Coupons and Groupons: Are They Really Saving You Money?

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Ever since we’ve started our efforts to stop spending money, pay off debt, and save money, I’ve been looking through coupon websites and signing up to get the latest Groupons and all of the latest deals and steals.  So, for the past couple months, my inbox has been full of newsletters and information letting me know where the deal is at.  Sometimes, it’s hard to resist those “deals.”  I mean, who can resist anything when it’s 50-75% off?  And, what if it’s 100% off?  I’m serious!  Sometimes, there are deals that are 100% off and all you have to pay is shipping.  The deal says, “Absolutely free!” and in small letters at the bottom, it states that shipping is not included in that “free” statement.

Needless to say, I’ve given in to a few of these “deals.”  I’ve clipped coupons and redeemed coupon codes, and taken advantage of the latest sales and clearance prices.  I’ve gotten the latest Groupon and Plum District deals and steals.  I have even fallen for the 100% off on something I really didn’t need.

So, I asked myself, “Why would any business give something away for free or for so little?”  That question lead to another question.  “What is the goal of every business?”  And, the answer to that of course is to make money.  The goal of every business is to GET YOU TO SPEND MONEY on their products or services.  What is MY goal?  My goal is to SAVE MONEY.  But, not in the sense that I’m saving 50-75% on something I don’t need.  I want to really SAVE MONEY in that I can see it in my savings account, or I can see my debt decreasing.

So, I’ve decided that there will be no more coupons or Groupons UNLESS I can use a coupon or Groupon for something I NEED.  I will not get pulled into a good “deal” just because it’s a good “deal.”  I will only look for specific coupons and Groupons that will help me save money on things I have already determined that we need.  So, whenever I go online to order something we NEED, I will order through Ebates.com if I can and go to RetailMeNot.com and find coupon codes for those things that I NEED and ONLY what I NEED.  I will unsubscribe from newsletters and mailing lists that tempt me to get the latest deal or steal.  I will not buy something unless I have already determined, BEFORE finding the coupon or Groupon, that we NEED whatever it is.  I will STOP SPENDING and SAVE!

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Getting Baby Timmy to Sleep Through the Night

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My other three children slept through the night (6-8 hours) by the time they were 8 weeks old.  So, I’ve been expecting to make a breakthrough with Timmy this month.  Since he was born, he has slept 3-4 hours at a time during the night.  So, he has been going to sleep around 10pm, waking up at 2am to nurse and again around 6am.  I’ve been looking forward to the night that he drops the 2am feeding and sleeps from 10pm to 6am.

With all of my children, I’ve used the sleep strategies found in Babywise, a book written by Gary Ezzo M.A and Robert Bucknam M.D.  The main strategy found in the book is simply keeping your baby on a consistent cycle every 2-4 hours.  So, every time Timmy wakes up (if it’s at least 2 hours after the last feeding) I nurse him for 10 min, change his diaper and nurse him for another 10 min.  After that, he normally stays awake for a little bit.  I try not to let him fall asleep while he’s nursing.  Since he is still a newborn, he doesn’t stay awake for long before getting fussy.  So, he goes to sleep after being awake for 30-60 minutes.  This nurse, wake, sleep cycle continues throughout the day until he goes to bed at 10pm.  During the night, when he wakes up around 2am, I just nurse him and put him back to bed right away.

Now that I’ve cut out chocolate from my diet, Timmy is a bit more comfortable because he’s not so gassy.  This has helped with his naps during the day and I’ve also started to see a change in his nighttime sleep routine.  He now goes to bed around 9pm and sleeps until about 3am.  That’s 6 hours!  Hurray!  We’re making progress!  That was about a week ago.  Then, Saturday night, he surprised me.  I put him to bed around 9pm and he slept until 6am!  That’s 9 hours!  What a surprise that was.  Especially since only two weeks ago, he was a colicky baby that wouldn’t sleep more than 3 hours at a time.  Now, he is sleeping 6-9 hours a night!  Praise the Lord!  I sure hope this continues.

