Getting a Tax Refund ?

Are  you getting a tax refund ? Well, I don’t want to take the “fun” out of reFUNd, but before it hits your account, consider using it to pay down your debt.   Every year for the past 7 years we’ve used ours to pay off a credit card or another debt that was weighing us down.  Was it fun or glamorous ? NO !  Did we want to take a family trip instead ? YES !  Usually we kept out enough for one dinner out for the family ($50 or so) and then stuck the rest on debt.

One year we got back $6,800.  I can’t remember why it was higher that year ?? People (my family included) thought we were crazy to put essentially every penny on debt, but it’s really helped us to get out from under $143,000 in debt.

Is your tax refund is on the way or maybe it’s already sitting in your bank account ?  Fund a little emergency fund in case something comes up, but then  use it to help your family have a brighter future.  No, it’s not fun, but it will be when you are debt FREE later on !

Valued Opinions ~ Earn Gift Cards for Surveys – Open to New Members !

 If you enjoy doing surveys or are looking to earn a little extra $ from home in 2014, Valued Opinions is currently seeking new members. For every survey you complete you’ll receive up to $5 and if you qualify for specialist surveys, you can earn up to $50 for each. It’s an easy way to earn $ from the couch while watching TV!

The money you earn can be redeemed for rewards- which come in the form of lots of different Gift Cards you can cash in for- including Amazon.com. It’s a simple way to earn gift cards.  Head on over here to join for FREE !

GoodRx ~ Find the Cheapest Price for Your Prescription Medications !

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If you are on any prescription medications you can check out this site called GoodRx.com that allows you to type in your script and find the cheapest pharmacy to buy it at.

(Thanks, Jessica!)

Icky Smelly Kitchen Sponges ? Fix ‘Em Quick !

If you have sponges on your kitchen sink that are just plain gross you can throw them in the microwave for 2 minutes.  It will kill 99% of all germs.  It’s a quick, cheap way to keep it clean in the kitchen !

Ebates~ Have You Joined Yet?

Ebates pays members cash back every time they shop online as well as provide them with the best coupons and deals online. Founded in 1999, Ebates has paid over $85,000,000 in cash to its members. That’s why over 12 million people have joined Ebates.

Ebates~ Here’s how it works:

1) Go to  Ebates.com and create an account (you will get a $5 bonus for signing up)

2) Search for the online site you want to shop at (like GAP or Target or any other site they have listed)

3) Click on the link that says “shop now” and that will open a ticket on ebates to show you shopped through their site.

4) Within a week or so, the % of your purchase will show up in your ebates account

5) Every quarter, ebates mails out a check (you must have $5.01 in your account to receive a check or it will carry over to the next quarter)

I have been a member of Ebates since 2009 and always go through it if I am making a purchase online.  So far I have gotten back 484.74 for buying what I was planning to buy anyway.

You Will Either Tell Your Money What To Do Or…

Dave Ramsey’s Daily tip !

13 Money Saving Tips for 2013 Part 2 !

Some say that the number 13 is unlucky, but I think it’s going to be OUR year ! We can do this. I’m feeling especially pumped up after paying off our 2012 Toyota Sienna last week – woo hoo ! Over the next week or so I will be sharing 13 tips that you can use to free up more cash to put towards your debt. Feel FREE to leave any others that you think of in the comment section !  Head on over here to check out Part 1.

5.  Start planning your garden ~  Growing your own fruits and veggies is a great way to save money on your grocery bill.  I’ve always dabbled in this.  When we lived in a townhouse I had large pots on our deck that I would go out and water every day with the girls.  We moved to a single house last year and had our first “in the ground” garden.  I think I was a little overzealous and planted too many tomatoes (especially since we don’t really like tomatoes that much).  I’m in the planning stage now for this coming year.  I’m starting to plan what we’re going to grow this year now that I have a year under our belt.  We are still eating up some of the veggies from last year.  I froze some peppers and other fruits and veggies.  We have tri-colored peppers with our chicken fajitas and other dishes for example.  We also have blueberry bushes, a new 3 variety apple tree, some blackberries and strawberries.  Start thinking about what you can grow.  If you live in an apartment investigate container gardening.  You can also check out these beginner gardening books.  I know many of you are avid gardeners and/or canners.  Feel free to leave additional tips in the comments section.

