Monday, March 31, 2008

Daily goal

Forgot my goal for the day - I was so excited about my weekend of parties!

Today's goal is to clean out my inbox - it got piled up over the weekend!

What a weekend!

Whew! We were busy. It was my DD's birthday party (4) and she had another party to go to Sunday, then dinner at Red Lobster (her favorite) with the family for a final birthday celebration.

We did a great job of saving money on everything though! For the entire weekend of fun we only spent money on Sunday night's dinner (and at least used a coupon and split two meals for the four of us)!

Her party was terrific and while they are little you can save so much money on birthday parties! My DD had a great time at the party Sunday, it was at one of those Bounce Zone places, but you know, she had just as much fun at her party (as did all the kids) and I spent less than $25 - and that was a splurge!!!

Here's how I did it:

She wanted a specific theme for her party and wouldn't you know it the party store didn't have it, so I did a little research online and found the best prices at Birthday Direct. I ordered a cake topper, little plates and napkins, cups, goodie bags, invitations and thank you cards and sticker sheets - enough for the 8 little girls that would be at the party. This was my big spluge for $20. Then I decorated the house with streamers and balloons we already had, used forks and ice cream we had at home, and made a chocolate cake that I then decorated with the cake topper, some icing and some mini m&m's left over from Easter. Finally, I filled the goodie bags with Polly Pockets (all free from the great deal last fall), little Princess frisbees (from CVS after Christmas - $1 total), a Cindarella Fruit snack ($.50 for the box at Meijer last week with a coupon) and a baggie of M&M's from CVS ($.50 for the whole bag from the deals last month). So, $22 out of pocket, plus a few extra to cover the food I used from the freezer and pantry. We played games, the kids played in the basement, played with playdoh and colored pictures. I'll keep doing these parties as long as I can!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Scrapbooking Strategy

Well, I got the house in order thanks to my list (didn't do the floors, but I can do that tonight) and we all enjoyed the movie!

My goal for the day is to create my scrapbook pages for the month.

I love to scrapbook and I have lots and lots of supplies . . . however, what I don't have is lots and lots of time. In fact, the whole scrapbooking thing was getting to be a big stressor for me. So, this year, I took control and made a plan! Instead of having a scrapbook for each child, a travel album, a Disney album, a family album, etc. I decided to do two books this year - and each one would only get one new layout (two pages) a month. I can commit to two pages a month! Stress level went down a bit. To make it even easier on myself, our local scrapbook store does a monthly layout - it's $10 for an 8x8 layout and $16 for a 12x12. With all my supplies, at first I couldn't justify that - if I did the 8x8 that would be $120 for the year - wow! It does get a little better - if you bring in the completed page for the month before you get $1 off - so now we are down to $108 - still a lot! And forget the 12x12 $180!!!

Then, I thought about my busy schedule, and the hundreds of dollars I used to spend on supplies throughout the year and decided to try an experiment for one year. I chose the 8x8 because it cost less and bought the October kit (the kits started in October). It was cute, easy and took me 1/2 hour to complete! Plus it looked great and was totally different than something I would have done. I still wanted more than an 8x8 for the year, so I decided I would also do a 12x12 BUT I would do that one myself. What I've ended up doing is using the scraps from the 8x8 kit along with supplies I already have and been able to easily create a nice layout using my own creativity each month. Stress level went down even more!

How's it going? Great! Both albums have five (after today six) layouts. I use different pictures for each album, so I can cover two events or topics each month. My goal is to not purchase anything at all this year except for the kits. So overall, I will end up with two completed albums for $108. Not bad if that is my annual scrapbooking spending! Plus, the stress level is GONE. I enjoy the scrapbooking I do, I save money over what I would have normally spend and I am always "caught up." Even after both pages are done I still usually have a few scraps or stickers left over that could be used for cards, later pages, etc.

Next year I think I'll splurge on the 12x12 pages - based on what I've seen I could easily get everything I need for both the 12x12 and the 8x8 out of the one kit.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Free Entertainment

I picked up our Monday night movie a little bit ago. For those of you who don't know, Redbox has a great deal on their website for free movies on Mondays! Simply sign up your cell phone number and they will send you a text on Monday with a code for a free movie. We've made Monday night movie night in our house thanks to this deal! Tonight's viewing is for the whole family - "Enchanted."

Monday Musings

I like Monday mornings - it's a new week, good time to start things out on the right foot. I was reading some of my favorite blogs this morning, and came across Crystal's cleaning challenge at - exactly what I need to start the week off right. So, I'm going to take her up on her challenge and get our house in order.

We had a wonderful Easter, terrific church service and then lunch at the MIL's. My DD birthday is later this week, so we celebrated that after lunch. Terrific day overall!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Walmart Savings

Well, although errand day was Wednesday this week, I had to go downtown today for work. Since I was driving right by, I stopped at Walmart (where I almost never shop) and bought the following: 1 Honey bunches of Oats cereal with chocolate clusters, 2 betty crocker frostings, 2 fast fixins dinos and 1 ziplock freezer bags. Grand total: $3.30. I was very proud!

We had a fun and frugal evening at our neighbors. We put together an egg hunt for the kids - I used all the free candy I've gotten at CVS and Walgreens lately. Then we grilled out - I provided a dessert and nice big salad out of ingredients from our weekly list. Didn't spend a dime. In fact my total spending for the day was my $3.30.

Tomorrow's goal is going to be to have a fun day without spending anything!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

My office looks great - when I left for the night (which just means going downstairs since I work from home), the desk was cleared, the planner open to the next day and the projects I need to work on set to go for tomorrow! Plus, I found four rebates to send out, so I took care of that too!

