Archive for June, 2006

Friday Freebie: Simon Mall Kidgits Program

Friday, June 30th, 2006

Today I wanted to discuss the Simon Mall Kidgits program. If you have a Simon Mall, this is definitely a program to take advantage of. For a mere five dollars you receive a child’s t-shirt, family-friendly & money-saving coupons from mall retailers, birthday club & gift redemption for kids, a mailed newsletter publication with games & educational elements, & other membership exclusives. Each mall offers something different (as do their retailers), but I will share with you what we receive each month for our five dollar membership.

Each month, we head to the customer service desk and pick up that month’s worth of coupons. In our packet is a free Chickfila kid’s meal & a 1/4 pound of jelly beans from the South Bend Chocolate Factory. We take these coupons and get our son’s meal with them (he eats free) and my husband and I get something to eat. After we eat that, we go pick up his jelly beans (these get hidden for a treat the next day). We then head over to our mall play area and he plays his little heart out with the other kids. On our way out, we then head over to the DQ, located within our food court, and get him his fifty cent kiddy cone. He has the best time and eats for free once a month.

In our packet are additional discounts for other retailers. There is usually a five dollar off coupon for Stride Rite (which can be used for his back-to-school shoes), a free 8×10 for the Picture People (no sitting fee), buy one pretzel get one free coupon, and twenty percent off cookies at the little cookie place. Each month they change, but I can usually expect to see these coupons pretty regularly in my packet.

You can apply to be part of this program online or request an application at the Customer Service desk at your mall. If you would like to see what coupons are offered in your area, just visit this link and it will bring up the month’s current offer.

Many thanks go to my girlfriends who finally convinced me that it really was worth five dollars a year!

If you are interested in more freebies, please visit the following links for even more great offers!

Free Samples
Free Money
Starbucks Coffee
Baby Freebies
Free Baby Goodies

Frugal Momma’s Test Kitchen: Magic Milkshakes & Slushies

Wednesday, June 28th, 2006

This week we decided to try out a few new recipes because we have added a new appliance to our kitchen- the smoothie maker! I have wanted one of these for a long time, but $40 seemed like a lot of money for something that I didn’t think I would use all that often. My girlfriend was selling one in her garage sale though and I decided I wouldn’t mind spending FOUR dollars to try it out. I can tell you that we have already gotten our four dollars out of it (and probably would get forty dollars out of it, if that were the case) and made some incredibly yummy summer treats.

The recipes that I wanted to review this week were from one of my favorite websites- Hillbilly Housewife. This website is full of great information and I particularly enjoy her budget-friendly recipes & menu plans. If you haven’t had a chance to swing by her site, I highly recommend it. Don’t be fooled by the title- there is so much that you can learn from this woman.

We tried two of her recipes and they have already made numerous repeat performances at our house. The first was the incredibly yummy, Magic Milkshakes. What makes them magic? Well, you don’t have to dump a carton (or two) of ice cream in the blender to make them. In fact, it involves no ice cream at all! Not using the ice cream and only using powdered milk, makes this the most budget-friendly yummy milkshake you will ever drink. If you don’t believe me, look at my son and his magic milkshake mustache! I call them magic in our house though because they have been magically disappearing. It is the closest thing to a Wendy’s Frosty that I could ever make and one batch of these will give you four shakes.

The other recipe that we tried were for her Slushies recipe. These are seriously just as good as any you will buy in a store or restaurant. Don’t be fooled by the simple ingredients- they make amazing slushies. We were drinking these often enough that I decided to purchase the sugar-free versions of fruit drink mix so that we weren’t consuming so much sugar before bed time. She estimated that these were about six cents per serving, but it is a treat that is worth so much more than that! I let my son pick his favorite color for the evening and it provides good motivation for him to pick up his toys before he goes to bed. Now that is a drink that keeps on giving!

I hope you can enjoy these sweet summer treats and feel free to comment what you thought about them. If you have a favorite summer dessert or snack that you would like to share- feel free to include your recipe in the comments section.

Thank you to Hillbilly Housewife for providing me with some (much needed) inspiration in the snack department! Please visit her website for more great recipes and ideas.

Works-For-Me-Wednesday: Solution for Cheap Trash Bags

Wednesday, June 28th, 2006

Good morning and welcome to this edition of Works-For-Me Wednesday. Please be sure to visit Shannon’s blog to view all of the entries from all of the wonderful ladies who make this day so much fun!

I have had this Works-For-Me-Wednesday solution in my back pocket for a long time now. It was one of those things that I wanted to throw out there when I had absolutely no idea what to do…And that day has definitely come!

