What I’ve Been Up To…

_DSC2099As some of you may have noticed, I haven’t been posting a lot lately, either here or on Social Media. I’ve been busy. Distance learning is coming to a close for the year, so we’ve been doing a lot of meetings and paperwork (I’ll be glad when the mountains of homework packets stop).

In addition to supervising all of the learning (for both kiddos), I’ve also been taking a more active role in helping my big kiddo find behavioral therapies that will work well on his journey through life. My big kid is on the Autism spectrum (ASD) and that means that we do behavioral therapy a few times a week in addition talk therapy. So lots of time helping process feelings and emotions, and that leaves this mama bear feeling tired.

I (try to) get up early about 6:30 each morning, make coffee, do emails, and work on getting stuff set up for the day before the kiddos wake up. Sometimes I’m super successful and get it done. Sometimes I’m lucky if I get a shower.

Successes for the days are measured so much differently now. Did we make it through a day without tears? Missing friends, regular routines, going to the gym, extracurricular activities- all of these weigh heavy on the kids, and grown-ups.

We’ve also been trying to get our home more organized, and we’ve been getting some help from a family friend who is a Konmari guru. We’re about halfway through the process, and it’s been super liberating to get rid of stuff that no longer serves us. We sold all of the DVD’s/video games that we no longer wanted, and raised over $200, that we’ll put towards family fun (maybe sock it away for a 2021 vacation?). Thankfully our local thrift shops are accepting donations at this time. We’ve been loading up the back of my car weekly to donate goods.

In an attempt to wear the kids out physically, I’ve been taking them out for a walk a few times a week with my parents at a local park. Social distancing and masking occur- Also a liberal application of mosquito repellant is applied- The kids and I are very tasty according to the local ‘squito population. We also picked up a small pool for the patio- We are on our second. The first was not heavy-duty enough. This is the one I recommend. We also put tarps under it to protect it from the textured decking. I also use this solar fountain to keep the water moving all day, and we cover it with a tarp at night. I usually dump the water and refill it 2-3 times per week.

downloadSaving money has been a challenge as of late- There aren’t as many deals as supplies aren’t being delivered to stores regularly, less staff to stock shelves, etc. And really, who has been shopping lately for fun? Not many of us. I’ve been using coupons when I can find them, but what I have really found useful is Honey. Honey is a browser extension that helps you find coupon codes and sale prices on items that you are shopping for online. I used it to save over $145 when we bought the big kids new bed a few weeks back.

And I’ve been making masks for family and friends- I made some especially for the kids this week too.

kalecutI’m here y’all! I’m up to my eyeballs, but I’m here. And of course, I’m doing the Always Eat After 7pm program, so I’ll be posting about that. There are so many good recipes I am excited to try (dark chocolate dipped PB cookies, uh, yeah). and I’ll be posting some recipes this weekend- I’ve got a killer Kale Salad recipe that is so tasty and easy (and it keeps in the fridge for a few days too).

I’ll be hosting an Amazon Gift Card Giveaway soon! I want to spread the love with you!

 

Talk Back: What have you been doing lately? 

Warrior Shirts from Cents of Style!

GraphicsI love the shirts from Cents of Style! I am super excited that today’s weekly sale is some incredible Warrior Women shirts. While these shirts are in ladies’ sizes S-3XL, a lot of these shirts are great for anyone!

They sent me this shirt with a quote attributed to Joan of Arc: “I am not afraid. I was born to do this.”

Right now, we are all warriors, fighting for ourselves, our families, our health. In the past 6 weeks, our lives have all changed so drastically. We have all had to step up in various ways. I am proud of all of you. I see so many friends and family members struggling, and I am proud of what you do every day: Going to work as essential employees, taking care of family and friends, supporting and lifting up others in need.

Here is my other favorite shirt:

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If you want to express your inner warrior, Cents of Style is having a sale on these shirts right now:

Take $9.95 Off + FREE Shipping w/code: IAMSTRONG

This sale is going on through 4/30/2020.

