Free Editable Spring Cleaning Checklist

 

 

If you missed my Facebook live video this morning you can watch here.


It’s Day 12 of our “Be Awesome in April” Cleaning Challenge and I hope you’re joining me!  If you’d like to join me, head on over HERE to download your free printable checklist.

 

downloadnow

 

 

This month we’ve been doing the Passionate Penny Pincher BE AWESOME IN APRIL SERIES, which means you and I have been getting control of our home, cooking, and cleaning every. single. day. this month.

 

WOOHOOOOOOO!!!!! 🙂 

 

And so far it’s been SO HELPFUL to keep me on track with my days – I’ve been so much more productive each day (I love that!)

 

 

 

 

The best part?  Since many of you have been asking for this . . . 

 

WE’VE MADE THE CLEANING CHECKLIST EDITABLE.

 

So you can use it EVERY. SINGLE. MONTH.

 

you’re welcome!! 🙂

 

 

The cleaning schedule is based on how I personally tackle our day, so you may need to tweak it for you. Well now you can! Be sure to also join our private Facebook group for extra motivation to be awesome in April – I know you’ll love this bunch!

 

 

CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS!!

 

I promise. You’ll love it. 

 

 

Here’s how it works…

 

1. FIRST – you will need to have Adobe Acrobat Reader. Most browsers have the Adobe Acrobat Reader embedded and there is nothing for you to do beyond filling out your checklist right in your browser. You can also download the PDF Reader right to your computer and save your spring cleaning checklist on your desk top to access later in the year (or next week).

**The editable spring cleaning checklist will not work on your mobile device unless you have the free Acrobat Reader Mobile App. Once you have this installed on your mobile device, you will need to download spring cleaning checklist and open it in the mobile app to make it editable on mobile.**

2. EDITING – Once you have your spring cleaning checklist open in your browser or in Adobe Acrobat Reader on your desktop, you should see blue boxes as in the photo above. That means your form is READY for you to add in your spring cleaning checklist!

You’ll need to start by putting your cursor in that first blue box and begin entering your own spring cleaning challenges. The form is set up so you can TAB through or you can place your cursor anywhere you see a light blue box.  As you finish your cleaning tasks you can then click on the blue boxes to create a “check”!

3. PRINTING – Now that you have your spring cleaning checklist ready for the week you’ll want to print it!

 

Just select the printer icon as in the image above.

In the selection box that pops up, make sure you have the FIT TO PAGE option checked (to ensure your entire menu plan prints on one page) and hit print!

 

 

menuplan

 

You’ll also get my FREE editable menu plan  and this FREE What to Freeze/How to Freeze It List included with the package!!! Since starting the Dinner’s Done Facebook group (join it free over HERE), we’ve had so many requests for a great editable menu plan and grocery list that we finally put it together for you and included it in this package.

 

(And by the way, if you’re struggling with menu planning, I highly recommend checking out the menu plans from my friend Tiffany at Eat at Home Cooks. Her menu plans are as low as $1.61 per week for 72 slow cooker, whole foods and traditional recipes each month, and they’ve transformed the way dinner gets done in our home. Go HERE to check them out!)

 

 

Let me know if you love it too! 

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That Time My Husband Had a Heart Attack (The Addendum.)

Screen Shot 2016-06-03 at 10.16.43 AM

 

 

I don’t take time as often as I’d like to share random ramblings like this one like I once did here on PPP, but felt that someone today might just need to hear this.

 

Maybe that someone is you? 🙂 

 

And, just in case you’re here for the deals (I totally understand!), scoot on past to the next penny pinched post ~ I’m so very thankful for you!

 

One year ago today, my husband had a heart attack.

 

My 45-year-old-mostly-healthy husband had a heart attack. (For the record I was 40 ~ no reason for you to think I’m quite 45 yet, right?)

 

It’s been a heck of a year.

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You can read all the ~ ahem ~ gory? details over HERE.

 

But for right now, I thought I’d share the aftermath.

 

This year hasn’t been easy. 

 

Besides his heart attack (which in itself caused lots of anxiety for both of us and a little depression on his end ~ from what I’ve been told that’s pretty normal when people go through something so hard . . . ), we’ve also had some way-too-hard-to-deal-with-days with struggling family members who we just love too much, two crazy jobs that keep us racing around all day long . . .

 

and then we have 3 kids. 😉

 

Two of them are teenagers.

 

Yikes. 

 

Needless to say, we’ve had more than a few tough days.

 

But I have to share with you what I’ve learned along the way.

 

I’ve learned that you really can survive some of the hard stuff.

 

I’ve learned that my husband is a way tougher man than I ever knew.

 

And I’ve learned that the hard stuff sometimes lets you live a little richer than you ever lived before. 

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This was us the week after his heart attack “playing hooky” 😉 

James is doing great. (He’s not always so sure of that, but I promise he is ~ I can tell.) 

 

He’s lost a bunch of weight and maintained it for a year.

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(Probably because he knows I’ll likely kill him if he doesn’t stay on track. Just teasing, honey?  Um, not really.) 

 

But as we’ve walked along this road . . .

 

(I CAN’T BELIEVE I’M TYPING THIS.)

 

I’m not so sure I’d return to the pre-heart-attack-life we once had.

 

Here’s the thing.

 

We snuggle in a little more closely at night, because we know every day just how lucky we are.

 

We have a little more patience and are just a wee bit gentler with one another (most days?) because we totally get that it really is important not to sweat the small stuff.

 

And we know all too well now that almost all the stuff is small stuff.

 

ooch.

 

So here’s my little hint if you’re going through something so painful today that you feel like you can’t breathe.

 

I’ve been there.

 

It.

 

hurts.

 

A lot.

 

And you probably just want to cry.

 

And completely just give up. 

 

And you wonder what on earth God was thinking when He threw you over this curve ball.

 

But I promise.

 

Really.

 

I really do know.

 

There is some amazing little gift you’re going to find smack dab in the middle of the mess that you’re struggling through right now.

 

And maybe.

 

Just maybe.

 

You’ll look back and see that this awful-terrible-thing-that-is-sucking-out-all-of-your-breath today.

 

That it’s simply an amazing opportunity for God’s grace to shine through.

 

Blessings to you today.

 

Right now,

 

wherever you’re at.

 

God’s peace be with you as I promise we’ve seen it in our own family this year. 

 

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

 

 

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How To Shiplap On A Budget

This is a guest post from my friend Misty & Tim who created this faux shiplap wall in their family room. I LOVE this idea!  Here’s a peek at how they transformed their space for under $150. 

 

Let me start by saying that we have lived in our current home for almost 14 years.  Two years ago we changed out our dark kitchen counters for a light granite, and I just loved how much it brightened up the space!

 

Since then I’ve been trying to decide how to change up the look of our family room that is open to the kitchen.  I’m always slow to make these decisions because I don’t want to get it wrong then have do more work to fix it.

 

 

I’m a huge fan of home makeover shows, and my favorite (of course!) is Fixer Upper.  If you’ve ever seen it, you know all about shiplap!  I finally made up my mind that I wanted to find a way to add the look of shiplap to my room and keep it on a budget I could live with, just in case I ended up hating it.  I decided that doing just the one wall behind our entertainment center would be perfect because that’s where everyone is usually looking anyway.

 

 

I did a lot of research online for faux shiplap and found a bunch of tutorials and different methods.  I kind of combined several different ideas and went with it1

 

Finding the kind of plywood sheets that I wanted was the first step in the process.  Also, I wanted to have the sheets cut into strips at the store to save on time at home.  Depending on the store you may have to pay a small fee for this, but it may be worth it for you.

 

The main thing to consider about the wood is the thickness.  If you have crown molding and/or baseboards, you will want the thickness to match up the best you can.  I wanted boards that were about 1/4 inch thick.

 

Measure the area of your wall to determine how many sheets you need, and measure the height of wall to determine how wide to have the strips cut.  Most likely your strips will not work out to be a perfect fit from top to bottom.  I had the majority of ours cut into 6 1/2 inch strips, but the bottom row was only 5 1/2 inches.  Always put the oddball strip at the bottom because your eye will not be drawn to it as much.  I found the perfect wood at my local Home Depot.  I bought 9 sheets at $11.99 each. This took us  2 trips because I measured incorrectly & didn’t buy enough the first time.  The employees were more than willing the cut the sheets and didn’t even charge for the cuts!  Here is a picture of the sticker on the back of the wood.

 

 

 

 

Besides the wood, the other tools we needed were a nail gun with 1 1/4 inch brad nails, and a saw to cut the boards to length.  We used a circular saw.  You can use a hammer and nails if don’t have a nail gun.  We also used a stud finder & level to mark the studs to make sure we nailed into them as much as possible.  Some people use an adhesive on the backs of the boards, but we didn’t want to do that.

To start the application, we used a full length strip at the top of the wall just below the crown molding.  We used nickels for spacers between each row of boards.  When we got the to end of the first row, we needed to make our first cut.  As we continued down the wall, we made sure to use cut boards in a staggered pattern so that the seems on each row did not match the seems above or below it.

One more thing you need to think about when doing this kind of project is that your outlet plates will not fit with the extra thickness of the wood.  You will need to get outlet spacers.  I found these at Home Depot for about $3.  They were hard to find in the store so take the picture with you!  You can also order them here.

Once the wood was on the wall the real battle began!  My husband and son wanted the keep the wood it’s natural color.  It did have a very nice look, but I really wanted a lighter, whitewashed finish.  So I did a few test boards and the boys decided they could live with it:)

 

 

Here are the products I used to create the finish.   I used cheap white craft paint with water for the first layer. Then went over that with this Waverly liquid wax to add a protective coating.  I applied all of the layers with a soft cloth.  You can get all of these products at Walmart in the craft section.  The large wax was about $9 and the smaller was about $5.

I used a combination of clear & white because my store only had one bottle of white.  Here’s a close up of the finish.  I love how it has an aged look, and you can still see the wood grain!

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DIY Spring Wreath

 

I am soooo in love with this project and couldn’t even wait to share it with you! 

I’ve fallen in love with several tulip wreaths I’ve seen on Pinterest, but wasn’t sure how hard it would be to make one.

 

Turns out, it’s not all that hard, just time consuming.

 

All you need are lots of tulips.

 

Seriously

 

A. lot. 

Here are the supplies you’ll need:

  • round styrofoam wreath
  • 10 yards satin ribbon
  • tulips – I used the only ones I could find at Hobby Lobby and bought 15 ~ I needed almost every single one!

Just wrap, and wrap and wrap the ribbon around your wreath form and tuck tulips in before hot gluing.

Like in the video, here.

 

 

You really can do this in about an hour, and the results are pretty impressive.

 

I really do just love this one!

 

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!

 

Looking for more DIY? Here you go…

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BIG ANNOUNCEMENT: Be Awesome In April Challenge Is Here!

I am sooooooooo excited about this!!! 

This week we’re starting Passionate Penny Pincher’s BE AWESOME IN APRIL SERIES, which means you and I are going to get control of our home, cooking, and cleaning every single day this month.

WOOHOOOOOOO!!!!! 🙂 

 

(Can you tell I’m just a wee bit tickled?)

 

If you struggle with cleaning your home, finding time to exercise, creating order in your space and getting dinner done, this is for you.

Starting Monday through Friday each week in April I’ll be sharing a live video at 9AM Eastern Time as we take control of our homes by cleaning, de-gunking, and totally getting our dinner done (and goodness, I would so love for you to join me!)

 

Here’s how the schedule *should* look: 🙂

 

  • 9:00 AM Eastern Time –  Facebook Live Video working on our daily checklist and project for the day
  • 1:30 PM  Eastern Time – Blog post here on PPP with a replay of the video as well as links to cleaning tips
  • 2:30 PM Eastern Time – Daily email goes out to regular email subscribers with all the info
  • 9:00 PM Eastern Time (POSSIBLY! depends on family schedule, and it REALLY will likely only happen a few times each week) quick update over on Facebook with pic or live video of tackling our evening chores

 

The best part?

 

WE’VE MADE YOU A CLEANING CHECKLIST WITH ALL OF THE DETAILS FOR YOU.

you’re welcome!! 🙂

Will you join me? 

 

To sign up, go HERE and I’ll send you your completely free checklist and schedule for the month.

 

I promise, we’re going to make cleaning FUN and totally take back control of our homes this month ~ I can’t wait to get started! 🙂 

 

Note: the schedule is based on how I personally tackle our day, and you may need to tweak it for you. This is just a guideline to help us with an easy starting point! Be sure to also join our private Facebook group for extra motivation to be awesome in April – I know you’ll love this bunch!

 

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Marshmallow Flower Cupcake

Looking for more penny pinched recipes? Here you go!

I’m soooooo excited about this little project I made today! 

 

 
Over in our Dinner’s Done Facebook group, one of the members shared her pictures of these simple Marshmallow Flower Cupcakes and I was soooo impressed.

 

(I’d sure love for you to join the free group if you haven’t already!) 

 

 
I wasn’t quite sure how big a job they would be, but it turns out they were super simple, and such a great project to make with my kids.

 


While they are a little more time consuming than the video shows (ahem), they really are pretty simple and require hardly any fancy skills.

 

I love that. 🙂

On a side note, I’m working on my videography skills (who on earth knew I’d ever need videography skills???) and have had fun trying out making videos mostly to share on Facebook.

 

(You can see a few of my favorites HERE, HERE and HERE.)

 

While they’re wayyyy more time consuming than I realized they would be (isn’t everything?), it’s always fun to learn a new skill, so I’m having fun along the way! If you have a fantastic Spring craft or treat you’d like me to try out, leave me a comment and I just might make it too. 😉

 

And, if you’d like to see me make these cupcakes live on Facebook, head on over HERE (and also take a peek at what I dumped in Mrs. Potts this morning ~ my kitchen smells amazing right now!) My goal is to be on Facebook Live this week at 9AM Eastern Time Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and I’d sure love for you to join me there. (I so enjoy chatting with you!)