We are very tight on our grocery budget and I hate to waste money on any paper products because it takes away from our actual food budget. When I do buy paper products, I tend to buy the cheapest that you can find (with the exception of the toilet paper- ouch!).

I have found the best cheap trash bags to be the ones from Aldi. I have purchased them all over, but these seem to hold up the best under pressure. The bad thing about these bags is that they don’t really have any handles and so the bag would slip, when my husband was getting the trash out to take to the curb, and we would end up with a really nasty mess.

My solution for this- old pantyhose. Simply cut the top elastic off of any old pair of torn pantyhose and wrap it around your trash bag to hug it into place. I have been using the same elastic for three years now and it is still going strong. It is the perfect solution (not to mention practically free!) and your husband will definitely thank you for this idea!

If you are new to my blog, please browse around! I am also including links to all of the past WFMW entries that I have done (in case you missed it!)

Programming Your Cell Phone
Free Up Pantry Space: Make a Snack
Weeding Through Your Child’s Art Work Creatively
Using the Coffee Maker With Ease
Making Your Spice Rack Usable
Maximizing Space

Festivals & Carnivals

Tuesday, June 27th, 2006

The carnivals and festivals are up & posted for the week- thank you to all the hosts who have included us!

Free Money Finance is hosting this week’s Festival of Frugality. Included within the submissions is our Friday Freebie: Free Samples.

Mighty Bargain Hunter is the host for the Carnival of Personal Finance (#54). Included within these submissions is our Frugal Momma’s Test Kitchen: Starbucks Banana Pound Cake.

Blueprint for Financial Prosperity is hosting the Carnival of Debt Reduction (#41). Our submission of Online Grocery Shopping was included within this.

Finally, the Carnival of Family Life is now traveling and is over at Snapshot. Our Friday Freebie: Free Samples was also located there.

Frugal Momma’s top picks for good reads this week:

How Far Do You Go With Cashback? is a great entry on how people have creatively taken advantage of the cashback on their credit cards. The real question is how far is too far AND if one is disciplined enough to actually pay their balance so they get rewards (and not fees!)

The End of My Frugal Rope is a great read for people who are disciplined in the fine art of frugality. What do you do when you are already doing all you can to save your family money? How do you tap into your creativity when you think you know it all?

Free Summer Activities for Your Kids is a great read for parents. I know I am always looking for free stuff to do with my children and supermom points out some great ways to keep them busy!

There is also a great entry on Common Mistakes in Becoming Debt Free that is worth taking a look at. The one I struggle with…Being Pound Wise & Pound Foolish.

Thanks again to all of our hosts! Looking forward to sharing more next week!

Sam’s Club Click ‘N Pull Review

Monday, June 26th, 2006

Today I had to pick up an order from Sam’s Club so I decided to give their Click ‘N Pull option a try. I had talked a little bit about this in last week’s blog entry on online shopping, but had not gotten a chance yet to give it a shot at our local Sam’s Club. Basically, you can do all of your ordering online (place your order by 5 PM) and then you come and pick the order up the next day.

I placed an order for some frozen goods, produce, and water. I did not have to enter my credit card online or anything like that, just placed the order and got an email confirmation that they received it. The following day I received an email that my order had been processed and I could pick it up within the next seventy-two hours. That sounded good to me because I was hoping that I wouldn’t have to rush over there with the two kids.

When my husband got home, I headed over to the store and went to the Customer Service Desk to pick up my order. I gave my name and they scanned a bar code on my order, which brought all of my items up in one scan and provided my total. While I wrote my check, they called someone to get my items from the freezer and cooler. By the time I finished my check, my order was ready to go and I was in and out of there in a matter of ten minutes. That HAS to be a record for me.

Since I am always looking for ways to save money, I found this a true benefit to my wallet in a few different ways.

1. I can comparison shop online and find out if the biggest bag of chicken really is the best deal (which it was not!). Shopping online gave me the time I needed to browse through all of their selections and price everything. Trying to figure out prices, when many times it offers price per pallet, was much easier when I was doing this from home.

2. By having my order ready for me, I did not have to walk around the store and feel overwhelmed. I have a really hard time shopping in places when they offer too much. I get that sick feeling in my stomach, get overwhelmed, start throwing things in my cart, then decide to put things back, then grab them again, etc.. I don’t know if this is just me or if other people go through this- Sam’s Club is one of those places for me.

3. I avoided all of the unnecessary shopping that seems to sidetrack me when I am shopping there. No looking at books, getting clothes, buying everything from the people offering samples (Do they really need to get the sweetest ladies in the world handing those out because it makes it hard for me to refuse???) I got exactly what I needed and was home to spend an evening with my family. This makes my wallet happier and our family happier.

