A Better Cash Back Program

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So, I’ve been doing some research on the cost of diapers and decided that I would organize my findings on blogger.  I’ve been doing this for about a month now and have found some great websites in the process of finding the best prices on diapers.  Until recently, I had been using Ebates as my preferred cash back website.  And, although I still use that website on occasion, I’ve found another cash back website that yields higher cash back (at most of the major retailers.)  This has been very beneficial considering the holiday season and the online Christmas shopping I’ve been doing.

Many of the top retailers are on this new cash back website that I use.  It’s completely free to join and completely free when you redeem your cash back.  You simply search for an online retailer, click the “Get Cashback Now” button, and it will automatically record your visit and purchase.  You will then receive a notification via e-mail with information about your cash back.  I’ve only been using it since the beginning of November and I’ve already earned $15 cash back.  It can really add up over time.

Interested in signing up?  Don’t forget, it’s completely free to join and free to redeem your cash back.  

Right now, you can get 12% cash back at Drugstore.com.  You can also get 6% cash back at Kohls, 5% back at Walmart, and 6% back at Target.  There are many many more online retailers to choose from.

In an effort to maintain full disclosure, I would like to inform you that the following banner contains my referral link and I will receive up to $10 when you sign up and you receive cash back for online purchases.  If you also love the website, you can also receive $10 for referring your friends and family.  I will not receive anything for your referrals.  This is NOT a pyramid scheme or scam of any kind.  It is a real cash back program that rewards their users with cash back when they shop online through selected online retailers.

If you would like to get cash back for your online purchases, simply click on the banner below or go to TopCashBack.com.
Online Cashback

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Planning a Disney World Vacation on a Budget- Part 2: Food

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Saving Money on Food When You’re on Vacation

 

Entertainment Book, Kids Eat Free Cards, and Grocery Shopping

 

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like to cook when I’m on vacation.  As a 24/7 cook for three growing children, one hungry husband, and myself who needs extra calories for nursing, the last thing I want to do on vacation is worry about food.  I’ve lucked out when planning our Orlando, FL, and Walt Disney World vacation.  We will be staying in a time share condo and my mother-in-law and sister-in-law will be cooking many of the dinners.  So, we are only planning on eating out for dinner a couple of times.  Still, there will be times that we’ll be out and about with our tummies rumbling.  So, I’ve found a few ways to cut back on food and restaurant costs while we’re having fun around Orlando, in the Disney Parks, and also in Universal Studios.

List #2  Food

  • Entertainment Book– Go to Ebates.com and sign up, then search for Entertainment.com and shop through Ebates to get 17.5% cash back.  Wait for Entertainment.com to have a 50% off sale.  That is how I got my Orlando Entertainment book for only $12.37!  *Since purchasing my book, they have changed the website to focus more on the digital membership.  So, when you go to the website, you have to scroll to the bottom and click on “interested in the book membership?”  You will only get the Ebates cash back on the Entertainment Books.
  • Kids Eat Free Cards– If you have children, you will want to get one or two of these.  They are only good with the purchase of an adult meal, but that shouldn’t be a problem.  Who takes their kids out to just watch them eat?  They sell for $19.99 retail, which seemed a bit much to me since we will only be in Orlando for 7 days.  So, I scoured the internet for discounted Kids Eat Free Cards.  I ended up on eBay and found a few that may work out.  Some are selling for around $16, plus $0.99 shipping.  You just have to make sure that they are unused and unsigned Kids Eat Free Cards.
  • Restaurants Where Kids Eat Free in Orlando – The Kids Eat Free Card is great for those that will be going out to eat a lot, but I’m not sure we would use it enough to even make up for the cost of getting the card.  So, I went to a website called My Kids Eat Free and found a list of restaurants in Orlando, FL, where kids eat free on certain days of the week.  Some of the Restaurants include Beef ‘O’ Brady’s, Denny’s, and Perkin’s.  The list includes a few that will only have free kids meals for a limited time, so make sure you visit the restaurant’s website or call for details.  Most of the restaurants have Kids Eat Free Tuesday nights, so we will be going to Magic Kingdom on Tuesday and out for dinner later that day.  We will not be eating at any of the sit-down restaurants in the parks.  Most of them require a reservation 6 months in advance, or you’ll be waiting for a very long time.  They are also super pricey.  They can be between $30 and $50 per person.  Yikes!
  • Grocery Shopping– Make a shopping list of everything you’ll need while you’re there, and search for any coupons you can find that will help you save on the food and items on your list.  We will be doing most of our shopping once we get to Orlando.  That way, we will save on luggage space.  So, here is a list of what we will most likely be getting once we’re there.
    -Milk
    -Cereal
    -Bread
    -Eggs
    -Juice
    -Peanut Butter
    -Jelly
    -Butter
    -Bananas
    -Apples
    -Salad
    -Pretzels
    -Nuts

I may add some more things to the list as our departure gets closer.  For now, I would say we’re sticking to the basics and things that we can take into the parks.  The Disney Parks used to say there is no food allowed, but they have since changed their policy.  You are now allowed to take in food and drinks that do not require heating (click here for Disney Park’s FAQ.)   This makes it a lot easier to save on food while in Orlando, FL, and the Walt Disney World Resort and Theme Parks.

