Cents of Style: Jagger & Joanna Boyfriend Tee 2 For $20 & FREE SHIPPING!

Favorite Tops

Cents of Style is ending the year with a deal that I am in love with!  Everyone’s favorite boyfriend tee in both the short sleeve (JAGGER) and long sleeve version (JOANNA) are on sale for only $10.00 each SHIPPED when you purchase 2 or more! This event will run from 12/31/19-1/2/20 at midnight!

Here are all the details:

Joanna & Jagger Boyfriend Tee
Reg. Price- $24.95
Sale Price- $10.00 & FREE SHIPPING when 2 + are purchased!
Coupon Code- JJBASICS
Dates Valid: 12/31-1/2/20
Sizes: S-3XL, TONS OF Colors

Favorite Tops

I’ve already ordered 4! I love these shirts. They look great with jeans and leggings!

Tips to Reign In and Out Of Control Family Budget: Shopping Around to Save!

683459ee810703fe032903d2443bf58d.jpgToday I’ll be sharing some ways to save money that takes a little more work but can definitely pay off in the end.

For some of us, this may seem like too much work, and that’s ok. Just because it’s something that my family does, doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone.

Insurance: Most companies offer a discount if you have more than one kind of policy. Example: State Farm offers a Multi-line discount. If you have your cars and another type of insurance (homeowners/renters/condo insurance, or a life insurance policy).

Some insurance companies serve a specific audience- for example, USAA is an insurance company for active duty or retired military. Because they serve a specific audience, they offer very competitive rates.

When you shop for insurance, have copies of all of the policies that you want to compare. That will help you see apples to apples. You can’t compare and try to save money if you don’t know what you’ve got. This is also a great time to go over all of your coverages and see if you need to increase or decrease coverages.

Due to state and federal regulations, you usually can’t shop for health insurance unless it’s open enrollment or you’ve had a qualifying life event (married, divorced, had a baby, retired, lost your job, etc.). Luckily, Tis the Season for open enrollment! We purchased insurance through the state exchange a few years back, before we had employer-sponsored insurance. It was not too difficult to navigate, and there are discounts available for a lot of people!

Cell Phones: This is my least favorite activity, but it can a money saver. Once again- have a copy of your contract or a copy of a recent bill that outlines everything your plan covers before you get started. If you are looking for a pre-paid plan, Tello has some great money-saving plans!

Internet: I hate dealing with our internet service provider. I always feel like they are trying to upsell me, no matter why I am calling in. We’re looking at changing our plan soon. The big kids school recently sent home information regarding a program that Cox offers called Connect2Compete. For those families that have qualifying social service(s), Cox can provide internet service for $9.95/month! That’s a great deal.

 

Talk Back: I’d love to hear your success story! Share how much you’ve saved by shopping around for your insurance, cell phone service, or internet service.

12/30/19 Weekly Meal Plan!

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It’s the last meal plan for 2019! I’ve got lots of good stuff planned recipe-wise this week. I’m doing my best to use up a lot of the stuff we’ve got in the freezer and pantry.

I’ve got a bunch of bananas that are REEEEALLLY ripe, they will be turned into banana bread today.

For those of you that are new to meal planning, I’ve got an easy 101 style post here with super easy tips and steps. After you get that down, here is info about batch or freezer cooking.

I’ve gotten a pretty good inventory of the pantry, freezer, and fridge done (I update it after every shopping trip), so I’m able to plan meals and use up what we’ve got with little waste. If you are looking for kitchen inventory printable, I like the kitchen inventories here. They are great printables.

You may notice a lot of plant-based meals- We are not vegetarian (well, the big kid is, but the rest of us aren’t), but I am trying to get more veggies into our diet. I do a lot of cooking from scratch- I find it easier to get veggies and fruit into recipes that I can have 100% control over.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day:

Breakfast: Coffee with 1/2 and 1/2  for me, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids (they love the Kodiak Cakes Mix).  I also keep sandwich Ziploc bags of other frozen fruit on hand to make the kids smoothies when they request them (a few times per week). Berries, peaches, and mangos are pretty popular.

Lunches are leftovers, salads, or soups for me and Bitty. The big kid takes his lunch to school, but once in a while, I can convince him to buy his lunch.

For dinner, when we’ve got busy days (like Mondays), I’ll try and put something in the crockpot in the morning, or pull something I’ve already prepped out that can be quickly cooked. We’ve got a bunch of stuff in the freezer, as I’ve been portioning out 2-3 adult-sized entree portions from several meals a week and freezing them for later meals.