I hope that you guys can take advantage of this service. There was no charge and it was so simple. I told the associate that I thought it was a wonderful service that they were offering and she said that it usually works out really well. The only thing that they have had trouble with is when people take things out of the carts that have items reserved in them.

Other than a small wait for the frozen/cooler foods, it was a great service for this tired momma!

Monday WAHM Spotlight: BeautiControl

Monday, June 26th, 2006

Thanks to Megan Stonich for being part of our Monday WAHM for We wish her much success in her business and with her family.If you are interested in being featured, we will be selecting a mom for each Monday of my blog. You can read more and apply. Email confirmations are sent to each mom if they are chosen. I still have many people to reply to on these so please be patient waiting for my reply. I promise to get back to you guys soon! Also remember to do your own research on these companies. If there are obvious red flags on BBB, I do not post them. Check my scam article to find out more about the potential dangers of work-at-home businesses.Thank you to Megan and her WAHM business, BeautiControl, for taking the time to apply and be a part of my Monday feature!

Name: Megan Stonich

City/State: Pleasanton, California

Name of Company: BeautiControl

Two or Three Sentences About Your Company:

When you feel you have been transported from your home to an exclusive spa resort or a private beach, then know you have made your ESCAPE with BeautiControl products. With a BeautiControl Spa ESCAPEā„¢, you can treat yourself and your friends to a complimentary hour of pampering and relaxation in the comfort of your own home! You’ll feel completely revitalized from head to toe!

Two Tips for Moms Trying to Work-At-Home (these tips can be how you stay organized, how to be successful, how to get started- anything that you feel would help someone just starting out):

1. Always have at least 5 minutes of alone time a day for you. Some health experts say that 90% of disease is related to stress so if you have 5 minutes of alone time to de-stress and relax you will be able to better take care of your family & your health.

2. Every morning or the night before make a list of specific things that to be done each day, arrange them in priority order, and then do your best to get the important ones done as soon as possible. Train yourself to go down your “To Do List” without skipping over the difficult items. Reward yourself when you have completed your to-do list!

Friday Freebie: Free Samples

Friday, June 23rd, 2006

Today I am going to post a few free samples that you can take advantage of, for our Friday Freebie.

I love to get free stuff in the mail. In fact, I love to get anything in the mail except bills & junk mail. Free samples are one of my favorite things because they are the perfect size for guests who come to visit or they are the perfect size to take when you travel.

Here is this week’s samples list:

A free limited edition Holly Hobbie art print from American Greetings. Use the coupon code HOLLY FRIENDS.

Walmart offers tons of free samples. These change often so bookmarking this page would be a good idea! Fibersure, Nivea, Jergens, & Dove free samples are currently posted.

Enfamil offers a free diaper bag, samples, a free sippy cup, and sixty dollars in formula checks for joining their Enfamil Family Club.

Can’t get enough free formula? Parent’s Choice Formula (made by Walmart) is offering a free sample of their new organic baby formula. This organic formula is twice the price of their regular formula so this is a great free sample! When I signed up for this one they said that you could also sign up for a free newsletter and coupons- can’t beat that!

Earth’s Best, another organic baby company, offers a free sample of their rice cereal, a feeding guide, & coupons that you can receive in the mail.

Traditional Medicinals offers free sample packs of their tea. Samples change throughout the year!

Bausch & Lomb has a free Wear & Care kit that you can receive for free. I requested this offer a couple of weeks ago and am still waiting on it, but it is definitely worth a try. Just click on the button under the Learn More category.

Make the Connection has a free bracelet that they are offering. Just by signing up, Merck will donate one dollar to Cancer Research & Prevention. You get two kits to make a bracelet (for you & a friend) for free.

Lysol is offering a free sample of sanitizing wipes. Just register to receive two free samples of citrus scented wipes.

Taster’s Choice is offering fourteen single serve packets & two $2 coupons for free. Just complete their short survey and they will mail these off to you!

Want more freebies? Here are some links to past Friday Freebie Deals…

Free Money
Starbucks Coffee
Baby Freebies
Free Baby Goodies

Online Grocery Shopping Options

Thursday, June 22nd, 2006

Amazon is now offering a Grocery section on their website. They currently are offering over ten thousand grocery items. These items are non-perishable and include a large selection of snacks, beverages, baking goods, and organic products. A $25 order will get you free shipping and their selection offers many items that are more difficult to find in a traditional grocery store (particularly in their organic foods department).