 

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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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Contentment is Key

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But godliness with contentment is great gain: for we brought nothing into the world, for neither can we carry anything out;
but having food and covering we shall be therewith content.
But they that are minded to be rich fall into a temptation and a snare and many foolish and hurtful lusts, such as drown men in destruction and perdition.
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil: which some reaching after have been led astray from the faith, and have pierced themselves through with many sorrows.   – 1 Timothy 6:6-10

Over the years, I can see all of the purchases we’ve made out of discontentment.  Of course, what is past is past, and we can only move forward choosing to be more mindful of what drives us to make unneeded purchases.  Just recently, I had to talk my husband down from making such a purchase.  He has been wanting a big flat-screen TV for quite a long time now.  We don’t have a TV and have not had one for years.  We’ve simply chosen to be content watching shows on Hulu and blue-ray movies we borrow from my family on the PS3 we got from my husband’s family last year.  The kids also have a portable DVD player in their room that they can watch their own movies on.  I’d say we have it pretty good.  But, then we go over to my parent’s house where my father has a huge plasma screen in his basement.  That’s when it is hard for my husband to be content with what we have.

Now, I realize that I’m picking on my husband here.  So, I’ll pick on myself for a little while now.  My area of discontentment is food.  I’ve confessed this in an earlier post, but I think I need to bring it up more than once.  Maybe putting it on this blog will help me be more frugal when it comes to food.  I love convenience foods.  I didn’t grow up in a house where dinner was made from scratch by Mom every night, so I was used to just throwing in a pizza, making mac n cheese, or even cereal for dinner.  So, when I go to the grocery store, I tend to be drawn to those types of food, even though I know that it would be more cost effective for our family to purchase ingredients and make meals in bulk to freeze.  It would also be more cost effective to make my husband’s meals from scratch, since he needs to eat gluten-free foods and the gluten-free convenience foods are twice as expensive.  So, this is where my discontentment lyes.  I am not always content with our food budget and grocery list that I have to stick to in order to save money. 

This is where God’s Word helps us to be content.  Those that followed Christ in the Bible were content to just have their needs met.  And, sometimes, they didn’t even have the essentials.  Some were thrown in jail where they had nothing, and yet they were still content in just knowing Christ. 

I like to step back every so often and remind myself that we are truly blessed above and beyond most when it comes to material possessions.  I also try to remember that my husband could lose his job at any time.  We take so much for granted when we are not truly content with what we have.  But, when we finally find that place of contentment, the Bible says we will have great gain

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Toy Swap to Save on Christmas Gifts for the Kids

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So, every year my Mom’s side of the family gets together and we have a Christmas party.  And, every year we do a gift exchange for just the kids.  My Mom has 8 siblings and each of them have an average of 3 kids each.  Plus, there are the great grandkids, which would include my kids.  This year, I made a suggestion for all of the great grandkids.  Instead of buying new toys with money we don’t have, I suggested that each family go through old toys that their kids are bored with and just throw it in a box and bring it to the Christmas party.  Then, we stand in a circle and pass the box off to the family on our left (or right, whatever floats your boat.)  Kids, especially those under the age of 5, don’t care if the toys are brand spanking new.  They just know that it’s a toy they’ve never seen before and they’ll love it!  We’ll see how it goes this Christmas and maybe we’ll make it a tradition.

After searching online for a website that organizes basically the same thing, a toy swap, I found Toyswap.com.  I’ve never tried it, but it is intriguing.  If I didn’t have parents and in-laws that keep us well stocked on toys, I might try it myself.  If you are successful with that site, please share your experience with us. 

Happy Swapping!

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Retail Me Not!

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I just wanted to share this website that I use quite often.  Whenever I have to order vitamins, I get a coupon code from RetailMeNot.com.  You can get coupon codes for almost any website and save tons of money just by typing in a coupon code at the time of checkout.  You can also get printable coupons and grocery coupons.  It’s a great website that will help you save money.  Highly recommended. 

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Easy to Say But Hard to Do

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My husband and I have been trying to stop spending money and save for the past 5 years, but we just recently got serious about it.  There’s nothing like taking a look at all of your debt added up and realize that you owe more than you make in a year!  We started using Mint.com, a free online financial software website where you can see all of your accounts in one place.  This free tool has helped us both analyze our financial situation and create a budget.  Other free features include creating and managing goals, free tips on how to save money, and charts that help you track your progress.

We’ve been using this free financial tool for about 2 years now, and they’ve been making it better and better as time goes on.  They’ve added tons of free resources to help the user plan for their financial future.  It suggests what credit cards would be the best for you based on your spending habits.  It suggests retirement funds and other investment accounts in order to plan for your future.  I think my favorite feature, though, is one they just introduced, and that’s the free credit card debt elimination plan.  You can customize a goal/plan for paying off all of your credit cards and other debt.  Then, Mint will track your progress and help you stay on track.

This tool will be especially useful for us, since we just got done with a major home improvement that went way over our budget.  We have racked up quite a bit of credit card debt, but we hope to be able to pay all of that off by the end of 2012.  Mint has helped us to see that light at the end of the tunnel. 

So, if you need a bit of help getting started on the road to saving, then check out all of the free tools at Mint.com.

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Just Stop Spending and Save Already!

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Just before having my third child, I worked at a call center for a large bank in the loss mitigation department.  I talked to people that were on the verge of losing their home, and let me just say that I was exhausted mentally every day.  What is wrong with the people in America today?  Well?  What’s wrong with you?  What makes you think that you can just keep spending money day after day, living paycheck to paycheck?  To be honest, I’m talking to myself here too.  I know what it’s like to live paycheck to paycheck.  Being a home owner, you have unexpected and even expected expenses that can make you sick to your stomach.

Believe me, I’m sick of it too!  So, let’s do something about it.  Let’s stop spending and save already!

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