Tag Archives: family budget

Target Deal

Life is busy.  I don’t coupon.  Maybe I should, however I do a lot of my shopping at Aldi (a discount grocer), so I guess I’m not as motivated as some.  I feel like I’m already getting things at about half price.  But, when a deal smacks me in the face, I am wise enough to engage!  Such was the case the other day!

Okay, don’t laugh … but, sometimes I’m techno “challenged”!  I was doing a little grocery shopping at Target the other day when I saw these signs that said “Save $10 when you spend $50 on groceries”.  Well, I’m no rocket scientist, but I know a good deal when I see one.  Despite my “challenges”, I was going to make this work!  I grabbed my trusty iPhone and texted Target and entered the coupon code.  Voila!  Presto Change-o!  It actually worked!  I did it!  For you teeny-boppers, you’re probably ROFL, but I’m the mother of teeny-boppers, so this is a big deal!  I only used a coupon on my phone once before and that was at Michael’s.  Sadly, the yuppy cashier had to assist me in getting to the proper screen.  Hey, the important thing is, that I got the discount!  I digress …

The best part about getting groceries that day at Target was that most of what I purchased was on sale as well.  For instance, the Folgers coffee was $6.99 each, which is an awesome deal for a big container!  It’s double that price at the regular grocery store around here.  I bought two.  Should’ve bought more in hindsight.  Anyway, I got some lunch meat and some other necessary things.  The icing on the cake was the fact that I also had a $5 gift card from the last visit when I bought 3 sets of Suave Naturals mint shampoo and conditioner.  If you bought 3 sets, you got the $5 gift card.  They were $3.87 per set, which was pretty good.  Not great, but pretty good.  I just saw them at another store for $2.50 each, which is normally what they run for.  So, to get the gift card on top of that was pretty decent.

So, my grand total of savings on this Target shopping day was $15 plus the difference between the sale items vs. regular price.  (which I didn’t tally up)  Not bad for a non-coupon clipping lady!  (not to mention, a limited-techy lady)  I just love when I stumble upon an amazing deal!  Thank you, Lord!!

Have you found any great deals lately?


Filed under frugal living

Praise Report: Auto Style

Can I just tell you that I spend entirely too much time worrying about things?!  Just Wednesday I was provided with fresh worrying material when the Toyota mechanic at the dealership informed us that our 2002 Sequoia needed new front and rear brakes, rotors, wiper blades, terminal for the battery, and on and on their list went!  Yes, fresh fodder for this weary mind that has a lot going on at the moment!

Well, the total for the above repairs would have cost $1,400 as I mentioned in a previous post, which nearly gave me heart palpatations just thinking about it in light of other recent expenditures.  We’re a one income family on a fairly tight budget, so huge unforeseen expenses are unwelcome financial intruders!

Our good neighbor across the street happens to be a Toyota certified mechanic and we’re also good friends with them.  I tell you, the Lord planted them there to be a blessing to us and vice versa.  My daughter often pals around with the young mom and her toddler, who is cute as a button!  We called our good neighbor last night to see if he could install the parts if we picked them up.  He said that it was no problem to order the parts and he could do the work today!  Wow.  Not even 24 hours later, he had our SUV up and running!  He picked up the parts this morning and paid with his employee discount too!  The parts cost $440 and he wanted to charge only $110 for labor.  We couldn’t let him do that, so my husband will give him a check for $650.  I know he doesn’t want to accept it and just wanted to be a blessing, which he was!  But, we also believe in treating people fairly and showing our appreciation.  We’ll have to bake him a cake soon.  He loved the last chocolate cake my daughter made for them.

What a tremendous answer to prayer this is!!  A savings of nearly $1,000!  (If the parts only cost $440, that means the dealer’s mark up and labor was $1,000!  Insane!)

God truly is so faithful to provide for our every need.  Why do I spazz out and doubt then?  “Lord, help my unbelief!”  Ah, somehow I think trusting God is a lifelong lesson.  God always provides and it’s not as if I didn’t think he would in this instance.  I just didn’t know how!  The timing couldn’t have been worse, but that’s when a pause is in order and deep breaths.  How I thank God that His favor lasts a lifetime.  “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life!”  He is so good to us, full of mercy, compassion and love!