6.  Join Freecycle.org ~  I recently joined Freecycle.org and am amazed at the things that are regularly offered for FREE.  It’s a great resource both for the environment and our wallets.  You can request up to 5 items per calendar month.  There is no limit to the amount of ads for free items that you can respond to.  We have gotten free wrapping paper, sweatshirts for Ro, a free keyboard and piano bench and a few free things for the puppy. We have also cleaned out the garage of things we didn’t need anymore.  It’s a win/win. The only thing to remember when posting a request on Freecycle is not to be too wordy.  Don’t tell your “story”.  Just say ”In need of puppy bowls, quick pick up and thank you” for example.  I almost got kicked off quick for saying why we needed something.  They are super strict about this.  Craigslist also has a free section where you can check out all of the free items offered in your area each day.

Don’t be so loyal ~ Generally I’m a very loyal person.  Some (my mother) would probably say I’m too loyal. That would be why I stayed at the same job for 22 years etc… Anyway, when it comes to shopping I’m not very loyal at all.  I go where the deals are.  If I’m not excited about the deals at CVS or at my local grocery store, I’m not afraid to cross the street and go somewhere else.  Also, if I like Tide detergent, but there’s an awesome deal and coupon available for Gain – well, Gain it is.  Now, there are some things I MUST have, like Scott toilet paper, but for the most part if it’s FREE (or cheap) it’s for ME.  I’m trying to get out of debt and sacrifices have got to be made ha ha.  Try to think outside the box.  Doing the same thing you’ve been doing has kept you in debt.  It’s time to shake things up a little !

I may not be there yet, but…

Photo Credit

Make Yourself Proud !

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Don’t stop dreaming…

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Thanksgiving Coupons ~ Print to Make Your Meal Less Expensive !

I compiled a list of some great coupons that will help out when your shopping for your turkey dinner:

Head on over here to snag a $.55/1 College Inn Broth Coupon. It will double to $1.10/1 if  your store fully doubles.

 

Head on over here to print a $.25 Gold Medal Flour Coupon available to print. This is a Facebook coupon !

Head on over to print $.50/1 Clabber Girl Baking Powder Coupon

Head on over here to snag a coupon for $.55/1 Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk.

Head on over here to snag a coupon for $.55/1 Bridgford Frozen Rolls or Bread.

Head here for a coupon for  $1.00 off two KRAFT STOVE TOP Stuffing Mix.

Head on over here for a coupon for $1.00 off two KRAFT COOL WHIP Whipped ToppingsSnag it for $.49 at Target with the coupon !

Here’s a nice printable coupon for $0.50 off two KRAFT JET-PUFFED Marshmallows.

My mom loves making apple pies for Thanksgiving.  Here is a coupon for $0.50 off TWO Rolled Refrigerated Pie Crusts.

Head on over here to snag a printable coupon for $0.40 off THREE Pillsbury Crescent Dinner Rolls.

Daily Worth ~ FREE Financial Advice for Women !

DailyWorth is a free daily personal finance email for women. It delivers practical tips, empowering ideas, and the occasional kick in the pants. DailyWorth tips cover self worth, net worth, saving, spending, earning, investing, taxes, entrepreneurship, and much more. More than ever, money matters to women.

Women need to recognize their own self-worth and build their own wealth. Now women can take control of their finances by signing up for DailyWorth.

DIY ~ Make Your Own Products and Save $$

You can save a ton of money by making some of your own products.  Here are some of the recipes that I’ve come across.  Feel free to leave your own recipes in the comments section (I’d love to try out more).

There are several recipes for foaming hand soap.  One of the ones I tried recently was to fill a foaming soap dispenser 1/8 of the way full with Seventh Generation liquid dish soap (I like the Lavender Mint variety).  You then fill the rest of the dispenser with water and mix gently.

Another option is to use a few squirts 1-2TBS of Castille soap - Dr. Bronner’s brand (lots of fragrances are available-I like the peppermint) is the recommended brand… plus you can use Swagbucks to get it free on Amazon! The other benefit is that it ships free!
*Fill the rest of the dispenser with water, straight from the tap. Again mix gently.

