Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Don’t Cut Up Your Princess Express Credit Card!

Tuesday, January 15th, 2008

I ran across this from Life, In a Nutshell! This is classic and a great laugh (and lesson too!)

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6zu0l7RGqb0]

Day Trip to Chicago & WSBT-TV Segment

Wednesday, January 9th, 2008

Yesterday I had to make a day trip over to Chicago to…..(drum roll please!) shoot some promotions for KENMORE! Yup, I am being added to their team of experts to talk about cleaning & organizing for their Make It Simple team! I will be sure to post links to the promotions and my monthly articles with the team, sharing my advice on cleaning & caring for your appliances.

This was truly a dream come true job and I will be working with Kenmore for the next six months (and hopefully longer, if all goes well!) I wish I could have had my camera yesterday to take pictures of that day, but I didn’t want to be a complete dork! It went really well, but I didn’t get home until close to midnight. To say I am tired today would be putting it mildly. I had to stop at Starbucks this morning and cash in on one of my Christmas gift certificates. This is the first time I have ever asked for a triple shot of espresso in my cup. That was a mistake…I fear I never will go back to regular caffeine again!

I still can’t believe that this opportunity landed in my lap and I was a little choked up when I got home last night. All of the fuss over hair and wardrobe and feeling like a star for a day…it was just a dream come true. I can’t wait to tell my kids someday how cool I felt that day!

My segment on, “Making Your Own Bread” also aired on WSBT yesterday. I shared some tips for saving money on making your bread at home. I share the functions to look for on a machine and tips for saving on making your own bread. This goes along with my post on how to use your bread machine and how to store your ingredients.

Sound Off: Do you make your own bread? How do you streamline the bread-making process?

Ask the Frugal Momma: How Do I Work From Home?

Thursday, January 3rd, 2008

Well, thankfully our phone & internet has been restored. I discovered I have quite a dependency on it and spending an entire evening over at a supermarket in the yucky weather was not ideal.

Since the CBS Early Show aired our segment, I have been really bogged down with emails and, ironically, many of them are scammers trying to scam me out of some more of my money. Right now we are not interested in any work-at-home opportunities for ourselves personally, but thank you so much for thinking of us.

For those who are legitimately trying to find work at home opportunities, please know that my sympathies are with each of you. It is really hard to find work-at-home employment and it is particularly difficult to carve your own niche into the work-at-home world.

Direct sales jobs abound and can be very fruitful for people who are really dedicated and who work hard. Sitting on a couch watching the money roll in will probably not be happening in your near future, but hard work can help you achieve your work-at-home goals.

Things that can be helpful when starting out-

1. Look at the cost investment- Always make sure that you understand how much it is going to cost to get started. Some companies, like Avon, only have a very small amount that you need to pay to start your business upfront. Other companies can require you to spend $500 or more to get started. Be sure you understand how hard you are going to have to work to recoup your investment and be very careful! If you want to dabble in working at home or are unsure if you are disciplined enough to do something like this, please don’t throw in a huge investment to make that discovery. It breaks my heart when people tell me they are having a difficult time financially and then they decide to work at home with a $2K start-up fee and then weeks later say they made the wrong choice.

2. Know your strengths- If you are very shy and have a hard time talking to people, direct sales jobs can be difficult to do. I tried direct sales and discovered that I just wasn’t good at it. I don’t want to “bother” people so it was hard for me to do a job where I had to call and ask if people wanted to place orders, emailing them about parties, asking them if they wanted to buy stuff, handing out catalogs, etc… It wasn’t for me! BUT, you might have a way with words and have just the right personality for this kind of job.

If you aren’t sure what your strengths are, ask your friends and family. “You know me best. Do you think I would be good at a _____.” They should be able to help you in making your decision too!

3. Go to the library- The library is a wealth of FREE information for someone who is looking into working from home. It is an easy way to explore different career paths without making an investment. Check out books on how to start a simple website, how to sell items on Ebay, or find information on great work-at-home careers.

