17 New York City Insider Travel Tips

new york city insider travel tips

My 10-year-old has wanted to go to New York for a couple of years now — something she picked up in school or books I guess. ūüôā¬†

But it’s BIG and a little intimidating to navigate –¬†and can be very expensive!

As we were thinking about a summer vacation, we looked at the possibility and found several ways to save money and make it worth it for us.  Conveniently one of our 3 available weeks was during her 10th birthday so we chose it.

We surprised her with the trip and only told her a couple of hours before leaving for the airport. ¬†At first she didn’t believe us, but then we told her she had to make sure I packed well enough for her. ¬†She was in shock, which was so¬†awesome!!¬† My husband spent many hours researching and planning based on our interests.¬† Here are a few things we think will be helpful for your own trip planning to the Big Apple…

17 New York City Insider Travel Tips

1. Set a budget.

Because we really are passionate penny pinchers we do not go into debt for any of our trips. ¬†We save by couponing (my strength) and living¬†“thrifty” (my husband’s strength) so we can travel (my weakness and the bane of my husband’s existence).¬† ūüėȬ† I love to travel, but paying cash is a must!

 

 

2. Save on airfare.

If you don’t have a frequent flyer miles account with your favorite airline, get one!

We had Delta Sky Miles from going on a few mission trips and an anniversary trip to Hawaii, and it really paid off on this trip. ¬†We used our Sky Miles to get all 4 tickets, 2 on my account and 2 on my husband’s, for a grand total of only $44 + checked baggage fees!

I suggest flying into LaGuardia to save money and time. ¬†If you’re going near Manhattan like most tourists, JFK is farther away. ¬†It’s also more expensive. ¬†We wouldn’t have been able to get Sky Miles tickets to JFK because of the higher cost.

 

3. Save on your hotel.

Staying out of Manhattan (or at least away from Times Square) can save you hundreds of dollars.

We stayed in Long Island City¬†at a Fairfield Inn by Marriott. ¬†It was just off of Manhattan and wasn’t inconvenient at all.¬† It took only 4-7 minute to walk to 3 different subway stations that covered 6 different lines, so we could get to anywhere in Manhattan easily! ¬†It wasn’t too noisy either, which is a big complaint near Times Square.

Staying in a hotel with breakfast included can save money for a daily meal.¬† Hotel sites like Expedia and its subsidiaries, Priceline, etc. may get you a bargain, and if you’re bold enough to stay in someone’s private property, Airbnb is also something to consider.

 

4. Decide between Taxi, Subway or Uber?

We decided to use the subway most of the time we were in New York.¬† It’s definitely the cheapest option and often comparable in time for short distance trips.

We paid $33 per person for a 7-day unlimited Metro Card that allows you to get on/off as many times as needed for the one price.  Considering a single ride is usually $2.50, but we rode several times a day for 5 days, this was soooo worth it!

Learning where to enter and exit the subway was tricky.¬† When entering, make sure you read the signs before you swipe your Metro Card since some stations didn’t have a way to cross to the other track if you were accidentally on the wrong side, and once you swipe your card, you have to wait 18 minutes to use it again.

 

My husband’s advice for exiting is to look at the subway map, know which way the train enters the station, know which way you want to walk when you hit the street, and walk towards an exit in that direction.¬† The only time we took a taxi was to and from the airport since subways don’t go directly to them, and the distance between our hotel and the airport was longer.¬† It’s typical to tip your taxi driver 15% on top of the fare as long as they did a good job.¬† You can use Google Maps to get you everywhere, and there are other good transit apps too.¬† I don’t know how anyone can get around these days without GPS, but you can always ask a local for help with directions.

 

 

5. Make sure you have good walking shoes.

Take some good walking shoes (my favorite are Saucony Guide).¬† If you don’t exercise much, I’d suggest walking as much as you can before leaving, because you will do it a lot there!

I’m a runner and run about 4-5 miles a day, but my husband doesn’t exercise much. ¬†(He complained when I wrote he “doesn’t exercise at all”, so I erased it to protect his reputation.) ¬†ūüėȬ† So we walked as many nights as we could with our youngest daughter before leaving in order to prepare. ¬†She still had no idea we were going so I just told her daddy needed to start exercising more to relieve stress from¬†work. ¬†ūüėČ

 

 

6. Check out Entertainment Passes

My husband found 3 entertainment passes for NYC:

  • CityPASS¬†gives you a set price for 6 places–3 fixed and 3 others where you can pick from 2 choices.¬† That didn’t include things we wanted to do and did include others that we didn’t want, so we ruled it out quickly.
  • The New York Pass is for a certain number of days and lets you go to however many places within those days that you can fit in.¬† But reviews were bad since you have to fit in about 3 places a day to get your money’s worth, and sometimes lines are so long that the high cost is unlikely to be worth it.
  • Smart Destinations has 3 different flavors of passes, and we really liked their “Explorer” Pass. ¬†That one was based on a number of choices rather than days.¬† It allows you to be flexible with what you use it on so that we could base it on weather, change in mood, etc. when we were there.¬† We used the 5-choice across 3 days.¬† My husband’s company participates in TicketsatWork which offered discounted prices, so we added savings on top of savings for almost 40% cheaper attraction prices!

 

 

7. Get Statue of Liberty Tickets Early

If you’d like to go to the crown or pedestal, make sure to buy tickets for the Statue of Liberty the minute you buy your plane tickets.

We weren’t able to get crown tickets because they were booked about 4 months out, and when we arrived there, an employee said they were now booked until next year!¬† The pedestal was easier to get tickets for, but there are still a limited number.

I would also recommend getting early time slots.¬† We had an 11:00 and still waited in line for a long time because of schools doing field trips.¬† We packed a lunch with sandwich items we brought from home which saved us money and time.¬† Although we didn’t ride the Staten Island Ferry, it is a free option.

 

 

8. Don’t Miss The Empire State Building

If you plan to go to the Empire State building, go as early as possible in the day or late at night.¬† (Seeing a pattern?)¬† ūüėȬ† We saw a recommendation to go before 11.¬† We went around 9:30, and as we were leaving the lines were getting extremely long. Definitely worth going early to make sure to skip the lines!

 

 

9.  Be sure to visit the 9/11 Museum.

I think everyone remembers where they were when you heard about the twin towers getting hit.¬† It was such an impactful moment in our history.¬† Older kids and teens would be ok in the “historical exhibition”, but there are parts of it (pictures, audio clips, etc.) that will probably be difficult for younger kids.

If you go on Tuesdays at 4:00, they issue free first-come, first-served tickets.  We got there at 3:30, were near the front of the line, sat for a half hour til the line started moving, and ended up with 5:00 tickets (the earliest possible).  That gave us time to look at the memorial and shop in the mall next door.  You can make a donation as well.

 

 

10. A few more museums worth seeing:

Besides the 9/11 Museum, we would recommend the following:

  • Statue of Liberty Museum – Included with pedestal or crown tickets
  • Ellis Island Immigration Museum ¬†– FREE
  • American Museum of Natural History (aka AMNH) – ¬†Suggested price but pay what you want
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art (aka the Met) – Suggested price but pay what you want

It took a few hours inside the AMNH (enter at the 81st entrance to save a lot of time from standing in line), and we didn’t see everything.¬† Plan on 3-4 hours if you like that kind of stuff.¬† I heard that for the Met as well although we never made it there.¬† I think our girls were museum’ed out (and maybe their mom a little too).¬† ūüėČ

 

 

11. Visit Central Park

This is a great place to go, and it’s free!¬† There are playgrounds for little ones to play on, winding walking paths, beautiful flora, and lots of history.

The Central Park Sightseeing bike tour was our favorite thing all week!  Our tour guide, Damien, was very informative.  The tour was a 7-mile bike ride through lots of historic places in Central Park with plenty of celebrity gossip and movie info.  So worth it!

 

 

12. See something on Broadway

I’m not a musical person, but we were told we needed to take the girls to see Lion King…until we saw the price.¬† WOW! ¬† More expensive for Broadway tickets than all the other entertainment combined!

My husband learned about the TKTS booths that sell same-day or next-day discounted (maybe half price) tickets, but Lion King wasn’t included.¬† You can also walk up to the ticket office at the theater for a show you’re interested in the day of and ask for similarly discounted tickets to see if they’ll sell them.¬† Finally, you can sign up for a lottery the day before for some shows for the lowest price.¬† Unfortunately, we never got selected for the lottery so we never made it to a show, which honestly I’m okay with.¬† I am too much of a penny pincher to pay full price for tickets.