I will be picking up a couple of these shirts for friends and family members during this sale. If you want to see how the shirt fits on me, check out my Instagram feed here. I took a few pre-coffee pics with Little Bit this morning. For reference, I ordered a size 3xl because I like my shirts loose/baggy. Let’s face it, I am not an Instagram model, but I am digging this shirt.

 

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Talk Back: I would love to hear about how you are a warrior through these crazy times. 

3/13/2020 Friday Freebies and Deals!

bright boxesI won’t be posting any in-store events or freebies this week, or for the foreseeable future. It will all be online deals (like Amazon), or freebies that you can request to be mailed to you. Better safe than sorry.

I will probably be posting more ways to make money at home (surveys, online research studies, etc) too.

Legit Online Research Studies/Money Making opportunities:

 

Samples and Goodies:

 

Deals:

 

Have a good weekend friends! Be Safe and Wash your hands!

1/23/2020 New Savingtar Rebates!

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SavingStar has some awesome new rebates available.

If you are new to SavingStar, it’s different from traditional couponing!

What makes SavingStar different is that you don’t receive money off at the register.  The savings in held in your SavingStar account, and once you reach at least $20.00 in savings you can transfer it to your Paypal Account or donate your savings to charity!

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SavingStar is the first national, fully digital, grocery eCoupon service, available for free at www.savingstar.com and on iPhone and Android mobile apps. There’s nothing to clip, nothing to print. Chose offers, shop, and save! SavingStar is currently available at over 70,000 locations!

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And it gets better: SavingStar members who redeem 2 offers per month (not counting any Healthy Offers) will unlock a full month of Healthy Offers for the next month! That’s money savings on fruits, veggies, and more!

Here are the latest offers:

Save $1.25 when you purchase ANY ONE (1) Green Giant Harvest Protein Bowls™. Any Variety..Expires 2/26/2020.Save $1.25.

Save $2.00 when you purchase ANY ONE (1) Atkins® Sweet & Salty Crunch Bites. Any Variety..Expires 1/29/2020.Save $2.00.

Save $1.50 when you purchase ANY ONE (1) Atkins® Meal or Snack Protein Bars. Valid on any 5 pack..Expires 1/29/2020.Save $1.50.

Save $1.50 when you purchase ANY ONE (1) Select Atkins Endulge® Treats. Valid on 5 pack. Excludes Atkins Endulge® Peppermint Patties..Expires 1/29/2020.Save $1.50.

Save $2.00 when you purchase ANY ONE (1) Atkins® Chocolate Banana Shakes. Valid on 4 pack..Expires 1/29/2020.Save $2.00.

Save $2.00 when you purchase ANY ONE (1) Atkins Endulge® Peppermint Patties. Valid on 5 pack..Expires 1/29/2020.Save $2.00.

Save $1.50 when you purchase ANY ONE (1) Select Atkins® Shakes. Valid on 4 pack. Excludes Atkins® Chocolate Banana Shakes..Expires 1/30/2020.Save $1.50.

Save $0.75 when you purchase ANY ONE (1) Select NABISCO Cookies or Crackers. Valid on 7 oz or larger. Excludes Belvita, OREO, Triscuit..Expires 2/5/2020.Save $0.75.

Save $0.50 when you purchase ANY ONE (1) Campbell’s® Slow Kettle® Style Soups. Valid on 15.5 oz..Expires 2/26/2020.Save $0.50.

Save $1.00 when you purchase ANY TWO (2) belVita Breakfast Biscuits. Valid on 8.8 oz or larger, any variety. Items must appear on the same receipt..Expires 2/29/2020.Save $1.00.

SAVE $1.00 on any ONE (1) Emergen-C® Dietary Supplement (8ct or larger).Expires 1/19/2020.Save $1.00.

SAVE $4.00 on any ONE (1) Emergen-C® Protein Fuel or Superfoods Product, any variety or size..Expires 1/19/2020.Save $4.00.

