The 5 Day Teen (Or Tween) Budget Challenge Update

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I’ve been meaning to update you all week on how the 5 Day Tween Budget Challenge went in our home, and goodness I learned so much! My daughter Caroline did a great job handling her budgeted money (she was highly motivated because she knew anything she saved would be hers to keep.) Here’s how she did:

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  • Tuesday – $2.25 at Family Dollar
  • Wednesday – $49.03 at Kroger and Sam’s Club (she cooked Chicken Pot Pie for dinner)
  • Thursday – $0 (she made pizza for dinner)
  • Friday – $15 at Panera (the kids had a babysitter while I worked during the day, and decided to go out to lunch with the sitter), Caroline cooked breakfast for dinner
  • Saturday – $28 for lunch at Culver’s (at her dad and brother’s request)
  • Total = $94.28 (which included a few splurges ~ she could have done it for less and I think would have if she hadn’t had a little peer pressure from her family!) :)

Do you know what I learned from this experiment?

 

Your kids are watching you.

 

(ahem.)

 

My kid is watching me.

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I wish you could have seen my surprise when Caroline walked into my office on Thursday morning and asked for my Kroger password so that she could login and check out their e-coupons.

 

And every time she went anywhere she checked our Entertainment and Enjoy the City Coupon Books to see if there was a deal or two there.

 

And while she was making dinner, she set the table, tidied up the kitchen, and had everyone wash their hands before heading in to eat.

 

Just like I do.

 

That girl is watching me.

 

Yikes.

 

As our kids are getting older (and probably because of the business that I run here on PPP), we talk (a lot) about our finances. But, giving them real access to how money works is new to them, so this has been a huge eye opener for our children. Even yesterday when shopping with my 15 year old, I realized he’s soaking it all in. (The thought of spending $25 on a t-shirt to him was crazy ~ he even made the comment that Goodwill is the best place to shop – ha!)

 

No matter where you are in your finances, your kids are not going to start out with what you have, so teaching them now how to handle their money can shape their financial future forever. I’ll keep you posted on how my son does on the challenge (I’m curious to see myself), but definitely recommend handing your kids the reigns on your family’s budget for a few days if they’re old enough so they can learn under your guidance at home.

New to budgeting and don’t know where to begin? Here are a few posts to you get started:

 

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7 Secrets You Need To Know Before Shopping At Michaels

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Love shopping Michaels Craft Store? Goodness, I do too! And I love that Michaels is coupon friendly, so you can save big every time you shop.

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Here are my top 7 secrets you need to know before shopping at Michaels:
1. Use store coupons.

Michaels offers new store coupons that you can find in the Sunday fliers in your newspaper as well as online every week. You can print the coupon or just show them the coupon on your Smartphone.

 

Michaels often randomly offers a very high value coupon for one day only, so watch for those savings as well. When I hear one of these pop up I always post the information here on PPP, so be sure to subscribe to daily emails or follow PPP on Facebook so you don’t miss those savings!

2. Check out Michaels Mobile Alerts & App.

Sign up for mobile text alerts from Michaels by texting the words JOIN2 to 273-283. Standard text message rates do apply, but they send out coupons as often as 8 messages per month.

You can also download the Michaels app to your Smartphone to easily get coupons to show in store. I just checked, and found the following coupons available (which are the same coupons you can find on their website:)

  • 20% off entire purchase (including sale items)
  • 60% off framing
  • 40% off regular price stickers & embellishments by Recollections
  • 40% off regular price stringing, cording and tools by Bead Landing

(These will vary by week and are just an example of what’s currently available) 

3. Take advantage of competitor coupons.

Michaels will accept coupons from the following stores (as long as they’re in your area):

  • ACMoore
  • JoAnne Fabrics
  • Ben Franklin
  • Hobby Lobby

Michaels will accept a competitor coupon up to 50% off any single item, however they won’t allow coupons for a percentage off your entire order (i.e. 25% off your entire purchase.) Depending on the management at your store, you may be able to use a competitor coupon AND a store coupon in the same transaction.