 

 

13. Walk the Brooklyn Bridge and the High Line.

The first is another freebie activity that is a must!¬† Great views of Manhattan.¬† Just stay out of the bike lanes!¬† ūüôā¬† We also went on a small piece of the High Line, an abandoned above ground train track that they spruced up with a walking path, lots of scenery, and occasional fun things like a place to take off your shoes and stand in cool water.

 

 

 

14. Food is Expensive

Almost every restaurant we went to did not have a kids menu so plan to either split your meal with the kiddos or buy them an adult meal.

We ate at 3 different pizza places (you have to, right?).¬† The pizza was pretty good, but we noticed that at every place the employees were just not friendly.¬† Welcome to New York! ūüôā

Because we walked all day we stopped a few times for sweets.¬† (Ok, as payback for the exercise comment earlier, my hubby says that I have to admit that I would have stopped at all the sweet shops even if we hadn’t walked all day.¬† Guilty pleasure!)¬† ūüėȬ† All the employees at the bakery places were awesome!!¬† I would recommend using Zomato (formerly Urban Spoon) for restaurant reviews, menus, and price ranges, and then working a few interesting restaurants into your budget.¬† Eating earlier dinners will help you wait less time for a table.

 

15. Be smart when buying souvenirs.

We went to Chinatown and Little Italy on a whim, and the souvenir shopping was so awesome that we decided to return later in the week!  We were able to save money buying souvenirs here rather than the actual tourist attractions.  Authentic meals here too . . . but more expensive.

 

16. Pack Water Bottles… & Backpacks to Carry Them

We each had our own water bottle and filled them up every day before leaving the hotel.¬† When we went to any tourist attraction that had water fountains, we would fill up again.¬† This saved us a ton of money, and during the hot summer it was a must.¬† There are vendors at every corner selling bottled water for $1-2.¬† So glad we didn’t have to buy water!

 

17. Character Costumes

Try to stay away from the people dressed up in character costumes.  A friend warned us about this and we were so glad she did!  When you get you or your kiddos picture taken with them, they expect you to tip them and will hound you until you do.  This is their job.

 

I hope these New York City Insider Travel tips were helpful in planning your next trip – and I’d love to hear any additional tips you might have for saving money or seeing the best sites!

What other tips do you have for New York City or other vacations?  We’d love to hear your thoughts ~ please leave a comment!

 

 

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Looking for more travel tips?

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Looking for more travel tips? Check out these 7 things you need to know before bidding at Priceline and Hotwire. 

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Father’s Day Footprint Keychain ( SO EASY!)

If you missed Hanna’s Facebook live video this morning you can watch HERE for a fun homemade Father’s Day Gift Idea from toddlers!

 

 

 

My niece Hannah has a 1-year old and while looking for homemade Father’s Day gifts from toddlers she found this super cute idea for a Father’s Day Footprint Keychain! ¬†I love (LOVE) that’s it’s easy and inexpensive – plus something that dad can actually carry around with him ūüôā

 

 

 

Guys.  HOW CUTE IS THIS??

All you’ll need is shrinky dink paper and paint – plus maybe a toddler distraction to keep them happy while you paint those wiggly little feet.

 

 

Father’s Day Footprint Keychain

 

What you’ll need:

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325
  2. Paint baby’s foot generously with craft paint (have baby wipes handy for mess-ups!)
  3. Press baby’s foot up against the shrinky dink sheet, do a few so you can choose the best looking one at the end
  4. Cut out around the foot, leaving a little extra space as a border
  5. Use a hole punch to make a hole in the footprint for the keychain to go (VERY IMPORTANT!)
  6. Put on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 2-3 minutes (make sure paint side is up)
  7. Once it cools, you can write the date on the back and cover/paint with a layer of mod podge
  8. Open up the jump ring a little and slip it on, then add the keychain.  Clamp the jump ring back tightly with needle nose pliers.

**IF you smear the footprint on the shrinky dink paper, alcohol on a paper towel will take it right off so you can start over.

 

If you have kids of multiple ages, you could give this along with this¬†Father’s Day Coupon Printable Book for the older kids. ¬†Go HERE to find it!

 

 

And you might also want to check out another one of our VERY FAVORITE meaningful last-minute Father’s Day Gifts.  Storyworth is a subscription like NO OTHER and it sends by email so they get it right away!

 

You might also like these posts:

 

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Father’s Day Coupon Printable Book

 

Father’s Day is this weekend (eeek!) and if you’re on budget or just out of time, here’s a super easy idea you can do with the kids!

Print this Father’s Day Coupon Printable Book and the kids can gift dad with extra time to relax , or a little extra help around the yard.

How cute is that??

You can find the book  HERE!

 

Filled with ideas for the kids you can gift the entire book or just one or two.  Or maybe hide the around and create a little scavenger hunt!

And you might also want to check out another one of our VERY FAVORITE meaningful last-minute Father’s Day Gifts. ¬†Storyworth is a subscription like NO OTHER and it sends by email so they get it right away!

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The Ultimate Room Makeover?

 

Last week all 3 of our kids were gone for a whopping four days.

 

Four.

 

days.

 

Ninety-six bless-ed hours to be exact.

 

(Don’t get me wrong ~ I adore my kids but in the summertime ninety-six hours of quiet are pure unmediated bliss.)¬†

 

Before they left Sunday though, I started worrying over what I would do all by my lonesome self without a soul in sight. 

 

I contemplated shopping, then quickly decided it was clearly the perfect time to re-decorate our dining room. (Which, for the life of me I cannot seem to get right since moving to Ohio), so I devised a plan before they even left.

 

I headed to Home Goods (two kids in tow), found 6 matching dining room chairs (it was like the Home Goods gods were shining down on me . . . ), brought them home, plopped them down in their new space and started picking out colors on my Pinterest board.

 

(Remember our dining room furniture has been handed down, so we’ve never spent any money in the space and I proclaimed few days with no kids the perfect excuse to remedy that.)

 

And then?

 

I stopped.

I took those chairs back to Home Goods (here’s the dining room right where we started. I know it’s bad. I know the rug’s too small. I know the light fixture isn’t awesome. I know the grey’s kind of pitiful. Yup, I get it.¬†Bleck.)

 

But my brain finally began. 

 

I began thinking about what a new room overhaul would mean for those glorious ninety six hours.

 

That my husband would likely have to change that light fixture.

 

(Bless. him.) 

 

That I would have a lot of added shopping on my to-do list.

 

And that for the good part of the very few days my kids were gone, I’d be drowning in paint, stressed over getting it done, and anxious about one more pretty unnecessary mess.¬†

 

While not soaking up summer even a bit. 

 

eek.

So I made a decided mental shift.

 

My husband and I have just gone through a pretty chaotic 18 months to say the least. (Read more HERE and HERE.)

We’re just 3 weeks out from his dad passing away.

 

And in the midst of that eighteen months, we’ve continued to raise 3 kids (might I mention again, including¬†two teenagers), held down two fairly massively busy jobs, and really truly, still feel even after almost twenty-one years of marriage still feel like we’re just figuring this mess out. ūüėČ

Do you know what I realized?

 

That right now today I don’t need a Pinterested dining room.

 

With matching chairs, the *right* chandelier, and perfect pale-grey-navy-ish walls (if that is even a thing?)

 

That right now today our hodge-podge mess of a dining room really didn’t matter, but¬†savoring those ninety six hours (even with oodles of work in between) was worth it today.¬†

 

I determined that right now today¬†I didn’t need to make 38 decisions on fabrics, table decor and buffet lamps, but instead could frugally enjoy some fun just hours together,¬†and good gravy, we sure did.

So instead?

 

We went out to dinner.

 

And walked to the grocery store.

 

(For the record – our Kroger is¬†a mere three miles from our house,¬†but since I’ve so missed walking to the grocery store James promised we could try. We survived and realized¬†it really IS walkable, just a bit of a jaunt and probably too far to bring home milk ~ eek!) ūüėČ

 

And we met up after work to hike in a part of Ohio we’d never seen before.

 

As we were walking¬†Thursday night, James and I both agreed that we enjoyed our little “stay-cation” more than we’d ever imagined, and other than one “nicer” meal out, we barely spent a penny.

 

I love that.

 

So today.

 

If you feel like you need to be all Pin-ter-est-ey-fied.

 

And you’ve spent hours poring over your Instagram feed¬†feeling clearly you’re the only girl in town with a little mis-matched stuff,

maybe just decide to clean up your space and enjoy what you have right where you have it right now today. 

 

We really don’t need to have it all . . . and we definitely don’t need it all right now today.