4. Network- Network with anyone and everyone that you can. Join community groups or take advantage of the great communities that you are already part of to begin the networking process. Bater your services with other work-at-home moms, share resources for great deals, and just vent to one another about your work-at-home difficulties.

5. Get a Cheap Website- I asked my husband about this one and he said, “You are trying to put me out of business!” As a freelance web designer, he is going out on a limb to share this information so leave us some comment love!

He suggested Microsoft Office which is FREE! They also have package deals with more features for $19.95 and up. If you are just experimenting and trying to get started, this would be a nice option to explore.

6. Make Money- The bottom line is that there are legitimate opportunities out there, but they are usually names of companies that you know and recognize. The only other option is to go out on your own and start your own little adventure. If you don’t have the resources or knowledge to do something new like this, check into community courses on starting a small business or starting a website. Even some libraries offer basic courses in computer skills to get you started.

I personally started this website and made below the poverty level for almost two years. Some months we were extremely excited when we brought in even $80 after I worked for 20-25 hours a week on the website. I do not have a company of people to help me and it has made the money growth a lot slower for me…BUT….I am staying home with my children and I am my own boss. It isn’t a ton of money, but it is a modest income that helps when you are just trying to make ends meet. I guess what I am trying to convey is that it is important to be realistic. Growth takes time and devotion. If you aren’t devoted to your business/craft/adventure then you probably will end up giving up on it before you can see the numbers begin to turn in your favor.

7. Get Advertisers- I also wanted to address the question about advertisements. There are tons of places you can go through for making money through advertisements. You can do sites like:

Google AdWords
Pay Per Post
BlogHer Ads

I am sure there are many other programs, but these are some of the basic ones that are easy for new sites/blogs to use. You can also become affiliated with companies and make money from referral programs. For example, you can sign up with a company like Commission Junction and make money if you refer people to sites/services.

As you develop more of an audience, you will find that new avenues of revenue opportunities are available. Sites that develop a strong audience can begin going out on their own and creating their own advertising. I did this in the beginning and I was able to pocket all of the money from the advertising, but I had a hard time keeping up with the accounts. I used PayPal for making payments to me, but I had to send out the reminder letters, pull the accounts when they were expired, send invoices, and we might have had to even design the advertisements. It was a lot of work! You have to be more disciplined to keep up with something like this on your own, but you also can keep all of the money you earn!

Other avenues that could open up are advertising networks that are only available to the bigger sites. One network we joined required a monthly minimum of 250K page views each month. That was the minimum. You can imagine how long it took us to get to that point, but we got a bigger piece of the pie.

When you start looking into this territory you need to start exploring how your money is generated and what income you can expect. Do you get money just if people view the advertisements or is your money made only through people clicking on the advertisements? How big are the advertisements? How many will you have to place on the site? Do you get to help pick what appears on your site? Will the advertisements fit with your audience? Will ADULT CONTENT be shown? (This is particularly important if you are trying to run a family-friendly site)

I hope that my answers do not scare anyone off, but I did want to share as much as I could on this topic since I got some really heartbreaking emails. I am so sorry to the families who have lost money because they have been scammed. There is nothing wors
e than being scammed especially when you are in a vulnerable financial state.

Please let me know if you have more questions by leaving me a comment! The comments keep me motivated and also help me understand what more I can share with you all.

Feeling Like a Proud Momma…

Tuesday, January 1st, 2008

Here are my proudest moments on my blog for 2007! If you are a new reader, this can give you a little insight into what I truly love to share about- saving our family money!

I just want to thank everyone who has provided encouragement to me in the past year. Your comments, emails, and feedback on our site and our community help me to run things more smoothly. I have made some of the best friendships of my life and learned so much from our community of bloggers.

I have so many plans up my sleeve for 2008! We are making some investments into creating an even better community here and I have been spending the past few weeks outlining my hopes and dreams for our little corner of the internet. I hope you will enjoy some of the improvements that we will make and will continue to share and teach me things! Thank you all for making this year so successful for us!