 

Looking for penny pinched Spring ideas? Head on over HERE for more. Goodness, I just love this time of year!

 

 

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Free Editable Menu Plan and Grocery List!

 

CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS!!

 

I am sooooooo stinkin’ excited about this!!! Since starting the Dinner’s Done Facebook group (join it free over HERE), we’ve had so many requests for a great editable menu plan and grocery list that we finally put it together for you.

 

First Name 

Email*

Please enter all required fields
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WOOHOOO! 🙂 

With one quick click you can print your own menu plan and shopping list to use before heading to the store, and it's even editable if you'd prefer typing it out each week and printing for a nice tidy list.

 

 

It's lovely. 

 

 

Head on over HERE to download yours ~ so hope you love it as much as I do!

 

 

I LOVE THIS. 🙂 

 

(And by the way, if you're struggling with menu planning, I highly recommend checking out the menu plans from my friend Tiffany at Eat at Home Cooks. Her menu plans are as low as $1.61 per week for 72 slow cooker, whole foods and traditional recipes each month, and they've transformed the way dinner gets done in our home. Go HERE to check them out!)

 

Here's how to get you started with your FREE Editable Menu Plan and Grocery List!

1. FIRST - you will need to have Adobe Acrobat Reader. Most browsers have the Adobe Acrobat Reader embedded and there is nothing for you to do beyond filling out your menu plan right in your browser. You can also download the PDF Reader right to your computer and save all your meal plans on your desk top to access later in the year (or next week).

**The editable menu plan will not work on your mobile device unless you have the free Acrobat Reader Mobile App. Once you have this installed on your mobile device, you will need to download your menu plan and open it in the mobile app to make it editable on mobile.**

2. EDITING - Once you have your menu plan open in your browser or in Adobe Acrobat Reader, you should see blue boxes as in the photo above. That means your form is READY for your menu plan and grocery list!

You will need to start by putting your cursor in that first blue box and begin entering your menu plan for the week. The form is set up so you can TAB through or you can place your cursor anywhere you see a light blue box.

3. PRINTING - Now that you have your menu plan ready for the week you'll want to print it and take with you to the grocery store (or have it beside you while you're ordering your groceries online ;))!

 

Just select the printer icon as in the image above.

In the selection box that pops up, make sure you have the FIT TO PAGE option checked (to ensure your entire menu plan prints on one page) and hit print!

 

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27 Ways to Make Money From Home

 

There are so many ways to pinch pennies, but one of my favorites is to find ways to earn extra money from home!  Whether you’re saving for a special purchase or a family vacation, or trying to dig your way out of debt – there are lots of ways to make money, even without leaving you home.  Here are a few ideas to help get you thinking . . .

 

27 Ways to Make Money from Home

ways to make money from home

 

Sell Your Stuff

One of the easiest ways to make money at home is to simply turn your clutter into cash. AmazonEbay, Etsy, Craigslist, Flea Markets and Yard Sales are all great ways to sell your stuff both online and in your community.   Here are some top items to sell:

 

1 . Books – Find what their worth on Ebay or Amazon and easily list them – or box them up and send to DeCluttr

2 . Clothing – Either through consignment shops, online consignment like Thred Up or locally.

3 . Collectibles – If you don’t have any already, scour yard sales and junk shops for valuable items to sell.

4 . CDs, DVDs, Gaming Systems – Used book & music stores, or sites like DeCluttr

5 . Garden Produce or Eggs – Have more than you need from your garden?  Set up a stand in your front yard or contact a local Farmers Market

6 . Homemade Crafts – On Etsy, or locally

7 . Multi-Level-Marketing – LulaRoe, Beach Body, Jamberry Nails, Essential Oils, Thirty-One Gifts, Juice Plus, Avon,  Scentsy, My Premier Designs – jewelery, Origami Owl, Younique Beauty Products, Wildtree Food Products, Radiantly You

8 . Opinions – You can seriously sell your opinions to companies who need that data.  Try Pinecone Research as a very reputable survey company – check out other survey companies here.

9 . Stock Photos – ShutterstockiStock, Dreamstime and Sqeeqee.

 

 

work from home

 

 

Offer Your Services

Do you have any valuable skills like sewing, writing or cutting hair?  Or maybe just extra time on your hands to watch someone’s child or walk their dog?  There are SO many ways to make money from home by offering services like these . . .

10 . Babysit

11 . Bake Cakes

12 . Blog –  Learn How I Make a Full Time Income as a Stay at Home Mom ~if you want to start one crazy inexpensively, use Bluehost as your host for just $3.95

13 . Dog Walking

14 . Drive – drive for Uber or work as a Delivery Driver

15 . Edit or Proofread Papers – Proofread Anywhere

16 . Freelance Writer – Sites like Upwork connect freelancers with employers.

17 . Hair Cutting

18 . OCD?  Become a Professional Organizer 🙂

19 . Photographer

20 . Take on Sewing or Alterations

21 . Tutor – Tutor.com, Ask A Nerd

22 . Teach Music Lessons

23 . Virtual Assistant – Like being an office assistant, without going into a physical office.  Find several companies who hire virtual assistants.

24 . Website Design – Coding, Graphic Artists and Technical Knowledge are all valuable skills

25 . Yard Work

Use Cashback Apps or Sites

Believe it or not, you really can earn money using shopping sites and apps, as well as submitting for grocery rebates.  Here are a few of my favorites . . .

26 . Submit Grocery Rebates – my favorites are Ibotta, Mobisave, Checkout 51

27 . Get Paid to Shop & Search Online – Swagbucks, Ebates

 

things you can sell to make money

 

 

 

Looking for more ideas? Check out these posts!
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70 Ways To Cut Your Grocery Budget In Half (Without Clipping a Single Coupon)

 

Looking for ways to cut your grocery budget in half (without clipping a single coupon?) While I save a bundle with coupons, the bulk of my savings come just from shopping strategically, which means you don’t have to clip any coupons at all.

 

 

I also enlisted the advice of the ladies in our Dinner’s Done Facebook group on this post (they had so many great ideas!) If you’d love to get encouragement on making dinner every night, I highly recommend joining this free group ~ go HERE to check it out!

 

 

  1. Always shop with a grocery list
  2. Actually stick to your grocery list once you’ve made it
  3. Menu Plan
  4. Shop Aldi
  5. Be cautious when buying in bulk at Costco and Sam’s Club (more info HERE)
  6. Try out Fresh Thyme or Sprouts for crazy low prices on produce
  7. Always shop Fresh Thyme or Sprouts on Wednesdays during double ad sales day
  8. Always (always) shop your store’s sales ad
  9. Know your prices
  10. Stockpile when you see a good price
  11. Substitute with things you already have (no buttermilk on hand? Mix vinegar and milk)
  12. Shop without children
  13. Shop without your spouse. 🙂
  14. Buy produce in season
  15. Eat your leftovers
  16. Shop your pantry fridge and freezer (then use All Recipes ingredient search to make a meal)
  17. Learn your store’s markdown schedule
  18. Shop the store brands
  19. Use Ibotta
  20. Start a garden
  21. Load store digital coupons to your card
  22. Try shopping once a month
  23. Check the unit price to make sure you’re never spending too much
  24. Buy diapers and toilet paper on Amazon
  25. Checkout Checkout 51
  26. Use Favado
  27. Take advantage of Walmart’s Savings Catcher
  28. Buy in bulk
  29. Pay with cash
  30. Skip the pre-packaged stuff
  31. Don’t use paper towels
  32. Or trash bags
  33. Buy double ply TP and only use single sheets. (TEASING. Just checking in to see if you’re still awake.) 😉
  34. Make seasonings and sauces yourself (get a few of my favorites in the index at the back of this free cookbook)
  35. Store deeply discounted items in your freezer (get the full list of what to freeze over HERE)
  36. Have breakfast for dinner once a week
  37. Don’t cook more than you need if it will go to waste
  38. Only buy meat when it’s on sale
  39. Shop early in the morning when meat markdowns have just been made
  40. Ask the butcher to cup up large bulks of meat to get the best price
  41. Rotate your pantry so food doesn’t expire
  42. Make baked goods from scratch (homemade bread, anyone?)
  43. Cook in bulk
  44. Ask stores to price match
  45. Don’t shop if you’re hungry
  46. Learn the map of your store so you get in and get out fast
  47. Skip any pre-cut meats, fruits, or veggies
  48. Buy big roasts (pork and beef) when on sale and cut them into 2 or 3 chunks, making for several meal (thanks Tiffany!)
  49. Buy eggs
  50. Don’t buy bottled water
  51. Use this database to see which stores in your hometown have sales each week on items you’re purchasing
  52. Buy a rotisserie chicken at Costco or Sam’s and use the meat in soups, stews, and casseroles
  53. Keep a running log of how much you spend at the grocery store each week
  54. Eat eggs
  55. Shop more than one store
  56. Use cloth napkins instead of paper
  57. Skip paper plates
  58. Repurpose glass jars (or use mason jars) and store your homemade dry mixes
  59. Learn to can your own foods
  60. Create a price list for your area (Thanks Ashley!)
  61. Re-use your grocery sacks
  62. Pick up produce in large bags instead of buy the piece
  63. Don’t buy pre-packaged salad blends
  64. Use up every single thing in your pantry
  65. Try out shopping online using Kroger Click List or Walmart Grocery Pickup so you avoid buying extras you don’t need
  66. Avoid the kid snack traps, like packing your own goldfish, making granola bars, relying on fruit, etc (thanks, Amy!)
  67. Base your meals on sales, buy lots of meat when it’s on sale and freeze the extra (thanks, Nicole!)
  68. Instead of using foil or plastic wrap, store food in re-usable containers
  69. Reinvent leftovers. Bones from cooked meats can be turned into broth. Use the trimmings and peels from celery, onions carrots for flavor in the broth. Repurpose leftover bits and pieces into something else. Bake extra chicken, use it in other dishes or on a salad. (Thanks, Robin and Vicki!)
  70. Prioritize what you need most and cut out non-essentials. We no longer buy things like soft drinks, paper towels, most packaged or prepared food. Buy ingredients and cook from scratch. So much healthier for you too (thanks, Tami!)

 

 

 

What other things do you recommend to save on groceries without clipping any coupons? Leave a comment to share ~ I love hearing from you! 

 

 

Need more ideas on how to save on your grocery budget?

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Be Our Guest DIY

I am sooooo pleased with how this little project turned out!

 

 

As I shared in the video below, my neighbor’s dad cut out the signs for us to use, so all I had to do was paint the board with acrylic paint and then use my Silhouette Cameo to make the lettering. 

I love it. 😉 

 

It’s hanging in our guest bedroom just waiting for a few guests to come visit, and I couldn’t believe how easy this project was to do.

 

(You can see the rest of our guest bedroom over HERE ~ I love this space!)

 

Success!

 

(Watch me make it here in the video ~ and if you’re interested in the Menu Plans I use that I mention, go HERE to check those out too!)

 

 

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!

41ead435-7bbb-48b9-b68a-326599b6fa26

More rooms we’ve updated in our home . . .

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16 Things You Need to Know Before Going On A Cruise

 

Note from Laurie: I have never been on a cruise, but loved my friend Shannon’s tips here! I’d love to know what you think, and what other tips you’d recommend. Happy cruising!

Thinking about a cruise or just booked one?

Here are several helpful hints to know BEFORE you go 🙂

When my daughter graduated high school last year  (gasp . . . when did that happen?) we took a cruise with the whole family and it was wonderful!  We learned a few things along the way and wanted to share them with YOU!

  1. Decide on a Cruise Line

    There are so many cruise lines to choose from! Do your homework and see which cruise lines fit your family and lifestyle best.  After we did our research, we opted for a Carnival Cruise under my brother’s recommendation and experience.

  2. Check Your Dates and Travel During NON-Peak Times

    We cruised one week before peak times started which saved us a bundle.  Some summer months for some areas are peak and some are not so it’s a good idea to do your research here.

    cruise

  3. The Less Expensive Cabins Have Some Unique Perks

    If you’re looking for ways to cut your cruise budget, opt for an inner state room.  Having a very small port window in your room wasn’t worth the extra expense, especially when water surrounds you on the deck.  We found the pitch black inner state room helped us sleep great at night.

    Many people said we wouldn’t be in our room very much anyway, and I have to agree!  Our room was located in the middle of the ship which was awesome because we didn’t experience much “rocking” and we had quicker access to each end of the ship.

     

    cruise4This was the view on my morning run

  4. Gym or No Gym

    Since I love to run, I needed to have a place to exercise, especially if I was going to take advantage of all the yummy food on the cruise.  I took advantage of both the track AND the gym. It felt wonderful to be able to keep up with my workout routine while on vacation!  If this is important to you, make sure your cruise ship has a gym.

  5. Pack the Right Clothes

    While planning your trip, make sure you’re aware of any formal nights (ours were called elegant nights).  Luckily for me, we only had one formal night (I’m not a big fan of dressing up), but I packed 3 dresses just in case.  The other nights I dressed up nicely, but not in dresses (so those 2 extra dresses just took up space).  My advice would be to be aware of your scheduled formal nights, and pack lots of bathing suits and coverups for the pool/deck area 🙂

  6. Pick a Dining Time or Not

    We had several dining packages to choose from with Carnival, which I really liked.  We were able to choose a package that allowed us to eat at any time.  This helped when we had excursions and shows we wanted to see.  It was so nice to just eat when it suited us that day, and we never had to wait very long so it worked out well for us.

    Make sure to eat in the dining room for dinner.  The dining room has better food options and some menu items that you may not have access to elsewhere — at least without it getting expensive fast!

  7. Cell Phone Coverage

    Double check your cell service plan BEFORE you go ~ this will save you lots of money in extra charges!  By putting your phone in airplane mode when you arrive on the ship, you’ll save yourself extra data charges during your trip.  Most carriers charge extra for using satellite service on the cruise ship.