 

4. Don’t miss Michaels special one or two day sales.

Michaels frequently offers special short term deals, which you can find when you check their weekly ad online or sign up for their daily emails. This is a great way to save, and I’ve found fantastic prices on mason jars, canvases, and photo boxes watching for these sales.

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5. Shop Michaels “dollar” bins & big savings aisle.

All Michaels stores have dollar bins (really $1.50 bins) near the front of the store. These often go on clearance, and are a great way to stock up on seasonal decor, cute muffin cups, thank you notes, gift tags and lots more! I always make a beeline for this section of the store as soon as I walk in the door.

There’s also an aisle in most Michaels stores that has special gift items, kids activities, teacher gift ideas and more. I’ve seen these aisles clearanced 50% as well, which is a great way to stock up on inexpensive gifts, birthday treats, cute buckets and so much more while you’re there!

6. Watch for seasonal clearance at Michaels.

Michaels offers huge clearance savings, especially on seasonal decor. I’ve found great deals on Christmas decor, fall decorations, items for Spring and more by taking advantage of their clearance deals.

(Recent video of my clearance savings at Michaels – you can save so much by watching for those clearance sales!)

 

If you watch closely, they often clearance out items that are not specifically seasonal so you can save big on things you can use year round (for example, last Spring they clearanced cute paper straws that work any time of year.) So, watch those clearance bins because you never know what you may find!

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7. Enjoy Military, Senior & Teacher Discounts.

Are you a member of the military? If you have a military ID card you can save an additional 10% off every single day when you shop Michaels. You can also save 10% every day at Michaels if you’re 55 or older.  Love that!

Teachers also save 15% at Michaels every day on participating items.  If you’re a teacher, save 15% at Michaels on products designed for your classroom. See the store management at your local Michaels to find out what’s included in this promotion.

Not sure crafting is for you? Michaels offers classes too!

Michaels also offers in store classes including classes for kids and adults. A few of their classes are free (however you may need to buy supplies), and some of their paid for classes start at just $2 per class. Go HERE to see what classes are offered at your local store.

 

Go HERE to read Michaels coupon policy, and if you’ve come up with other ways to save at Michaels I’d love to hear about it! Take a minute to leave a comment to share ~ I love hearing from you.

 

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Looking for more free printables? Check these out:

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Here are a few more favorite posts you may be interested in: 

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Our Backyard Makeover Part One (& 5 Reasons Why You Should Do It Yourself)

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I have been waiting and waiting and waiting to share some backyard updates with you all, and we’re finally getting close to the finished results! 

Last summer when we moved from Alabama to Ohio, we were so unprepared for the state of our yard. In Alabama folks live outside just about year round, and we’d spent ten years fluffing up our backyard until it was one of our favorite spots.

(Our Alabama backyard – see more pictures HERE. We loved that yard!)

So when we moved to a new home in Ohio we were shocked at the lack of landscaping (goodness, we had no grass!) for our first summer. For a jillion reasons we were unable to get sod or any kind of green stuff in our yard all summer long. We moved to Ohio in May, and here’s a peek of what our yard still looked like in August.

Crazy.

(In Alabama this would have been unheard of ~ to say it was a long summer for our 3 kids with nowhere to play outside is an understatement!)

But we learned a few things (isn’t there always something to learn?) Many nights we’d head outside, walk around our rocky yard (it was so rocky that you could hardly walk without wearing hiking boots) :) and imagine what we wanted for our yard.

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(this is that same yard in the above picture one year later after grass and we added stone – amazing what a year will do!)

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We slowly started picking up all the rocks that were in the yard (because we knew the landscapers who were handling the sod wouldn’t take care to remove smaller rocks), and ended up with a huge pile of stone that we could work with. Not knowing what to do with all that stone, we decided to slowly create a bed around one of our first flower beds. We didn’t spend a penny (other than our labor), and while it doesn’t look at all like many of the beautiful stone borders I’ve seen, it does look much better than nothing at all (and it was free! I love free . . . ) 

 

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Here’s the view from our breakfast room the day our sod was finally delivered – such a glorious day (no joke!) 😉 

 

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Since last summer we’ve gotten grass (WOOHOO!) and all of our flowers have started to fill in. While we’ve paid folks to have some of the work done we’ve done a bunch of it ourselves, and I’ll be sharing what we’ve finished over the next few weeks.