Homemaking Highlights

Frugal Carpet Steaming
The Amazing Dishwasher
Happy Homemaking the Homemade Way
Creating a Kid Friendly Office
Making a Safe Haven for Baby
Organizing Your Laundry Room
Organizing Your Pantry & Cupboards
How I Finally Cleaned Out My Closet
Caring for Stainless Steel Appliances
Making Our Home More Inviting

Crafty Highlights

Bubbly Magnets
Cheap Dry Erase Boards
Painting Mugs
Frugality Births Creativity
Eat Your Heart Out, Martha (Or How to Make a Diaper Cake)
Feeling Like a Professional Florist
Elegant Photo Albums

Kitchen Highlights

Iron Chef Mom Challenge
Iced Peppermint Mochas
Storing Homemade Bread & Bread Ingredients
Best Birthday Cupcakes in the World
Best Homemade Nonstick Spray in the World (hmm…I really liked that phrase this year!)
Oatmeal Waffles with Honey Butter
Overcoming My Fears: Canning

Frugal/Money Highlights

My Month of Savings Series
Disposing of the Disposable Items
Overcoming My Fears: Gardening
Simplifying Gift Giving
Wrapping Gifts
Thrifty Graduation Gifts
Frugal Baby Gifts
Frugal Wedding Gift Ideas
Frugal Housewarming Gifts
Overcoming My Fears: Cutting Hair
Overcoming My Fears: Mowing
Where to Get Free Wi-Fi
Going Without Prescription Coverage: A Self Discovery
Ding Dong: Did Someone Order Groceries?
Reducing Plastic Bag Consumption

Mommy Highlights

Lessons Learned from a Day Trip to the Museum
Teaching My Kids to Say Thank You
A Homemade Kind of Birthday
Ornament Decorating Fun
Enjoying the Last Days of Summer
Happy Fall!

Professional Highlights:

Interview with THE Jessica Seinfeld
CBS Early Show
My Trip to San Francisco
My husband winning us a trip to Las Vegas
Serving on the Advisory Board for Divine Caroline
Being Interviewed for the New York Times
Appearing Weekly for our local CBS-affiliate (WSBT)
Writing weekly for Frugal Hacks
Writing Monthly for Michiana Family Magazine
Speaking periodically to local mom groups about how to save money
Launching
the Aldi Queen Blog

Launching The Mother loot Blog

Free Sweet Tea in January

Tuesday, January 1st, 2008

A good Southern sweet tea is hard to come by out here in the Midwest and very few places in our area serve or offer it. The closest we can get is usually that nasty Lipton tea in the soda machines. Blech! Don’t you folks in the South feel so sorry for us? (*sniff, sniff*)

Our local McDonald’s though has now added sweet tea to their menu and every Tuesday, in the month of January, you can swing by to pick up a free sweet tea. No purchase necessary!

After that, a 32 ounce sweet tea will be just $.99, making that a super sweet bargain for this frugal momma! Here’s hoping it is an improvement that rivals their excellent coffee improvements they have made!

*Note: Check to see if your McDonald’s is offering the same campaign. I know all Michiana locations are offering it in our area.*

Santa Spotting

Tuesday, December 25th, 2007

We went to a friend’s holiday open house and Santa happened to stop by to see the children. As we were too sick to make it over to see our amazing mall Santa (he truly is!), we decided this was a perfect opportunity to get the kid’s special visit in with Santa.

Pictured here is how polite our son is… some of the time anyway! He is raising his hand and saying, “Excuse me, Santa! Santa, excuse me! I need to speak with you”

Ethan quickly plops down in Santa’s lap and talks his ear off. A last minute change of plans occurrs where his original plan of getting a Monster Truck was now changed and he wanted a Hummer Truck that he could ride in (price tag of $300). He says Santa told him to write it all out and he would see what he could do. Unfortunately, Santa already shopped and Santa did not have $300 in the Santa fund to spend. What can I say? Our Santa is cheap.
Emily is watching Ethan talk with Santa and is really excited to see him. I mean, you can just see it in her face. I know that this is the year that we get that amazing shot of her with Santa. This will not be a repeat of last year. She is going to look so cute on Santa’s lap….Oh! We are getting excited now. I hand her over to Santa and all of a sudden…
Santa looks at me and says, “Oh no! There is something wrong with this one” (All pictures can be expanded for real-life detail and trauma we invoked on our child)

Better luck next year, I say! Merry Christmas, everyone!