    You can opt to buy a Wi-Fi package on board but it was pretty expensive.  I recommend unplugging completely and enjoying time with your family instead. 🙂   This was so nice for us as I usually have a laptop on my lap when we’re home.

  8. Wait To Buy Until the Last Night

    By the last day of your cruise, most items were marked down a ton.  If there’s a certain item you want, wait to see if they mark it down on that last night of your cruise.  I just loved this tip!!

  9. Pictures

    Oh my, everywhere you turn people were taking pictures. To avoid paying $20 for a cruise line picture, kindly ask someone (anyone) to take your picture for you.  We have some great photos that were taken this way and they didn’t cost us anything.  I love that!

  10. Parking

    If you’re driving to your cruise destination, make sure you research options for parking your car.  We disembarked out of Tampa and had to find a place for our car for the week. My husband looked up all the options and chose one with good ratings that saved us almost 40%.  WOW!

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  11. Excursions or No Excursions

    This is where you really can break the bank.  On our cruse we had two stops, one in Cozumel and the other in the Grand Cayman.  My husband researched all of the excursions and we decided on two.  He was sure to check the ratings posted on the cruise site and we ended up booking some of the cheaper options.

    We really enjoyed both of our excursions, so I’m glad we picked a few.  You can pay for a taxi and save some money by finding excursions on your own, but the plus side of booking with the cruise line is all transportation is taken care of, and they won’t leave you behind. 🙂

  12. Bring Your Own Water Bottle

    This is my NUMBER ONE tip for saving money while traveling!!  It really helped out with our excursions as well.  We just filled up before leaving and had nice clean cold water to drink while we were out.

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  13. Know Your Budget BEFORE You Go

    Goodness, there are all of temptations on the ship.  They have necklaces, watches, earrings, purse . . .  so much STUFF.  Then there are the games and the casino, the list goes on.  We were lucky and not so lucky at bingo, but it was all fine because we purchased prepaid VISA cards at Kroger and put those on our account to use while we were on the cruise.  This way we didn’t use our debit card AT ALL (I know right? … THANKS Dave Ramsey!)  😉

  14. Spa or No Spa

    I’m extremely biased on this one.  My 18-year-old won a $100 spa gift card,  so I decided to go with her and get a pedicure that cost $75.  YIKES!  I usually would never pay that price, but I wanted to spend time with my daughter.  I used the money I saved for the trip so this was my big splurge.  BUT … it was not a great experience because I felt like the pedicure was WAY overpriced so I left pretty upset about that.

    To be honest, if you want a pedicure or manicure hop on Groupon and have one before you go 🙂  That will take away any temptation to spend triple the amount you would normally spend.  Massages started out at $120 and went up from there.  Groupon has them starting at $29.  Whew!

  15. Prepay your Gratuities

    This was so nice!  Rather than being stuck with a huge unexpected bill at the end of your trip, opt to pay in advance.  I loved that this was an option and part of our cruise budget BEFORE we left.

  16. Take Advantage of Childcare

    To all the worn out moms who need a break, please take advantage of the childcare on board.  Spend some time with the hubby and relax a bit too.  Vacations can be stressful, especially with the kids, so REALLY take advantage of it.  The kids won’t even even remember when they get older, and our 8-year-old did some fun art activities and had a great time there!

 

 

What other tips do you have for crusing or other vacations? We’d love to hear your thoughts ~ leave leave a comment to share!

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The Ultimate Aldi, Target & Walmart Price Comparison Sheet

Love pinching pennies? Sign up for free daily emails to get my favorite 20 slow cooker recipes, grocery list & menu plan delivered to your inbox!

 

To get Aldi, Target, Walmart Comparison Sheet, go HERE and download your free PDF.

I’m soooo excited to have this updated! 

The PPP team has just updated this amazing (seriously, amazing) reference guide for you to use every time you shop Aldi, Target, and Walmart.

 

 WOOHOOOOO!

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Now, as always, pricing will vary a bit by area and your store, but this gives you a good basic starting place with an idea of what to really expect at each store.

And if you’re like me, I’m betting you’ll be a little surprised at how the prices stack up.

I never (ever?) would have expected Walmart and Target to be higher on so many items (not everything, but many things!), so the results were pretty interesting to me.

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 Here are a few things you need to know to fully take advantage of this list:

  • These are everyday prices on these items and don’t include any special sales at all. If you can wait for a sale at Target or Walmart you’ll get a better price, so this is just your starting point.

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  • We did the best we could to compare things evenly across the board. We looked at basic generic brands as much as we were able to (i.e. Up & Up for Target and Great Value for Walmart), and gave you the exact item name so you can compare too.
  • These prices were updated in the Southeast, so your pricing will vary some by store. This just gives you a handy little reference guide to get an idea of what to expect.
  • You’ll want to compare to see how these prices stack up at Costco & Sam’s Club as well ~ go HERE to print your free list for those stores.
  • ****MOST IMPORTANTLY**** This is such a valuable tool when shopping other store sales. A few weeks ago I was shopping the Mega Sale at Kroger and while I thought I was getting a good price on peanut butter, a quick look at this list let me know that I was getting a serious stock up price. Even if you don’t use this list to compare these stores to one another, it is so stinkin’ handy so that you’ll always know when you’re getting the very best price on an item.  WOOHOOO! 😉 

 

Okie dokie ~ are you ready for it? Here we go! 

 

To get Aldi, Target, Walmart Comparison Sheet, go HERE and download your free PDF.

If you’d love to keep up with penny pinching deals I’d sure love for you to sign up for free daily emails too – go HERE and you’ll receive a free Freezer Printable Guide just for signing up. Thanks so much for joining PPP!!!)

 

Looking for more posts like this? Here you go . . . 

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I can’t wait to hear what you think on these prices and how they stack up ~ leave a comment to share your thoughts!

 

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Margaret Ann’s Biscuits & Sausage Gravy Recipe

My sweet friend Margaret Anne was gracious enough to visit this morning, and made quite possibly the best biscuits and gravy I’ve ever eaten to share with you. 

 

good. gravy. 😉


We met at Bible Study earlier this year, and the minute I heard her sweet Southern accent I felt all-of-a-sudden-at-ease in a group of women who were completely new to me.

 

Isn’t it funny how a kind voice can do that?

 

And once we got to talking, I realized she cared about so many things that I just loved too.

 

Margaret Ann’s been a wife, mom, teacher, realtor, culinary school professor, chef . . . and she’s even owned two restaurants in Rome, Georgia.

 

In fact, one of the scenes from the movie Sweet Home Alabama was filmed in her restaurant Magretta Hall. 😉

I knew you would love Margaret Ann too, so I was thrilled when she offered to do a few “cooking classes” with us here on PPP. 

 

Last week in the Dinner’s Done Facebook group she taught us how to make omelets (I learned so much from her!), and today she’s showing us how to make homemade biscuits and gravy.

 

Or as she calls it, ” thickening gravy.”

 

That you can lather with a little butter too. 😉

 

Honestly? They were all just a little heaven sent. 😉

 

The biscuits and gravy were perfection.

 

And if it were up to me, you would come right over to my kitchen and we’d let her serve us up biscuits and gravy all day long.

 

A girl can dream, right? 😉

If you’d like to make biscuits and gravy too, here’s what you’ll need to get started:

 

(Note: I DEFINITELY recommend watching the video to see all of her tips – I had no idea the importance of incorporating the shortening, and she had so many tricks that I’ve never read in a cookbook. Thank you Margaret Ann!)

Margaret Ann’s Biscuits & Sausage Gravy Recipe

*Makes a small batch of about 8 biscuits, but doubles beautifully.

Biscuit Ingredients:

  • 2 Cups of All Purpose Flour
  • 1 Tbsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 Tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 Tsp Salt
  • 1/3 Cup of Crisco Shortening (or softened butter works too!)
  • 3/4 Cups of Buttermilk (or 3/4 cups of milk mixed with 1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice, let sit on the counter for 15 minutes to sour the milk)

 

 

Biscuit Directions:

  1. Whisk together the dry ingredients
  2. Cut the shortening or butter into the dry mix with a pastry cutter (or you can use a couple butter knives if you don’t have a pastry cutter)
  3. Work the dough until there are no chunks of shortening left (watch video for exactly how long to cut the dough)
  4. Add buttermilk, and stir into the mixture with your hand until you have a nice dough
  5. Sprinkle a little flour onto a clean surface and place the dough in the middle
  6. Knead the dough with the palms of your hands (not using fingers) by pushing it down a few times and then folding it in half.  Repeat 4 or 5 times and then pat it into a mound.
  7. Roll out to a thickness of about 3/4″
  8. Tap a cookie or biscuit cutter in flour and cut out the biscuits (Number will vary depending on the size of your cutter)
  9. Place on a greased or sprayed cookie sheet and brush a little melted butter on top
  10. Bake between 400 – 450 for 10-15 minutes.  *Because all ovens are different you’ll want to just check for when they look just right to you!

Gravy Ingredients:

  • 1 Lb of Pork Breakfast Sausage (Jimmy Dean is Margaret Ann’s favorite)
  • 4 Tbsp Flour
  • 1 Cup Milk

Gravy Directions:

  1. Cook and crumble the sausage over medium heat (Do NOT drain)
  2. Turn heat down to medium-low
  3. Sprinkle a couple tablespoons of flour over the sausage and stir it in, cooking it for another minute
  4. Add 1/2 Cup of milk and stir around as it begins to thicken up.
  5. To stretch your gravy further or thin it a little, just keep adding more milk until it’s how you like.

 

The best part is that by making them from scratch, you’ll save a bundle, most likely using everything you have right in your pantry. 

I’m hoping I can get her tricks down soon and make a batch for my bunch (but for today, we have just a few biscuits all ready to try for after school snacks.)

Let’s just call it their lucky day. 😉

Let me know how the recipe goes for you, and share any other tips in the comments. I can’t wait to hear from you!

Here are some tools that you may want to pick up if you plan to make biscuits often:

Non-Stick Pastry and Baking Mat

Pastry Cutter and Biscuit Cutters

Rolling Pin

Flour Sifter

Nonstick Cookie Sheet

Wilton 3-Tier Cooling Rack

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My March Stitch Fix Review

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

View the video over here on Facebook

Here’s a peek at what’s in my Stitch Fix Box this month!

love how easy this process is ~ I put in my style profile, share what types of clothes I like, how things fit me, and share an idea of what I’m looking for on my profile. I also include a link to my “cute outfits” board on Pinterest, so my stylist has a pretty good idea of what I love.

 

 

 

This definitely wasn’t my favorite box so far (at least as I opened everything), however once I tried it all on, I was pretty impressed!

Here’s what was included

1. Madrella Knit Pocket Tank $38 ~ $28.50 if I keep the whole box and get the 25% off entire box discount ~ RETURNED 

2. Skies and Blue Cutout Top $44 ~ $33 if I keep the whole box and get the 25% off entire box discount ~ RETURNED 

3. Olive & Oak Flannel Top $58 ~ $43.50 if I keep the whole box and get the 25% off entire box discount ~ RETURNED 

4. Le Lis Knit Blazer $59 ~ $43.50 if I keep the whole box and get the 25% off entire box discount ~ RETURNED 

5. Cosmic Blue Love Jeans $88 ~ $66 if I keep the whole box and get the 25% off entire box discount ~ KEPT

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So what am I keeping? 

 

Just the jeans.

 

With summer coming and someone who wears capris every single day, I just couldn’t pass them up, especially because I had a $25 credit and wanted to keep the $20 styling fee!

 

And, I have to say, if you want to find a pair of jeans that fit perfectly and look great on, it’s worth trying Stitch Fix out. (I’ve loved every single pair of jeans they’ve sent!)

 

 

 

If you dress up frequently for work and don’t have time to shop, I really think Stitch Fix can be a fantastic option (I have loved my previous boxes, and the quality of clothing is much nicer than what I normally wear), so it may be a great option for you. 

 

It also is fantastic for busy working moms – while I do think the pricing is high you’re paying not only for the clothing but also for someone to look at your needs and hand pick items that often can work for you.

 

If you’d like to try out Stitch Fix, here’s exactly how it works:

  • Sign up HERE
  • You’ll be charged $20 for your Stitch Fix Styling
  • Your box will come when you schedule it
  • If you keep ANY items in your box, the $20 you spend for the styling will be put towards your purchase (so it’s like getting $20 in free credit!)
  • If you keep your entire box you’ll save 25% off the entire purchase
  • Invite friends on Facebook or via email (or even text messages) to sign up through you and you’ll get $25 in free referral credit ~ love that!

screen-shot-2017-01-05-at-9-53-10-amMy January Stitch Fix Box Review

Check out my review of previous boxes HEREHERE, HERE and HERE, and let me know what you think! 

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The Ultimate Aldi, Costco & Sam’s Club Comparison Chart

 Download my FREE Crockpot Cookbook over HERE! 

Oh my word.

I am so.

sooooooooooo.

Seriously, SOOOOOO .

. . . . excited about this!

 

(Did you catch that?) 🙂

 

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My awesome PPP team has put together this crazy fun (FREE!) reference guide for you if you ever shop Aldi. Or Costco. Or Sam’s Club, and just updated it with 2017 pricing!

 

You’re welcome. 🙂 

 

I was shocked (seriously, SHOCKEDby the results. I really thought Aldi would win just about every price, but you know what?

 

They don’t.

 

 

 

 

After seeing these prices, I was pretty surprised at which items Aldi sells way cheaper (canned veggies anyone?), which items Sam’s Club carries for the very best price (check out the sticks of butter), and which items are worth making a trip to Costco for. (Need cooking spray? Costco’s the place to be!)

 

 

Of course, as in everything, there are some limits. The prices at Costco and Sam’s may be higher (especially on produce) than Aldi, but the size of your pineapple (or watermelon, or whatever), is likely smaller.