  • Monday:  Pork Chili, and cornbread
  • Tuesday:  NYE and I’m not sure what we’re doing, but I’ll have fresh veggies, fruit, hummus, and other snackies.
  • Wednesday:  Chef Salad (greens, hardboiled eggs, cheese, peppers, carrots, celery, snap peas)
  • Thursday: Quinoa Veggie Bowls
  • Friday:    Date Night (I think we’re going out)
  • Saturday:  Pizza & Fruit Salad
  • Sunday:  Breakfast for dinner (savory waffles with poached eggs)

snacks.jpgOne of the kid’s recent favorite lunches is “Plate of Snacks”. I use the sectioned plastic plates (like old school cafeteria trays), and fill each section with a snack from the corresponding food group. This tray has goldfish crackers in the protein section (the 4-year-old insisted because there was fish on the section).

Talk Back: What are you planning to cook this week?

12/27/19 Freebie Friday!

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This is the last freebie Friday before Christmas! I’ve tried to include a variety of fun samples, events, and a couple deals.

Freebies:

Free Sample of Truvia Natural Sweetener
FREE One Month Xbox Game Pass Ultimate from Microsoft
Free 2 lb. of Paper Shredding at Staples
FREE Amazon Baby Box Samples – Back in Stock
Free Samples of Q Mixers
Receive Free Samples from Amazon
Free $10.00 at Zulily
Free Sample of Garnier Ginger Recovery Hair Conditioner
Starbucks Pop Up Party – Free Espresso Drinks 12/27-12/31
Students & Teachers – Free Microsoft Office 365

Deals:

Lip Smacker Frozen 2 Lip Balm Vault 16-Pc ONLY $7.44 (Reg $30)
Dreamworks Toothless & Hiccup ONLY $6.19 (Reg. $15)
Contigo Autoseal Travel Mug ONLY $14.23 (Reg. $25)
OlarHike Air Mattress ONLY $42.67 (Reg. $120)
Crayola Chemistry Set ONLY $12.58 (Reg. $25)

I hope everyone is enjoying their holidays! I’ll be back to writing more about ways to reign in an out of control family budget tomorrow.

Tips to Reign In and Out Of Control Family Budget: Saving on Entertainment!

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This is one of the most divisive topics I write about. I am completely serious. Television. Specifically- cutting or lowing your cable or dish package to save money.

This is a big bone of contention for a lot of people who ask me how we live on one income. For some people, they “need their shows“ or they “have to” watch the game every week.

Cable and satellite television is expensive, and now with all of the streaming services in addition to cable, it is conceivable that a family may spend upwards of $300 a month on television. That’s JUST TELEVISION! That doesn’t include movie tickets!

Sit down and gather up the cost of each streaming service and/or cable subscription/dish subscription. Where is there overlapping entertainment?

  • Hulu Plus has a live option, which gives you access to sports, and television shows on the same day they air on cable television.
  • If you have cable that includes the Disney Channel, CBS, HBO, or Showtime, is there really a reason for you to pay for the subscription/on-demand versions of those networks?

If you feel like you are ok with changing your television viewing habits, ditching cable in favor for a few streaming options and over the air television which can be viewed with our digital antenna (which is easy to use/install) and is available for purchase for about $50-$100.

Depending on how strong the signals in your area are, you should be able to receive:

  • ABC
  • CBS
  • NBC
  • CW
  • Fox
  • PBS (We get three PBS channels)

There are additional networks that are available in various areas of the county.  Here in So Cal, we also get:

Plus we get a few more Spanish language channels, and one Korean language channel.

Now that you’ve trimmed/cut the cord, what other entertainment do you see/attend/do? We don’t go to the movies too often, but we have a weekly date night budget of $50. I try to get it out of the bank in cash and if we are going out together, we spend it together, but if we are going out with other friends, or staying home with the kids, I give him half.  If we don’t use it one week, we roll it over to the next week!

images.jpgOne of my other main sources of Entertainment is the gym. I try and go at least 4 times per week for at least an hour.  Other places that you can trim and your family budget can include your gym membership. If you don’t require a gym that has the bells and whistles and lots of classes, you might consider changing your full-service gym to a more budget-friendly or discount gym like Crunch or Planet Fitness. Both of them have extremely reasonable rates, but they don’t offer classes or childcare usually.