 

Note: Our family is taking the next few weeks mostly off for some much needed summer rest, but my AMAZING PPP team will be here sharing posts, trying out their hand at Facebook Live (I love that!), and answering all of your questions while we’re gone. I’ll be in and out to check in on things, just a note to let you know what to expect throughout the rest of June!
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7 Ways to Save at Bath Body Works Semi-Annual Sale

ways-to-save-at-bath-body-works-semi-annual-sale

I just love it when my house smells good….¬† which means I’m tempted every time I walk by Bath & Body Works in the mall. ¬†But I *usually* can resist buying until there’s a really good sale going on. ¬†And the mother of all sales – the Bath & Body Works Semi Annual Sale – is my favorite time to shop!

There are so many ways to save at the Bath & Body Works semi-annual sale – from taking along coupons, to knowing where in the store to find the best sales. ¬†Here are some of the best tips I’ve learned

7 Ways to Save at Bath & Body Works Semi-Annual Sale

1 . Hold Out for January and June

If you’re a big fan of Bath & Body Works products, plan on making your purchases in January and June – that’s when the Semi Annual Sales hit!

You can get signature lotions, bodywash, and body sprays for up to 75% OFF regular price. If you’re able, go ahead and shop for the next 6 months. Having extra candles and lotions in your gift closet is a great way to stay on top of teacher gifts, friends’ birthdays, etc… while paying dollar store prices!

For Example: Get Hand Soaps as low as $1.62 (Reg $6.50!)

The summer sale usually starts the first week of June, and the winter sale starts right after Christmas.

2 . Price Adjust Policy

If you bought¬†¬†accidentally bought something right before the sale – Bath & Body Works has a fabulous price adjust policy. ¬†They’ll adjust to the lower price within 14 days of your purchase. ūüôā

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3 . Use Coupons with the Sale

Bath & Body Works Coupons come out all the time – and you can use them alongside sale events. (Including the Semi-Annual sale!) ¬†For instance, we’re in the first week of the June Semi-Annual Sale right now, and I’ve received these coupons from Bath & Body Works so far:

Here’s one deal idea using the $10 off $40 Code:

Buy (2) 3-Wick Candles on sale for $10 (Reg $22.50)
Buy (7) Body Lotions, Wallflowers or Shower Gels for $3 each (reg $12.50)
– Use $10 off $40 Coupon
Makes it $31 for all 9 items!

You can even stack some coupons!¬† ¬†For instance a “Free Product with $10 Purchase” coupon could be used along with a “$10 off $40 purchase” coupon. ¬†

4 . Coupons Expired?  Use them ANYWAY!

Did you know that if your coupon expires before you shop Рyou can still use them?  Bath & Body Works will accept them within a 3-day grace period?  What a fantastic policy!

5 . 3-Wick Candles under $5??

Guys – these quality candles burn evenly, burn long and are super scented. ¬† But they’re also NOT CHEAP.

Normally a Bath & Body Works 3-Wick Candle will set you back $22.50.  The very least you can expect to pay for a candle at Bath & Body Works is $8 during the super rare $8 candle sale.

BUT during the Semi-Annual Sale, candles go on sale for $10 Рand if you bought (4) and used a $10 off $40 coupon, the price drops to $7.50 each.  (WOW!)

EVEN BETTER: SOME stores get in a selection of 3-Wick Candles for 75% OFF! ¬†($5.62 each) ¬†If you were to buy 8 of those and use a $10 off $40 coupon – you’re going to end up paying $35 – just¬†$4.37 per candle!

6 . Sign up for Emails and Texts

Don’t miss out on offers they send their loyal customers! ¬†This Semi-Annual Sale I’ve received coupons via email, but also a Free Shipping offer on Facebook that was specific just for me.

You’ll want to sign up for email, texts and such to get extra coupons and special treats like those “FREE Product with Any Purchase” coupons. ¬†I love those – because you can buy a travel size item (like in the pic above) or PocketBac and get a FREE Full-Size Signature product!

7 . Get FREE Giftwrap

Why buy bags & ribbons later? ¬†While you’re in there getting enough lotions to gift every lady in your life for the whole year – grab some giftwrap, on the house! ¬†You can pick up the really cute cellophane baggies with ribbon and tag totally free. ¬†If you don’t see them on a display, just ask your cashier.

*If you shop online, the giftwrap option costs an extra $5!

 

And one last tip…

As always – if it isn’t in your budget, try not to let a good deal lure you into overspending. ¬†Buyer’s remorse is real – and I guarantee you many a Bath & Body Works Semi-Annual shopper have experienced it!

Just try to think practically about what you’ll *actually* use up in 6 months. ¬† (A bottle a month? ¬†Maybe less?) ¬† And what you’ll actually use as gifts (Do your kids’ teachers even like getting body care? ¬†Do your girlfriends use only certain scents?)

Happy Shopping!

Do you have any great tips for shopping the Bath & Body Works Semi-Annual Sale?  Or maybe just tips for shopping Bath & Body Works period?

I’d love for you to share them in the comments!

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3 Things I LOVE About Hollar (Plus – My Hollar Haul!)

This post was sponsored by Hollar.  All opinions are 100% my own.

I recently discovered a fun new website called Hollar – and I’m loving it so much wanted to share it with you guys!

Hollar is a site and app unlike any other I’ve come across. ¬†It’s chock-full of really cute finds, handy kitchen items, beauty products, popular kids’ toys and much more.

Plus, the prices are AMAZING Рthey really speak for themselves.  (Many of them beat the big box store prices hands down).

I’ve ordered a couple of items from Hollar so far (you can watch me unbox my most recent Hollar Haul here my most recent Hollar Haul here!), and really do love so many things they offer.

 

¬†Here are the 3 things I’m really loving about Hollar . . . ¬†

1 . Cheap Pricing + Frequent Promo Codes

Hollar’s items are mainly priced around $2, $3, $4 and $8. ¬† It makes it really fun to shop – a little like when you go to the Dollar Tree and you feel a little giddy like “Woohoo! ¬†I can buy anything here!”

On top of already low prices, I’ve been able to find promo codes both times I ordered boxes. ¬†Right now when you head over to Hollar, PPP readers will get 30% OFF one item with code PENNYPINCHER! ¬†(New customers only)

 

2 . Really Good Selection!

In my past experience, stores full of cheap items are also full of junky items – but NOT here.

I found¬†a TON of items¬†I fell in love with – everything from practical stuff like measuring cups and a backseat organizer, to fun little splurges like Essie nail polish and a Giant Donut beach blanket ūüôā ¬†I especially like their selection of premium party supplies – you could easily decorate an entire kids’ birthday party (plates, cups, banner, napkins and all) for under $10.

The selection is great with new goodies added daily, so every time I come back there’s something new to love! ¬†Check out some of my favorites on this page here ūüôā

3 . LOW Threshold for Free Shipping

For first-time customers, just add $10 worth of products to your cart to score Free Shipping.  For return customers, all orders over $25 ship FREE.

To put it in terms of stores we’re used to:

Take the fun surprises of shopping a store like Big Lots, paired with the reasonable prices of a Dollar Store, add in a dash of Amazon, with free shipping… and you’ve got Hollar! ¬†Ready to start shopping?

Head here for my favorite picks!

Here’s one deal idea to get you thinking:

Total = $11.95 + FREE Shipping for new customers!

 

That’s a GOOD little box for under $12 shippeda nice big beach towel, new Burt’s Bees lip gloss and a fun new nail polish! ¬†(Retail value of around $36)

I seriously love this towel, I’m thinking about how it could double as a summery throw over the couch, or would make a cute tablecloth round too! ūüôā

 

If you’re new to Hollar, free shipping on your first $10 order makes it pretty painless to try – check out what’s new in stock HERE!

Have you tried Hollar?  What kinds of items would you recommend?

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Shannon’s Walmart Shopping Trip (Plus Score 14 Items for $.32 Scenario)

Watch ¬†Shannon’s Facebook Live and learn to shop Walmart HERE.

I’m sooooo stinkin’ excited because my friend (and long-time PPP deal hunter) headed to Walmart today to show you how to score the very best deals there this week!

Here’s everything she used to save big this week:

 

 

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Before you shop, print hundreds of dollars in free printable coupons to take with you as you go. Take a peek at my favorites over HERE.