Alcohol Free Hand Sanitizer Gel

  • 1 cup pure aloe vera gel (100% no dies, perfumes etc and NOT aloe vera juice)
  • 2 teaspoons of witch hazel
  • 1tsp glycerin
  • 8 drops of an essential oil that has antiseptic properties like lemon grass, patchouli, sandalwood, or tea tree.

This tip I actually got from my the girl who cuts my hair.  The girls have really curly hair  and it gets knotty very easily. She told me to take an old detangler or spray bottle, fill it 1/8 of the way with any conditioner, top off with water and shake.  It is a GREAT detangler and works like a charm for the girls.  It costs so much less than buying the higher priced brands.

Homemade All Natural Bug Spray

  • 14 oz. bottle of Witch Hazel (near the rubbing alcohol in the store)
  • citronella and lemongrass essential oils – 15 drops of each
  • add another essential oil for a nice fragrance (use 10-15 drops).  I like peppermint, but you could also do lavender.
  • an empty spray bottle.

*pour the wich hazel in a jar and add the essential oils
*shake vigorously until it is all mixed
*pour into your spray bottle (you could use a funnel)
*add a cute label
*spray on all uncovered areas to get the bugs to BUG OFF !

(Thanks, Janae!)

If you can snag Bounty paper towels on sale, here is a great DIY recipe to make your own baby wipes:

  • Cut a roll of Bounty paper towels in half (apparently they are the best for this)
  • Place the half in a round container with a good lid
  • In a separate bowl, mix 2cups of water, 1tbs of baby oil, and 1 tbs of baby wash
  • Pour over paper towels, close the lid and they’ll be ready in 10 minutes
  • You can play with the amounts of water, baby oil and baby wash if you want

Homemade Dryer “Sheets”
What You’ll Need:
Container with lid
Fabric Softner
Water
Measuring Cup
3 Sponges
  • Pour equal contents of Fabric Softner & Water in container (i.e.if  you put in 2 cups fabric softner then put in 2 cups water)
  • Cut sponges in 1/2 so you’ll have 6 mini sponges.
  • Leave to soak til you need them.
  • When it is time to use them.  Gently squeeze 2 of them (enough to stop the dripping) and insert with your wet clothes into the dryer. When your clothes are dry put the sponges back in the bucket for their next use.  You could also choose to use a dish cloth or scrap of fabric instead of a sponge, but it would be more difficult to locate them with all of the other clothes in the dryer.
  • Pull them out of the dryer and enjoy the smell.

Debt FREE Paper Chains ~ My Gift to Motivate You !

*Reposting in case you need new ones or are new to my site!

It can be pretty tedious to eliminate your debt and I don’t know about you guys, but I need EVERY motivational tool that I can use.  I promised you guys a FREEbie to help you in your journey and I’ve created something I pray will help out.

I know many of us use paper chains to keep us motivated. I thought it would be fun to have customized paper chains depending on the debt that you are paying off.  For those of you who don’t know what these are, you make a paper chain with a link to represent a certain $ amount.  In other words, if you owed $2600 in credit card debt (or in my case it was $26,000 ~ sheesh), you would have 26 links in your chain and every time you pay off $100 you would rip off a chain.  You will feel motivated as you see your “chain” getting smaller.

I thought different themed paper chains would increase the motivation factor because as you rid yourself of one category of debt, you will be excited to move onto the next set of paper chains.  Am I crazy, or would this help??? I thought of it one night and worked with a designer to create it for you.  You can download them below for free.  They are in color because, for me, that’s the point (motivationally speaking).  If you don’t want to use your color ink you can set your printer options to black and white. There are 4 pages each with 4 strips.  There is a page for credit card debt, car/auto debt, student loans and the mortgage (scroll down when you click on the link below).

I am currently figuring out how to put a link to them on the sidebar so that you have access to them anytime so that you can print your new set when you finish and start your next debt category! Hopefully I will have this done soon, but as I have told you guys, I’m technologically challenged.

Enjoy, and I hope they help you ! After I sell the old house I plan to print out the “mortgage” ones.

Get Your Debt FREE Motivational Paper Chains Here !