If you’re looking at something that is slightly more family-friendly, I cannot recommend the YMCA enough! For our family, we pay $69 a month, and that is inclusive of childcare on-site for both children up to four hours a day (two hours in the morning, two hours in the afternoon as long as there is a lapse of four hours of time in between the two sessions), we can visit any YMCA location in San Diego County, and also have travel benefits if we go out of town. There are free classes for everyone in the family, on various types of exercise from family yoga to family kickboxing to open gym for the kids two-three times a week.

They have great swimming facilities for spring and summer, and the family swim is available year-round in the large pool at our local YMCA. I also like that they have trained people in the childcare/kids club area that know how to work with kids who have special needs, so I never feel like my big kid will be ignored or be feeling out of place. If you are a local and want to check out the YMCA, let me know and I’ll get you a guest pass!

In the past we had some really bad experiences with 24-Hour Fitness. We were also paying a lot of money to go to 24-Hour Fitness (upwards of $120/month Between our membership dues and the cost of the on-site childcare) and I felt like our fitness goals could not be supported because of the lack of support and education with their child care employees.

I also like that the YMCA offers discounted rates/scholarships for military families (active duty and retired), those with low-incomes, or receiving certain government benefits.

As far as kids’ entertainment, our local community library has us covered over school breaks. Between summer reading programs, spring break events, Star Wars Days, Back To School supply giveaways, and Christmas cookie decorating/Polar Express PJ parties. You would be surprised at all of the cool stuff going on at your local library!

 

Talk Back: I’d love to hear about how you save money on entertainment!

My Favorite Pantry Staples!

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I’ve used the term “Pantry Staples” a lot recently, and some of you may not know what that means.

Pantry staples are food items that most people have in their cupboards all the time. They are commonly known as “ingredients”.

Here are the 25 pantry staples that we always have on hand, and below them, you will find links to recipes containing these staples.

I’ve linked to these items on Amazon, which is where I buy a lot of our pantry staples, especially if there is no local deal. I do surveys and research studies to earn Amazon Gift Cards that I use to purchase items.

My Amazon List of Hewes Family Pantry Staples

  1. All-Purpose Flour
  2. Rolled Oats
  3. Baking Powder
  4. Baking Soda
  5. Kosher Salt
  6. Baking Cocoa Powder
  7. Crisco Shortening
  8. Coconut Oil
  9. Grapeseed Oil
  10. Chocolate Chips
  11. White Sugar
  12. Brown Sugar
  13. Powdered Buttermilk
  14. Jasmine Rice and/or Brown Rice
  15. Canned Tomatoes
  16. Tomato Sauce
  17. Tomato Paste
  18. Canned Black Beans
  19. Canned Chickpeas
  20. Canned Kidney Beans
  21. Broth (a mix of Veggie and Chicken)
  22. Noodles/Pasta/Macaroni (Usually one package of each)
  23. Tuna Pouches
  24. Peanut Butter (Or other seed/nut butter)
  25. Vinegar (Usually a couple different types)

 

Recipes using Pantry Staples:

Recipe: Chocolate Chunk Cookies (Made with Olive Oil)

Tasty Chewy Brown Sugar Oatmeal Cookies!

Family Recipe: Cocoa Brownies

Recipe: Not Your Average Taco Salad

Family Recipe: Chicken Tetrazzini

New Recipe: Shakshuka

Recipe: Colonial Chowder

Tips to Reign In An Out Of Control Family Budget: Let’s Start in the Kitchen!

707538835876fc5c438018d57701bc2f.jpgUntil the end of the year, I’ll be posting some articles with realistic tips and methods to save money and reign in spending. None of these are going to the same old “Clip coupons, grow your own garden, etc.” that’s all over the internet- and honestly, here in Southern California, the old, standby advice isn’t going to help you. Grow a garden to save money? Water is so expensive here!

Clipping coupons and shopping grocery store sales/circulars will save you a fraction of the amount that it used to. In years past, I was saving 60-80% with coupons and store sales. Now, I’m lucky to save 50%.  With all of the restrictions on coupons (example: limit one like coupon per day- LAME), stockpiling to save money isn’t always possible without a lot of work/trips to different stores (and that’s not saving time). We’re moving past that, and delving into other ways to save money and take advantage of opportunities that are out there.