 

 

And, there’s no way to compare Costco’s amazingly yummy Ghirardelli brownies to the Aldi Baker’s Corner brand (which actually end up costing you more money, WHO KNEW???

 

This is a great reference guide that we hope makes your life shopping and deciding where to shop for certain items just a wee bit easier.

 

 

So, head on over HERE and print your free list, and please leave a comment to share your thoughts! I’d love to hear which items you’re surprised by (a bunch surprised me) ~ let me know what you think.

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Note – these prices will vary some by region but this hopefully gives a starting place ~ would love to hear your thoughts on this!

 

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Looking for more posts like this? Here you go . . . 

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The $14 Challenge.

 

$14.

 

That’s what we have left in our budget until Friday.

 

Eek.

 

We stick to an all cash budget most weeks, but honestly, if we go a wee bit over and need to use our debit card to get us by, most weeks we just let that go.

 

But this week, I’m determined to make it until Friday morning (at exactly 9AM Eastern Time) with no more than the $14 I have right here.

 

Will you join me?

 

(Misery loves company, you know.) 🙂

 

Hop up.

 

Yup, step away from the computer.

 

Or your phone.

 

Go get your wallet right this very minute.

 

See how much cash really is in there.

 

And decide to use that.

 

Only that.

 

For the next 96 hours.

Really, it’s NINETY SIX  HOURS. We can do this.

 

As I shared in today’s Facebook live video this morning (scroll to minute 15 of the video to watch ~ I’ll update you on Stitch Fix shortly), we’re in a way different season today than we were 20 years ago when we first started penny pinching 20 years ago. 

 

And (thank heavens!) if we spent an extra bit of money this week it really wouldn’t break the bank.

 

But we can so quickly blow through $20, or $50, or $100 if we’re not careful.

 

Most importantly though, we have a 16 year old, 13 year old, and 9 year old who are watching closely right now how we choose to spend our money.

 

Eek.

 

So we’re choosing to stay on track.

 

Here’s what we’re sacrificing this week to stick to our goal:

1. Trash Bags.

 

We’re completely out of trash bags, but rather than going and spending $5-$10 on a big box of bags (these are the ones I normally buy), we’re going to use grocery sacks for the week.

 

2. Paper Towels.

 

For years (and years and years), I pretty much refused to buy trash bags because those were simply not a luxury we could afford while paying off debt. In the last few years I’ve splurged on paper towels (and I’ve got to admit, they’re glorious!) but when I realized we’re almost out this week I knew I could go back to using plain old rags.

 

This is such a tiny savings, but if it keeps me at home and away from the grocery store when I’ll probably buy more, I’m taking it as a win for the week.

 

3. Eating out.

 

As I’ve shared (a bunch!) this last month, eating out is probably one of the easiest places to bust your budget each week. So, like we did last month, we’ll be eating at home (I’m using the Whole Foods Menu Plan from Eat at Home Cooks), and choosing to skip the drive thru this week.

 

(Note – I did spend $60 on groceries yesterday for the weekly menu plan, and we already had a decent stash of produce, milk and snacks to get us through the week. That helps!)

 

4. Our piggy bank.

 

Like many folks, my husband collects his change in a jar each day, so IF we absolutely need some extra moo-lah, I may have to count some coins to pay. As I shared in today’s video my kids are usually the ones who ask for money (not all that often, but occasionally), so if I absolutely think they need it (which is doubtful), I’ll give them the option of the raiding the piggy jar.

 

While this would still be technically considered “spending money”, I guarantee we won’t spend as much change as we would if we went to the ATM and took out more cash (or pulled out a credit card – eek), but I think this will help us have a “no excuses” week this week.

 

Do you need to join me?

 

Go ahead.

 

Count up your cash.

 

Hunt down your coins.

 

Take stock of what’s in your pantry, fridge and freezer.

 

And determine for the next 96 hours to stick with me. 

 

 

We can totally do this, and watching what we save today will make our long term goals come just a little bit closer.

 

Happy penny pinching! 😉

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More posts like this: 

 

 

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Countertop Cooking Challenge Day 20

 

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

 

 

Go HERE to see video with comments on Facebook – I love reading through your tips and suggestions!

Do you need to get dinner DONE?

motionmailapp.com

 

Today’s the last day of our 20 Days of Countertop Cooking Challenge . . . I’m a little sad because I’ve enjoyed cooking with you s0 much! 

 

Because I’m all organized over here (ahem.) I even have all my menu plans all put together in a binder . . .

 

 

(Thanks for the suggestion, Judy in our free Dinner’s Done Facebook group – I loved it!)

Here’s what we made today . . . 

Tonight’s Slow Cooked Brown Sugar Chicken and Sweet Potatoes

 

Broccoli Salad Side Dish

This isn’t the one I mentioned in the video but is one of my favorites 🙂 

 

Our FAVORITE Southern Living Chunky Apple Cake

And here’s what was on the menu plan this week: 

 


If you’re still interested in signing up, it’s not too late ~ I’ll personally be using the Whole Foods menu and can’t wait to get started! Here’s how the pricing breaks down:

  • MONTHLY PLAN:  $10.50 per month when you use the code COUNTERTOP at checkout ($2.62 per week)
  • QUARTERLY PLAN: $23.25 per quarter when you use the code COUNTERTOP at checkout ($1.93 per week)
  • ANNUAL PLAN: $63 per year when you use the code COUNTERTOP at checkout ($1.21 per week!)

 

I TOTALLY believe you will save that much every week at the grocery store (and a bunch more by skipping the drive-thru) by trying these menus out.  Our family used the whole foods option last month and we’re using the slow cooker option this month, and goodness, they’ve making getting dinner done EASY.

 

Last Week’s Freezer Meals

 

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If you’re interested, head on over HERE and download your menu plans, and be sure to use the code COUNTERTOP at checkout to get the best price. 
I really think this is the best money you’ll spend all year, and promise it’ll be so worth it for you.

Here’s a peek at previous days in case you’re curious . . . 

  • Day 1: Slow Cooker Jerk Chicken Sandwiches with Cucumber Mango Salsa
  • Day 2: Round Steak with Vegetable Gravy in the Slow Cooker
  • Day 3: Buffalo Chicken Loaded Baked Potatoes
  • Day 4: Italian Herb Salted Pork Roast and Potatoes in the Slow Cooker
  • Day 5: Slow Cooker Chicken and Dumplings with Gnocchi
  • Day 6: Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup
  • Day 7: 3 Ingredient Slow Cooker Beef Teriyaki with Pineapple
  • Day 8: Mediterranean Chicken in the Slow Cooker
  • Day 9: Chicken-Fried Chops in the Slow Cooker
  • Day 10: Slow Cooker Chicken Cordon Bleu Sandwiches
  • Day 11: Slow Cooker Chicken Minestrone Soup
  • Day 12: Freezer Cooking Day
  • Day 13: Slow Cooker Chicken and Gravy over Rice
  • Day 14: Maple Apple Pork in the Slow Cooker
  • Day 15: Chicken Philly Sandwiches in the Slow Cooker
  • Day 16: French Dip Sandwiches in the Slow Cooker
  • Day 17: Slow Cooker Meatballs and Spaghetti Sauce
  • Day 18: Slow Cooker Thai Peanut Chicken
  • Day 19: Ham Steak with Slow Cooked Apples and Butternut Squash

 

 

 

P.S. Please know that I 100% believe you can make your own grocery list and menu plan for free without paying for something like this, but for our family, the convenience  of something like this for less than the cost of a cookbook has been worth every penny. If you’re making a menu plan and grocery list on your own I’m so proud of you and just love that option too!

 

 

 

Looking for more ways to have dinner on the table? Be sure to sign up for my totally free Crocktober Cookbook with menu plan and grocery list. And don’t forget to join our free Dinner’s Done Facebook group to get tons of support and encouragement as we all get dinner done.

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The Ultimate Amazon Shopping List: 50 Things You Should *Always* Buy On Amazon

 

 

Do you love shopping Amazon? 

 

Me too! 🙂 

 

For many of us, Amazon offers easy savings (and convenience) on thousands of items, delivered right to our door. But it’s important to know what items really are great prices, and which items are worth heading to your local store for.

 

 

My general rule of thumb is to check Amazon for anything I would make a quick trip to Walmart for, because so many items end up being less money, with no stress. 

 

I love that.

 

 

Here’s a peek at my Ultimate Amazon Shopping List ~ I’d love to hear what you’d add to the list too!

 

 

And to make our lives a little easier – you can even print your own FREE Printable Amazon Shopping List HERE!

Amazon Daily Deals

1 . Amazon Gold Box

2 . Amazon Lightning Deals

 

 

Amazon Prime Deals

3 . Free eBooks

4 . Free Movies

5 . Free Music

6 . Free Photo Storage

 

 

Arts, Crafts & Sewing

7 . Crafting Supplies

**Amazon carries an HUGE variety of crafty goods – from Colored Pencil sets to bulk construction paper and Sewing Machines!

I also think Amazon usually has a better deal on a Silhouette machine than other stores  – I absolutely love mine!

 

 

 

Automotive Parts & Accessories

8 . Auto Parts

*Besides major auto parts – we also see really good deals on windshield wiper blades pretty often!

 

 

Baby

9 . Baby Wipes

10 . Diapers

*Both the diapers and wipes often have coupons you can clip, plus an extra 20% Savings if you’re a member of Amazon Family!  Learn more about Amazon Family and get a Free 30-Day Trial 🙂

 

 

 

Beauty & Personal Care

11 . Drug Store Makeup and Makeup Remover Wipes

12 . Olay Regenerist

*This is my absolute favorite moisturizer and Amazon always carries it for way less than Walmart after you subscribe and save, plus they frequently offer a coupon which makes the price even better 🙂

13 . Pads/Tampons  (compare to Walmart)

14 . Razor Systems or Disposable Razors (when they offer a $3 or $4 off coupon they can be great deals!)

15 . Shampoo & Conditioner

16 . Teeth Whitening Strips   (compare to Walmart)

17 . Toothbrushes (the bulk packs)

 

 

 

Clothing, Shoes & Jewelery

18 . Children’s Hair Bows

19 . Crocs

20 . Scarves

21 . Toms

 

  

Electronics

22 . Cell Phone Charging Cords

23 .  Cell Phone Cases

24 . Photo Memory Cards

 

 

Gifts

25 . Gift Cards

Grocery & Gourmet Food

26 . Coffee Pods

27 . Snack Foods when they include special discounts

*Check out all the current Amazon Grocery Coupons here!

 

 

 

 

Health & Household

28 . Batteries

29 . Some Cleaning Products

30 . Dishwasher Tablets

31 . Disinfectant Wipes

32 . Laundry Detergent

33 . LED Lightbulbs

34 . Mr. Clean Magic Erasers  *Also check out the generic eraser sponges!

35 . Mrs. Meyer’s Dish Soap

36 . Mrs. Meyer’s Hand Soap

37 . Vitamins & Supplements

Kitchen & Dining

38 . Cuisinart Knives 

39 . Kitchen Gadgets and Small Appliances

40 . Rubbermaid Containers (watch for Lightning Deals on these sets!)

Luggage & Travel Gear

41 . Luggage

42 . Tents (wait for a sale on these – they come around all the time!)

 

 

 

 

Paper & Plastic

43 . Paper Towels

44 . Toilet Paper

45 . Trash Bags

 

 

Pet Supplies

46 . Cat Food

47 . Dog Food

 

 

Reading Materials

48 . Books

49 .  Magazine Subscriptions  *Check out the magazine deal of the day each day!

 

 

 

Toys & Games

50 . We see soooo many good deals on toys and games on Amazon, especially around Christmas.  Keep an eye on the hottest “Movers and Shakers” to catch the biggest sales on popular toys and games!

Some items we often see deals on:

 

 

Can’t get enough AMAZON?  Here you go . . .

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20 Day Countertop Cooking Challenge

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

 

Can you imagine going to the grocery store, buying oodles of groceries, and then just dumping a few of those bags of groceries in the trash?

 

You may just be doing that. 

 

So many people (myself included sometimes!) head to the store without a plan in place, buy things they may not use, and things end up getting wasted and thrown away ~ literally 25% of food in America is thrown away each year. 

 

But you and I are going to fix that. 

 

Crocktober wrapped up last fall, and back by popular demand we’re doing a very similar series this February called the Countertop Cooking Challenge. (I think you’re going to love it!) We’re going to have a menu plan, grocery list, and recipes all pulled together before the week even starts.

 

Starting Monday, 2/6/17, I’m teaming up with my friend Tiffany from Eat at Home Cooks to bring you Crockpot and Instant Pot recipes 5 days a week for 4 weeks, and every single one of us is going to get dinner done.

 

To make your life waaaayyyyy easier (and mine too!) we’ll use Tiffany’s Eat at Home Menu Plans ~ which I’ve been using in our home and they’re just fantastic.

 

I promise, these will save you a bundle!

 

In fact, people who shop with a menu plan and grocery list save 25-50% every single week on their food expenses.

 

And, a menu plan all of a sudden makes grocery shopping easy.

 

Best of all?

 

You’ll actually eat well balanced meals with what you have in your kitchen and skip the drive thru.

Sound good?

 

I thought so too. 🙂

During the February 2017 Countertop Cooking Challenge we’ll give you 4 weeks of recipes, including grocery lists and menu plans, and Tiffany and I will be cooking them up each day right up with you. 

 

My favorite part is that each morning I’ll share a Facebook Live Video filling up Mrs. Potts (a.k.a. ~ my slow cooker), and it would be so stinkin’ fun for me if you were on the other side of the screen filling up Mrs. Potts in your kitchen too.