Buy 1 Curad Tape – $.96
Buy 3 Malt-O-Meal Frosted Mini Spooners 18 oz – $2.27
Buy 1 REV Wraps – $1.50
Buy 1 Heinz Spicy Mustard Р$1.84
Buy 1 Poise Impressa Bladder Support ‚Äď $4.99 (great donation item)
Buy 2 Crunchmaster Muilti Grain Crackers – $2.78
Buy 1 Tide Pods/ Gain Flings (12 – 16 ct) – $3.97
Buy 1 Heinz Ketchup (20 oz) – $1.98
Buy 2 Skinner Pasta – $.98
Buy 1 Command Hook – $.97

Curad Tape – $.96

Malt-O-Meal Frosted Mini Spooners 18 oz – $2.27

Command Hook – $.97

REV Wraps – $1.50

Ortega Seasoning Mix – $.73

Heinz Spicy Mustard Р$1.84

Yoplait Yogurt – $.50

Simple Green Cleaner – $1.97

Skinner Pasta – $.98

Heinz Ketchup (20 oz) – $1.98

Poise Impressa Bladder Support ‚Äď $4.99 (great donation item)

  • Use¬†$2/1 printable¬†or¬†$2.00/1 Poise Impressa Bladder Supposrt Sizing Kit or Size 1, 2 or 3 ‚Äď 4-30-17 RP
  • Submit for $2/1 Checkout 51 Rebate
  • $.49 after coupon and rebate

Crunchmaster Muilti Grain Crackers – $2.78

Dawn Dish Soap – $.97

  • Use¬†$0.25/1 coupon from the 5/28 P&G insert ¬†(Expires 06/24/17)
  • $.72 after coupon

French’s Ketchup – $1.98

Scotch Tape – $2.63

Ivory Body Wash – $.97

Puffs Tissues Р$1.47 

Vaseline Lotion (10 oz)  Р$3.48

  • Use $2.00/1 Vaseline Lotion – 5-14-17 RP, Includes 10 oz or Larger Only (Expires 06/10/17)
  • Submit for $.75/1 Checkout51 Rebate
  • $.73 after coupons and rebate

Snuggle Fabric Softener – $1.84

  • Use¬†$2.00/2 All brand or Snuggle brand Laundry Products – 6-4-17 RP (Expires 07/22/17)
  • $.84 after coupon

SoftSoap Hand Soap – $1.96

Maybelline Eye Brow Pencil – $2.97

True Lemon Packets – $1.97

Paul Newman’s Dressing – $3.28

Huggies Wipes – $1.97

Garnier Whole Blends Shampoo – $3.47

  • Use¬†$2.00/1 Garnier Whole Blends Shampoo, Conditioner, or Treatment – 6-4-17 RP (Expires 07/01/17)
  • $1.47 after coupon

Angel Soft Bath Tissue (4 pk) – $2

Neutrogena Acne Face Wash – $4.77

  • Use $3/1 printable or¬†$1.00/1 Neutrogena Products – 5-7-17 SS (Expires 06/25/17)
  • $1.77 after coupon

Idahoan Russet Signature Potatoes – $2.78

  • Use $2/2 printable or¬†$1.00/1 Idahoan Signature Russets – 4-2-17 SS, Includes 9.74 oz or Larger (Expires 07/31/17)
  • $1.78 after coupon

Tide Pods/ Gain Flings (12 – 16 ct) – $3.97

Bare Foot Foot Scrub – $2.97

Oxi Clean Detergent (45 oz) – $4.97

  • Use ¬†$3.00/1 OxiClean Laundry Detergent – 5-21-17 SS (Expires 06/21/17)
  • $1.97 after coupon or $.04 per ounce

White Cloud Paper Towels (2 Giant Rolls 160 sheets per roll) Р$3.12

  • Use¬†$1/1 printable
  • $2.12 after coupon or $1.06 per giant roll or $.007 per sheet

Schick Disposable Razors – $5.97

White Cloud Toilet Paper (6 pk 231 sheets per roll) – $3.98

  • Use¬†$1/1 printable
  • $2.98 after coupon or $.49 per double roll or $.002 sheets per roll

Charmin Essential Toilet Paper (12 Double Roll) – $4.97

  • Use $1/1 printable or¬†$0.25/1 coupon from the 5/28 P&G insert ¬†(Expires 06/24/17)
  • $3.97 after coupon or $.33 per double roll

Bounty Basic Paper Towels 6 pk – $5.74

  • Use $1/1 printable¬†or¬†$0.25/1 coupon from the 5/28 P&G insert ¬†(Expires 06/24/17)
  • $4.74 after coupon or $.79 per paper towel roll

Thanks to Paul at I Heart the Mart for some of the deals this week! Love shopping Walmart? Here are a few more tricks that will help you save every time you shop:

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How I Scored $137 In Clothes For $2 This Week

 

I’m just a wee bit excited about this!

 

Over the weekend I needed to do some shopping (I’m heading out to a conference this week and traveling over the next few weeks with family), but spending a bundle on clothing makes me nuts.

 

But, as I was driving to Old Navy, it dawned on me that I might have some Ibotta credit that I could use to shop, and oh my stars, I was thrilled.

Since I’d shopped with my daughters a few weeks ago at Old Navy, I had $30 in Old Navy Cash to spend.¬†However, to spend that $30 I would need to spend a minimum of $75 (so I’d wind up paying $45 in cash and using the $30 Old Navy credit), but I really didn’t want to spend that much.

 

I didn’t have to though.

 

Sure enough, I had $80 in Ibotta rebate moo-lah I could use, and scored a whopping $137 in clothing for JUST $2 AT OLD NAVY.

 

WOOHOO!

Here’s exactly what I did:

  • I picked up¬†$137 in clothing (eek!)
  • Used my $30 in Old Navy Cash
  • Hunted down an online Old Navy coupon on my phone to be used in stores (hint: I ALWAYS double check for a coupon before checking out at any store ~ I use¬†CouponSherpa usually to search for coupons and just show the cashier the coupon on my phone when checking out ~ sort at the top by “in-store” to find coupons that will work when you shop in stores)
  • Used $80 in Ibotta credit ~ which meant I paid TAX ONLY for all $137 in clothing!

Screen Shot 2016-01-06 at 10.08.59 AM

 

Now, yes . . . I did have to spend some money to get all those free clothes, however we had to buy a few things for my girls this summer for camp which is where the $30 in Old Navy cash came from, and I have to purchase groceries anyways, so I might as well make cash back on them using Ibotta. 

 

I love that!

 

If you’ve been thinking about signing up for a free Ibotta account, now is the best time! Ibotta is offering new app users a free $10 Welcome Bonus when you sign up here and redeem just 1 offer with in the first two weeks of registering.

 

New to Ibotta?  Ibotta is an easy way to earn real money just for buying your favorite products at many of your favorite stores!  I just downloaded Ibotta, so I’ll give y’all an update after my first shopping trip with it. Here are some of the features:

  • Ibotta works in over a dozen favorite stores including Target, Walmart, CVS, Walgreens, Kroger, Safeway, Vons, Publix, Ralphs, King Soopers, Duane Reade and more. New stores are being added all the time.
  • It‚Äôs fast.¬†Get your money within hours of taking a photo of your receipt.
  • It‚Äôs real cash.¬†Earnings can be transferred securely to your PayPal account or donated to any school in America with the click of a button.
  • It‚Äôs personalized. Every time you redeem an offer, we‚Äôll send a new one. Tell us your likes and dislikes and we‚Äôll send you personalized offers.
  • It‚Äôs full of your favorite products.¬†Ibotta sends you offers from all the top brands.
  • It‚Äôs secure.¬†Your information is private and we intend to keep it that way. We never share your email address with anyone. Credit card information is not stored or kept.

 

Here’s how to get started:

  1. Download the FREE Ibotta App to your mobile device.
  2. Before shopping, choose your offers. The more you choose, the more cash back you’ll earn.
  3. Go Shopping. Buy your chosen products at any of the major retailers that Ibotta supports.
  4. Take a photo of your receipt. We’ll verify your purchases and credit your account right away.
  5. Get your cash. Yes, real money, loaded onto your PayPal account or donated to any school in America.
  6. In just a few easy steps you can be making money while you shop!

 

Curious what I bought? Check out my Facebook Live where I explain in more detail over HERE.
 

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Our Awful Cabinet Cleanout!

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

 

NOTE: If you’re looking for the super cute Kimonos I talked about in the video, you can still snag yours for $14.98, SHIPPED with the code KIMONOPENNY at checkout. Hurry over HERE to get yours! ¬†View the video over here on Facebook.

Anyone else have a cabinet that catches a wee bit too much junk in their home?

 

Last Friday, my daughter Reagan helped me tackle this mess (on Facebook Live ~ eek!), and all weekend as I’ve opened that cabinet door it’s just made my day. ūüôā

 

Here’s where we started (YIKES.)