So what’s the value in doing it yourself? Here’s what we’ve learned (after nineteen years of oodles of DIY’ing . . . )
  1. We care about our own home more than anyone else. While we choose sometimes to pay people for certain projects in our home, no one cares about our home like we do, which means we can give ourselves the very best finished product!
  2. It’s often hard to find good help, and if you’re impatient (like me) waiting for them to get something done can make you crazy. While there are projects that we’d love to pay people for, the fact that I can decide to paint a room, head to my home supply store, purchase what I need, and come home and paint it myself all in a few hours is much more appealing than waiting for a contractor to do the work for me. So, while it may take me some time to do, I’m more than happy to work on it because I’m in control of each project’s time frame!
  3. It’s great exercise. Working in our yard has always been one of my husband’s favorite things to do, because he loves getting the exercise and just being outside. If he paid someone else to do it he wouldn’t enjoy those benefits (and isn’t someone who naturally loves to exercise), so this is an added (free!) bonus.
  4. Doing it yourself gives you a fantastic sense of accomplishment. It’s fun to have a project completely in your home, but it’s so much more fun when you can say you learned how to do something new all by yourself. I’m lucky enough to be married to someone who’s willing to learn how to do just about anything (and frugal enough not to pay people all that often), but we started out just like everyone else and have learned so much along the way.
  5. You will add a ton of value to your home when you do things yourself. The first two homes we purchased were huge fixer uppers, however we spent very little to update them because we did just about all the work ourselves. Doing things ourselves in those early years helped us put basically free equity in our homes, and has increased the value of our home each time we’ve moved.

 

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Here are the basic projects we’ve been working on in our yard (I’ll show the steps over the next few weeks):

  1. Getting grass (this was included in the purchase of our home but didn’t actually happen until almost four months after we moved in. Crazy!)
  2. Stamped concrete patio (we paid someone to do this because it was too big a project for my husband and I to do. I’ll update with pictures next soon.)
  3. Build a small deck off the breakfast room so that we could keep our grill at the top of the steps so we could easily grill outside in the winter time.
  4. Create a flower bed using stone around the patio.
  5. Build a stone fireplace (this is a huge project to tackle, but my husband’s doing an incredible job and we’re saving almost $10,000 by doing it ourselves!)

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Stop back next week to see more updates (above is just a peek), and follow me on Instagram if you’d like to sneak peeks as the work progresses. Such fun!

 

 
I’d love for you to join me over on Pinterest (I love that place!)  If you have a blog and have done a little fluffing in your home, I’d love to see it, so leave your link in the comments section. Also, if there’s a craft you’ve seen on a website that you’re hoping to make, feel free to share that link as well (I’m always looking for new ideas!)

 

See previous Friday Fluff Up projects and ideas . . . and Happy Fluffing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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How To Teach Your Kids About Money: The 5 Day Teen (Or Tween) Budget Challenge

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original photo credit 

 

Trying to teach your teenager or tweenager about money?

 

You’re not alone. 

 

Like anyone with children, we struggle at times wondering if we’re teaching our own kids the value of a dollar. Our kids know that we’ve always lived on a budget, but as our finances have become a little less stretched than in those early years, we often loosen the reigns just because we don’t have to be quite as careful with our finances as we once were.

 
And I’m so glad that after years of penny pinching we’re in a place that we can do that.

 

However, in just a few years my older kids will be heading out into the world and navigating finances on their own. While I *think* they know that money doesn’t grow on trees, I’m not always quite sure, and we’ve been looking for ways to teach them how to really handle money.

 

Enter the five day money saving challenge.

 

For five days, our teen and tween kids (ages 15 and 12) will each have control of our grocery and miscellaneous budget. As I’ve shared before, we live on a bi-weekly budget, meaning for us that every two weeks we take out a certain amount of cash for groceries, eating out, and any other miscellaneous expenses (or fun money.)

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So, until Saturday, my twelve year old chief penny pincher Caroline is in charge. :) (She actually started the challenge yesterday – Jackson will start next week) She’s required to menu plan, grocery shop, and decide where we eat (and to some extent what we eat), for the next few days.