Here’s how our daily schedule should look: 🙂

  • 8:40-8:45 AM Eastern Time – I’ll be doing a Facebook Live Video showing how to make the recipe each morning (during the video you can tap the ‘follow’ button and you’ll get updates each time PPP goes live ~ and I would absolutely love if you were on the other side of the screen filling up Mrs. Potts so we can “cook” together!)
  • 1:30 PM Eastern Time – Blog post here on PPP with a replay of the video as well as links to recipes
  • 2:30 PM Eastern Time – Daily email goes out to regular email subscribers with all the info
  • Between 4:30 – 6:30 PM Eastern Time (POSSIBLY! depends on family schedule) quick update over on Facebook with pic or live video of recipe
  • My friend Tiffany from Eat at Home will also share on Facebook Live how to make several of these recipes in the Instant Pot in the afternoons

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Will you join me? 

 

For a few more days, Tiffany is offering us the lowest prices she’s offered on her menu plans with the code EARLYBIRD at checkout.

 

HERE’S WHAT YOU’LL GET WHEN YOU SIGN UP: 

  • Weekly menu plans for the entire month
  • A set of slow cooker menu plans
  • A set of whole foods menu plans (those are the ones we’re using right now)
  • A set of traditional menu plans
  • A weekly dessert recipe
  • One quick click to download all 3 sets of menus (in color or black and white ink ~ color coded to make your menu planning even easier)
  • Basically, you’ll get 72 recipes with menu plans AND A GROCERY LIST, all included! 
  • The menu plans cost as little as $1.13 per week when you sign up for a one year plan, or try out a 1 or 3 month subscription and see what you think.

>>>USE THE CODE EARLYBIRD AT CHECKOUT TO GET THE BEST PRICE ~ THESE ARE THE LOWEST PRICES YOU’LL FIND ON THIS MENU PLAN!<<<

And, if you’re like me you’ll use the grocery list along with the Kroger Click List (watch the video above), and make grocery shopping and menu planning so crazy easy you’ll have it done in 30 minutes or less. 

 

And I would just love for you to join my free private Dinner’s Done Facebook group to get tons of support and encouragement as we all get dinner done in February.

 

It’s going to do be a great month! 

 

Looking for more ways to have dinner on the table? Be sure to sign up for my totally free Crocktober Cookbook with menu plan and grocery list. I can’t wait to get started countertop cooking with you!

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35 Deals You Need to Buy at the Dollar Tree – Valentine Edition

 

You know I love shopping The Dollar Tree for just about anything, well Valentine’s Day is no exception! Here are a few steals you can’t miss when you’re there:

 

1. Stuffed Animals

2. Valentine Mugs

3. Valentine Globes

4. Valentine Balloons

 

5. Valentine Wrapping paper

6. Valentine Gift Bags

7. Valentine Bobble Heads

8. Hot Chocolate

 

9. Valentine Candy Containers

10. Valentine Ribbon

11. Valentine Candles

 

 

12. Valentine Paper Plates

13. Valentine Paper Napkins

14. Valentine Glass Flowers

 

 

15. Heart Vases

16. Heart Candy Dishes

17. Valentine Glasses

18. Valentine Vases

 

19. Valentine Door Hangers

20. Heart Shaped Doilies

 

21. Valentine Garland

22. Valentine Decorations

 

23. Chocolate Valentine Candy Hearts

24. Individually Wrapped Valentine Candy

 

25. Valentine Window Stickies

26. Valentine Cards

 

27. Valentine Card Kits

28. Valentine Pencils

29. Valentine Pencil Sharpeners

30. Valentine Erasers

31. Valentine Boxes

 

32. Valentine Stickers

33.  Valentine Table Decorations

34. Valentine Table Clothes

35.  Valentine Duct Tape

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Love shopping the Dollar Tree? See a few ways I’ve used Dollar Tree finds in our home:

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The Ultimate Guide to a Better Grocery Budget Week 4: Pantry Shopping, Menu Planning & Beware The Mega Sale (+ GIVEAWAY!)

 

Congratulations to  e..e..er@hotmail.com (CrockPot Winner) and m..a…9@aol.com (Instant Pot) for winning the giveaway! Thanks so much to everyone who entered ~ I so wish I could give you all a crock pot and an instant pot and I loved reading all of your favorite dishes!  🙂

 

Have you been working to transform your grocery budget with us this month? 

 

I hope you’ve saved a bundle!

 

This is our last week in the series, but I think these three little tips can really help you save big.

 

Let’s get started . . . 

1. SHOP YOUR PANTRY.

If you haven’t learned this already, this can change your grocery budget.

 

Before you run out to the store and spend a bundle, I want you to really (really, truly) shop your pantry, fridge, and freezer to see what you can make using what you already have.

 

Do you have chicken and pasta? Make up some chicken noodle soup. A little ground beef and tacos? Taco Tuesday is perfect.

 

And before you race to the store for one more item you really don’t need, consider doing a 1 week no spend challenge and really tackle that grocery budget. We saved hundreds of dollars trying this out a few years ago, and I’m already thinking about a group challenge coming in in March (so get ready.) 🙂

 

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2. Don’t turn a Mega Sale into a Mega Mess

 

Good gravy, this can be huge.

 

When Kroger (or Publix, or Target, or wherever) has their crazy deals, it can be so very tempting to grab them all even if you’ll spend way more than your grocery budget.

 

To grab all the deals.

 

To not pass by a single thing that has the lovely blue tag screaming “I’m-a-mega-sale-price-so-you-really-need-me.” 

 

But your job as you’re whittling down your grocery budget is to focus on spending a little of your grocery budget on the deals, but not more than your grocery budget.

 

Okay?

 

However, even to the best of us it sometimes happens.

So what do you do when you’ve spent too much?

1. Give yourself grace.

If you’ve overspent already, there’s nothing you can do to change it. Give yourself grace, determine to focus more on your total budget the next time you shop, and be thankful you have a nicely stocked pantry.

2. Determine to use what you’ve bought.

Once you’ve overspent, there’s no going back, but you can make a plan to use what you’ve bought (saving money in the long run!)

3. The next time you shop, be mindful of what the “deals” really are.

An easy example of this was on the Quaker Oatmeal. The Quaker was priced at $1.89 after the Mega Sale. However the store brand was $1.50, and there was a $1/2 Kroger ecoupon on Kroger Oatmeal. Definitely the best price! Next time you shop, be really cautious of the “Mega Sale” deals to make sure they really are your best prices. If they’re not, pass those by (and remember stores like Aldi may offer a better deal every day!)

 

Guys, I’ve said it a jillion times here, but there is no other area in your family’s finances that you have complete control over. You can’t lower your car payment or mortgage or electricity bill today, but you can choose how much you want to spend at the grocery store. 

 

And last but not least . . . 

3. MAKE A MENU PLAN AND STICK TO IT!

Guys ~ I cannot tell you the value of having a menu plan.

 

It’s huge. 

And starting next Monday (2/6/17), we’re starting a Countertop Cooking Challenge and I would just love for you to join me.

 

My friend Tiffany from Eat at Home Cooks is offering us her VERY best prices for a few days only to the very first people to sign up using the code EARLYBIRD at checkout, and I want you to be included! 

HERE’S WHAT YOU GET WHEN YOU SIGN UP: 

  • Weekly menu plans for the entire month
  • A set of slow cooker menu plans
  • A set of whole foods menu plans (those are the ones we’re using right now)
  • A set of traditional menu plans
  • One quick click to download all 3 sets of menus (in color or black and white ink)
  • This month, because there are 5 weeks in the month, you’ll actually get access to FIVE WEEKS of menu plans for as low as $1.13 per week!

>>>USE THE CODE EARLYBIRD AT CHECKOUT TO GET THE BEST PRICE ~ THESE ARE THE LOWEST PRICES YOU’LL FIND ON THIS MENU PLAN!<<<

 

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Here’s how the prices breakdown:

Determine to make 2017 the year that you transform your family’s grocery budget ~ you can do this! 

 

Wanna make this a little more fun? It’s clearly time for a giveaway! 

Because I love you (really, I do!) I’m giving away ONE Instant Pot and ONE Crockpot this week to two lucky winners who sign up.

Here’s how to enter to win:

So, pull up those big-girl-panties and let’s get ready to save big in February ~ we can do this.  I would love to hear how you’re doing on your grocery budget too, so leave a comment to share!

 

 

Note: this giveaway is not sponsored by anyone, just a way for me to thank you for keeping up with PPP. So thankful for you! Giveaway will end 2/2/16 at 10 PM Eastern Time. 

 

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My January Stitch Fix Review

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


Here’s a peek at what’s in my Stitch Fix Box this month!

love how easy this process is ~ I put in my style profile, share what types of clothes I like, how things fit me, and share an idea of what I’m looking for on my profile. I also include a link to my “cute outfits” board on Pinterest, so my stylist has a pretty good idea of what I love.

 

I really really loved almost everything in this box, and so struggled with what to keep. Here’s how the prices stack up:

1. Marielle Knit Top $44 ~ $33 if I keep the whole box and get the 25% off entire box discount

2. Market & Spruce Marielle Knit Top $44 ~ $33 if I keep the whole box and get the 25% off entire box discount

3. Jewel Tone Knit Cardigan $38 ~ $28.50 if I keep the whole box and get the 25% off entire box discount

4. Mustard Octavia Leah Paisley Print Scarf $28 ~ $21 if I keep the whole box and get the 25% off entire box discount

5. Liverpool Mira Skinny Jeans $78 ~ $58.50 if I keep the whole box and get the 25% off entire box discount

stitchfixreview5

So what am I keeping? Just the Jean Leggings and Sweater.

 

You guys. 

 

These jean leggings might just change my life.

 

For real.

 

I’ve got to say, if you struggle with finding great jeans that fit, Stitch Fix is worth trying at least once ~ this is the 3rd pair of jeans from Stitch Fix that I’ve had to keep, because they’re just that good! 

 

I really thought about keeping the entire to get the 25% off discount (total box would cost $154), but don’t really think I’ll wear everything else enough to make it worth it, so my total will be $96 after my $20 Styling Credit. (I really like those jeans and they run $96 normally, so I feel like they’re worth it and I know I’ll love them.)

 

If you dress up frequently for work and don’t have time to shop, I really think Stitch Fix can be a fantastic option (I have loved my previous boxes, and the quality of clothing is much nicer than what I normally wear), so it may be a great option for you. 

 

If you’d like to try out Stitch Fix, here’s exactly how it works:

  • Sign up HERE
  • You’ll be charged $20 for your Stitch Fix Styling
  • Your box will come when you schedule it
  • If you keep ANY items in your box, the $20 you spend for the styling will be put towards your purchase (so it’s like getting $20 in free credit!)
  • If you keep your entire box you’ll save 25% off the entire purchase
  • Invite friends on Facebook or via email (or even text messages) to sign up through you and you’ll get $25 in free referral credit ~ love that!

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Check out my review of previous boxes HEREHERE, HERE and HERE, and let me know what you think! 

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18 Things You Need To Buy At Sam’s Club

 

Sam’s Club can be a bit . . . overwhelming to shop. The first time you push that giant cart through the door, you might wonder where on earth to begin.

 

And more importantly is everything at Sam’s really a good deal?

 

The bulk sizes tend to mess with our math (and our minds ~ the temptation to buy big is real!) so it’s so important to go in with a plan in place. 

 

In case you don’t know how much you’re spending for certain items, make sure to learn what the best price is on basic food pantry staples, so you never overpay just because you don’t know what a good price even is.

On a recent trip though I was reminded of several items that are worth the cost of having a Sam’s Club membership (especially when you can get a discounted membership like you can right now.)  

 

TIP: Right now there’s a REALLY fun offer to get a Sam’s Club Membership for only $8 after perks!

 

 

So here are 18 things you NEED to buy at Sam’s Club when you shop . . . 

1. Meat

Sam’s Club has great prices (most of the time!) on meat.  Snag a rotisserie chicken for $4.98 (which has a ton of meat and is well worth the price, just like Costco.) They also regularly carry boneless, skinless chicken breast for $1.99 per lb, and extra lean ground beef for $3.18/lb which is a pretty reasonable price right now.

2. Produce

Produce prices are really good at Sam’s Club for the most part – a big 8lb bag of Sunkist Navel Oranges are just $6.98 this week, bananas are 44¢/lb, (the same price as Aldi), the Fuji Apples 6lb Bag is $7.98, and  Seedless Grapes are $2.99/lb.

**However, the important thing to remember is how much your family will actually eat – if half the bag of apples goes bad before you get to them, it’s not a good deal after all!

 

3. Chips

My latest trip I was buying for a get-together and I was reminded how many AWESOME deals Sam’s has on big bulk bags of chips and snacks.

Especially these Stacy’s Pita Chips – only $5.96 for a 28 oz Bag is CRAZY cheap compared to the regular Target price of $3 for a 7.8 oz bag.

And folks – they had a bag of Skinny Pop that was half as tall as I am for only $2.87!

 

 

4. Kids’ Snacks

From Goldfish to Granola Bars – there are great deals allll the way down this aisle of Sam’s Club.  For instance, these Mott’s Medleys are $7.73 for 90 pouches (like 9 regular boxes).  That’s like paying 85¢ per box, and a 4 lb box of Pepperidge Farm Goldfish is only $7.87 this month!

 

(To compare, Kroger has Goldfish on sale this week for $.99 per 6.6 oz or 15¢ per ounce. The sale price this month at Sam’s Club breaks down to 11¢ per ounce, so definitely a great time to stock up!)

 

5. Juice Boxes

Both juice boxes and those little individual size juices bottles for the kids to take to school are much better deals at Sam’s Club than anywhere else.  Normally a 10-ct box of Capri Suns is $2.50 – but Sam’s has a 40-pk for $5.58 right now.

 

6. Eggs

Sams has TWO 18-ct eggs for $3.71 – that breaks down to $1.23 a dozen and lower than most grocery stores.

 

7. B.A.C.O.N. 🙂 

Bacon can be SO expensive normally – so if it’s something you cook up every weekend, you’ll want to grab a big 4lb pack at Sam’s Club!