Peapod is another great option for purchasing your groceries online, but they don’t offer this in our town. We used this service when I worked in an office and it was a great way to get what you needed (particularly in an office environment) without having to run to the supermarket. They offer ten dollars off of your first order by entering the discount code CJA2 in the coupon code field. A minimum of $75 must be spent.

Another timesaver, would be to take advantage of the wholesale clubs online ordering. This is perfect for the harried mother who has no time to shop! With Sam’s Club, they offer the Click ‘n’ Pull. Place your order before five, they pull the items, you pick up the next day. This is great for comparison shopping (rather than standing in the lanes with your calculator & your screaming child) and saves you from running around the giant store. Other wholesale club stores may offer the same type of deal (they just aren’t in our town!)

I would be interested in knowing if anyone has ever purchased their orders online and what they have thought about their experience? Please let me know in our comments section- this would be valuable information for all of our readers!

Works-For-Me Wednesday: Programming Your Cell Phone

Wednesday, June 21st, 2006

Good morning and welcome to this edition of Works-For-Me Wednesday. Please be sure to visit Shannon’s blog to view all of the entries from all of the wonderful ladies who make this day so much fun. You really will get some of the best ideas for your family- trust me!

This morning I wanted to talk about programming numbers into your cell phone. This idea came to me after our power went out, I banged my knee three times trying to find the phone book, couldn’t find a flashlight and poorly attempted to find the number using the lighting on the phone. I ended up calling 411 for information and (while rubbing my bruised knee) realized that we should have a flashlight WITH batteries and the number for the electric company should be programmed in the phone.

After talking with a girlfriend, we came up with this list of *must have* numbers for your phone:

ICE- Did you get this forward in your email box? I did! ICE stands for In Case of Emergency and this helps the people who are trying to help you when something bad happens. That way they don’t end up calling your grandmother (who can’t help) or your ex-boyfriend (who won’t help). Be sure to program this one- it could save your life!

Electric Company- as explained above in great and ridiculous detail.

Auto Insurance Company- I would program this directly to the claims department so that you can contact them immediately after you have been in a car accident. This way that yahoo who hits you gets reported for talking on their phone (when they should be concentrating on driving) and will help get your claim processed more quickly and efficiently.

Towing Company- AAA or someone you could call to tow your car if it breaks down. This way you can avoid talking to your hubby to get this number when he is angry with you for doing something stupid like forgetting to fill up the gas tank.

Favorite Restaurants- Particularly ones that you can call ahead so you don’t have to sit with two screaming kids who don’t want to wait for food. Having this programmed for take-out is also really handy.

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you find this entry helpful.

Here are links to my past entries (if you are new to the site!):

Free Up Pantry Space: Make a Snack
Weeding Through Your Child’s Art Work Creatively
Using the Coffee Maker With Ease
Making Your Spice Rack Usable
Maximizing Space

Festivals & Carnivals

Tuesday, June 20th, 2006

Here are the latest links to the traveling shows….

The Carnival of Personal Finance #53, has returned home and is celebrating one year of great reads. The host requested an entry from everyone and a favorite from the past year. This equals doubly good reads and showcases the writing talents for all the bloggers. Happy Birthday! The entries were arranged by length and I was shocked to see that we only made the middle. I consider my blog entries to be short novels, but there were plenty of people who had me beat this week. The Quest to Find Cheap Baby Food was included and my favorite entry on Easy Ways to Save Your Family Money was also highlighted.

The Festival of Frugality #28 was also back home over at the Blueprint For Financial Prosperity. Our New Uses For That Old Phone Book was included.

The Carnival of Family Life #6 is up and our Quest to Find Cheap Baby Food was up over there too. Lots of great submissions can be found in this carnival. It is also being celebrated at home, but will now be traveling around so new sites are welcome to join in to host!

The Carnival of Debt Reduction #40 has been posted at Journey to Financial Freedom. Our Cheap High Speed Internet & Other Tall Tales (I need to think of some shorter titles, people!) has been included over there.

Frugal Momma’s top picks for good reads this week:

Fifteen Ways to Leave Your….Money has a great tongue-in-cheek response to these lame lists that the financial experts offer to us as “tips” that we would have never thought of.

My favorite blogging momma (The Family CEO) writes on Gift Guilt. Do you feel guilty when you don’t spend as much on a gift? My answer is no! Read my blog entries if you don’t believe me!

Want to know how to actually make a cake from scratch? This blog entry includes recipes and reasons why you shouldn’t go with the boxed cake mix. I still think Aldi brownie mix is better than anything I have ever attempted to make, but I am willing to budge on the cakes themselves.