Here we are midway through . . .

And here’s how things look now.¬†

WOOHOOO!

If you’re like me and have a space in your home that just needs some serious tidying, here’s your friendly reminder from this oh-my-word-a-clean-cabinet-will-make-you-happy-momma that you need to tackle a cabinet today too. ūüôā

 

 

 

 

NOTE: ¬†Back in April when we did our Be Awesome in April Challenge, I was¬†determined to get to this cabinet but it just never happened, so I’m thrilled to have it done! Even though it’s no longer April you can still access these lists (and we’ve made them editable for every month of the year), so head on over HERE to download yours.

 

The cleaning schedule is based on how I personally tackle our day, so you may need to tweak it for you. Be sure to also join our private Facebook group for extra motivation to keep up with your home each day¬†¬†‚Äď I know you‚Äôll love this bunch!

 

 

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My May 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!

I’ll be honest, while I LOVED just about everything in my box this month, I didn’t love the fit of a few of the tops, so sent three of the five items back.

stitchfixreview5

If¬†you’re a busy working mom (especially in the corporate world), I think Stitch Fix is worth EVERY SINGLE PENNY, because the items really do look great and fit (for the most part!) so well too.

 

But, the items are¬†pricey, so you’re definitely paying¬†for the convenience of having someone shop and fit you here. (That being said, I’m amazed at how well most of the items¬†do fit and how cute they look ~ it takes me hours to shop for close so I love the convenience of it all!)

 

Remember though that if you keep the whole box you save 25% on the entire box, which is a pretty hefty savings if you like most of the items in the box. You also get your $20 styling fee back towards any items that you keep, so that helps drop the price a bit to!

 

Here’s a peek at what I got this month . . .¬†

Super cute earrings $28 Р$21 if I keep the whole box and get the 25% off entire box discount

KEPT THESE ~ I really did love them and don’t own a single pair of earrings that aren’t plain hoops! ūüôā¬†

PERFECT Black Liverpool Super Skinny Jeans $78 Р$58.50 if I keep the whole box and get the 25% off entire box discount

 

KEPT THESE ūüôā¬†(this is a similar pair for $79, so I guess that’s pretty reasonable? And they FIT SO WELL!)

Heartloom Daranta Crochet Detail Top $64 ~ $48 if I keep the whole box and get the 25% off entire box discount

 

RETURNED – just too short¬†for me and I didn’t like the way it had a slit in the back

Fun 2 Fun Witucky Halter Top $44 ~ $33 if I keep the whole box and get the 25% off entire box discount

RETURNED – SO SO SO cute but still a little short for me and I knew I wouldn’t wear it

Aunook Twist Knot Top $48 ~ $36 if I keep the whole box and get the 25% off entire box discount

 

RETURNED ~ I didn’t love the back at all and felt like it looked like a maternity top – eek!

My necklace was from a few months ago in my Stitch Fix box ~ I love that one!

So my total cost this month after my $20 Stitch Fix Styling Credit was $93.42 ~ I know I could have found jeans and earrings cheaper, but the jeans really do fit amazingly well, and the earrings are perfect. For me (during this crazy busy season of my life!), the price was totally worth it. 

My overall thoughts on Stitch Fix?

 

I do absolutely love though¬†¬†how easy this process is¬†~ just¬†put in your¬†style profile, share what types of clothes you¬†like, how things fit, and share an idea of what I‚Äôm looking for on my profile.¬†I also include a link to my ‚Äúcute outfits‚ÄĚ board on Pinterest, so my stylist has a pretty good idea of what I love.

 

I think it¬†definitely can be an awesome resource (especially for finding great pants – I have¬†loved¬†every pair of pants they’ve sent!), and if you struggle with finding cute trendy clothes that fit well, Stitch Fix is so worth it.

 

Whew!

 

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‚Äôll 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‚Äôs like getting $20 in free credit!)
  • If you keep your entire box you‚Äôll save 25% off the entire purchase
  • Invite friends on Facebook or via email (or even text messages)¬†to sign up through you and you‚Äôll get $25 in free referral credit¬†~¬†love that!

Past Stitch Fix Reviews:

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

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Supper’s Set For Summer Freezer Cooking Challenge: Wrap Up

 

 

Goodness, gracious, I can’t believe how much I LOVED having our freezer meals on hand this last week! ¬†Honestly, I think it’s transformed the way I look at cooking, and I may never cook another way again.¬†

Last night I baked the chili sauce chicken legs in the oven,

over the weekend I made the sweet & sour pork chops along with a side salad and banana pudding for dessert,

and right now Mrs. Potts is hard at work cooking up Chicken Cacciatore.

 

I love that. 

 

 

In case you missed any of our freezer cooking videos (I’ve had several people email asking for them!), I wanted to put all of the info in one place for you to easily find. Here we go:

 

Freezer Cooking Challenge Day 1: Hawaiian BBQ Chicken Sandwiches, Garlic Rosemary Pork & Potatoes, Grandma’s Spaghetti Sauce, Honey Mustard Chicken, Taco Bowls, Red Eye Barbecue Ribs
Freezer Cooking Challenge Day 2: Slow Cooker BBQ Peach Pulled Pork, Turkey Legs, Italian Sausage & Potatoes, Chicken Curry with Rice, Italian Beef Sandwiches, Teriyaki Pork Chops with Red Pepper & Pineapple, Chicken Cacciatore with Spinach Salad and Breadsticks
Freezer Cooking Challenge Day 3: Honey Mustard Chicken, Tamale Sandwiches on Cornbread, Maple Apple Chicken, Chicken Philly Sandwiches, Chili Sauce Chicken Legs, Beef Teriyaki with Pineapple
Freezer Cooking Challenge Day 4: Here’s what we made: Easy Crockpot Beef Fajitas, Chicken Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches, Turkey Breast, Chicken Broccoli Divan, Beef Teriyaki, King Ranch Chicken over Baked Potatoes
Freezer Cooking Challenge Day 5: Chicken Tacos, Easy Pepper Steak, Italian Seasoned Salt Chicken, Sweet & Sour Pork Chops, Teriyaki Barbecue Chicken Legs, Italian Beef
Freezer Cooking Challenge Day 6: (due to an unexpected family incident we ended up taking an extra day just to make my life easier ~ thanks for understanding) Sweet & Sour Pork Chops, Teriyaki Barbecue Chicken, Italian Beef

 

 

We made 30 meals all set for the freezer to help us get get dinner on the table this summer. WOOHOOO!

 

 

I’m¬†thrilled¬†to have these ready for the summer and love that we’ll be able to crockpot them, bake them, grill them, broil them, or saute them ~ and I won’t have a wee bit of planning to do. ūüôā

 

WOULD YOU LOVE A LITTLE SANITY  THIS SUMMER TOO?

While there aren’t any codes currently available for the Eat at Home Menu Plans, I still think they’re so worth it if you struggle with menu planning.

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
  • A set of traditional menu plans
  • One quick click to download all 3 sets of menus (in color or black and white ink)
  • In addition to our freezer menus, you’ll¬†get access to FOUR WEEKS of menu plans for as low as $1.21 per week!
  • BONUS: 1 ENTIRE YEAR OF EAT AT HOME SLOW COOKER FREEZER MEAL PLANS (we’ll be using these next week to cook)
  • BONUS FOR PPP READERS ONLY: free printable labels to use for our freezer week ~ I’ll send yours automatically when you start¬†HERE

 

 

YOU’LL GET 72 RECIPES + A DESSERT EACH WEEK + GROCERY LISTS + MENU PLANS FOR A SMALL OR LARGER FAMILY + PRINTABLE FREEZER LABELS + AN EXTRA YEAR OF FREEZER MEALS¬†~ WAAAAAY BETTER THAN JUST A COOKBOOK!

I promise, if you struggle with meal planning and sticking to your grocery budget, this will change the way you shop.

We’ve had several folks comment in our¬†Private Dinner’s Done group¬†that this using Eat at Home Cooks is saving them as much as $100 EACH WEEK ON GROCERIES ALONE, and they’re actually sticking to their menu plans and EATING AT HOME.

I love that.

So, head on over¬†HERE¬†to sign up if you’re not set up already, and let me know what you think.

 

clicktosave

 

The best part? You’ll get all the freezer cooking meals AND monthly sets of slow cooker meals, whole foods meals and traditional menu plans. I promise, you’ll love these lists!