 

Her motivation?

 

Any money that she doesn’t spend beyond the cash budget is hers. 

 

Y’all, this girl is beyond herself excited, and I’m pretty sure we’ll be eating rice and beans for the rest of the week.

 

Here’s what she’s spent so far:

Family Dollar $2.25

We were out all day picking up my youngest Reagan at camp and walking a huge walking trail. After driving for two hours and then walking for 5 miles we were starving, so she was willing for she and I to spend $2.25 on snacks before picking up Reagan. (She was pretty savvy and refused to stop after picking up Reagan – she knew that would cut into her budget too far!)

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Sam’s Club lunch $6.17

Today we had to meet my husband to pick out stone for the outdoor fireplace my husband’s working on (more details coming soon), and didn’t have time to get lunch before we headed out to meet him. I had some Entertainment Book coupons in my car, but she decided most restaurants were above her budget even with a coupon. We ended up at Sam’s Club of course because she knew that she could easily stick to her budget there!

 

She really hesitated over purchasing drinks (we were surprised that the Pretzel Combo costs a whopping $.79 more with a drink while the hot dog combo is only $.20 more after the drink.) Reagan convinced Caroline that by getting a hot dog combo she was saving Caroline extra money, and Caroline then told us we were welcome to try the free samples throughout the store while we were there. :)

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Sam’s Club groceries $16.88

We picked up a few basic groceries at Sam’s at lunchtime as well (as I’ve been traveling so much this month, our pantry is just about empty!) Here’s what she purchased at Sam’s:

  • Large bag salad $1.98 (I hate Iceberg Lettuce Salads but she and my husband love them. At $1.98, no matter what kind of salad she chose I couldn’t say no!)
  • Package of apple slices (we hardly ever go to Sam’s and they’re the only store that carries these. My kids love them and eat a ton of apples when they’re on hand, so she thought they were worth it. I know they’re overpriced, but goodness I love the convenience of them too!)
  • Bananas $1.48
  • Nutella $7.22 (somehow she thought this was $3.72 and went way over her budget before I caught it.  Lesson learned!)
  • Milk $2.22
  • Total = $16.88

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Kroger

Caroline planned a few meals on the way to Kroger. Her plan is homemade pizza, homemade chicken potpie and breakfast for dinner. Since we have most of the ingredients for those items, her grocery bill wasn’t too bad! Here’s what she bought:

  • 2 Kroger Pizza Crusts $2.49
  • 1 Kroger Cheese $2.99 (EXCELLENT price for 4 cups – great deal going on this week if you need to stock up!)
  • Kroger Pie Shells $1.66
  • 2 packs Kroger Waffles on sale $1, used $.75/2 Kroger Wafffle e coupon (great price!)
  • 2 Kroger brand cream of chicken soups for chicken pot pie $.89 (I’d rather make this homemade recipe, but knew that was more cooking than I was up to teaching this afternoon, so it worked in a pinch!)
  • 4 Yogurts $.40 each
  • 2.81 pounds Grapes $2.47 (great price!)
  • Kroger Mixed Veggies $.69 (the can of VegAll that I usually use for pot pie was $1.89 ~ we looked at the ingredients and they were identical, so she decided it was an easy way to save over $1)
  • Kroger Bread $1
  • Granny Smith Apples $3.99 (she wanted to buy the larger ones not in a bag which were a whopping $1.99/lb. ~ the bagged apples were $1.33 per pound so a much better price)
  • Dial Liquid Soap $.89
  • Kroger Pizza Sauce $1.29
  • Total = $25.98

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Her total spent so far is $51.28, and within her budget (especially if she can keep everyone eating out for the next few days!) I’m curious to see how it goes and have loved watching her mind work as she’s figuring out the ins and out of budgeting and menu planning. I’ll keep you updated on how it goes, and if you’ve come up with other ways to teach budgeting in your family I’d love to hear your suggestions!

 

 

 

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Guest Bedroom Update Part #3: The Finished Room

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See part one and part two.

 

I am so stinkin’ excited to finally share some updates of our guest bedroom with you! Remember a few weeks ago when I shared how I used homemade chalk paint to repaint a $48 Goodwill headboard? Well I also used it to update the furniture in the bedroom, and painted the room as well.