So, the lesson here is trusting God no matter what the circumstances or the timing are.  And, the bonus lesson is remembering how God provided this time when the next financial challenge comes along!  In the Old Testament, they built a monument in the desert when God performed a miracle.  Sometimes we need to also do that in our spiritual life today.  Write down the praise reports.  We’ve instituted a “Blessings Jar” where we write down all the great things God does for us throughout the year.  And at the end of the year, it’ll be great to reflect back on!  This testimony definitely qualifies a submission in the Blessings Jar!!

How has God provided miraculously for you lately?  Have you praised Him for it?  Built a monument?


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Frugal Challenges: Auto Style

Frugal living does not necessarily mean a life of total sacrifice.  It, conversely, has more to do with saving money where you can so you are free to spend money on the important, quality things of life.  So, that’s our mode of operation in general.  It’s all about intentional living … Redirecting our money away from useless, fleeting expenditures (like Starbucks coffees, pedicures, fine dining, etc.) and toward the things that strongly matter to us.  Choices.  All about choices.

Well, we were presented with an opportunity to choose to be creative with our finances today…

Yesterday we dropped our 2002 Toyota Sequoia off at the dealership to have the oil changed and fluids topped off.  And today they called us with the ugly news!  It seems our twelve year old SUV is in dire need of front and rear brakes, new rotors and a fresh air filter.  *Sigh*  The ugliness of it all is to the tune of $1,400!  Ouch!

It would seem our money tree out back is bare at the moment, so my husband has a better idea than to line the dealership’s pockets.  Our good neighbor is a Toyota mechanic so we’re going to see if he can help us out.  He also happens to be a Christian and we like their family a great deal, so prayerfully it works out.  He often does work on the side.  We figure between the cost of the parts and labor, we’ll likely save half.  That’s frugality put into practice.

We did, however, pay $88 to have the oil changed, etc. because my husband is sold on the idea of using synthetic oil and we always have.  So, that costs more and it likely needed quite a bit.  That said, we’ve owned this SUV for about seven years now and it has never given us a bit of trouble.  We always maintain it and since it’s my baby, it is driven for leisure only, not to commute to work.  It has about 181,000 miles on it and has traveled extensively along the eastern seaboard.  I always say that it will last however long we need it to!  🙂

Lately, it seems every time we turn around, there’s an unexpected expense!  We’ve had three:

  • Garage door spring repair – $450
  • 3 New Toilets – $600
  • HVAC repair – $809

Not to mention, the last three months of electric bills were: $718, $597 and $565!  And, now this … Ugh.  It’s a good thing we have no car payments!  I’m so thankful that old man winter has had his run for this year and we are slowly marching into spring weather!  (which means lower electric bills!!  Praise the Lord!)  Also, our electric bill will be lower anyway due to recent repairs and freon being added, thankfully!

Today I went to the discount grocery store we usually do a fair amount of our shopping in and reflected on the $86 well spent!  I stocked up on a ton of fruits, vegetables, and a lot of things.  At the regular grocery store, it would’ve been more than double that price!  So, we save where we can, like I said.

Oh, and I was so excited to use my $5 off coupon at Target this evening (if you spent $35 or more)!  Not bad considering I’m not much of a couponer.

And my 16 year old daughter has announced that she’s in need of a new summer wardrobe.  To the thrift store we go…

Also in the mix is our desire to do a few household projects, but we’ll see about those.

I cannot complain really.  We are so very blessed.  God is always so faithful to us and has never failed to provide for our every need!  We are firm believers in tithing and offerings.  One thing I’ve learned over the years is that you can’t outgive God!  He owns everything, afterall.  It’s all His.  He gives us the ability to work and earn a living, and blesses us on top of that!  What a kind and loving God we serve.  May we be wise and faithful stewards of all that God has entrusted us with!

When unexpected expenses arise it reminds us once again of the importance of an emergency fund and savings.  Like I’ve told my daughter, you will never be sorry for saving too much money!

So, here’s to increased savings!




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A New Favorite $ Saving Site

So, my 14 year old son is growing out of just about everything he owns!  Fortunately, we shop at a great thrift store and can stock up on clothes for him there.  He recently grew out of his tennis shoes also.  I decided to check:


My son and I perused the website and found a pair of size 12 Reebok running shoes that he likes for $36.99!  That is an awesome price for running shoes, I thought.  He’s hitting that stage of growth spurts I remember my older son going through a decade ago.  He’ll be 15 in a few months and is closing in on 6′ fast!  I always knew he would be tall.  At 9lbs. 10oz. and 22 1/2 inches, he had no where to go but up, up, up!  🙂

6pm.com not only sells shoes, but clothing and accessories.  I’m most impressed with their shoe prices.  I detest paying full price for anything, especially for items my son will quickly outgrow!  It seems that clothes and shoes are merely disposable items these days, so why pay more when it’s unnecessary?