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My Free Calendar Has Arrived!

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I just got my free calendar from Joyce Meyer Ministries yesterday!  My free calendar looks exactly the way it looks on the website.  And, this FREE calendar has the same quality as a calendar that I would pay for.  Thank you Joyce Meyer for the free calendar and for the encouraging messages contained within its pages.  If you’d like to request a free calendar from Joyce Meyer Ministries, go to her website and request your free 2012 calendar today!

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Timmy is One Month Old!

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Our fourth child has arrived and the first month has flown by.  Life has been turned upside down for all of us, especially little Ethan.  Before Timmy was born, he was the baby.  Now, he needs to wait for Mommy to set Timmy down before he can climb all over me.  And, now we’re all a bit sleep deprived from the midnight wailing.

I’ve discovered an absolute tragedy.  I can not eat chocolate!!!  Timmy’s little tummy just can’t handle it.  I’ve read through a few blog posts and found that other mothers are going through the same thing.  I guess I just eat too much of it.  And, with it being after the holidays, our house is still full of the stuff.  So, I have to choose between my favorite treat and a screaming baby.  It’s been hard, but I’ve been doing very well the past few days.  The only thing I’ve had is a glass of Ovaltine and a chocolate chip granola bar.  He seems to be doing much better already, so that has made me think that he would be an angel baby if I cut out all chocolate and maybe cut back on my dairy intake.  I love milk, but I tend to drink it more when I eat chocolate.  I mean, who can eat chocolate without a glass of milk, right?

Timmy is now one month old and he’s getting bigger every day.  I’m trying to enjoy this time, because I know he’ll be as big as Ethan before I know it (Ethan is almost 2 years old!)  Enjoy life, and try not to eat too much chocolate.  I guess that’s where I’m at right now.

 

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Ebates Can Help You Save on Everything

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I just discovered this really great website for saving money online.  I shop online at Target.com a lot, because I always seem to get Target gift cards for all sorts of reasons.  I get them for my birthday, Christmas, having a baby, anniversary, kids birthdays, you name it!  So, it’s great when I can get cash back on something I didn’t even pay for myself.

What is this great website you ask?  It’s Ebates.com and it’s free to sign up.  When you sign up, you even get a free $5 gift card.  But, remember to only spend on things you were already planning to buy or things that you need.  I don’t want to be the reason anyone spends money on stuff they don’t need or have the money for.

Happy Shopping (for stuff you need of course!)

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Getting Organized Can Help You Stop Spending Money

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I’ve realized something.  I can be very unorganized at times.  And, it’s during those times that I end up spending more money.  What happens when you have a messy and unorganized home?  You can’t find things, right?  And, when you can’t find something you need, what do you do?  You go to the store and you buy it!  You spend money you otherwise wouldn’t have spent if you had known where you put that darn flashlight or that flippin screwdriver.  I swear we have about 10 USB cables because of this very irritating habit of being unorganized.

Before Organizing

Over the past few months, my husband and I have really made an effort to be more organized.  We have to be, now more than ever, because we don’t have the time not to be.  With four kids all under the age of 7, we don’t have an extra hour to look for our keys while the kids are sitting in the car staring at their breath as it forms in front of them.

After Organizing

Now, we have a bowl sitting right by the door to drop the keys in when we get home.  So, now we know exactly where the keys are.  That is, if someone hasn’t forgotten to take the keys out of their coat pocket.  Guilty as charged.

That little scenario just made me think of another way being organized helps you save money.  Gas!  There have been numerous times I’ve gotten the car started, only to realize I forgot something.  So, I go back into the house thinking it will only take me a minute to find what I need.  Well, 15 minutes later, the car is still running and I haven’t found my gloves.  Why o why didn’t I just leave them in my coat pocket?  I can’t find my gloves for the life of me!  Maybe I left them at someones house over the holidays?  I guess I can always buy new ones, right?  I’ll just go to the store right now (spending more on gas to get to the store) and buy some new gloves (again, spending more!)   All of this could have been prevented if I had just stayed organized.

