Monday, March 31, 2008

Revolution Money Exchange - Free Transactions & $25 To Boot!

For everyone that exchanges money over the internet:

I just found out about Revolution Money Exchange, a new alternative to Paypal. The best part about it are there are no fees when you do anything with another account holder. That means when someone buys your ebay listing and they are signed on with Money Exchange - NO fees.

FREE to register for an account
FREE to add money to your bank account
FREE to send money
FREE to receive money
FREE to request money
FREE to transfer money to your bank account

That beats Paypal all to pieces. Money Exchange is secure and backed by First Bank & Trust in Brookings, SD (Member FDIC) and uses SSL to secure every transaction. It will be nice to send money back and forth without leaving a chunk with Paypal.

Plus, if you sign up before April 15th, 2008 you will get $25 in your account to spend as you will. You can even request it as a check ($2.50 fee applys to checks). Remember when Paypal did this to get people registered? Now's our chance to do it again with Money Exchange.

I'm really excited to check these guys out - makes eBay almost worth it again;) Sign up for your $25 here:

Refer A Friend using Revolution Money Exchange

Friday, March 28, 2008

Super Saving Saturday

That time again, and I can't believe I've only made one post this week! It has been really busy around here with preparing for spring break, baseball, my older son recieved his Arrow of Light for Cub Scouts, a talent show audition, school dance, a teen age boyfriend break up... TGIF!

As far as shopping is concerned, I didn't do much. At first I was disappointed that I didn't have that much to report. Then it occurred to me that not shopping made this a REALLY Super Saving Saturday. Sometimes I think I'm caught in this treadmill of aquiring more things. Eventually enough is enough. Even if something is absolutely free, it still cost me time and gas to go get it. Just something I've started to ponder - is this item worth my time and gas?

That being said, I did wind up finding a great sale on clothes. I took a $50 pressure cooker back to the store and recieved a credit due to a lost receipt. I needed printer ink anyway, but then found all these boy clothes at 75% off. Among other things I bought a tank top for $1.50, basketball shorts for $4.49, a wonderful chenille hoodie (for me!) for $4.50, and Pantene for $1.88. I also bought discount Easter treats and my printer ink. I paid $25.01 out of pocket. I also used the $50 credit.

All in all, I think I'm starting to like "unshopping". Lately when I "need" something I've been realizing that I can do without it. Maybe next Saturday I won't have anything to report at all, then it will really be a Super Saving Saturday.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Super Saving Saturday

All this for $1.03! And later on another CVS trip was .79 and netted MORE soap and two boxes of chocolate. What a week!
This has been a fun week for freebies and rebates. The week started with getting a free tank top from Aeropostale - just bring in a printed homepage from and you can get one too.

We were at the mall for my son's Pinewood Derby race (he won first place in the district, not that I'm proud or anything;) so we did some returns while there. I actually left the mall with more money then when I arrived - that's got to be a record!

Later in the week I loaded up on free soaps and shampoos (CVS had trial sizes of Johnson's Baby shampoo) and am now fully stocked for awhile on the Buddies soaps. My kids love them - even my 14 year old. My CVS trips ended with getting the Pot O' Gold boxes of chocolate (teacher's gifts!) for free with $5 ECBs still in my pocket. Johnson's also sent me two more $2/2 coupons in the mail - 4 more free soaps! :)

If that weren't enough I had an amazing thrift store trip. I found everything I needed in less then 10 minutes and spent $20. This included a pair of like new Nike Airs for $5. My son had just informed me that morning that he had just outgrown his old shoes. To top it off, the cashier gave me a senior citizen's discount! My son laughed and said I should be insulted, but I told him a discount is a discount - I don't care what it's called. ;)

Then all the rebates and freebies started coming in - about $67 in rebates. And the cherry on top? I was offered a small housecleaning job for an extra $40 (that's almost a tank of gas!).

It was a happy week.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Turning Straw Into Gold

Marriage comes with certain expectations. Whether you went for the fairytale wedding or, like me, just decided to cut out the middleman and elope with Prince Charming, we all had somewhat of a preconceived notion of what marriage would be like.

Some of us wake up one day and wonder what happened to the all the roses and champagne. Others marvel at the fact that Prince Charming leaves gross, sweaty socks on the floor of the bathroom every night. Even if your handsome prince picks up his dirty clothes by himself, like me, you might wonder what Cinderella looked like after four kids and no time to work out.

Married life has its challenges. Sometimes I feel like the peasant girl who was locked in a room full of straw and told to make gold by morning. I imagine her face in the dark of the night, pondering the piles of straw and wondering how on earth she was going to get through this. I’ve worn the same expression, standing in my laundry room at night, pondering piles of clothes I had forgotten to wash earlier and wondering how on earth I’m going to get through this.

For me, though, I know there will be no Rumplestiltskin to pop in and do the task for me in exchange for a ring. The task is mine alone, but somehow I always get through it easier than I expected. By the next morning, the laundry will be washed and hung and I can wake up feeling proud of the accomplishment that hours before seemed impossible.

In a way, we are like fairy tale heroines with bite. Like Cinderella, we have slaved away preparing our houses for birthday parties as well as balls. Like Repunzel, we have sat isolated in our bowers when no understood how hard it is to be mom. Like Sleeping Beauty, we have felt tired enough to sleep for a century.

The difference is, in our stories we are independent. We are rescuing knight and damsel in distress all rolled into one. We must clean our house sans fairy Godmother, climb out of our bowers on our own and resist exhaustion until at least after the kids are in bed.

As modern day spouses we gather up whatever life gives us, ponder the possibilities, and set to work. Late hours, laundry, dishes and homework pile around us and become our raw materials. These mundane details whirl around us turning days into weeks, weeks into years.

The hectic preparations that make us crazy turn soccer games and school plays into gems that stand out from other moments. Each success and trial, through our efforts, becomes a jewel to place in the family treasury. We struggle along, feeling like there is never enough time, but it is time that turns the moments we rush through into gold.

We gather the moments to ourselves as we live and forge priceless memories and family tradition from them; the result becomes treasure for our children. With no fairy godmother we make magic. We do the impossible with every day. We spin straw into gold.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Super Saving Saturday

Saturday has rolled around again and it's time to anticipate Money Saving Mom's weekly question - what were your good deals this week?

Aside from 4 MORE boxes of cereal at .26 a box, 9 cans of Glen Muir Organic Tomatoes for free (they actually paid me .09 to carry it out of the store ;) and a month's worth of bread, rolls and extras for $5 - I saved 20% on my last grocery shopping trip. My total coupons were $21.45.

I probably could have done better but I included groceries for two other people with my shopping, and I didn't have time to look up coupons for their items. Still, 20% is as high as I've ever saved on a routine, once a month shopping trip, so I'm pretty happy. I think I'm starting to get the hang of this coupon thing.

I may even laminate my reciept for the fridge!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Work Only A Mother Could Love

Ages ago (I won’t specify how many) in my fifth grade class I was once given an assignment to draw my future self in my ideal career. I set to work with my Crayolas on a large piece of Manila paper and drew a mom. I wasn’t thinking about pay scales or women’s equality at the time. I just knew I wanted to have the most important job in the world. Carefully I printed the word “Mother” at the top of my drawing in purple crayon.

I had read the entire series of Little House on the Prairie books so many times that the pages had begun to separate from their bindings. I knew mothers had a sort of magic that could turn terrible days into wonderful ones. Mothers had innate psychic powers that allowed them to know when you were fibbing and when you were thinking about misdeeds. Next to God, I was certain, were mothers. They could be as frightening as thunderstorms when you deserved it, and as refreshing as a rain soaked meadow when all was forgiven.

Sometimes I would dream about when I would get to take my honored place as a mother. Scores of beautiful, well-behaved children in white pinafores would be gathered around me, faces shining with adoration. I would glide among them, a beneficial queen, kissing boo boos and helping out with homework. When I finally had my first child, she was everything I had expected. Perfect and sweet, she lay like a miniature angel in my arms, and I was the epitome of motherhood. Then reality kicked in.

Reality found me fumbling with diaper pins at three in the morning wearing sweats that needed to be washed and hair that would have turned Medusa into stone. I found out that I wasn’t as patient as I had thought and that white pinafores were a horrible way to dress children. I went from maternal queen to grimy servant in less time than it took me to hit puberty. I threw out my Little House books and dug in for a long battle against perpetual sticky spots, stains and all things stinky.

By the time my third child came along I had learned a few tricks and could pass myself off as fairly capable. I knew which brand of sippy cups really were no-leak when turned upside down, to never put soda in a sippy cup and to avoid purple grape juice like the plague. I found out how many times I could sing Mister Golden Sun while dozing off and that Oreo cookies still taste pretty good after someone else scraped all the middle out.
Nature had to throw me for a loop, though, and gave me a boy the third time. Just when I had gotten it somewhat together, all the rules changed.

Boys, at least mine, are definitely different from girls. Their noses need more wiping, their clothes seem to stain quicker and there are always raspberry noises coming from some part of their body. My third son taught me that not only can any sippy cup leak, but it also makes a pretty good missile on boring car trips. The Power Ranger’s theme eclipsed Mister Golden Sun in my impromptu late night concerts and I gave up on Oreos after cleaning them out of the carpet for the hundredth time.

Sometimes, four children later, I wonder what I was thinking all those years ago when I wrote “Mother” as my career choice. The hours are terrible, the work is unsanitary and some days I’m not even sure who the boss is. I’m still wondering if I have vacation days accrued and if I’m earning overtime and hazardous duty pay. Wait – am I even getting paid for this?

The perfect housekeeping diva I was supposed to become has never materialized for me. As for the scores of children I was destined for, I’m throwing in the towel after four. This has got to be the hardest and most discouraging job I have ever had, and that includes being a dishwasher at a rat and roach infested tavern. But for all that, I wouldn’t trade a minute of my maternal mishaps for any other job.

I’ve grown a lot since those early idealistic days before momhood hit me like Tonka truck. The spills, crumbs and broken knick knacks has taught me that being a mother isn’t about being perfect. It’s about being there. I have been gifted with four energetic, independent and curious souls to try to guide into productive, happy adulthood. I’m less a queen of the house and more of a steward trying to manage all I’ve been blessed with. Indeed, my cup runneth over, but I no longer mind wiping up the mess.

Next to God, I’m still certain, are mothers. Whether male or female, biological moms or adopted, motherhood is the ultimate philanthropic work. Moms heal the sick, feed the hungry, and clothe the naked, working miracles in their own way. It’s work only a mother could love, and love is the only way it can work.

Monday, March 10, 2008

My Lost $10 & My Shrinking Dollar

Woe to me!

I was Walmart last Saturday and I accidentally dropped a $10 bill onto the floor. By the time I discovered the loss, it was a goner. I had hoped someone would turn it in at the desk, but hope is the stuff that dreams are made of, and my $10 bill went to live with someone else.

I can still remember the days when the loss of a mere $10 wouldn't have had such an impact on my life. As I wandered the aisles looking for my runaway bill, I was almost in tears. Why did I care so much, I wondered. It was just $10 - a meal at McDonald's, a stop at Starbuck's, drinks at the drive thru... Then it hit me. I don't do those things anymore.

Now my $10 is for vanishing into my gas tank to buy me a few more trips. $10 gets me two gallons of milk or mailing a package to my husband overseas or a (very) small bag of groceries. That's why it hurt so much to lose it. It suddenly seemed like a precious lot.

The me that remembers abundance argues with the me that cries over a lost $10. The old me says that giving the kids water to drink at meals instead of milk or juice is not very nutritional. The thrifty me reminds her that Americans tend to be over sugared and soaked in fat, and in many other countries water is a beverage, not a punishment. The new, thrifty me usually wins. She has to.

The Dallas Morning News reported today that grocery prices are set to skyrocket. Huh? Isn't that old news? I thought they already did skyrocket! The thought that they may go higher makes me want to weep over my lost $10 all over again.

Bread has increased by 5.4% over the last year. That's because it's been a bad few years for wheat. It went from $3.50 a bushel in 2005 to $8.55 by January. All wheat products from pancake mix to pumpernickel go up. Fortunately, I still get my bread at less then a quarter a loaf, but still. What about donuts, cake and cookies?

It's time to look elsewhere. Some cultures don't depend on wheat as much as we do. Rice, beans, potatoes... they all make delicious starches for our table. How about growing sprouts in the kitchen for greenery instead of always buying high priced veggies that have been shipped from Timbuktu? It's easy, tasty, cheap and satisfying.

I've also been growing lettuce and cabbage all winter. At Christmas and Thanksgiving we had the best organic salads. They were fresh (picked minutes before eating), cheap (how much does a lettuce seed and some recycled dirt cost?) and gratifying. My youngest son was proud to help me cut lettuce for the table, lettuce he himself had helped to grow.

To provide protein in our diet, we invested in a few chickens for our back yard. They are free entertainment for all the neighborhood kids, save me from having to maintain a compost pit (they are the composters!) and the eggs are like nothing I ever tasted from the store - even the expensive Eggland's Best ones!

There's veggies and protein. I'm thinking about getting a dwarf goat for milk and cheese. Rice and beans are still pretty affordable. That pretty much takes care of our diet. Instead of thinking of food as something that has to come from the store, think of where it comes from and whether or not you can become your own source. And don't give me the excuse that you don't have a farm. Neither do I. We live in the city on .34 of an acre with a house in the middle of it.

Then $10 can go back to being $10, instead of something worth crying about.

By the way: I did finally pulled myself out of my pity party. I had to imagine a broke mom with hungry children finding my $10 after she prayed for a miracle. It helped...some.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Financial Shape in 2008 - Monthly Check Up

I love going over to Money Saving Mom's site because she asks starts so many great, interactive discussions. Today she asks for us to report on our financial health this month. I have definitely done some things to try and improve our finances lately, but I haven't made any clear cut goals. That will be my first goal, to make a plan for March. Our finances definitely need tweaking. Our mortgage went up by $120 this month - surprise! We have a fixed rate, too.

Here's what I have done recently:

1. Taken a job. I started a part time job at my kids' school so I can earn a little extra money and still always be around for them. I've also been taking on all the substitute work I can find. Every little bit helps!

2. Stopped buying books and movies. Believe it or not, I used to think nothing of dropping $500 at a school book fair. I figured the books were a good deal, it supported the school, and reading is somthing our whole family loves. Now I have been using the library and getting my books for nearly free with paperbackswap. I've never been a big movie buyer - we've usually just rented. However, recently I've started using swapadvd. When I have a dvd we're done with, I just post it and trade it for what we want. This has been a great program that we have enjoyed using.

3. Cut down on utilities. Lights off, water used sparingly, heat on only when it's very cold. I've also tried to cut down on my driving to save gas.

4. Stopped shopping for 'deals'. Sometimes enough is enough. I realized recently that a lot of my 'deal shopping' was unnecessary. I realized this when I bought 30 1 pound bags of M&Ms because they were .28 a bag. I used them in cookies, and we ate some, but soon it became apparent that one can indeed have too much of a good thing. So I have stopped stocking up on treats, and try to focus my spending on necessities.

My goals for March are to formulate concrete goals and make a spending plan. I am also going to cut down on eating out (our main weakness) and on spending for school lunches (which means making a menu plan, etc.). If I can accomplish those two goals this month I will consider this month a success. With my husband gone overseas, it seems like I have no time for anything. How do single moms do it, I wonder?

Wish me luck, and I'll report again in April.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Super Saving Saturday

Wow! Each Saturday seems to come sooner then the last. I also have a hard time believing it's March already! Whew! Someone slow down the clock...

Anyway, it's the blogospere's weekly show & tell - what good deals did we all get this week? Here's mine from the beginning of the week. Unfortunately it has been a crazy week so I misplaced my reciept for all this, but I do remember the photos were almost $20 saved alone. I spent around $10 for the rest, which of course was reimbursed in ECB's, making it free. I was also able to take advantage of the cereal for .26 a box, free Glen Muir organic tomatoes (with about .20 overage) and the free Johnson's Buddies Soap. I just didn't take a photo of it all. Next week I'll be more organized - this week I was just trying to survive. ;)
So it was a pretty good week for savings. I estimate I probably spent maybe $15 and brought home at least $60 worth of stuff that I'll use. See ya'll next week!