 

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Zaycon Update: Chicken Just $1.51 Per Pound, Ground Beef $2.15 Per Pound

 
I’ve¬†had several folks ask about the current Zaycon chicken/meat codes the current Zaycon chicken/meat codes, so here’s a roundup of everything you need to know. ūüôā¬†
 
  • NEW ZAYCON USERS: SAVE 20% on your first order with code SAVE20 (ends 6/1)
 
  • OR, SAVE $25 OFF $100 PURCHASE with the code FIRST25 (ends 6/15)
  • EXISTING ZAYCON USERS: SAVE 21% on boneless skinless chicken breast with code MEMORIAL at checkout (ends 6/30, thanks Kim!)
 
Boneless, skinless chicken breast ends up being $1.51/lb with the code SAVE20
 
Ground beef ends up being $2.15/lb with the code FIRST25
 
GO HERE TO SEE WHEN THEY DELIVER IN YOUR AREA ~ I’m ordering the ground turkey for our family and can’t wait to try it out!
 

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

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10 (Practical) Ways To Help A Friend in Grief

If you’re here only for the penny pinched deals, bear with me through this one ~ this is a LONG post, but was on my heart today!¬†

 

As I shared earlier this week, my husband lost his dad a week ago today, and we’ve all lost truly one of the best men I’ve ever known.

 

 

While it’s still fresh in my memory, I wanted to share a few (amazing!) things friends did for us that made the grief a wee bit more bearable this week. More than anything, I want to remember how to bless someone in these same ways when they go through a difficult time too.

 

So often, I don’t know¬†what¬†to do when someone is suffering, but these simple (practical!) acts of kindness have tendered our hearts and¬†meant more than we ever could have imagined right now.¬†

 

Here we go. 

1. Help with their kids.

When we got the phone call last Thursday night that James’s dad was struggling and we needed to get there, several neighbors offered to help with our kids. (We weren’t quite sure that we all needed to¬†make the seven hour drive as this last year has been a whirlwind of physical struggles for Don, so two of our three had stayed home to finish up finals and end of year activities.)

 

Immediately one neighbor let our youngest spend the night, a group from my son’s Young Life program came over and just hung out with him, and another dear friend (who doesn’t even know our family all that well!) offered to drive my kids¬†to the airport once we¬†found out while driving to Kentucky that he’d passed away.

 

Beyond that, this sweet friend brought my kids goody bags to have for the plane flight, prayed with them before they flew out, and promised to stay close to the airport until she knew they were safely in the air.

 

Taking care of someone’s kiddos during a time like this was¬†an AMAZING gift ~¬†I can never express what it meant for this momma to know her children were taken care of!¬†

2. Bring a meal.

As soon as friends and church members found out that Don had passed away, the food started coming in (it was amazing!) As we had 30+ close family members there over the weekend for the services, it was a huge blessing not to have to figure out what to feed our bunch (especially in a small town without tons of restaurant options.)

Here were a few specific items that were special blessings to us over the weekend:

  • Paper plates, cups, napkins,¬†plasticware, paper towels
  • Water bottles and soda
  • Breakfast foods – homemade is great, but swinging by Sam’s or Costco works perfectly too
  • Fresh bread (because our friend Mrs. Deaton’s bread is well known in all of Marshall County as the absolute¬†best sourdough bread on the planet,¬†I had to share a shout out for that one. Bring. the. bread.) ūüôā
  • Turkey/ham sandwich “fixins”
  • Fresh fruit
  • Ham sandwiches (someone made simple sandwiches with Sister Schubert’s rolls ~ they were perfect)
  • Italian beef (another church member brought this by and it worked perfectly because it feeds a ton and everyone loves it)
  • Barbecue
  • Pie ūüôā our friend Mrs. Colburn brought by what had to be the very best lemon meringue pie I’ve ever eaten. When I told her how perfect it was, she credited Mrs. Edwards’s for that lemon meringue pie. (Y’all. You do not have to make¬†the pie. Let Mrs. Edwards make it for you.) ūüôā¬†
  • Toilet paper (I know that’s silly, but you do NOT want to run out of TP when there are 20 people mulling around a 1 and 1/2 bathroom house. Ummmmm…. yikes.)

3. Offer your home or guest house to extended family members.

If by any chance you have a spare room in your home (or a guest house?) offer it for extended family members to stay. It was a huge gift to our family to know that everyone had a bed, and we were so thankful for the lake house that a sweet friend of my sister-in-law offered us!

 

4. Take care of their pets.

Our neighbors offered to care for our dog which helped so much ~ we ended up boarding him at our local boarding facility, but my neighbor took him there so we didn’t have to make an extra trip.

 

5. Help during the funeral & visitation.

James’s dad’s visitation was Saturday night (the funeral was Sunday), and some of our sweetest friends from Alabama drove four hours to be there¬†during some very difficult hours for us. Because they knew Don was pretty loved by everyone in the community, they came in¬†completely knowing that they would be there for HOURS, but our friends Stephen and Sandra stayed for the long haul just to be there for James.

 

Whenever he could without stopping James from a conversation, Stephen ran over and asked James what he could get him ~ soda, water, gum ~ whatever. I think just knowing a friend was there comforted James as he literally stood between his mom and dad during the viewing, and meant more than they will ever know to James. (And I was blessed to get to spend extra time talking to my friend Sandra too!)

 

There were also several families from the church who checked in on us to see what we needed during the services. One dad with a daughter Reagan’s age offered to take she and their daughter to Hardee’s during the visitation, my dad and mom took my girls to Dairy Queen after they paid their respect (they ate a¬†lot¬†during those 4 hours ~ eek!), and people picked up purses, brought extra Kleenex, and carried plants when we needed them to.

 

Members of the church also helped with funeral arrangements, contacting ministers to conduct the service. One sweet man even stopped by to take all the trash to the dumpster, because he knew it would be more than could wait until the next trash day. (I would never have thought of that, but it helped us so much not to have to worry over the trash. Such a small act of kindness but an incredible gift!)

6. Show up. 

Like I said, a few of our friends families from Alabama drove four hours to be with us during both the funeral and visitation (even though they’d never met James’s dad!), in addition to the hundreds of local people that came to honor Don. Our friends Tim and Misty came and stayed with us through the funeral and graveside service, and just having them there meant more than they could have ever known. They helped us get a meal ready quickly before the funeral, chatted with James’s mom for a bit to make her feel more at ease, and took a tour of James’s childhood home. It meant so very much to our family to have them there!

My parents also drove four hours to the service¬†without any expectation from us at all, and it was such a gift to know so many people loved this man (and us too!) One of the men in James’s church who’d known James since he was a toddler just¬†took the time to talk with James and let him know how special he and his dad were to him ~ such a small act of kindness, but one that will never be forgotten.

7. Send flowers (or plants.)

As someone who normally doesn’t like spending money on extra “stuff”, I have to say, the beautiful plants and flowers that people sent to our family meant so very much to us (I was so surprised by how much we appreciated them!)

 

There were several gorgeous flower arrangements (the PPP team even sent the most gorgeous hydrangea bush!) and I loved that people were so thoughtful to think so much of us during this difficult time.

If you’re like me and not so sure about sending flowers, here are a few¬†things that were extra special to us:

  • Send houseplants ~ when I was talking to my sister-in-law she mentioned that she’d gotten houseplants when¬†her grandfather passed away, and twenty years later still has those plants and remembers her grandpa each day when she sees them. Such a wonderful way to remember someone
  • Send windchimes ~ Don¬†loved windchimes, so those meant so very much to us
  • Send a bush that can be planted outside ~ we loved the hydrangea bush from the PPP team, and have seen families give roses, gardenia plants or small trees to honor their loved one
  • Send the flowers ~ I had¬†no idea how much just seeing beautiful flowers near Don’s graveside would mean to us, but they totally were a gift. If you’re like me (and a true penny pincher at heart!) you may not see the gift in this unless you’re in that situation, but they really do mean so much.
  • Send an edible arrangement after the funeral. We received one today from our sweet neighbors back at home and it completely brightened our day (thank you Sarah & Ryan!)
  • And of course, if they ask for an “in lieu of . . . ” gift, that’s an incredible way to honor a family member too

 

8. Mow the lawn.

One of my husband’s co-workers offered to come to our home and mow the lawn (during Spring in Ohio we have to mow at least twice a week!) While we made it home in time to take care of it ourselves, it was an incredible thing to think of that I normally would have forgotten.

 

9. Water the plants. 

10. Make the phone call. (Or send a card, an email, or even a text.)

We feel¬†sooooo¬†incredibly blessed by so very many this week, but our friend Stephen (who’d already driven forever over the weekend!)¬†went above and beyond and texted me to find out when James was on his way home from work this week, so he’d be able to call and just talk to him on the way home during his hour long drive (every day during the drive James called to talk to his dad, so I knew this time was going to be hard for him.)