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The guest bedroom is a small room in our basement with just one small window (which actually leads out to a window well so there isn’t much light in that room.) I’ve never painted anything grey in my life (and really have never been a big fan of grey?), but after seeing it more and more often in rooms as I’ve scrolled through Pinterest, I decided this was my chance.  Here’s a peek at the before and after . . .

Before

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Here’s how I did it on a (mostly) penny pinched budget . . .

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1. Re-used lamps from our dining room by re-painting them white. (Perfect as I recently replaced them with Goodwill lamps that were spray painted as well.)

Cost = $16 for 2 new shades at the Ballard Design Outlet in Cincinnati 

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2. Added curtain panels to window and tied them back using hidden clothespins.

Cost = $14.99 for curtains and $19.99 for rod set at TJMaxx

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 3. Added a chair and mirror from other rooms in our house that were no longer being used. The chair had been painted black and the mirror was off white, so I just repainted them to match.

Cost = $0 (I already had the paint on hand)

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 4. Added a simple wooden set of hooks for hanging clothes.

Cost = $0 (I picked these up years ago from my the basement of my in-law’s home because they were no longer in use – love that!)

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5. Re-painted these super cute nightstands in grey.

Cost = $10

These nightstands are my favorite garage sale deal ever. About nine years ago my neighbors were selling them – both he and she had made them in shop class in high school but they didn’t match (I think one was oak and one was maple.) I paid $10 for them and have repainted them three times depending on the room they’re in!

 

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6. Updated these old wall hangings with a little fresh paint.

Cost = $0

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 7. Repainted a Goodwill headboard with chalk paint.

Cost = $48 for the headboard, $.50 for the chalk paint by using a mismatched sample in the bargain bin

8. Repainted the bedroom

Cost = $38 for paint

I used the higher grade paint at Home Depot because it goes on easily with one coat – so worth it for me to save time and extra paint!

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9. Bought new bedding at TJMaxx.

Cost = $129

This was by far the biggest expense in the room. I just didn’t see any thing else that I loved, and I love the way fresh white bedding looks in a guest bedroom. Since everything else was pretty penny pinched, this was a worthwhile splurge!

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The total cost of the update came in at $217.98, and I do wish I’d looked a little harder for less expensive bedding (but I really do love how this looks in that space!  The only thing I didn’t consider before updating the room was the color of the carpet (eek!)

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Honestly, until I saw it in these pictures I never even noticed it was so beige (it looks pretty neutral normally, and I just didn’t pay attention to it at all!) It does show up a bit more in the pictures, but I’m still pretty pleased with the results.

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I really do love the grey though, and it was a great way to try out a new color in a safe spot that could be different than the rest of the house.

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So there you have it! Do you have any other suggestions on how to update a room on a budget? I’d love to hear your ideas – leave a comment to share! (And feel free to share your updated pictures on the PPP Facebook page – I’d love to see what you’re up to!)

I’d love for you to join me over on Pinterest (I love that place!)  If you have a blog and have done a little fluffing in your home, I’d love to see it, so leave your link in the comments section. Also, if there’s a craft you’ve seen on a website that you’re hoping to make, feel free to share that link as well (I’m always looking for new ideas!)

 

See previous Friday Fluff Up projects and ideas . . . and Happy Fluffing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Free Printable Seasonal Produce Guide

 

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Printable Seasonal Produce Guide

Do you love fresh produce but never know when it’s the best time of year to buy your favorite thing? Here’s a complete list of the best time to buy (and stock up on!) just about every kind of fruit and veggie you can imagine. We save so much by determining to eat fresh produce while it’s in season (which makes it a lower price), and you can too!

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Go HERE to download your free What’s In Season Produce Guide by Month. While you’re at it, you can also download this list of what to freeze and how to freeze it when you sign up for daily PPP emails, delivered to your inbox! 