Cheeseburger in Paradise

Saturday, December 22nd, 2007
I couldn’t resist? I apologize if the song is now stuck in your head.

Since we have been sick, I have been all about simple cooking and quick dinners. I have had this recipe in my “to be tried” pile for quite some time, and it seemed like the perfect meal for this busy time of year.

Unfortunately, I can’t add this one to the Aldi Queen blog. It contains two non-Aldi ingredients- shell pasta (which could be subbed with a rotini or elbow mac from Aldi) and a can of cheese soup (currently not available at our Aldi).

Regardless, this is a quick and easy pantry meal. It is like Hamburger Helper, but definitely has more of a distinct flavor than those flavor pouches that come in a box.

The best part about this dish…only one pan to clean up! That is why skillet dinners get two thumbs up in our house.

Enjoy a stress-free night of cooking!

Cheeseburger Pasta

1 lb ground beef

1 (10 1/2 ounce) can cheddar cheese soup
1 (10 1/2 ounce) can beef broth

1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup ketchup

2 cups medium-size pasta shells

Brown the ground beef. Add all other ingredients and heat to a boil. Cook over medium heat 10 to 15 minutes or until done, stirring often. (Amy’s Note: This took a little over fifteen minutes for me, uncovered)

When Do You Have the Talk?

Thursday, December 20th, 2007

Wow, I have been reading a sea of blog entries on teenage pregnancy since the whole thing with the Spears family has come out. Ironically, the feel-good movie of the year is, “Juno” which also deals with the issue of teenage pregnancy.

As a parent of children under five, I have not had the big talk yet. I am really curious who out there has had the talk and at what age you discussed this? Was it you and your husband together? Did the conversation stem from a particular circumstance or was it just something you decided to talk about with your child? Did you talk from the heart or did you tackle the discussion with some learning materials?

I guess what I am asking is, what can we as parents do to help prevent our children from being a statistic?

I don’t say this to stir up controversy, but only to understand how other parents have dealt with topics such as these!

Good News for Wii Shoppers

Tuesday, December 18th, 2007

Although I admit the Wii is not necessarily the most frugal purchase, people are definitely on the lookout for them this holiday season. Unfortunately, people are forking over hundreds and hundreds of dollars for their game systems and it makes an expensive system even more expensive than it should be.

GameStop & Nintendo are teaming up to make sure shoppers get their Wii game system and are now offering rain checks on the systems. This means, instead of you standing in line for hours on end only to find out the store has run out of systems, you can take your raincheck and go home to be with your family.

The rain check program—available only through GameStop stores—will “guarantee” that consumers can get a Wii after Christmas. On December 20 and 21, consumers can purchase a Wii rain check (“while supplies last”) for the full $249 price. The Wii systems must be picked up by January 29.

Of course, these will not be ready for the holidays, but a promise of a Wii could be all wrapped and tucked under the tree. How great is that?

**Special thanks to my hubby for the tip**

More Great Shopping Deals

Tuesday, December 18th, 2007

I am trying to post these as I run across them for holiday shopping! I hope these are helping and let me know if you would like me to continue posting them.

This Webkinz Chihuahua is marked down to only $5.95, originally priced at $19.99. I hear it is the latest craze, although I don’t know anything about these since my kids aren’t old enough yet.

This retro Radio Flyer Rocket was originally $74.99 and the price is now listed at $35.00. Apparently it dipped just a tiny bit below that, but I didn’t catch it when it did that. It is still a great deal though.

I am not sure if the orders will be here by Christmas or not, without paying extra to ship it, but some of us are probably already stockpiling for next Christmas (or birthdays!)

Happy holidays everyone and I hope you are scoring all of the best deals for your holiday shopping!