 

Just doing¬†something to let people know you care is such an incredible blessing, and it can even be just a text or email checking in to make sure you’re doing okay. I’ve received texts from some of my dearest friends who just want me to know they’re thinking of our family (along with a note that I don’t have to even respond!), as well as dozens of emails, Facebook messages, and comments from PPP readers, which has been an incredibly gracious gift to me!

 

Whatever you do, if you know someone who’s struggling today, think of a practical way that you can lighten their load as they struggle through a difficult time.¬†Even if they don’t have the energy to say it today, I promise you’ve gifted them more than you know, and your small act of kindness¬†will be as much a blessing to you as it is to them.

 

 

I’d love to hear your suggestions on what to do when going through a difficult season ~ what other ideas do you have? Leave a comment to share ~¬†I love hearing from you!¬†

 

On a side note, the PPP team TOTALLY hopped on board and took care of EVERYthing for me here ~ emails, messages, my scheduled posts, SO MUCH stuff. I can never repay them for what a gift they gave me to completely take the weekend off for my family ~ I’m so blessed each day by these sweet ladies! ¬†And, I know there have been SO many people and gifts that we’ve gotten and I forgot to mention, so for whatever you’ve done for us, we are so blessed by you (just tired and forgetful after a busy-sad-hard-but-blessed-and-thankful week!)¬†

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Fun Things To Do With Kids This Summer (Without Breaking the Bank)

fun things to do with kids this summer

If you’re like me – this time in May is when you start trying to frantically think of fun things to do with kids this summer. ¬†Here are 45 ideas to help you fill your summer bucket list summer bucket list up with fun activities!

And can I just say?

I’m EXTRA excited about this summer – because the¬†Supper’s Set! Summer Freezer Cooking Challenge is really going to help me free up more time to spend with my crew.

(I’m so thankful for that!)

Here are some of the best ideas we’ve tried – and some we haven’t – to help you have tons of frugal fun with your kiddos this summer!

45 Fun Things To Do With Kids This Summer

(That WON’T break the bank!)

1 . Create a Summer Bucket List (a fun way to start!)
2. Host a Lemonade Stand
3. Make Homemade Sidewalk Chalk Paint
4. Make Homemade Ice Cream (like this Homemade Peach Ice cream)

 

campchefmovie
5. Have a Backyard Movie Night (Get an outdoor screen Рor use a sheet)
6. Watch a Free Summer Movie (See the kids summer movie programs master list!)
7. Host A Tea Party (Just For Yourselves)
8. ‚ÄúPaint‚ÄĚ The Driveway with Water and old Paint Rollers
9. Make a Pool Noodle Racetrack


10. Plastic Bottle Sprinkler
11. Find A Bike Trail
12. Visit the Library
13. Have Messy Fun with Ivory Soap Experiment

14. Give Them a Big Box!
15. Make Sock Puppets (Add buttons, scraps of fabric, etc) and a Puppet Theater (Using a tension rod in a doorway to hang a curtain)
16. Declutter the Kids’ Rooms for a Yard Sale (and plan a fun activity with the money)
17. Make Homemade Snow Cones
18. Catch Fireflies

19. Pull Out A Board Game
20. Take a Mini Road-Trip (See Car Games for Kids to Play)
21. Take A Trip To The Thrift Store
22. Go the the Drive-In
23. Make Summer Snow Summer Snow with Shaving Cream


24. Yarn Obstacle Course
25. Kids Bowl Free
26. Build a Marshmallow Toothpick House
27. Get Outside with these Sponge Water Bombs
28. Go Fishing

29. Roast S’Mores
30. Hit the Rink with Free Kids Summer Roller Skating
31. Find a Vacation Bible School in your area
32. Make Oreo Pops


33. Homemade Popsicles (These Zipsicles look easy and fun!)
34. Play a day of Water Balloon Games
35. Build a Fort
36. Go on a Scavenger Hunt Hike


37. Mix up some Homemade Sidewalk Chalk
38. Decide on some Duct Tape Projects to try
39. Host a Neighborhood Nerf Battle (And see how we organized our Nerf Collection here!)
40. Play Flashlight Tag

41. Make a Homemade Firepit
42. Set up a Car/Bike Wash
43. Free Imax Movie at Space & Rocket Center
44. Go for Ice Cream
45. Visit a Home Tour

What kind of activities does your family like to do during summer break? ¬†We’d love to hear your suggestions of fun things to do with kids this summer!

You might also enjoy these posts:

Best Online Pool Deals – HUGE Roundup

Frugal Roadtrip Fun

100 Free Things to Do With Kids This Summer

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Freezer Cooking Challenge

 

 

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

USE THE CODE PP30 to save 30% off with these menu plans at checkout! Go HERE to get yours so you’ll be all set this weekend to start cooking for summer.¬†

DO YOU GET OVERWHELMED BY COOKING IN THE SUMMERTIME?

 

Do you hate menu planning, making a grocery list, and shopping when it’s just plain old hot outside and you’d rather play in the sun?

 

ME.

 

TOO.

 

 

That’s why I could hardly wait to tell you about our SUPPER’S SET FOR SUMMER CHALLENGE, because I think it’s, going to change your summer.

Starting next Monday (5/15/17) and going through Friday (5/19/17), we’ll be making TWENTY FIVE RECIPES FOR TO STOCK YOUR FREEZER + 5 RECIPES TO GET DINNER DONE NEXT WEEK,

 

DINNERS THAT YOU CAN THROW IN YOUR CROCKPOT SO YOU DON’T HAVE TO COOK THIS SUMMER!!

 

And even a few you can dump in your INSTANT POT!!!

 

WE’LL MAKE A WHOPPING 30 MEALS IN 5 HOURS¬†MONDAY THROUGH FRIDAY NEXT WEEK.

 

WOOHOOOO!!!

 

THE BEST PART?

 

My friend Tiffany from Eat at Home Cooks is offering PPP readers a whopping 30% off her menu plans, grocery lists and recipes with the code PPP30 at checkout (ORDER SOON!)

 

 

 

 

We’ll be using these menu plans to cook through, so you’ll want to snag yours while they’re on sale at this price!

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
  • A set of traditional menu plans
  • One quick click to download all 3 sets of menus (in color or black and white ink)
  • In addition to our freezer mensus, you’ll¬†get access to FOUR WEEKS of menu plans for as low as $1.05 per week!
  • BONUS: 1 ENTIRE YEAR OF EAT AT HOME SLOW COOKER FREEZER MEAL PLANS (we’ll be using these next week to cook)
  • BONUS FOR PPP READERS ONLY: free printable labels to use for our freezer week ~ I’ll send yours automatically when you start¬†HERE

ALL FOR AS LITTLE AS $1.13 PER WEEK WHEN YOU SIGN UP FOR AN ANNUAL PLAN, or just $9.80 to try the menu plans out¬†for one month PLUS you’ll get an ENTIRE YEAR¬†of freezer recipes AND our free printable labels!

 

WILL YOU JOIN ME?

 

YOU’LL GET 72 RECIPES + A DESSERT EACH WEEK + GROCERY LISTS + MENU PLANS FOR A SMALL OR LARGER FAMILY + PRINTABLE FREEZER LABELS + AN EXTRA YEAR OF FREEZER MEALS¬†~ WAAAAAY BETTER THAN JUST A COOKBOOK!

 

I promise, if you struggle with meal planning and sticking to your grocery budget, this will change the way you shop.

 

We’ve had several folks comment in our¬†Private Dinner’s Done group¬†that this using Eat at Home Cooks is saving them as much as $100 EACH WEEK ON GROCERIES ALONE, and they’re actually sticking to their menu plans and EATING AT HOME.

 

I love that.

 

So, head on over¬†HERE¬†to sign up if you’re not set up already, and let me know what you think.

 

I can’t wait to start Freezer Cooking with you!

 

 

AFTER NOON ON MAY 11TH AND BEFORE MAY 15, use the code PPP30 at checkout to save 30%

 

PRICE BREAKDOWN:

  • $9.80 per month with the code PPP30 at checkout (ends 5/10/17 at noon) or $2.45 per week
  • $21.70 per quarter with the code PPP30 at checkout (ends 5/10/17 at noon) or $1.80 per week
  • $58.80 per year with the code PPP30 at checkout (ends 5/10/17 at noon) or $1.13 per week

> > > GET YOURS HERE < < <

clicktosave

 

 

P.S. As a PPP reader and one of my favorites, don’t forget to head over HERE and download the printable labels we’ll be using for our meals this week. A WHOLE SUMMER WORTH OF¬†MEALS DONE IN 5 DAYS? WOOHOOO!¬†

 

P.P.S. I’ll be explaining all of this in detail and answering questions about it this morning on Facebook Live at 9:15 AM Eastern Time (as well as cleaning out our deep freeze to get ready for the challenge!) Join me over HERE!