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Looking for more free printables? Check these out:

 

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Here are a few more favorite posts you may be interested in: 

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25 Best Amazon Prime Free Movies For Kids

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If you have a kids home this summer and are an Amazon Prime member, take advantage of their huge list of free kids movies! You can see the complete selection of free Amazon Prime movies with excellent reviews over HERE, but these are the top 25 Best Amazon Prime Free Movies for Kids:

  1. A Cat in Paris
  2. Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland
  3. Belle and the Beast
  4. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
  5. Ella Enchanted
  6. Fern Gully
  7. Finding Neverland
  8. Fly Away Home
  9. God’s Not Dead
  10. Hachi
  11. Hook
  12. Hugo
  13. Jumanji
  14. Kit Kittredge: An American Girl
  15. Lassie (2005)
  16. Little Princess
  17. Little Women
  18. Magic Of Belle Island
  19. Minor Details
  20. Miss Potter
  21. Never Ending Story
  22. Polar Express
  23. Stuart Little 2
  24. Thumbelina
  25. Veggie Tales: Lord of the BeansMinor Details

 

 

Have you watched any other free kids movies with Amazon Prime? I’d love to hear what other ones you’d recommend! Don’t have Amazon Prime? Try it out for one month free.

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Looking for more like this? Here you go!

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10 Things You Need To Know Before Shopping TJMaxx

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10 Things You Need To Know Before Shopping TJMaxx

 

Do you just love shopping TJMaxx? 

 

Me too!

 

Here are some things you should definitely look for at TJMaxx before paying full price elsewhere, as well as a few secrets to TJMaxx shopping you may not have known before.

 

1. Want to save big at TJMaxx? Shop Wednesdays.

TJ Maxx offers their biggest savings on Wednesdays when they mark down merchandise. This does vary some by store, but this is generally the best day to watch for markdowns as well as new items because they typically re-stock shelves during the week.

 

Watch your TJMaxx clearance sections to find the biggest savings, and since Wednesday is typically their markdown day you’ll guarantee things aren’t too picked over when you shop.

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2. Shop TJMaxx for high end shoes.

I didn’t expect to see the kind of savings that I found on shoes at TJMaxx, but you can save big at TJMaxx in their shoe department! My daughter was with me, and found two pairs of Nike Sneakers that she liked. We did a little price checking, and here’s how their prices stacked up:

  • Nike Women’s Dual Fusion Run $49.99 at TJMaxx, $87 at Amazon (crazy!)
  • Nike Women’s Dual Fusion Run 2 $39.99 at TJMaxx, $78 at Amazon

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 3. TJMaxx has better prices on the same brand clothing that you’ll find in big department stores.

TJMaxx purchases the same items as Nordstrom or Macy’s, because they’re an “off-price buyer”. If a vendor like Polo or Lucky Jeans produces 300,000 items but the big stores only purchase 250,000, they’ll sell the remaining items to off-price buyers like TJMaxx, which means you’ll save on current season clothing!

 

I’ve found Ralph Lauren Men’s Polos for my son for as low as $19 at TJMaxx, compared to $30 at the outlet stores (or even more in department stores.) Prices definitely vary, but just like you find a “stock up price” at your local grocery store grocery stores you can determine your “stock up price” on items your family regularly buys. (My son loves Ralph Lauren clothing so I know $19 for their polos is a good price, and we’ve been lucky enough to find them for that price or less at TJMaxx, Schoola, and even Goodwill.)

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4. Watch TJMaxx for prices on hair care products.

TJMaxx has great prices on hair care products, including hair dryers, flat irons, curling irons and more. Just as an example, I noticed this FHI Heat Go Ceramic Styling Iron for $14.99 at TJMaxx. Head over to Amazon where it’s priced at $39.99 (ouch!) – definitely worth watching for at TJmaxx.

 

5. If you notice an item at TJMaxx is slightly damaged but you still would like it, ask for a discount. They may be able to discount your price, and it never hurts to nicely ask!

 

 

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6. TJ Maxx has hugely discounted prices on sunglasses (priced as low as $7.99 . . . )

And exercise equipment.

Just like you’ll save on clothing because TJMaxx is an off price buyer, you’ll get those savings on things like sunglasses, exercise equipment, and all kinds of odds and ends throughout the store. They also have fantastic prices on high end purses, luggage & more!

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7. TJMaxx has great prices on fragrances.