Today my goal is to get ready for the Easter weekend now - I have plenty of candy and small toys I've been stockpiling from my recent trips to CVS and Walgreens, along with a couple of stuffed animals. If I dig out my Easter tote from last year, I bet I have everything else I need to make a great Easter for my kids with zero out of pocket! My MIL bought my DD a beautiful Easter dress, and my son a shirt and sweater vest - the pants were too big, but I think instead of buying a new pair, I'll just put him in his little khaki cords - it's still cold here and at 16 months, he could care less! I'm also not going anywhere today - saving on gas and spending money that way!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

As planned, I did all my errands yesterday. Today I was tempted to run over to Chick Fil A for their free Wednesday breakfast, but I didn't. I've found that I can get caught up in getting a good deal and end up wasting time or energy on something I don't need. For example, I didn't have anything else to do over by Chick Fil A, so it would have been a waste of gas and time for a couple of dollars of something free that I don't even need to eat - I have plenty of food in the house. Likely I would have stopped somewhere else nearby too - might have spent more money on something I don't need. Finally, odds are good if I was out I would have bought a cup of coffee too! So, by NOT doing a bargain I think I came out ahead. This is a real struggle for me - I love a good deal.

Today my goal is going to be to clean up my office - it's a mess and I think I'd be more productive if I had it in better shape! I also bet I have some rebates or coupons loaded up in the inbox that I could get through if I just took the time!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Errand Day

Well today is this week's errand day - I have a doctor's appointment, so I've made a list of everything else I need to get done. Hopefully I can finish everything today and not have to go out the rest of the week! We'll see how it goes.

I did go grocery shopping last night - since I was out of town last week it was a must. Normally I shop at Meijer, but this week I hit Kroger since I had a number of good coupons to use. I stocked up on corned beef for the freezer since it was so inexpensive due to St. Patrick's Day. I bought four of them, so that's four very easy future meals. I do the corned beef in the crock pot with potatoes and cabbage - yummy! I did notice that although I did well due to some Kroger coupons I received in the mail, overall prices on most of the items I buy are less at Meijer - so I'll probably continue to shop there as my main store.

I think to keep things interesting for me, I'll set myself a goal for each day that will either help me save money, be happy or get organized (which makes me happy!). That should keep me on task and will hopefully make for more interesting reading!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Another fun but not so frugal weekend!

I was traveling a lot last week for work, so when I got home late Friday night we decided we would spend the weekend as a family. We had a blast and except for one exception didn't spend too much. Saturday we went to a local Easter Egg hunt - lots of fun for the kids and free. Plus, we could walk there so we snuck in a little exercise to boot! Then our downfall - we took the kids to see the new Horton Hear's a Who movie. Paid full price (although matinee) and bought popcorn and a drink. Yikes! I never do that!!! After that we just hung out with friends. Sunday we spent running a few errands and hanging out at home - did a mystery shop for lunch after church which was a new place and a lot of fun.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Spring Break

Well, Spring Break is right around the corner (just a few weeks away) and I'm trying hard to find a last minute deal on a condo in FL. I have a search going, so fingers crossed something will come up. If not, I guess we'll be making plans for local, inexpensive things to do - there are PLENTY around here, the warm weather and beach just sounded great with our current 37 degree weather!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Fun Family Day

We had a fun family day - this one tied right into my title of saving money and being happy! We got up early and headed down to the local childrens' museum. The admission is $44 for a family of 4, or $33.50 for our family (since DS is still under 2). We bought an annual family pass + 2 for $95 last year (it was $100, but since I bought two years at once I saved $5 a year). So, we took another family with us. Total cost for all of us out of pocket would have been $67, plus the $8 in ride tickets which were free with our membership. This is the third time we've been this year, so we figure we are already in the black! Plus, with the membership we don't feel like we have to stay all day - we can leave before the kids start getting cranky. We packed lunches to avoid the expensive and unhealthy food court food. We had a great time and it didn't cost us a dime today! Then on the way home we stopped at CVS for my weekly bargain trip ($7.57 out of pocket, $11 back in ECB, enough hershey points for 2 movie tickets and a rebate to send in for $4.59). For dinner we did a mystery shop in a nearby suburb. Total cost for the entire day was $7.77 - we went 20 cents over the reimbursement for the shop.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Almost made it!

Yesterday I talked about trying to do all my errands in one day to save on gas and time - well, I almost made it. I did go around today and complete all my errands which was great and because I had everything planned out I made it to the bank, Walmart to drop off film, the scrapbook store, Linen's & Things, Walgreens, CVS and the gas station in an hour and a half! But, last night at 8:00 as we were getting stuff ready for preschool I realized the playdoh my DH and DD had made wasn't going to cut it - it was just too sticky. Since we were due to bring in playdoh and I was now out of salt and cream of tartar from the first batch, I had to run over to Marsh to buy more ingredients. Next time I'll check my pantry before the weekly shopping to make sure I have plenty of those basics! Hopefully I can do a better job with errand day next week - I've got it planned for Wed since I'll be out of town on Thursday so I'm going to start adding things to my calendar as I think of where I need to go and what I need to get.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Changing Habits

I have discovered that it is so easy to get into habits that cost us money. For instance, I will go months making my morning coffee - I even know how to make just about any Starbucks drink at home, and then all of a sudden I find myself going out every morning to pick up a latte or just running into Speedway for a coffee. Another habit I am trying hard to break is running out to do one errand. My new goal for March is to limit my errands to one day a week - this should save gas as well as keep me from buying just because I'm out. It's only day 5 and I already feel like I need to run to the bank - but do I really? Tomorrow is my "designated errand day" and surely I can wait until tomorrow . . . I'm really amazed at how hard this one is for me (as I sit here at my computer drinking a Starbucks . . .)