 

 

8. Laundry Detergent

If you like Tide or Gain – heading to Sam’s for a GIANT bottle might just save you some moo-lah.

A huge 225 oz bottle will run you $19.29 – whereas Walmart sells the 150 oz bottle for $18.87.  Granted – this is taking into account the instant savings coupon from this month’s booklet – but I’ve noticed that there is a Tide coupon in almost EVERY month’s booklet!

 

9. Bath Tissue

Sams Club bath tissue is good bath tissue – it might not be Charmin, but it’s pretty darn good.  And it’s almost ALWAYS one of the deals in the Instant Savings booklet that comes out monthly. (Like an instant coupon)  This pack contains 45 MEGA rolls (about the same as 4 regular rolls) for $18.48.

So that’s like getting 180 regular size rolls, at a cost of about 10¢ per roll!

 

10. Milk

Where I live (and this varies a lot) a gallon of milk is at least $1 higher anywhere else – but Sam’s Club always has it priced low! Don’t forget to watch Aldi too though for great milk prices ~ it’s only $1.69 at my local store. 

 

11. Sugar

A 10 lb bag of sugar is just $4.47.  Compare that to $2.50 – $3.50 for a 4 lb bag anywhere else, and it makes sense to buy this size and portion it into a big canister or ziploc bags!

 

 

12. Diapers?

Save BIG on diapers at Sam’s Club when you buy these bulk size boxes.  For example, this 140 ct Huggies Little Movers Size 5 is $33.98 right now.  Walmart has the 132 count priced at a full $10 higher!

HINT: Want to get the very best deal though? ALWAYS check Amazon on diapers ~ they’re actually just 20¢ per diaper over there when you clip the 20% off coupon and subscribe and save, so always do the math to make sure you’re getting the very best deal. 

13. Condiments

Having a cookout or get-together where you’ll need plenty of condiments for everyone?  While you may be able to occasionally purchase condiments like ketchup, mustard, salsa, salad dressing and the like at just pennies during a BOGO sale with coupons – on a normal day you’ll likely less per ounce buying them at Sam’s Club.

For example, the 16 oz bottle of Pace Salsa will normally run you $2 – $3.  At Sam’s Club you can get nearly 5 TIMES that amount for only 4.98.  That’s a HUGE discount!

 

14. Fries & Tater Tots

The big bags of fries, tater tots and the like are a good grab at Sam’s – this 8 lb bag of Ore-Ida tater tots is just $4.98!

 

 

15. Baking Supplies

Chocolate chips, vanilla cxtract, flour and more are always a low price at Sam’s.  For instance, a 60 oz box of Bisquick is $4.50 at Walmart – so this 96 oz box is a steal at $5.48!  (A great item to keep in the pantry for all sorts of recipes.)

 

 

16. Peanut Butter & Jelly

A 16 oz jar of Jif will run you around $2.50 at Walmart or Target.  At Sam’s you can buy this 48 oz  Jif 2-Pack for only $9.28 – that’s equivalent to 6 normal sized jars, and brings the cost to just $1.54 per jar!

 

17. Clothing

Sam’s Club has some nice deals on clothing – and while not all of them are great buys, you can usually find some unexpectedly good deals on basics.  I recently picked up Champion athletic shorts in a very popular style for under $5.98, and adult-sized Reebok athletic shorts for just $12.  Keep your eyes peeled for clearance clothing as a season ends!

 

18. Seasonal Items

Now I will say that not everything is a good deal in the seasonal section.  Many things you can get on Amazon or other stores for a better price if you wait for a sale.  But there are a few good buys in every seasonal display – whether it be a nice big cooler bag in the summertime, or lawn tools in the Fall – just remember to give it a look!

 

And a few things NOT worth buying at Sam’s Club…

“Fun” Office Supplies

While bulk staples, paperclips and the like ARE a good deal – the more exciting items like Sharpies and Gel Pens and Dry Erase Markers are MORE expensive than Amazon!

 

Soda

I’ve found that I can almost always get soda at the drugstore for less.  I aim for $2.50 per 12pk, and Sam’s (even WITH the Instant Savings Coupon this month) still came out to around $3 per 12pk.

 

Frito-Lay Multipacks

You would assume that a 50ct box of Frito-Lay Chips would probably be an awesome deal at Sams.  You would be wrong!  Amazon consistently has the same price on this item – crazy!

Lots of things in electronics…

I did price checks on these video games for instance – and the LEGO Star Wars Game is $15 cheaper on Amazon!

I’m sure there are others I’m just not remembering at the moment – so I hope you’ll comment with your favorite items to buy (or not buy!) as well 🙂

So, what do you think? Do you find it worth shopping Sam’s for certain items, or would you rather save your money and shop only the grocery store? I’d love to hear your thoughts, as well as other items you’ve found to be a good (or bad) deal at Sam’s Club.

Disclaimer: We are all different, and what I think is a decent price may be very different than what you think it is. These are just some guidelines to get you thinking about it, and I was surprised by what I found!

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DIY Baby Banner

I’m so stinkin’ excited about this little project!

 

 

As I shared over HERE, we’re hosting a baby shower for a couple in my husband’s office tomorrow, so I got to crafting this morning.

 

Here’s what I used . . . 

 

  • Brown yarn
  • Clothespins
  • Silhouette Cameo 
  • Fabric strips (bought coordinating fabric square at Hobby Lobby, then cut into 1″ strips ~ cost was $6 after Hobby Lobby 40% off coupon)
  • Cricut Iron On Material $9.74
  • Pre-cut banners from Michaels, $4
  • Total = $19.74

 

I made the banner using the directions in this tutorial . . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then used my Silhouette Cameo to cut out the letters for the top banner . . .

 

 

 

 

Success!

 

Now ~ as I shared in the video we still don’t have any idea what we’re actually making for dinner at this baby shower, so if you have any suggestions I’m all ears. 😉 And, if you have any other suggestions for craft projects I’d sure love to hear those too ~ Happy Friday!

 

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Looking for more frugal baby shower ideas?

Need some frugal gifts for mom?

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The Ultimate Aldi Grocery List

 

I’m so excited about this!  If you’re not familiar with Aldi, they have fantastic prices on a wide variety of household and grocery staples without the need to clip coupons or wait for big sales, and we thought it would be fun to put together the Ultimate Aldi Grocery List to help you get started.

 

If you just don’t have the time to coupon and stock-up during sales cycles, shopping at Aldi week in and week out can *really* help lower your grocery budget.

 

And they make it easy.

 

I love that.

 

So, because I really do just love Aldi shopping, the PPP team  put together this FREE Aldi Grocery List here. (Yay!)

 

 

This list walks you aisle by aisle through the store – starting in snacks and ending in frozen foods (a kinda-crazy setup that’s unique to Aldi, so hopefully this will make life easier for you.)

 

Check the boxes for everything you need in each aisle from baking soda to bananas to bath tissue – with a little extra room for anything extra you think of when you shop.

 

Easy peasy. 🙂 

 

 

Print out a new one each week, grab your quarter and reusable grocery sacks, and you’re ready to go.  (New to Aldi?  Besides needing quarters and bags – you’ll want to check out the 22 Secrets to Shopping at Aldi before heading out.)

 

Don’t miss this list 20 Items You Need to Get at Aldi  – here are just a few highlights to watch for:

  • Gluten Free & Organic Foods – GREAT prices and great selection
  • Milk – CRAZY Cheap milk, prices vary by region
  • Produce – Avocados for 49¢, Bananas 44¢/lb and I’ve even seen Fuji Apples for $1.99 for a 3 lb bag
  • Cereal – Around $1.29 a Box (varies by type)
  • Snacks – Around $1 for Tortilla Chips, $1.50 for many others
  • Baking Supplies – Lots of rock bottom deals – Baking Soda is just 49¢
  • Taco Supplies – Tortillas for $1.49, Taco Seasoning 35¢, Beans 49¢, etc…
  • And check that seasonal aisle for fun new items every week!

 

What are your favorite things to buy at Aldi?  Leave a comment to share, I love hearing from you!

 

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Looking for more info on Aldi? Here you go . . . 

 

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The Ultimate Guide to a Better Grocery Budget Week 2: Coupons, Sales and Resourcefulness

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Note: this is a four part series we’re doing each week this month ~ go HERE to start with week 1. 

 

Are you tackling your grocery budget this month with me?

 

I’m so glad I’m not alone! 🙂

 

The biggest thing I discuss in coupon classes that I feel is so very important and absolutely need you to hear today is this:


There is no other area in your family’s finances that you have such control over than your grocery budget.

 

You can’t change your car payment. (At least, not easily.)

 

You can’t drop your mortgage by 50% this month.

 

You can’t skimp on your health care costs. Or your utility bill. Or how much you pay for your cell phone.

 

But every single week, you decide how much you spend at the grocery store.

 

You know what I love about that?

 

you. have. control.

 

{I like control.}

 

{ahem.} 😉

 

You decide where you want to shop and exactly what you want your money to do every single time you shop.

 

I just love that. 

 

So, start off with last week’s tips.

 

And then?

 

Tackle these two strategies too.

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1. Use a coupon AND a sale.

Please, please, PLEASE hear me on this one!

While coupons can save a ton of money, your goal is to use a coupon almost exclusively when it’s combined with a sale to see the largest amount of savings at the grocery store.  (Remember, the secret is in the sale!)

 

So, if you have a $3 off coupon, you want to WAIT TO BUY THAT ITEM until that item goes on sale.

 

Did you hear that?

 

Honestly, 30%-50% of my grocery savings comes from shopping the sales ad ~ not just using coupons. While a $1 off coupon is pretty amazing, a $1 off coupon combined with a 50% off sale makes for some smokin’ hot deals.

 

Note: the only store I don’t think this is true at is at Walmart who doesn’t tend to have sales that are significant at all. When you shop there, ALWAYS use those high value coupons!

So ~ print your coupons, organize your coupons, and then watch the ads for the very best sale on what you’re looking for. (See all the PPP store sales included over HERE.)

 

You can do this.

 

And #2.

 

This is huge.

 

Are you ready?

 

2. BE. RESOURCEFUL.

 

Folks, this tip alone could save you $20 this week.

 

Don’t believe me? 

I spent just under $100 this week for enough groceries to make 6 meals at home (plus scored an extra roast since they were Buy One Get One Free this week!) 

 

Let me show you how.

 

Yesterday I went to the store with my Eat at Home Cooks grocery list (remember, these go up in price tonight, so order soon if you’re interested.)
While I love her lists, there were a few things there that aren’t regular purchases for me and would have been  pretty large expenses on my grocery budget this week, so I got a wee bit creative. First, I looked through her list and checked my pantry, fridge and freezer to see what I already had in stock (easy, right?)

 

Then, I did this while I shopped: 

 

1. on the list ~ cranberries (not in season and only found in the frozen aisle or as whole cranberries in the dried produce aisle.)

Because I was determined to only spend $100 this week, and a big bag of whole cranberries would cost me $8.99 (eek!), I grabbed a 6 pack of small Craisins that happened to be on sale for $1.50.

Now, they won’t be the same as cranberries (but I couldn’t find them at my store anyways), and for $1.50 instead of $9 I’m pretty sure our Pork Chop, Veggie and Cranberry Sheet Pan will taste just fine. (Honestly, I could have probably omitted them completely but it just sounded so good!)

 

2. on the list ~ cajun seasoning ($6.99 ~ eek!)

Many spice blends can be made at home, and since we don’t use that one all that often it’s way cheaper for me to use what I already have at home. I looked up this Cajun Spice Mix on All Recipes, and sure enough have everything in my spice cabinet I need to make that one pretty easily.

 

3. on the list ~ 2 tsp sesame seeds (also $6.99)

I really struggled with this one (because I knew the sesame seeds would last through several recipes), but I realized that in 20 years I can’t remember even once cooking with sesame seeds, so they aren’t a necessary staple at our house. I also knew that my kids aren’t big fans of sesame seeds, I could care less whether they’re there or not, and my husband would never know the difference.

 

Honestly? I’m like this every time I shop, and with just about everything we use. 

 

I constantly think of ways to use less ~ like using rags instead of paper towels, plastic grocery sacks for trash instead of large bags, and cloth napkins instead of paper ones.

 

This has changed some in the last few years as we have a little more money and a lot less time, but when I can, I still try to be resourceful as much as possible.

 

Most seasoning packets, mixes and even cleaning supplies can be mixed up at home, costing you a fraction of the cost.

 

You probably have lots of items already in your pantry that you use before buying one more thing, so this week I want you to constantly think of ways to be resourceful and use what you already have. Remember ~ you have control over what you spend, so see how much you can save with this one simple trick!

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Ready to get started?

 

Use your coupons with a sale as much as possible, and always be willing to think out of the box when it comes to your grocery list. You totally have control of this, and I can’t wait to hear how it goes for you!

 

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And don’t forget, today’s the last day to get access to Eat at Home Menu Plans before they go up in price tonight. Head on over HERE and check out Tiffany’s Menu Plans ~ they’re as little as $1.15 per week right now, and I really do just love mine. (Honestly, they’ve saved me at least $100 this week, and our family has eaten well. See a peek of me making yesterday’s meals over HERE!)

 

 

 

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The Ultimate Guide To A Better Grocery Budget: Week 1

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Anyone else ready to tackle their grocery budget this month? 

 

You’re not alone!

 

After Christmas I always feel like it’s a great time to reign our grocery budget in, so today is the perfect day to start.

 

Each Tuesday for the rest of the month (going right up until February 1st), I’ll be sharing the Ultimate Guide to a Better Grocery Budget, including tips to help busy families transform their grocery budget (even if you don’t have tons of time to clip coupons.) I’ll also include pics of what we actually buy, so you hold me accountable too. 🙂

My biggest tip?

Start with a great menu plan.

