is not a fan of chains. Oh, they have their place in life, but when I'm on vacation I want to eat something from that area. I'm not picky about going to a "dive" either. We usually ask a few people throughout the trip for recommendations. Maybe ask someone you run into at the grocery store, or run into a video store if you are near a college campus. Even ask your waiter at a place you are eating at and enjoy. We always make sure and ask specifically for something local, good and not a chain. What's so funny is many times we'll get told "Chili's, Olive Garden, etc." What part of not a chain didn't they understand? Don't get discouraged if you don't get good answers every time you ask. I'd say for every four people we ask, we actually take the recommendation of one. But that one can be a good one - some of our best were the $7.50 (for both of us) Mexican restaurant in a trailer (yes, really) in San Antonio, or the wonderful Tapas place in Saint Louis . . . yum!

  3. Do some research ahead of time. If you love to eat out (like I do), do a little research ahead of time. I usually check out http://www.frommers.com/, go to http://www.citysearch.com/ and maybe do a general search on the location and then see what I can find in the way of restaurants.

  4. Split a meal or order less food. Unless you plan on taking your leftovers back to the condo (which can be a good idea), don't order the full nine yards. For my family of four, we usually order one entree and either an appetizer, side dish or one kids meal. We typically don't have leftovers and our bill is half the price. My philosophy is that if we are still hungry, we can always order more food. Guess what? In the fifteen years we've been doing this, we have never ordered more food - not once..

  5. Look for happy hours, early bird specials or kids eat free nights. Most restaurants in a touristy area have at least one of these options. This can save you a considerable amount of money. A great example was our recent trip to Las Vegas. One of our favorite restaurants there is a tapas place with great Sangria. From 4 - 6 a huge selection of tapas and all their sangrias were half price.

  6. Don't be afraid to use coupons. You use them at home, why not on vacation? Some great sources are http://www.restaurant.com/ and http://www.entertainmentbook.com/If we are going to be someplace for a week I will sometimes order the entertainment book for the region. We have found some terrific new places this way and I always get my money's worth. When we leave I either give it to someone there, or put it on freecycle when I get home.

    We often make a game out of saving money on food - while still eating well. You know the show Rachael Ray's $40 a day? My husband and I often will keep track of what we spend and try to keep it at $40 a day for the two of us - then we'll joke about how we beat her at her own game - we're dorks, I know . . . but it does go to show that you can save a lot of money on food and still really enjoy your trip!