Because TJMaxx doesn’t pay for the staff and display areas that local department stores do in their fragrance department, you can save a bundle on fragrances and perfumes at TJMaxx. Do a quick search on your Smartphone to guarantee you’re getting a better price (also make sure the boxes are still intact), and you can save big on those items.

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8. TJMaxx offers great prices on home decor.

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If you’re looking for furniture and accessories to fluff up your home, don’t miss the great deals on home decor at TJMaxx. TJMaxx has a huge selection of housewares, including rugs, tables, lamps and so much more at hugely discounted prices.

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Also keep your eye out for their great prices on baskets,

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glassware, pet supplies, curtains, bedding and more.


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9. Don’t miss the savings on party supplies at TJMaxx.

TJMaxx has high end party favors and gift bags for as low as $1.49, which are better quality than the ones you’ll find at the Dollar Tree for just a few cents more.

 

10. Don’t expect personalized service at TJMaxx (although the employees are usually very nice!)

One of the reasons TJMaxx sells items at deeply discounted prices (in addition to being an off price buyer) is because their overhead is just less than your local department store. TJMaxx isn’t paying employees to man every area of the store like you would expect to see at Macy’s or Nordstrom, so you get the benefits of those savings. If you like extra help when shopping TJMaxx may not be the place for you, but if you’re looking to easily save big it’s a great place to start.

 

Note – The employees at TJMaxx are VERY nice, there just aren’t usually an abundance of them like you might find at a large department store. 

 

And one final fun fact that I noticed this week at the store ~ Sierra Trading Post is part of the TJMaxx companies. (Did you know that?) In case you’re curious, here are the stores that are part of the TJMaxx company:

  • TJMaxx
  • Marshall’s
  • Home Goods
  • Sierra Trading Post
  • HomeSense

 

Anyone else ready to head on out to TJMaxx with me today? 

 

(And, as a friendly penny pincher’s reminder, you might want to keep this one simple question in your mind before you shop TJMaxx. Because, as awesome as those deals are at TJMaxx, they’re not worth busting your budget for, got it?) 😉

 

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Should You Pay For Amazon Prime?

 

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You all know I love Amazon. There are so many items that I pick up there (ahem – that they drop off for me here . . .), and the convenience of having things shipped to my door often for less than I can get them at Walmart even after coupons just make me happy.

 

For 3 years I’ve had an Amazon Prime membership as well, and people ask me all the time if I think it’s worth it. As a busy work-at-home mom I really do love the convenience of Amazon Prime, but it may not be for everyone. Here are all the pros and cons laid out for you, so you can make an educated decision to yourself:

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Pros

1. Amazon Prime delivers jillions of items to your home, with no shipping fees.

I love that I don’t have to worry over the cost of shipping items to my home on most items at Amazon. If I realize there’s something I need that I would normally head to Walmart for (for example, office supplies, some of the face care products we use, a random school supply that the kids need, etc), I look for it on Amazon. If it’s a reasonable price, I have it delivered rather than heading out to the store.

 

Note – to make sure I’m never paying more than the price at Walmart I always check the Walmart.com price and make sure the Amazon price really is a good deal. You can also compare the prices at Sam’s Club online and Costco to do a little research before purchasing!

 

2. Amazon Prime Free Movie and Television Streaming.

I stream a ton of shows through Amazon Prime, especially to watch on the treadmill in the morning. (I just finished watching all of the seasons of Parenthood on my Amazon Instant Video app, and now I’m catching up on Downton Abbey!) My kids watch videos on the app as well, and even though Amazon Prime doesn’t offer all of their movies for free, there are a lot to choose from so it works well for us, and is a great alternative to Netflix.

 

Note – Netflix has more movies included with their basic package than Amazon Prime has, so factor that into your decision making process.

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3. Free Kindle eBooks.

Amazon Prime Members can rent one ebook each month for free through the Kindle Owners Lending Library. Prime Members can also read Kindle First new releases 1 month sooner than non Prime members (and you get to choose one of these for free too!)

 

4. Amazon offers unlimited photo storage for Amazon Prime Members through Amazon Cloud Drive.

 

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5. Amazon Prime members can take advantage of Pantry savings.