If it’s important to you…

Oh, how I love the beginning of a new month.  It feels like a fresh start doesn’t it ?  So, what did you manage to do in February ? Any money saved? Any debt paid off ?  We just started getting back on track a little with me being back to work.  I’m not gonna lie, the last few months have been a struggle, but we’ve managed to keep everything paid on time.  The emergency fund is looking a little under the weather, but we made it through.

I know I’m a major dork, but I spend time reading Dave Ramsey (among other things) for about 45 minutes before bed every night.  It really helps me reflect on our goals and on the day.  Last night I read an awesome passage that I wanted to share with you guys.

He “talked” about how we all give ourselves excuses for not saving money/paying down debt.  We feel the need to treat ourselves with extra goodies (sneakers, shoes, Starbucks coffee, basically whatever) because “we deserve it”.  What we really deserve is a life without the stress of bills and debt.  We tell ourselves that we can’t save money because there just isn’t enough money leftover to save.

He gave a particular example that really struck home with me so of course I feel the need to share.  Here it is:

What would you do if your doctor said that your child needed an operation that would save his/her life? What if this operation would cost $15,000 and would have to take place nine months from today?  Your insurance will NOT cover it and your child will surely die if  they don’t have the surgery.”

Well, the answer of course is that you would find a way wouldn’t you ?  You would work 2 or 3 jobs if necessary slashing your spending to the bare minimum.  You would focus all of your conscious thought on reaching your goal.  You would be tireless in your efforts to be successful.

The point is that if it’s really important for us to accomplish our goal, we must have absolute focused energy on it.   We must set goals to ensure that it happens.  If necessary, we must get a part time job, sell “everything, but the kids” and be absolutely intense.  THAT’S how it’s done.  It’s not easy.  It doesn’t magically happen (unless you win the Powerball- and if you do, don’t forget about me he he).  I have written before about the intensity needed to do this, but I thought this was a great example!

Here are just a few other posts I’ve written on getting debt FREE! 

Be Weird!

Set Goals !

Be Intense !

Stay Motivated!

Save Money ~ Plan Your Meals Using Store Circulars

Are you mailed your local store’s  circulars each week?  If so, you can use these as a tool for saving your money, planning your weekly menu and helping your household run more efficiently.  Here are a few tips to getting the most out of your circulars. 

  • Note the start and end date for the sale period for each store you currently visit.  Some stores begin their sales on Thursday, Friday or Sunday.  Each store has their own sale periods -be aware of them.
  • Start by knowing what you typically spend on your weekly food purchases.  Look over bank statements for the past few months and add  up all of the food related costs.  You can include money spent eating out and running into convenience stores for extras.  This step will help you track your progress over time.
  • Keep a small notebook as a price journal.  Write down all of the regular products that you typically purchase and write the lowest price that you find for each item.  This will become the target price you hope to find each item for. Write your prices in pencil so that you can change the price when you find it for a lower price.  You can pull this out each week when you look over the circulars coming to your house.  Add an item to your grocery list when it hits or comes close to your target price.  Create your menu using items that have hit your target price that week.
  • Recognize “Loss Leaders” that are featured on the front and back pages of each store ad.  Loss leaders are the “too good to be true ” deals that a store features each week.  The store may even lose a little money offering such a big discount on these few items, but they bank on the hopes that you come for the loss leaders and leave with an overflowing cart full of full priced items.  You dont HAVE to though!
  • Be aware of your store’s coupon policy.  Every store has a different coupon policy.  Some stores double coupons, some do not.  Some allow multiple copies of the same coupon and some limit the number that you can present. 
  • Once you begin to master the art of matching coupons to sales and shaving money off of your grocery bill, take it a step further. Set a target $ amount that you’d like to spend for each meal.  For example, for a family of 6, your target price for each dinner could be ar0und $7 (I’d do around $5 for meat and $1 each for 2 sides).  You could allow $2 for each breakfast and $3 for lunch per day.  This would average $84 for food costs for the week.  I personally round up to $100 to include other household items like paper and cleaning products.  When you build a pantry you can reduce these costs even further.  You can also allow yourself some flexibility so that if you snag a great deal on dinner for a few nights, you can order pizza on Friday.
  • Begin to track your savings and use the extra money for savings or to pay down debt. Once you start to see considerable savings on your grocery bill, consider transferring the money that you didn’t spend to either your savings account or designate it to an extra credit card payment.