Today we are going to start with my pet project: Saving in the kitchen! If you feel like you’re spending too much money on food and groceries, here are my recommendations for getting the grocery spending under control:

  1. Go through your refrigerator/freezer and pantry. Make a note of the food that you have on hand. I like using the kitchen inventories here. This will also give you an opportunity to clean out food from the kitchen that has expired or that you won’t eat. Unexpired food that you won’t eat, can be donated to a local charity.
  2. Now that you have a handle on what you have in your kitchen, take a look at the list and come up with some recipes or meals that can be created with what you have on hand. You’d be surprised by how many meals you have in your kitchen! Make a list of the meals that you can make with what you have. And plan on having one or two of those per week. This will help keep grocery spending down. Make a list of meals that you can make but require one or two ingredients (like fresh vegetables), and add those ingredients to your next few shopping lists. By relying on what you already have in your home, you will be keeping your out of pocket down.
  3. Before you head to the store, take a look at the sale flyer which is available online, and see what is on sale. Plan meals around food that is in season and on sale. Continue to use coupons, but don’t go out of your way to subscribe to multiple newspapers per week to get a hold of lots of the same coupons.  Don’t forget rebate apps! Use of these apps gets us $10-$20/month cashback, sometimes double that, depending on what bonus offers are available- Fetch Rewards and Ibotta often have Bonus offers.
  4. Track your spending over a few weeks to see how much you are spending, and what you are buying. If you still find that you’re spending a lot of money on food, I would try shopping at a different store. I find that even with club card sales, and rebate apps like Fetch Rewards, some grocery stores (like Vons) are just too expensive to do my weekly shopping. I love starting my shopping at $.99 only. I am able to get a lot of snacks, name-brand treats, and fresh fruits and veggies there, and I am still able to stay on budget. Another fun place where I save money is Grocery Outlet. They have great prices on cheese, fruit juice, coffee, and frozen meat. They also have an interesting selection that changes weekly: snack food, protein bars/cookies, and cereal. If you are in the military, a military family, or a veteran, consider shopping at the commissary. Here is my article about saving money at the commissary. 
  5. Consider cooking more from scratch. It is healthier, and pantry stables are generally pretty cheap (the ingredients for a batch of chocolate chip cookies runs about $3.00 and yields 4-5 dozen cookies, while a package of chocolate chip cookies from the grocery store is about $4.00+ and is usually 3 dozen or so).  I buy fruits and veggies whole and break them down and pack them into serving size bags. You can learn more about that and Batch Cooking here.

If you are still having a hard time keeping your grocery budget in check, or if you are finding that the ends don’t meet, consider the San Diego Food Bank Neighborhood Distribution Program. No documentation is needed to receive food assistance from a
Neighborhood Distribution site where people can receive fresh fruits, vegetables, and bread, based on availability. Families are encouraged to bring reusable bags or
a cart with them to carry the food items.

There are programs out there to help those struggling to feed their families here in San Diego County. Here is my list of San Diego County Food Resources.

I work very hard to keep my family on a budget, I work very hard to make sure that we are saving money and taking advantage of as many deals and opportunities that present themself. I know that this is not something that everyone wants to do or something that everyone can do. There are so many programs and discounts out there available for various groups of individuals.

Tomorrow, we’re tackling saving money on the entertainment budget.

12/20/19 Freebie Friday!

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This is the last freebie Friday before Christmas! I’ve tried to include a variety of fun samples, events, and a couple deals.

Freebies:

Deals:

 

Last-Minute Gifts at Gazelle!

**This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

Gazelle is a great place to pick up a last-minute gift or two.

Now through December 22nd, they can get FREE EXPEDITED SHIPPING (2-3 business day) on orders $300+ at Gazelle! Pick up a new to you phone or tablet!

They’ve got a great Trade-In promotion: Get an EXTRA 10% bonus on iPhone 7 & 7 Plus, Galaxy S9 & S9+, iPhone XR, and iPad Pro (all models) valued at $75+ at Gazelle (12/17-12/24)

Maybe you don’t have anything to trade-in, but you still need a deal- YEAR END SALE: Get 15% Off Select Products at Gazelle (12/18-12/31)

I like Gazelle because we can trade-in our old phones and get a discount on a newer phone (or tablet). We are getting the kids a previously owned iPad for Christmas. I’ve already loaded their favorite games and apps (PBS Kids FTW!), and ordered a case that can handle kiddos.

Talk Back: What technology are purchasing or hoping to receive for the holidays?