My lovely sister-in-love told me about that website a while back and I’m so glad she did!  She’s a savvy bargain hunter herself!

So, I just thought I’d toss it out to you all.

Here’s to saving a few $$ today!

Do you have a favorite $ saving website?  Care to share?  Of course, there’s ebay, Amazon, half…  What else?



Filed under frugal living

We Saved $217 Today!



I got tired of the pens and pencils rolling around in the drawer of this side table, so I went dumpster diving in our recycling box.  No worries, the boxes were clean.  They are both Ziploc boxes that I cut out one side and taped together to form a tray.  Remember my sock drawer overhaul?  Well, this is very similar.  Look out now!  No drawer in my house is safe!  Have tape … will craft!

I did have to trim about a half inch around the perimeter as the box was too tall for this shallow drawer, but that wasn’t difficult.  Then I just taped around it for reinforcement.  As you can see, I separated the pens and pencils, so we can quickly retrieve what we’re looking for.  How is it that so many pens find their way into our home?  I haven’t had to purchase any in forever!

So, I figure the little organizers are $1 at the dollar store, which means I saved $2 today by using supplies I had on hand and a little ingenuity!

You ask where did we save the remaining $215 today?  …

The credit for this savings goes, first of all, to God, who gives us favor at every turn!  Secondly, to my husband, whose middle name is “Master Negotiator”!  Yes, he has two middle names because he’s so special!  Haha.

Well, the story goes like this:  Our garage door decided to give up last Friday night just after my husband left town for a men’s retreat with a group of 60 men from our church.  What an unexpected thing to have it go on the blink!  The torsion spring sprung!  So, we needed to replace both springs, plus a tune up.  We are creatures of habit and are so accustomed to going in and out through the garage, so using the front door for the last several days has been inconvenient to say the least.  I digress…

Sears came out this evening to repair it and initially, the guy quoted the repair at $665!  Ouch!  Talk about unexpected!  I prayed that the Lord would give us favor and help us with this expense.  We’ve been hit with back to back electric bills of $718 amd $596!  We have a budget, but it has been severely tested this year already.  Anyway, thankfully, my husband got home in time to speak with the repairman just as he was quoting me the price.  I don’t know how he does it, but I know we never, ever pay full price for anything!  He’s incredible.  He got the guy down to $450 out the door!  There’s our savings of $215!

Thank you, Lord!  So, yes, we saved $217 today!

My little craft project only saved $2 and, yes, I could have easily gone to the dollar store and purchased the needed supplies.  But, why do that?  I was actually tickled with myself that I came up with this handy, little tray.  It should hold up for quite a while and when it decides to tear, I’m certain we’ll have another box I can craft a replacement out of.

Instead of running to the store every time a need arises, why not ask the question:

  • Is this necessary?
  • What if I don’t buy this?
  • Can I make something similar?
  • Can I borrow from family or a friend? (for temporary use)
  • Can I delay this purchase?
  • If I must purchase, do the homework to ensure the lowest price possible.

Saving $2 seems rather trivial, but, what if I saved $2 every day?  Sometimes it’s the small habits that can snowball into larger ones.  Before you know it, you’re more creative than you ever dreamed was possible and the savings just follow as a natural occurrence.

I like challenge.  I think it’s because I’m stubborn.  So, it’s a competition of sorts.  I am always on the look out for new ways to save money even though we already incorporate quite a few frugal habits.  We make our own laundry detergent, do home hair cuts (aside from mine, but I don’t get it cut that often), cook from scratch, etc., etc.  The extensive list of 60 frugal habits can be found in an earlier post:


What is your favorite frugal habit?


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The Credit Card Trap & Hope


There’s something to that verse that says:

“Owe no man anything, but to love him.”  ~ Romans 13:8

We’ve all been there…credit card debt.  They say the average American owes over $15,000 in consumer debt.  That is an astounding figure, isn’t it?  Ouch.  Double ouch.  I’m happy to say that, in this instance, we are well below average.  We almost have none.