Money Saving Tip ~ Use Cash !

It’s so easy to whip out your credit card or debit card isn’t it ? I know I am guilty of using my debit card to pay for EVERYTHING.  The truth is that we tend to spend up to 30% more when paying with a card.  It doesn’t seem like it’s real money so we tend to buy things that we wouldn’t buy when paying with cash. In doing that we reduce the amount of money we have to pay down our debt.   When using cash some people divide the money into separate categories (food, transportation etc…) and some people use envelopes.  Use whatever works for you.

I am going to do a trial next week of only paying cash.  I am going to go to the bank to take out the amount of money I have budgeted for the week and I will hide my debit card (from myself he he! ).  I want to see what the impact is on our budget.  I hope to even have a little left over at the end of the week.  I will plan a little treat for the family with the money we have leftover (hopefully).

Wanna join me ??

14 Days to a Debt FREE Mindset ~ Stay Motivated

One of the biggest obstacles in the quest to get debt FREE is getting and staying motivated.  When starting our journey I listed our debts from lowest to highest and was able to knock out the first few debts quickly.  This helped me to get motivated.  We rolled along for the first nine to twelve months quickly.  It was such a rush to knock off a bill or two every month.

The problem came in when we started tackling the bigger debts.  When we began paying off our bigger debts it could take up to a year or more to knock one out.  I remember feeling really frustrated when we were paying off my hubby’s student loans. At one point there was a $31,000 balance and I NEVER thought it would go down.  I remember feeling overwhelmed and quite frankly bored with the process.  It felt like we would never be done.  I did a little research on motivation and came up with a few ideas of my own to throw in the mix.  What I found out was that it was really all about my attitude.  If I could be happy and upbeat about the process, it wouldn’t feel as long or uninspired.  If I could create mini goals within the goal, it would make it feel as though it was going more quickly.

Here are just a few ideas for you.  Please feel FREE to add your comments and thoughts in the comments section.  I love it when we inspire one another:

  • Place a “Debt Thermometer” somewhere in your home so that you can track your progress.  I have heard of people drawing a big thermometer on a piece of poster board and coloring in sections and the debt dwindles.
  • Make a paper chain and pull one off for every $100 you pay off on a debt.  You will have the visual reinforcement of seeing the chain get smaller.
  • Make a large poster with the goal written on it that you are currently working on.  Under the goal, section off the poster board according to how many hundred/thousand dollars you owe and tear a section off as you pay it off. 
  • When we sell our current house and our only debt is our new mortgage, I plan to make a large drawing of our house using bricks for every $1,000 owed.  My hubby and I will then color in a brick for every thousand dollars that we manage to pay off.  I think that will help us stay motivated. 

You can keep your charts, chains  or whatever in a private place for your eyes only or hang them in the living room for all to see.  The choice is yours.  There are other things that I do to keep myself motivated.  I like to watch and listen to debt free content material (Suze Orman, Dave Ramsey, Til Debt Do Us Part …).  I also get a whole lot of motivation from reading all of your comments.  I love it that we all help to motivate one another.  It really helps me. 

Share your tips and comments below :)

Christmas ~ How Much is Too Much ?

 

 When I got the mail today there were 2 HUGE toy catalogs in with the mail.  I immediately went to hand each of the girls one to look at to see what they wanted for Christmas, but then I thought “hey wait a minute”.  By doing that am I encouraging the commercialism of Christmas? You see I don’t want little girls that constantly say “I want, I want, I want” so maybe giving them a huge toy catalog and asking them to circle what they want is a really bad idea.  I ended up sticking them in the closet (the catalogs not the twins he he!). 

Am I right in not giving the catalogs to the girls or am I overthinking it ? I need some advice from you.  Also, how do you decide how many gifts to get for your kids for the holidays? Do you have a method or do you wing it ?

I have heard that a  great way to make sure you do not overbuy for your kids is to set a limit on how many presents they get. I’ve heard some families limit it to 3 presents a piece (like the Wise Men gave to Jesus). Some limit it to the age of the child. Some limit it by category, such as a thing you need, a thing you want, a thing you play with, a thing you wear, etc

How do you do it ? I’d love to hear.

Survey Savvy
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