SAVE $1.00 on any ONE (1) Barilla® Protein+™ or Chickpea or Red Lentil or Gluten Free Pasta Product (8.8-14.5 oz).Expires 2/29/2020.Save $1.00.

SAVE $5.00 when you spend $25 on any flavor General Mills cereal listed: Cheerios™ • Cinnamon Toast Crunch™ • Lucky Charms™ • Reese’s Puffs • Chex™ • Cocoa Puffs™ • Trix™ • Cookie Crisp™ • Golden Grahams™ • Kix™ • Fiber One™ • Wheaties™ • Raisin Nut Bran

Save $0.50 when you purchase ANY ONE (1) Russell Stover Sugar Free. Valid on 2.4oz Bag or Larger. .Expires 3/25/2020.Save $0.50.(Only at Walmart)

New Year, New Opportunities to Save!

file0001219719004.jpgFor years, I’ve been posting about printable coupons, highlighting some of my favorites at the beginning of each month. As the years go by, sometimes it’s harder to find printable coupons or any coupons that excite me.

Couponing rules have become restrictive in-store, combined with the terms and conditions on each coupon, making the tried and true couponing advice of old (gather a lot of the same coupon, wait for a sale and stockpile items that you eat or use frequently), no longer a solid way to save money.

So this year I’ve decided at the beginning of each month, I’ll be highlighting some of the money-saving apps I use and their new offers. Their offers change monthly, just like coupons. Most of the money-saving apps also offer bonuses or deals from time to time as well.

 Ibotta has a new year referral bonus going on right now. You’ll earn 100% of what your newly referred friends earn through the end of January. Ibotta also has online offers too. You can shop through the app to earn more cashback. I love that they have offers at stores like Joann’s. I can earn cashback for my craft addiction!

refer.pngFetch Rewards has a pretty sweet deal right now- Refer friends with your referral code (mine is ND2TB), You’ll get 4,000 points for each referral, and your friends get 2,000 when they snap their first receipt! (In order for you to qualify for the increased referral bonus, they must enter your referral code and complete a valid receipt now through 11:59 PM PT on 1/7/2020. After 11:59 PM PT on 1/7/2020, the referral bonus will expire)

Checkout 51 is sweetening the deal too- When you sign up here and scan in your first receipt, you’ll get a $5 bonus! If you are already a Checkout 51 user, refer your friends and you’ll earn $10 when a new user scans in their first receipt (and they still earn $5).  Everyone wins!

And I’m not completely discarding the notion that printable coupons aren’t useful. In fact, while working on this post I discovered a couple printable coupons that I would 100% use and printed them out:

Save $2.00 when you buy FIVE (5) Smart Ones Frozen Meals

I try to keep some of these on hand for lunches or nights when I’m too tired to whip up what I’ve meal planned for that night. They have vegetarian entrees too!

Save 35¢ On Any California Dairy Product That Carries The Real California Milk Seal

For us CA peeps, this coupon is super useful!

Save $1.00 on any ONE (1) package of Green Giant® Veggie Tots, Riced Veggies, Mashed Cauliflower, Roasted Veggies, Harvest Protein Bowls, or Cauliflower Pizza Crust

Those Veggie Tots- So tasty!

Talk Back: How do you plan on saving money this year?

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!

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.

New Health and Beauty Brands on Fetch Rewards!

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Fetch is now hooking us up with savings in the health and beauty aisle! From nutritional supplements to over-the-counter pharmaceuticals, they are making healthy living even more rewarding for your whole family.  You can see the full list here.

You can learn all about Fetch rewards here.

So, if this seems like an app you’d enjoy, check this out: Use my code ND2TB when you sign up and you’ll score 2000 points after you scan in your first receipt with Fetch Rewards. That’s 2/3 way to your first $3 Amazon Gift Card (or whatever $3 Gift Card you choose). You can find Fetch Rewards in your app store.

11/29/19 Friday Freebies & Deals

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It’s Black Friday and I’m sure y’all are up to your eyeballs in Black Friday Deals and bargains, so I’m bringing you all kinds of fun free stuff this morning!

Freebies:

Deals: