Save Where You Can, So You Can Spend Where You Want

So much of our budgets are uncompromisable. We need a roof over our heads, we need food in our tummies and clothes on our backs. While we can cut costs in these places, they are expenses that we cannot get rid of entirely. We need insurance for our homes, our cars, our health, our lives.
So many needs can leave very little room for wants.
The most boring expenses are typically the most essential.

Even though I know this, it still can feel like a burden when it’s August and I have a $300 electricity bill. We live in Texas, we have 2 small children. Electricity (Okay, air conditioning) is something we can’t compromise on. We can haggle a better rate, we can keep lights off and fans running, but at the end of the day…that bill is not going away.

This is why I work so hard to find ways to save money. I am human and I have wants. The less I spend on our needs (without compromising my family’s health, safety or comfort) the more we can spend on the fun.
And we do!

I am never going to claim that we live on a beans and rice budget. We don’t. You will never see me take my grocery budget down to $25 a week. That’s produce for us and nothing else. It won’t happen. But I will cut from where I can and get the most out of my dollar.

I am never going to claim that we don’t watch TV (we actually have a VERY expensive cable package) or that we don’t go to the movies or out to eat. We absolutely do. I try and find a coupon and we definitely try to find ways to make things cheaper, but we enjoy it so we do it.

I am never going to claim that I have things all figured out and I have six figures in my bank account. I don’t. Not even close. We’re young, we’re new to this saving money thing.  While one day that is my goal, there is so much I personally am not willing to sacrifice to get there. We made a lot of mistakes when we were younger and we’re not financial gurus by any means.

I am never going to claim that I don’t like shiny new gadgets or fun toys for my kids, or buying good expensive food. My house looks like toys r us, and I am not the least bit ashamed of that.

We truly save where we can, so we can spend on the things we want.

Life is about choices, priorities and enjoyment. Where I cut fat from my budget might not be an option for you ( I rarely buy clothes for myself, cut my hair, get pedicures or pamper myself), but we can all stand to evaluate things. There is money to be saved out there if you look hard enough. Why wouldn’t you want to stretch your hard earned dollar? I think everyone should make an effort to make more out of their money. No matter how much you have. Some of the richest people on the planet are also the thriftiest!

I hope this blog can serve to make people feel good about every little bit that they do. Not make you feel overwhelmed by all you are not doing. I sew clothes, if you have no desire to do that, don’t! And don’t feel bad about it for one single second. My goal is to offer money savings ideas that are easy to implement or at least serve as inspiration. You can do as much or as little as you want.

If you take one tip from my blog and use it, and save your family $20 a month, I have done what I have set out to do. Now take that $20 and spend it on something fun. That might mean you go out on a date with your significant other, or it might mean you stick it in savings. Whatever floats your boat.

No matter who you are or what your income is, if you save where you can you can increase your discretionary funds. And who wouldn’t want that!

Guest Blogging: Check!

Head on over to Budget Savvy Diva to see a guest post that I wrote on how to start couponing. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to share my passion. It is such an honor to me that a veteran blogger allowed me the opportunity to share my thoughts.

Budget Savvy Diva  is a great place to go to find out the latest deals and money saving sales!

Bread Machine Bliss

For my birthday, my husband bought me a bread machine.

I’ve wanted a bread machine for a long time. I enjoy making homemade bread, but for some reason my loaves never come out good for much more than toast. I certainly wouldn’t want to eat a sandwich with the rock hard loaves I seemed to make on my own.

So yesterday when I opened up a big box from Amazon and I saw my bread maker I knew I had to make bread. ASAP.

Only I didn’t have any bread flour. So out we went to the store to buy some bread flour and run a few other errands. We didn’t get back until late and we had to bathe and put the kids to bed. So I started making my bread around 7:30. Don’t do that if you intend to go to bed before 10.
Luckily my husband stays up late every night so I asked him to wake me if I fell asleep (I go to bed earlier so I can read every night, or lately play Every Word or Shuffled Row on my Kindle Wireless Reading Device, Free 3G + Wi-Fi, 6″ Display, White, 3G Works Globally – Latest Generation.).
I managed to stay awake until it was time to get the bread out and took it out of the machine and put it on the wire rack. It looked good, and I wanted a taste, but you are supposed to let it sit for about 20 minutes and I did not have that in me at the time. So I went to bed dreaming of bread.

Woke up this morning and sliced into the bread to make toast for the kids. Let me tell you, I never knew homemade bread could be as soft and moist! The outside is crusty and thin and the inside was firm enough for a sandwich, but moist enough that I could make a pbj out of it if I wanted.

I made just a simple loaf, the most basic of basics, last night because I didn’t want to do anything too complicated. My hope though is to find a high fiber honey wheat recipe to replace the current bread we buy in store. We go through about 2 loaves a week and at almost $3 a loaf, I know I can make a cheaper alternative at home.

How I Organize My Coupons

So I’ve mentioned in the past that I use the binder method for organizing my coupons. Just so you can get an idea of what that looks like, I took a few pictures. One day I’ll get around to doing a full fledged video about it so I can go through it step by step.

This is my system:

The binder is a Case-it S915 3 Inch Round Ring Binder with 6 Tab File Folder, 1unit, Purple Size – 13 X 13.6 X 3 inches . The small accordion file I bought at Walgreens a few years ago.

The binder holds all of my coupons in Ultra Pro 9 Pocket Pages “Silver Series” (100ct) (baseball card holders) that I have divided into catagories. I have all food and food items first followed by toiletries, household and beauty coupons. Some of the catagories I have are:

  1. Dairy
  2. Refridgerated
  3. Boxed Items
  4. Condiments
  5. Baby
  6. Toiletries
  7. Paper products
  8. Batteries
  9. Household
  10. Medicine

I have well over 20 categories in my binder. The food is in alphabetical order A-Z and the non food is in alphabetical order. Every week when I put my new coupons in I look through each section to make sure nothing is expired or about to expire. I can fit 3 coupons in each holder and since I buy 3 newspapers it works perfectly for me (I’m sure you could fit more, but I rarely have more than 3 coupons for an item).

On the left of the binder is an accordian file that I use to put store ads, uncut coupons and anything else specific pertaining to each store I shop at.
The little blue accordion file is my going to store organizational tool. After I make my list (in an excel spreadsheet) I print it out and pull the coupons for each store I need to go to. I put the coupons in the file I need to use the coupon at.I also keep CVS ECB’s in here, Catalinas I need to use, rainchecks, etc. In the back there is also a small calculator so I can do quick calculations on the go. This has proven very very valuable many times.
Behind the binder you see a small plastic container filled with receipts. I save all my receipts just in case a mail in rebate comes up and I know I’ve bought the product already. Also, they make me happy :) .
So that’s my system in a nutshell. Yes I typically bring my whole binder with me when I shop. I’ve gotten a few looks, but honestly not as many as I thought I would. Turns out people are pretty focused when they shop and they rarely pay attention to the crazy coupon binder lady.

My son decided taking pictures of a binder was pretty boring though and insisted on cheesing it up for me. He is cuter than the binder, that’s for sure!
Happy Shopping!

Saving Money at Kroger!

Since this week is Mega Event Week at Kroger, I stocked up on some pantry and donation items. And CHEESE! I was so excited when I realized that the cheese on sale was for the 1 lb bags of Kraft shredded! $2.79 a bag and after the Kraft Catalina $5 OYNO each bag was only $1.79 each. I split up my transactions so I could use the $5 in the same shopping trip. Because the Kraft cheese was only $2.79 if it was part of the mega deal I also included in that transaction 3 other participating products (and I had 2 $1 off of 2 Kraft cheese coupons! Sweetened the deal even more!).
Last night was the first time my husband has gone grocery shopping with me since I started couponing. I wanted him to see how cool it is to see the price go down down down. He wasn’t disappointed.

Last night totals at Kroger:
1st transaction
5 bags of 1 lb Kraft cheese
2 Gogurt Yogurts
1 Bumblebee tuna
Total Due $16.03
Total Saved $23.29
(I just now realized that she didn’t scan my $1/2 Gogurt Yogurts. Hmmm, that’s unfortunate!)