We actually have two baskets now in our living room closet.  One is for the kids hats and gloves, and the other is for my and my husband’s hats and gloves.  I remember going through the house to find all of the kids hats and gloves.  By the time I was done, I had three hats and three pairs of gloves for EACH of the kids!  Now, they know exactly where to put them when we get home.  They go right to the closet, hang up their coats, and put their hats and gloves in the basket.  No more buying hats and gloves every year because we can’t find the hats and gloves from the previous year.


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The Duggars: How they live debt-free

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I just love the Duggars. We’re a lot like Michelle and Jim Bob.  We plan on having lots of children too. Not as many as they have, but we’ll probably have around 8 or 9.  Of course, only the Lord knows.

The Duggars live debt free! And, that’s with 19 kids! You can read all about how they live debt free in the article on MSNBC Today Money.

The Duggars: How they live debt-free

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No More Expensive Kids Toys!

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A few months ago, we ordered a new tank cover for our toilet because the original one was dropped while we were remodeling.  It came wrapped in this huge box that said Fragile on it in big red letters.  After taking the tank cover out and letting the kids pop the bubble wrap, we decided to see what we could do with the box.  My husband got the idea to turn it into a toy for the kids.  We really didn’t have to do much to it.  We just cut a hole in one side and opened the top for the kids to crawl through.

The results?  They LOVED it!  

It was the most popular toy for the few months that we had it, until it wore out it’s welcome.  During that time, it was a car, a rocket ship, a tunnel, a tent, and a bed.  The kids colored all over it and drew a steering wheel on the inside to make it into a car.  It was by far the most popular cheep toy we had ever had.  It was the best kids toy ever, and it was absolutely free!

Here’s a video of our youngest (at the time) playing with his favorite toy just before we had to pitch it.  Ah, the joy of a cardboard box!

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Debt Elimination Progress

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Well, January is here and tax season is just around the corner.  I’m excited to get a huge chunk of our debt paid off.  Still, there’s nothing like the present when it comes to reaching that wonderful land called debt free.  We’ve done well this past month and were able to pay $700 toward the credit cards.  Over the holidays, we saved money on groceries by taking all the leftovers we could get from the holiday parties we attended.  We also received meals from friends and family after Timmy was born on December 7th.  Little side note:  Having a baby will get you free food! 

Before the holidays hit, I told everyone who normally buys us Christmas gifts that we could really use some gift cards to our local grocery store and Target.  And, what do you know, we received over $100 in gift cards!  It has been wonderful knowing that we could use those to help pay off our debt.  Just one step closer to reaching our goals.

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Save on Your Education and/or Homeschooling

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We home school our 6 year old daughter.  She has really excelled in math, so we were looking for a platform where she could learn at her own pace and work on her own.  My husband is also always looking for free educational resources for himself.  Through his searches, he has found one website in particular that we use every day now.  It is called Khan Academy http://www.khanacademy.org.

My daughter now logs into Khan Academy every day to do Math.  She loves it!  And, we love it too!  Plus, it’s free!  It’s a great free resource for anyone wanting to continue their education or home school their children with little to no expense.   So, if you’re looking for ways to save on your own education or home schooling your children, check out Khan Academy.  It’s free!  Still can’t believe it!

A free world-class education for anyone anywhere.

The Khan Academy is an organization on a mission. They’re a not-for-profit with the goal of changing education for the better by providing a free world-class education to anyone anywhere. 
All of the site’s resources are available to anyone. It doesn’t matter if you are a student, teacher, home-schooler, principal, adult returning to the classroom after 20 years, or a friendly alien just trying to get a leg up in earthly biology. The Khan Academy’s materials and resources are available to you completely free of charge.
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