(THIS is the one I’ve been use and I. love. it. Highly recommend if you’re looking for one! AND, starting next Monday we’ll be doing the Countertop Cooking Challenge with this program. Use the code EARLYBIRD at checkout to get the lowest price!)

Ready?

Let’s get started . . .

 

 

1. First things first ~ determine your grocery budget.

Before you start really tackling your grocery budget, look at what you’ve spent over the last few months on groceries and decide how much you’d like to cut your grocery budget.  Expect to save about 20% on your grocery bill over the next month as you’re building your pantry with basic staples, and you should see significantly larger savings in the next six months.

 

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2. Decide how much you want to spend each week on “stockpile” items.

Remember that just about every item in the grocery store will go on sale within six to twelve weeks, so purchase enough non-perishable items when they’re on sale so that you won’t have to purchase those items again at full price. When I see a great price on something I’ll purchase as much as my grocery budget can afford, so I’m not paying full price when it’s not on sale. 

 

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3. Know your prices.

Goodness, this is probably my biggest frustration ever when talking to folks who spend too much on groceries!  So many people naively go blindly into the grocery store with a list in hand (or maybe worse, with no list at all), without even considering what’s on sale. This is the easiest way to spend way too much at the grocery store, and you can easily save big if you just put a little forethought into shopping!

 

Can I just tell you the easiest thing you can do EVER to reduce your grocery budget is to know what really is a good price? By determining a stock up price (at the very least just for produce, dairy and meat products?) and only buying items at their stock up price, I’m betting you can cut your grocery bill by at least 1/3 each week.

 

And above all else . . . 

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shop with a grocery list and menu plan. 

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When I’m completely on track, I use Tiffany from Eat at Home Cook’s Menu Plan and love. it. Before shopping I go through her list, shop my stockpile, and mark off what I can by shopping my pantry before heading to the store. It’s quick, easy, and I get my grocery shopping done in record time.

 

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Head on over HERE and check out Tiffany’s Menu Plans ~ through next week they cost as little as 1.13 per week when you use the code EARLYBIRD at checkout, and I really do just love mine. If you’ve tried them out in the past I’d love to know if they’ve worked for you!

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Here’s what our grocery shopping looked like this week . . . 

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(My big splurge this week was on those pre-sliced apples for $4.98. I know it’s WAY too much to pay, but my kids gobble them down like candy and I love that they have an easy healthy snack ready whenever they need it!) 

I followed Tiffany’s Menu Plan exactly, shopped my pantry before heading out, shopped at Walmart (gasp!) and spent $45.99 for all the groceries I’ll need to make 5 meals + 1 dessert.

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(Note, I’m using the Whole Foods option this week ~ made the Chicken Florentine Quesadillas last night and they were fantastic, and her slow cooker beef tacos are cooking up in Mrs. Potts right now. Success!)

 

 

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So, start with your grocery budget, know your prices, and make a menu plan and grocery list ~ I know you can do this. 

And starting next Monday (2/6/17), we’re starting a Countertop Cooking Challenge and I would just love for you to join me.

My friend Tiffany from Eat at Home Cooks is offering us her VERY best prices for a few days only to the very first people to sign up using the code EARLYBIRD at checkout, and I want you to be included! 

HERE’S WHAT YOU GET WHEN YOU SIGN UP: 

  • Weekly menu plans for the entire month
  • A set of slow cooker menu plans
  • A set of whole foods menu plans (those are the ones we’re using right now)
  • A set of traditional menu plans
  • One quick click to download all 3 sets of menus (in color or black and white ink)
  • This month, because there are 5 weeks in the month, you’ll actually get access to FIVE WEEKS of menu plans for as low as $1.13 per week!

>>>USE THE CODE EARLYBIRD AT CHECKOUT TO GET THE BEST PRICE ~ THESE ARE THE LOWEST PRICES YOU’LL FIND ON THIS MENU PLAN!<<<

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Decide today to really transform what you’re spending, and I promise you’ll see success. Leave a comment if you’re joining us, and (if you feel comfortable) let me know what you’re spending so we can all decide to stick together and transform our finances in 2017.

 

Happy penny pinching! 

 

Looking for more ways to change your grocery budget?

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21 Day Challenge Starts January 16: Join Me!

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Oh my stars.

 

I’m just so excited about this, and think you will be too.

 

If you struggle with your weight, you are not alone.

 

If you’ve hung out here on PPP for awhile, you know I’ve struggled most of my life with weight issues.

This was me as a junior in high school when I was probably around 190 pounds – it was all I could do not to Picmonkey this picture to make me look just a little better but I’m keeping it real here ~ yikes! I topped out at 225 as a sophomore in college.

And while I lost a pretty amazing 75 pounds way back in 1995 (and have kept it off for twenty years, 3 babies and all), I’ve never had a healthy relationship with food. 

 

To keep off that weight, I’ve always exercised (at least 40 minutes to an hour, 4-5 days a week), and for the most part I’ve eaten reasonably calorically. (Thanks to working out I could eat a little more ~ my motto has been I exercise so I can eat!) 🙂

 

But I never really got down to my “dream” weight, and still hovered at the highest end of a healthy weight for my height. 

 

And in many ways, I’ve stayed a little obsessed with food.

 

I’ve gone along with our culture’s model of what’s okay to eat, and chosen foods that just aren’t right at all. 

 

2011 at the Alabama Governor’s Ball – the only time I’ve every worn a formal dress other than my wedding. 😉 

 

 

 

So last January, after gaining a few too many Christmas pounds, I decided to try out the 21 Day Fix.

 

It worked.

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Results after two rounds ~ I lost 13 pounds in 6 weeks, success!

One year later (and even after Christmas!), I’m still down the 13 pounds I lost (with about 6 more I’d love to lose), and goodness gracious, I promise if you follow this program it will work.

 

There’s no magic to it.

 

Nothing fancy at all.

 

You eat regular, healthy foods that you find at the grocery store, exercise every day, and lose weight. 

 

You just have to decide to start.

 

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It’s HARD to find pictures of us before because I was pretty cautious about what I allowed to get on camera – eek! This hopefully gives you an idea though . . . 

Curious what I’ve found after sticking to the 21 Day Fix (for the most part at least) for an entire year?

1. I have way fewer headaches.

I used to wake up with a headache almost every. single. day. Apparently that was somehow related to eating way too many carbs, because I don’t think I’ve had a single headache since starting the fix (which is crazy to me?)

2. My skin is so much better.

I’ve always had awful skin, and had horrible acne as a teenager. (Add that to a 225 pound body, and you can imagine high school wasn’t fun for me!) As an adult my acne for the most part has cleared up, but I’ve continued to have really large pores that have driven me crazy.

While they’re still noticeable, they are drastically less noticeable than they were 21 days ago. Honestly this has been the biggest surprise, and I never would have guessed it!

3. I’m really not hungry.

I expected to starve most of the time during the 21 days, but honestly haven’t struggled with that one?

Apparently I need way less food than I thought I did, and by choosing the right foods I think my body is so much more easily satisfied than it was before. Apparently your body really does like protein that consists of something other than Nutella. (Who knew?)

4. I need carrots. Or broccoli slaw.

cannot believe how much carrots and broccoli slaw fill me up. They’re amazing. Even though it hasn’t been easy, when I’ve really just been hungry I’ve reached for those instead of chocolate chips. (truth.)

I am so much fuller, and can’t believe the difference choosing the right foods has made.

5. Eating the right foods and exercising the right way changes your shape more than just eating fewer calories does.

Even though I’ve been at the weight I’m at in the after picture before, my body feels a little stronger and looks a little better because of choosing the right foods and exercising correctly. I love that. 🙂

And, I love that I’m exercising just 30 minutes each day.

Sooooo ~ will you join me as I finish out to my goal? (Please please please say you will?) 

 

Guys, I do not ever promote things like this.

 

But right now, Beachbody (the program that runs the 21 Day Fix) has a crazy amazing offer, and I think you’re going to love it. 

 

It’s basically Netflix for fitness.

 

Get UNLIMITED ACCESS to HUNDREDS of workout videos for as little as $99 per year.

 

And get access to a private Facebook group.

 

This is so worth it ~ every single penny.

 

If you’d like to try Shakeology and the entire meal plan system including containers and diet plan (which is what I used this last year), you’ll pay $199. (I know it’s not cheap, but goodness, it’s so worth it!)

 

 

Here’s what’s included:

1) ME as your coach. 🙂

2) Access to our private Facebook group for support and encouragement

3) 1-Year Membership to Beachbody On Demand (BOD) with all content included…fully unlocked, plus new future releases coming in 2017. Yes, this means you get the NEW Core De Force, Country Heat, CIZE, 21 Day Fix, T25, INSANITY MAX:30, P90X and many others AT NO EXTRA cost.

4) Shakeology (choice of 30-day supply on Home Direct)

5) Portion Fix (includes 7-piece portion control container set, eating guide, large blue container & shaker cup)

6) VIP membership to save 10% off all products going forward (like my fav pre-workout Energize)

7) New Coach Sign-up fee is waived and get your Business Starter Kit included. (This is like my extra coupon for you: If you sign up as a coach…in month 2, your coach discounts kick in and save 25% off the shakes, totally optional!)

You get all of this for $199 for the entire year (12 months) and there is NO monthly fee.

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TOTAL COST = $199

 

OR, if you’d prefer to try it out without Shakeology AND WITHOUT THE MENU PLAN/MEAL CONTAINERS, you’ll get this: 

1) ME as your coach. 🙂

2) Access to our private Facebook group for support and encouragement

3) 1-Year Membership to Beachbody On Demand (BOD) with all content included…fully unlocked, plus new future releases coming in 2017. Yes, this means you get the NEW Core De Force, Country Heat, CIZE, 21 Day Fix, T25, INSANITY MAX:30, P90X and many others AT NO EXTRA cost.

 

You get all of this for $99 for the entire year (12 months) and there is NO monthly fee.

TOTAL COST = $99

We’ll start one round of the official 21 Day Fix program on January 15th (which gives you plenty of time to order your supplies), and I KNOW you will get results if you commit to this.

 

And I’d love for you to see success with me as we commit to this. 

 

Join me?

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Go HERE to sign up ~ I can’t wait to get started!

 

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Top 25 Most Popular Posts Of 2016

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Happy 2017! 

 

As I shared last week, 2016 has been a good but sometimes hard year at our house ~ I’m betting I’m not alone. (I cannot thank you enough for all your kind words and encouragement on this post HERE and on Facebook, they’ve meant so much to me.)

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But, as a blogger, 2016 has been a fun year as I’ve learned so much, continued to work some crazy amazing girls, and enjoyed getting to know you a wee bit more.

 

So, just for fun, here’s a peek at the top 25 most popular visited (new!) posts here on Passionate Penny Pincher over the last year . . . 

 

 

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25. 5 Steps To Start A Blog Today

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24. Dollar Tree Easter Craft

 

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23. 2 Grocery Hacks You Need To Know

 

22. That Time My Husband Had A Heart Attack

 

7 ways a Fitbit (1)

 

21. 7 Ways A Fitbit Will Change Your Life

 

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20. Best Baby Shower Gift Ever

 

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19. Best Cookie Jar Ever

 

18. Dollar Tree Gifts to Give

 

17. 10 Stores You Need To Shop Black Friday (This May Surprise You!)

 

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16. 7 Items You Should Never Buy At Walmart

 

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15. 87 Restaurants Where Kids Eat FREE

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14. 5 Unexpected Surprise of the 21 Day Fix (+ How I Lost 8 Pounds In 21 Days & You Can Too!)

 

13. Costco Fans? This Is Going To Make Your Day 🙂

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12. 5 Ways to Look Better in Pictures

 

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11. 7 Items You Should Always Look for at the Dollar Tree {Before Paying Full Price}

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10. Crocktober

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9. 22 Secrets You Need To Know Before Shopping Aldi

 

8. 30 Ways Moms Can Make Money At Home

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7. Dollar Tree Valentine Project

 

6. Top 10 Grocery Budget Busters

 

5. The Ultimate Black Friday Cheat Sheet

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4. 10 Secrets You Need to Know Before Shopping Dollar Tree

 

3. What $3 & A Little Courage Can Do

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2. Ikea Shopping Secrets: 15 Secrets You Need To Know Before Shopping IKEA

 

1. Back to School Sales

 

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And here’s one that might encourage you with any New Year’s Resolutions ~ ’tis the season, right? I’m starting out again this year as I working on healthy eating as I do just about every year! 😉

 

And here a peek at Passionate Penny Pincher’s TOP 5 POSTS of all time . . . 🙂

 

Happy New Year!

 

 

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When Christmas doesn’t look quite like the Christmas card

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Sit back, grab a cup of hot chocolate, and get ready for a little random rambling (it’s been awhile!) If you’re here just for the deals (I TOTALLY get that), scoot right on past to the next penny pinched post. (This has been heavy on my heart this week . . . so here we go.)

 

Last night I saw one of my dearest friend’s precious (and pretty perfect looking) family pics on my Facebook feed, and my heart for the teensy-eensiest second felt a twinge of jealousy.

 

Now this is a friend I know well, whom I completely adore, and I quickly remembered there’s more on her heart than that perfect pic could tell.

 

It was a huge wake up call for me, and  I was reminded that as I scroll through Facebook seeing gorgeous families and wonder why their lives look so perfect . . .

 

when mine just doesn’t . . . 

 

that sometimes those perfect pictures don’t tell the whole truth.

 

And that when we open gorgeous Christmas cards where children smile radiantly in clothes so perfectly coordinated ~ well, that doesn’t always tell the full story either.

 

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2016 has been quite a year in our home, but it hasn’t felt anywhere near as perfect as our Christmas card might just portray.

 

PPP has grown more than I could have ever imagined.

 

(That is completely because of YOU. You have no idea how much that means to me!)

 

We’ve doubled our email subscribers.

 

Grown a few hundred thousand folks on Facebook.