Amazon’s Prime Pantry program allows you to order groceries delivered to your door with a flat rate of $5.99. These do take a little longer to ship (typically 4 days because they have to be shipped by ground.) Occasionally Amazon offers special free coupons or free shipping on these items, so you can really stock up!

6. Amazon Prime Music offers free streaming of millions of songs.

 

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7. If you’re a student (or have an .edu account), you can get Amazon Prime for free for 6 months.

If you’re a student or know someone who is (or have an .edu account), it’s definitely worth signing up for a free 6 months of Amazon Prime, just be sure to cancel your trial before your six months is up.

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8. Amazon Mom.

If you have young children at home, it is definitely  worth trying out Amazon Mom. You’ll get a free 3 month trial of Amazon Prime just for signing up, and you’ll save a bundle on diapers and wipes, all conveniently delivered to your door (which is so worth it when your kids are tiny!)

Cons

1. The $99 price tag.

I love Amazon Prime and pay for it in part because it’s just convenient, but it really isn’t completely necessary for the majority of the deals on Amazon. Many items ship free when you spend $35 or more on Amazon even without Prime, so if you can keep a running list of things you need to order from Amazon and wait until you’re reached the $35 threshold you can skip that extra fee.

 

There are a few ways you can try Amazon Prime out for free though to see what you think, just be sure to cancel your membership before your trial period runs outHere are the best ways to try it for free:

 

So, what do you think? Do you have an Amazon Prime membership and is it worth it for you? I’d love to hear your thoughts ~ leave a comment to share!

 

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Love Amazon? Don’t miss my list of 16 items you should be buying on Amazon.

 

This post contains affiliate links.  See my disclosure policy to learn more.

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How To Slow Your Spending With One Simple Step

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Ever struggle with the temptation to purchase something on a whim?

 

You’re not alone.

 

However, this one simple step might just transform the way you spend.

 

Every single time you’re considering purchasing an item.

 

*Every time.*

 

Ask yourself:

 

In one year, will I be glad I purchased this?

 

In one year, will I be glad I spent these few dollars at the Dollar Tree?

 

In one year, will it matter that I splurged on more expensive meat at the grocery when another cut was on sale?

 

In one year, will I be happier because this t-shirt is in my closet? 

 

In one year, will this super cute pillow that I just need right now still be super cute? (heck, in one WEEK will it still be super cute? This one comes from experience . . . ahem.) 

 

In one year, will our family be glad we went out to eat at a more expensive restaurant when we could have eaten somewhere a little less pricey (or, even stayed at home?)

 

In one year, will my child still enjoy that toy they’re convinced they just need right now?

 

In one year, will I be thankful I paid $2 for that soda when I could have gotten water for free?

 

In one year, will I be glad my child had that darling designer outfit to wear to school?

 

In one year, will these jeans really be just the pair I need?

 

Yikes.

 

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Don’t sacrifice what you really want for what you want right now.

 

We’re all at different places in our lives and in our finances, and you may be at a place where splurging on a yummy meal at a fancy restaurant or buying your kiddos super cute boutique clothes totally works for your budgetBut if you’re not in that place, this may be a time to reign things in so that your long term financial goals aren’t sacrificed for that short term “I want it now” mentality.

 

I’ll be honest, there are a few splurges that we enjoyed even when money was tight in our home that I’m totally thankful for. I don’t regret our vacations, some date nights with my husband, or a few special outfits for our children’s baby pictures. (Although I enjoyed those special outfits bought at consignment stores much more than the ones I paid full price for before I knew any better!)

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I do however look back and remember times when I really thought I just needed an item for our home, so I spent too much on items we absolutely didn’t needWithin months I was disappointed, and hated that we’d just thrown money away.

 

While it’s totally okay to splurge on a super cute top every once in awhile or a fun meal out, if you’re in a place where you really need to change your family’s finances, this may be the time to skip some of those splurges. Not only will it help your budget, it may just help de-clutter your home too. :)

 

So, the next time you’re at a store and just convinced you *need* a new item, take a minute to think about whether in one year you’ll be oh-so-glad you have it. Try saving those pennies towards your long term financial goals, and I’m betting you’ll be amazed at how quickly your spending slows down!

 

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