2nd transaction:
6 Green Giant Steamers Frozen Veggies
6 Hamburger Helpers (GREAT donation item)
1 Chex
2 Gardettos
4 Crescent Rolls
4 Cinammon Rolls
6 Bumble Bee Tuna
1 California Pizza Kitchen Pizza
2 Old El Paso Taco Shells
1 Wanchai Ferry Frozen Entree
1 Capri Sun
Value pack of Pork Ribs
Bread Flour
small trash bags for Colin’s office
Total Due $34.11
Total Saved $54.36

Everything pictured above:

Cost  $127.79
Paid $50.14
Saved $77.65

I’d call that a success!
Later today I will go to Randalls to stock up on some meat and fresh fruits and veggies.
Happy Shopping!

The Benefits of Cooking with Your Kids: Baker One Bowl Brownies

Looking for a frugal way to provide some entertainment for your kids? Get them into the kitchen! Kids LOVE to help in the kitchen. It will probably be messy and it will probably require patience, so be sure to do it on a day where you aren’t pressed for time or the house needs to be clean for company. Explore the benefits of cooking with your kids!

Today my 3 year old told me he wanted cupcakes. I told him I wanted some too, could he go make me some? I was joking, but minutes later I found him in the kitchen with these supplies:

Not exactly cupcake making material. Muffins maybe? But upon further investigation I discovered we had no cupcake or muffin liners. I asked if brownies would suffice, and after some  hesitation he decided it would.
So we got to work.

When cooking with your kids. Simple is best. Don’t try and make a complicated layer cake with a three year old. One bowl recipes with easy to pour and measure ingredients are probably your best bet.
My favorite recipe to make with my son is Bakers One Bowl Brownies . It really is just one bowl and the simplest of ingredients.

Baker One Bowl Brownies


  • 4 (1 ounce) squares BAKER’S Unsweetened Baking Chocolate
  • 3/4 cup butter or margarine
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped PLANTERS Pecans (we omitted this, just not nut fans here)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 13×9-inch baking pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over sides of pan. Grease foil.
2. Microwave chocolate and butter in large microwaveable bowl on HIGH 2 min. or until butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Stir in sugar. Blend in eggs and vanilla. Add flour and pecans; mix well. Spread into prepared pan.
3. Bake 30 to 35 min. or until wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out with fudgy crumbs. (Do not overbake.) Cool in pan on wire rack. Remove brownies from pan, using foil handles. Cut into squares. Store in tightly covered container at room temperature.

Noah really enjoyed himself a lot (as you can tell). The entire pan of brownies couldn’t have cost more than a few dollars. There are many benefits to cooking with your kids, specifically patience because brownies take a long time to bake!

Save Money for You and Your Baby!

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There are many sites out there that offer baby and child apparel and toys for a fraction of the retail price. Many of these sites have the deals up for a very short time and when they are out, they are out. It is a great place to still get the brands you love but without breaking your budget. You kind of have to stalk alot of these sites because if it is a REALLY good deal, it will not last long. Just bookmark all of them and make it a habit to check them daily. Be careful though, some people get sucked in and buy even if their bank account tells them not to, scared the deal won’t come around again. All deals come around again, and if it doesn’t? And you still want it? Budget to pay full price. Somethings are just worth it ;)

Deal A Day Sites for Kids

Totsy– this is an invitation only site. If you click the link it is me inviting you (full disclosure, they do credit you for referrals), so you don’t have to worry about finding a friend or family member that is a member. Most of their sales last around 3 days and they offer a big variety rather than just one product. They are also a very environmentally conscious company and plant a tree for every order!

Kids Woot!– Kids Woot! is a sister (little sister?) site to the popular Woot! It operates the same way. One deal a day and once it is gone it is gone. I’ve seen many repeat deals on this site though. They don’t often have as high end products as many of the others, but they do put up some pretty cool stuff from time to time

MamaBargains Another one deal a day site. This site has more high end stuff for 60-80% off. They often have a variety of colors and styles and you can actively see how close something is to selling out. They have a forum as well.

Baby Steals– One deal a day. This site resets at 9am MST so even if you are on the west coast you don’t have to worry about staying up late/getting up at the crack of dawn to catch the deal. Kids Steals is their sister site for the older set.

There are many many others out there. These are the most popular and the ones I have personally shopped on and can attest to their customer service and shipping.
Happy Shopping!

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