 

Earned a few new Instagram and Pinterest followers too.

 

And I feel like I’ve hung out with a bundle of you a little more in “real life” by cooking, baking, and DIY’ing over on Facebook live.

 

(For any of you who don’t know me well, Facebook live is VERY uncomfortable for me, and I have to completely gear myself up for it every single day. I have notes reminding me to smile, stand up straight, and talk a little slower. Yikes.) 

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In fact, if you’re looking from the outside-in, you might just for a second think this girl has got her act together. 

 

Eek.

 

In real life though, my heart’s been heavy.

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My husband had a heart attack back in April. (Yes, that cute one right there ~ that was him a few months before his heart attack. He’s only 45. Read more HERE ~ if you’ve been through this my heart goes out to you because I had no idea what an emotional roller coaster this would be.)

 

We’ve had a few other not so easy things creep up throughout the year too.

 

We’ve had some extended family worries that just make life a little more difficult some days.

 

We’re still adjusting to life in Ohio.

 

(Y’all, I wish I could just get. over. that. ugh. If the sweet folks down in Alabama hadn’t been just so sweet it might have made this move a wee bit easier! It is getting MUCH better just still hard some days ~ I’ve heard 3 years is the magic mark, so crossing my fingers on that.) 🙂 

 

And.

 

good.

 

gravy.

 

We’re raising two teenagers at the same time. (Clearly that makes us superheroes, right?)

 

To top it all off we’ve got one way-too-confident-God-bless-this-kid-we’re-going-to-have-to-hold-on-tight-for-the-next-ten-years-nine-year-old.

 

Double eek. 

 

But looking from the outside-in, it would be easy for someone to look at our Christmas card (in black and white to hide the wrinkles, mind you), and think our mess of our family has our act together too.

 

 

But here’s the truth.

 

We’re a mess.

 

We have bad days. We get tired. We holler sometimes. We get plain old g.r.o.u.c.h.y.  

 

but from our pretty Christmas card pic and what you see online, you might just think our life looks okay.

 

And honestly?

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While we have some really hard things surrounding us right now, we are crazily blessed with an abundant life I never even imagined I’d see. 

 

But some days life is just hard.

 

And oh so messy.

 

And not as perfect as we (ummm, I) might like to portray.

 

Here’s what we so easily forget . . . 

 

No matter how cute someone looks on Facebook . . .

 

No matter how incredibly their Christmas card arrives at your door . . .

 

No matter how darling that friend’s home is over on Instagram . . .

 

They likely have struggles too you’ll never know from this side of the screen.

 

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Remember this today.

 

Right this very minute.

 

Your life.

 

The one you’re living right now today.

 

It’s the most perfect gift you’ve ever been given. 

 

Take today.

 

Take this Christmas.

 

Choose to make it beautiful and memorable and perfect ~ with whatever cards you’ve been dealt, and exactly the people you’re with,

 

and don’t compare yourself to anyone else even one last time.  

 

okay? 

 

And whatever mess you’re in. 

 

Whatever struggle that’s covering you up and maybe just clouding your vision from how wondrous this Christmas season is,

 

know that it it’s in His hands (thank. heavens.) today.

 

Praying God’s peace, rest, and hope for you this Christmas day.

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“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6

 

 

 

 

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The Best Baking Supply Bargains

 

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Now that we’ve almost finished our 12 days of Christmas baking series (download your free grocery list and cookbook over HERE) I thought it would be fun to share a few of my favorite ways to package all those goodies up!

 

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I found most of my supplies at Hobby Lobby  . . .

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wrapped them up with inexpensive ribbon,

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and found a few bargains at Michael’s & The Dollar Tree too.

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I love those stores. 

 

 

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Here’s how the math on each container added up: 

Big red and white carry out box 66¢ per box

Santa tin $1.75 at Hobby Lobby

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Tiny box containers at Hobby Lobby 20¢ per box

Sliding Boxes from Hobby Lobby 50¢ per box

Polka Dot Sliding Box Containers from Hobby Lobby 75¢ each

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Plastic bags 12/$1 at the Dollar Tree 8.3¢ each

Merry Christmas tag from Hobby Lobby 5¢ each

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Merry Christmas Box $1 at Hobby Lobby

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Christmas Tin $1 at the Dollar Tree

Green Christmas Santa Box $1 at Michael’s

Merry Bag and Santa Hat tag 15¢ at Hobby Lobby

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Polka Dot and Striped Bags 12¢ per box

Chalkboard Clothespins 13¢ per box

Gift Card Holder 50¢ each

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Be Merry Box 75¢ per box at Hobby Lobby

 

Hope this helps you pinch a few extra pennies this Christmas, as well as spoil someone special you’re thankful for this year. Enjoy!

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Looking for more bargain DIYs?

 

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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!

 

Interact with 570K+ Penny Pinchers on Facebook and Twitter or Subscribe to Passionate Penny Pincher by email to keep up with all the penny pinchin’ deals!
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Top 10 Christmas Budget Busters

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It is so easy this time of year to pull out that credit card, plunk down a few more dollars, and spend so. much. more. than you planned for this year. 

 

But you don’t have to.

 

Here are 10 Christmas Budget Busters that can completely whittle away your Christmas savings, so take a few minutes today and make sure your spending is in check.

Top 10 Christmas Budget Busters

1. Shipping.

Do. not. pay. for. shipping.

For real.

Most stores offer free shipping with pretty minimal purchases this time of year, and almost all stores allow you to pick up in store for free as well. With shipping costing easily $6-$10, you could easily blow your budget with a few unexpected purchases.

And, don’t forget Free Shipping Day is 12/16/16 ~ it might just be worth waiting for!

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2. Stocking stuffers that cost too much.

In our house my kids love their stockings, but I work really hard to keep the cost of stocking stuffers to a minimum. 

Go HERE to see my list of 101 stocking stuffers all $1 or less.

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3. Gifts to just fill under the tree.

My kids typically ask for a few big (and a few small) items each year.

But oh so often, I’m tempted to buy them extra things just so they have more to open under the tree.

They don’t need any of it.

This year I’m really sticking to giving them the few things they really want, and then letting it go.

I hate the clutter come December 26th, and they really don’t need much of anything.

Skip those extras this year. 

(Download my free Christmas Made Easy Checklist to track your Christmas List and Expenses as you go.)

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4. Unnecessary family and friend gifts.

If you have a large extended family, consider as a group doing a white elephant gift exchange or choosing “secret Santas” ~ everyone will have just as much fun, and your whole family will drastically cut down on Christmas expenses. 

 

And, if you love blessing people who bless you throughout the year (UPS drivers, garbage truck drivers, mail carriers, etc), consider baking a yummy treat for them instead of purchasing a gift this year if purchasing gifts isn’t in your budget. A small act of kindness can go a long way to bless someone’s day!

 

Side note:A few years ago I shared how just about felt gived out by the time December was over. I realized that much of this was because while I happily said yes to every place to donate early in the Holiday season, by the middle of December I was done: and so was my budget.

Since then my husband and I have an honest discussion about what we want to give together so that we can choose to give to those that we both feel most passionate about. (To see more on giving over the holidays, check out The Advent Conspiracy.)

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5. Paying too much to trim your tree.

love Christmas decorating.

Like, I. love. it.

But, I get almost all my decorations 90% off AFTER Christmas, unless I find them at the Dollar Tree.

If you don’t have just what you want right now for Christmas, be patient. 

Wait until December 26th (December 27th is even better), head out to the stores, and score some amazing deals for next year’s Christmas tree.

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6. Spending extra to decorate your home.

Just like it’s way too easy to spend too much on tree trimmings, home decor can get out of hand at Christmas.

Fluff up what you already have on hand, head outside for some fresh greenery, and keep things simple by not over doing Christmas clutter.

 

7. Deals that are “too good” to pass up.

Sometimes I come across a deal (or two, or three?) that I think is just “too good” to pass up. 

But unless it’s something someone really wants for Christmas, it’s just not worth ruining our budget for.

 

Skip those ones you really don’t need, determine to stay on track, and make Christmas more about the season than stuff this year. 

8. Purchasing extra gifts after you are done.

Once you’re done shopping,

you’re done shopping.

Determine this year to get your Christmas list checked off, and then don’t go back to purchase more items that your family really can live without.

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9. Wrapping paper.

Get wrapping paper 90% off at Target and other stores in January ~ last year we had to wait until January 4th, but don’t miss that one this year.

10.The Christmas feast.

Last but not least, be mindful over the next few weeks of deals as you plan for Christmas.

Inevitably every store in town will put ham, turkey, veggies, and more on sale, so your mission this Christmas season is to watch for those deep discounts.

Go HERE to do a quick search of the best sale items on just about everything at your local store, and determine to stick to your budget before spending too much this year.

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What else would you add to the list? I’d love to hear your thoughts – also check out the Ultimate Guide To Building a Better Grocery Budget. You can do this!

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Looking for more? 

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Dollar Tree Christmas Centerpiece

 

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Need an inexpensive Christmas centerpiece for an event this Christmas season? 

This is for you. 

 

 
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Here’s what you’ll need:

  • a grapevine or greenery wreath $1 at the Dollar Tree
  • red candle votive $1 at the Dollar Tree
  • 2-3 berry twigs $1 at the Dollar Tree

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Just take the berries and place all around the wreath, light the candle, and you’re done.

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I used a blanket scarf as my table runner (this weekend only they’re $12.95, shipped at Cents of Style when you use the code BLANKET16 at checkout.)

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Done!

 

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Looking for more Dollar Tree DIY?

 

dollartreegiftstogive20163

 

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!

 

Interact with 570K+ Penny Pinchers on Facebook and Twitter or Subscribe to Passionate Penny Pincher by email to keep up with all the penny pinchin’ deals!
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My 5 Favorite Black Friday Deals . . .

 

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Have you kept up with all the crazy Black Friday deals today? Goodness, they’ve been nuts!

Here are my top 5 favorite deals I’ve seen so far . . . besides the Fitbit Charge Deal which wins for favorite hands down 😉

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1 .  Canon EOS Rebel with 2 Lenses & Bag only $449 ~ Lowest price this has ever been!

I love my Canon Rebel!!

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2. Instant Pot 7-in-1 Programmable Pressure Cooker – $69

This is an AMAZING workhorse that doubles as a crockpot or a pressure cooker, makes yogurt and does so much more!

 

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3. Amazon Fire Tablet $33.33  (regulary $49.99) ~ such a great deal while it lasts!

If that particular Kindle isn’t what you’re looking for – there’s also a deal on these:

And for old-fashioned paper books – – don’t miss out on the Amazon $10 off $25 Books code!

 

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4. Power Wheels Ride-Ons – Starting at $45!

Or if you are looking for a leg-powered transportation – these Mountain Bikes are $58!

 

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5.  There are some CRAZY deals on Train Tables & Train Sets. . . 

This 50-pc Train Table is only $37 and this bigger, nicer KidKraft Train Table is $99 (Reg $299)

Also get Thomas the Train Sets on Amazon for a steal today, as well as these other great toy deals:

 

 

 

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Here’s the complete list of Black Friday deals posted so far . . . 

 

 

 

 

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Black Friday Fitbit Deals

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

 

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just ordered myself the new Fitbit Charge 2 using some birthday gift cards I had, and goodness, I am in love.

 

I had the Fitbit Charge HR before (but handed it down to my kids), and had kind of forgotten I loved having a Fitbit to keep me aware of how much I actually step away from the computer. (As a blogger it’s easy for me to spend hours online, and forget that’s not what this body of mine was made for!)

 

My new Fitbit came yesterday, and I can’t even begin to tell you how much I love it. I actually like it way more than the Charge HR (the reviews were so much better that I decided it was worth the splurge), and I’m so glad I did. Here are the features I’ve noticed:

  • Tracks my steps
  • Tells me when I have a phone call or text (and you can actually READ THE TEXT ON THE FITBIT ~ I love that!)
  • App includes places to track your weight, food intake and calories

Of course, the Fitbit Charge 2 is normally priced at $149.95, so not a cheap gift. The regular Fitbit Charge has dropped quite a bit in price though, and honestly I was pleased with that one as well (I just love that this one lets me see my texts!)

Here are the best deals on Fitbit products I see right now: 

 

Amazon 

Kohl’s *** BEST DEAL ***

**No coupon codes can be used on Fitbits at Kohls

Target

Walmart

EBay 

  • Fitbit Charge $93.99 *** BEST DEAL **** (not the Fitbit Charge 2 but a great price on the regular Fitbit!)

 

Do you have a Fitbit and love it? I’d love to hear your thoughts, leave a comment to share!

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Not sure whether or not you need a Fibit?  Check out these 7 ways a Fitbit will change your life. 

Love shopping Kohl’s? Be sure to check out these 14 secrets you need to know before you shop, and don’t miss the rest of the crazy deals at Kohl’s going on right now.

 

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Christmas Made EASY: The Ultimate Christmas Checklist

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Oh my.

 

 

You are gonna love this.

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Like . . .

 

YOU ARE GOING TO LOVE. THIS. 

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I was worrying this weekend about all the things I needed to do to get ready for Christmas, and realized that I just needed a perfect checklist to really get myself organized.
So I visited Pinterest . . . and there were so many great lists, but none that were just right.

 

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But lucky for me (and lucky for you!), I have an awesome designer who created this Ultimate Christmas Checklist so you and I can be completely organized and stick to our budgets this year. 

 

 

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WOOOOOOOOHOOOOOOO!

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(Yup, I’m a wee bit excited about this one.)

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More than anything here at PPP, I want to you to save a bundle this Christmas, and at the same time, I’d just love to make Christmas easier for you too.

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So, hurry over HERE to get and let me send it right out to you, and let me know what you think. Happy Black Friday Week!

 

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{Note ~ if you’re a PPP email subscriber I sent this out to you a few hours ago today. Send me an email at contact@passionatepennypincher.com if you didn’t get yours!)

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