It is entirely too easy and relatively painless to swipe that shiny plastic card when making purchases, isn’t it?  The illusion is that we can buy anything we want.  And, we can…up to our credit limit.  But, eventually that dreaded credit card statement arrives in the mailbox and it’s time to face the music.  If we are spending within our means, it’s no problem.  We merely pay the balance in full.  The problem lies in our inability to make that payment in full and the compounding interest on our outstanding balance.  And, then how do most of us deal with this issue?  We pay the minimum balance due.  But, that’s not all.  We continue to charge.  This is when our spending habits can really spiral out of control.


Robbing Peter to pay Paul never works!  When we are taking money from future earnings (which is what credit card debt is), we are stealing from ourselves.  We are stealing our time and energy…and joy, my friend.  This is a self defeating habit that must end.

The advertisements for credit card debt seem to be so appealing with cash back bonuses, airline mileage points, hotel points, etc.  They neglect to equally advertise that you are more than paying for these purported advantages in credit card interest and any annual fees that may apply.  They lure you in, and, if you’re not careful, things can quickly get out of control.

I’m no financial advisor, but I’ve had some experience in this arena.  If you find yourself in credit card debt, I’d definitely recommend:


The first step is obviously to stop spending and assess your present situation.  Write down every debt you owe.  Map out a game plan on paper of how you’re going to eat this elephant.  One bite at a time.  It didn’t occur overnight, therefore, it will not magically disappear overnight.  But, you will begin to see progress as you put one foot in front of the other.

A change in the way you view money and debt is vital at this point.  Finances are a direct reflection of our mindset.  If you are weak in the area of finances or need motivation to get back on track, I suggest reading books on the topic from successful people.  Your local library is a great resource for this…and it’s free!  Bonus!

Why do you think the Bible says that we aren’t to owe anyone?  Is it just another verse to keep us from having fun??  A resounding no!  It’s to establish freedom in our lives!  God wants us to be free in every area.  Freedom.  No chains.  No bondage.  Anywhere.


My husband and I often pray that we will continue to be wise stewards with the resources that God has entrusted us with.  I pray that for you as well, my friend.  When we are financially free and operating in wisdom, we are then able to further God’s kingdom on this earth and accomplish His will for our lives.

Prayer:  “Dear God, I thank you for the resources and talents you have given to me.  I pray that you will give me wisdom to use them.  Show me new ways I can be a better steward of all you’ve entrusted in my care.  Help me to walk in financial freedom every day, I pray.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”

Other Resources:


(This is the ministry that the late Larry Burkett merged with.)


(My husband has been devouring David Bach’s books, especially Start Late, Finish Rich and the one on real estate.  I can’t say I’ve personally read his books, but I thought it was worth throwing it out there as a possible resource worthy of investigating further.)


Filed under Finances, frugal living

10 Ways to Save $$ and a Few Frugal Thoughts


Easy Ways to Conserve $$ this week:

1)   Declare a spending freeze, outside of regular bills.

2)   Spend $10 less on groceries.

3)   Have a meatless dinner.

4)   Cook on top of the stove or crock pot vs. running the oven.

5)   Use less.  Shorter showers, consolidate errands, less products.

6)   Go to bed earlier.  (saves electricity, food, etc.)

7)   Turn off heated dry option on dishwasher.

8)   Do (full load of) laundry on off peak hours.

9)   Turn gas fireplace off an hour before bed.

10)        Read more/less t.v. time.

The above suggestions are relatively painless to implement, yet can yield tangible results.  Even if only a few are put into practice, the savings are still valid.

I’ve learned that the art of frugal living is found in the seemingly small habits.  I’ve also come to understand that true frugality requires a fair amount of creativity.  (re-purposing things, thinking outside of the box, etc.)

I’ve researched boat loads of money saving ideas over the years.  After a while, the standard, thrifty notions become repetitive and monotonous.  That’s why I think a mental change is also necessary in combination with shifts in our habits.

Such mental changes may  include:

  • Learning to make things last or do without
  • Delay purchases
  • Focus on long term goals rather than temporary pleasures
  • Implementing a monthly budget & having the resolve to adhere to it
  • Downgrade your expectations
  • Stop comparing your finances to others
  • Realize you don’t need every item advertised on t.v. or the internet
  • Stick to a list when shopping/No shopping therapy
  • Stop & smell the roses/Be thankful
  • Celebrate the small budget victories

   We all have our frugal limits.  I’m definitely not a “die hard” frugal disciple, but I make valiant strides.  For instance, I do not grow a garden, whereas many thrifty people do.  That is just one area I have no desire to venture into.  However, I do shop heavily at a discount grocery store.  So, I save that way.  

The thing I love most about frugal living is it allows one to save in many areas in order to accomplish important financial goals.

In a nutshell, it’s living with purpose.

Do you have any other budget “mental changes” ideas?

What are some creative, “off the beaten path” money saving ideas you’ve come across?  I’d love to hear!  🙂


Filed under frugal living

60 Frugal Ideas

I have been a stay at home mom for nearly twenty years now, and want to share a few things I have learned along the way.  Surviving and thriving on one income, particularly in today’s challenging economy, encourages one to continually find creative ways to save.

Because I’m an avid list maker, I compiled this list (in no particular order) some time ago that outlines 60 habits our suburban family strives to adhere to.  None of these ideas are new, but, they may prompt additional ideas that you can adopt to save a few $$.  I’d love to hear your money saving tips too!  Life is best lived in community.  “Iron sharpens iron.” (Proverbs 22:17)

Life is all about choices.  If we do this, it = this outcome.  If I trim my husband’s and son’s hair, then we’ll have more $ to go on a family outing, etc.  It’s all about what’s important to you, how drastically the budget needs to change, etc.

See if there’s any that may be useful for you and your family. Enjoy!

1.)  Use less/Make it last philosophy.

2.)  Have fewer wants.

3.)  Delay purchases or do without.

4.)  Plan ahead for purchases. (prevents impulsive buying at a higher cost usually)

5.)  Maintain organization to prevent duplicate purchases.

6.)  Read Dave Ramsey’s books/watch his DVD’s.  (Financial Peace, Total Money Makeover)

7.)  Consider the cash envelope system.

8.)  Implement a monthly budget.

9.)  Hold regular budget meetings with spouse/Communicate! It’s a blessing to be on the same page, financially! 🙂

10.)               Shop at thrift or consignment stores when possible.

11.)               Mend clothes to make them last.

12.)               Shop at discount grocery stores when feasible.

13.)               Buy store brands.

14.)               Use coupons for things you need.

15.)               Stock up on sales (for things you regularly use)

16.)               Buy quality when it counts & it will last longer

17.)               “Do it Yourself” mentality for most services.

18.)               Negotiate for everything.  (I happen to be married to a “Master Negotiator”! It’s embarrassing sometimes…but I always                          appreciate the $aving$!  Can anyone else identify?)

19.)               Comparison shop for goods/services

20.)               Bundle services (insurance, utilities, etc.)

21.)               Conserve electricity.

22.)               Maintain steady temperature on thermostat.

23.)               Check for drafts around windows/doors.

24.)               Install attic insulation.

25.)               Install water heater blanket.

26.)               Maintain furnace with regular service.

27.)               Cook from scratch.

28.)               Take leftovers for lunch.

29.)               Take snacks/drinks when running errands to avoid the drive thru.

30.)               Combine errands.

31.)               No lattes/coffees to go.  Brew at home & take with you!

32.)               Limit sodas & junk food.

33.)               Make our own iced tea. (I love sweet tea!  Any others out there??) J

34.)               Bake our own snacks vs. pre-packaged sweets.  They taste better too!

35.)               Have a meat-less dinner once a week.

36.)               Eat less.

37.)               Incorporate leftovers into next dinner

38.)               Shop perimeter of grocery store to avoid junk (essentials are always on      perimeter)

39.)               Go shopping with a list & stick to it.

40.)               Don’t take the kids when grocery shopping (if at all possible).

41.)               Clean oven during cooler months (serves double purpose)

42.)               No therapy shopping.

43.)               Wash laundry after 9p.m. (cheaper rates)

44.)               Wash only full loads of laundry & dishes.

45.)               Wash in cold water.

46.)               Make homemade laundry detergent.

47.)               Hang clothes to dry when possible. (less wear & tear on clothes too)

48.)               Take vitamins/supplements.

49.)               Exercise.  Be proactive about our health.

50.)               Practice good dental hygiene to prevent disease & costly procedures.

51.)               Invest in good shoes.

52.)               Communicate via email vs. snail mail when possible.

53.)               Print documents sparingly.

54.)               Pay bills online to save a stamp.

55.)               Stay with friends/family when traveling (if feasible).

56.)               Rent DVD’s via Redbox or purchase movies at thrift store.

57.)               Maximize your local library. (free entertainment!)  Many offer free classes as well.

58.)               Don’t buy “dry clean only” clothing.

59.)               Home haircuts & coloring. (Any other homespun barbers out there?)

60.)               Donate to charity. (tax benefit, plus it’s good for the soul.)  🙂


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