 

P.P.P.S. Be sure to also join our private Dinner’s Done Facebook group for extra motivation – I know you’ll love this bunch!

 

P.P.P.P.S: If you’ve already signed up for¬†Eat at Home Cooks, you’ve already joined.¬†Look for your menus and grocery list for the Freezer Cooking Week under the May 15 Freezer Meals Plans¬†in¬†the Slow Cooker Menu Plan for Monday.¬†The rest of the week we’ll be cooking from the June, July, August, and September menu plans in Tiffany’s Slow Cooker Freezer Meals Cookbook whichyou can find at the top of the page inside your Eat at Home Dashboard. AND, be sure to download your FREE Supper’s Set For Summer Labels over HERE!)¬†

 

(WHEW. That’s a whole lot of P.S.s. but I don’t want you to miss a single thing!) ūüėȬ†

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How to Watch the Derby Online

If you’re a Louisville transplant or just love the Run for the Roses – you are probably planning to watch the Kentucky Derby live today! Of course – if you don’t have cable and aren’t in the local viewing area, that can get a bit tricky….

How to Watch the Derby Online

Here are a few suggestions for how to watch the Derby online (or otherwise):

  • Normal NBC coverage starts at 2:30 pm and the Kentucky Derby starts at 6:46 pm (EST)
  • Watch the Derby online at¬†NBC Sports Live¬†or stream via the NBCSports App (However you’ll need to authenticate with cable or satellite subscription.)
  • Signup for for a Free Trial of FuboTV¬†(a sports streaming site) or¬†Sling to watch NBC live just in time for the Kentucky Derby.

And if all else fails – you might try finding a local restaurant that is planning to air the Derby so you can gather up some friends and watch it there.

And if you’re looking for some yummy Derby Day Recipes to enjoy while you watch all the pre-race coverage…

Here are a few of my favorite Derby Day recipes (I made these and took their pictures way back in 2010 right after starting blogging, so forgive how bad the photos are and just trust  . . they’re all good!)

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DIY Graduation Gift with Money – Pizza Box Idea!

If you missed my Facebook live video this morning you can watch here for a fun DIY Graduation gift with money!

Good gravy.

 

I impressed myself on this one. ūüôā¬†

And if I can tackle this little cute project?

 

I know you can too.

My friend shared this UBER CUTE idea for a DIY Graduation gift with money that she found over on Pinterest, but I thought it would be super fun as a teacher gift too. 

(Note – if you do give it to a teacher you’ll want to make sure their school allows you to give teachers cash ~ many only allow gift cards, so find out ahead of time before preparing.)

 

It took less than 30 minutes to make, is a great fun way to give cash (which is what most folks love anyways!), and you’ll feel like you totally rocked one gift this year. ūüôā¬†

Success! 

Here’s¬†all you need:

 

Looking for more great graduation gift ideas? Head on over HERE ~ the Contigo water bottle is my favorite and would be perfect to fill with a little cash too!

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Graduation Gift Ideas for (Pretty Much!) Every Graduate

 

graduation gift ideas

 

Looking for the best Graduation gift ideas? ¬†You’re in the right place!

We’ve pulled together 41 of the most helpful graduation gifts you can give someone heading off to college. ¬†Find ideas for every type of graduate – from bedding to bicycles, coffeemakers, quarter rolls and everything in between. ¬†(Plus, scroll down to the bottom of the list for a few unique DIY gifts they’ll love!)

Psst….. Did you know college students can currently snag a 6-Month Free Trial of Amazon Prime?! (WOW!)

Gradation Gift Ideas

luggage graduation gift idea

Luggage

One of the most popular gift ideas for graduates is luggage! ¬†My hubby still remembers his parents sending him off to school with a full set as a graduation gift – he said he was able to fit all his stuff in except for a box of CD’s (Remember those days?)

A great choice is this American Tourister iLite Max Softside Spinner.  The carryon is a great price point and comes in tons of fun colors to fit a bright personality.

 

jewelry graduation gift idea

Inspirational Jewelry

A meaningful necklace is a great gift – and reminds your graduate to enjoy the journey, follow their dreams or discover their path.

Another great jewelry gift idea are these Tribe Bracelets from Cents of Style Рchoose a phrase like Be Brave, Dream Big or Go Be Great!

 

satchel graduation gift idea

Laptop Bag/ Satchel

When they’re ready to ditch the backpack and look more grown up (while still having a safe home for the laptop) – a nice leather satchel laptop bag¬†can be just the ticket.

 

graduation bicycle gift idea

Bicycle

For students who will be living on campus without a car – a bike is a super practical gift. ¬†They’ll get a ton of use out of it, from exercising and getting groceries, to having the option of commuting to a nearby job. ¬† Walmart has lots of inexpensive styles!

 

bluetooth speaker graduation gift

Bluetooth Speaker

Every music lover will want to have their own dorm-room sound system, in which case a good bluetooth speaker is a must. ¬† The UE Wonderboom is a great option with a room-filling sound and crystal clarity. ¬†(Plus it comes in fun colors and it’s WATERPROOF! ¬†So it can go in the shower, or get dropped in the lake accidentally.)

 

graduation gift ideas for girls

FabFitFun Box

If you don’t live near the graduate but want to send them some love – here’s a great little box you can customize with full-size posh beauty products and seasonal items (Each box is guaranteed value at $200+!) ¬†Check out FabFitFun boxes here.

practical graduation gift idea

Inverted Umbrella

You’re college kid is going to need an umbrella for running to classes on rainy days – might as well get a cool one! ¬†These inverted umbrellas are new and keep things from getting drippy.

 

coffee graduation gift idea

Coffee Maker

For college kids who are going to run on coffee – a good coffee maker is a Godsend! ¬†This Ninja Coffee Bar System is so easy to use and your graduate won’t need to buy pricey pods or Kcups with their meager funds. ūüėČ ¬†It makes a variety of brews, including a concentrated 4 oz cup that will jolt them awake in the middle of finals!

dave ramsay graduation gift idea

The Graduate Survival Guide

This one is recommended by Dave Ramsay and is all about the 5 mistakes to avoid during your college years.  It gets GREAT reviews and can set your grad on the right financial path early!

graduation gifts for guys

Noise Cancelling Headphones

To make it easy to study ANYwhere – regardless of roommates or any other disturbance.

 

cool graduation gift ideas

ENO Hammock

Campuses across the country are hung with hammocks full of students ready, studying, napping or just socializing. ¬†If you have a teen, you probably already have an inkling about the popularity of the ENO. ¬†It’s known for quality and strength – as well as the Atlas Straps that make hanging it anywhere (really – virtually anywhere!) a breeze.

 

timeless graduation gift ideas

Watch

A watch is just a classic graduation gift.  A nice leather strap with a classic face is a good gift for a guy Рand this Timex Weekender is awfully affordable besides!

 

dorm gift ideas

Microwave , Hot Pot  or Foreman Grill

Another gift that’s practical – but so necessary for dorm or apartment living! ¬†A hot pot or Foreman grill is a better choice for those headed to dorms that don’t allow microwaves, always good to check first!

 

dorm room gift

Lounge Chair

Give them a place to sit that’s not their desk or bed – or a place to entertain a friend. ¬†Either a butterfly chair or a beanbag type chair would be perfect.

graduation gifts for dorms

Humidifier/Oil Diffuser

Make their room feel like a sanctuary (and keep the air moist) with a relaxing oil diffuser that doubles as a cool mist humidifier.

 

Storage Cart

Know someone who loves to stay organized (or needs help in that area?)  Make a home for all their odds and ends with a storage cart Рand outfit it with a few fun organizing baskets, caddies as well!

 

hipster graduation gift

Record Player

A great gift for any audiophile who loves all things vintage ūüôā

best graduation gift

Nice Sheets

Slipping into a supersoft set of sheets is like getting a hug – and PeachSkin Sheets are the coziest ones I’ve found so far. ¬†They’re incredibly comfortable and unbelievably soft!

vacuum graduation gift ideas

Dust-Buster Vacuum

Most dorm buildings will have a few heavy-duty vacuums lying around for students to use.  But a hand vac is a good gift that can help keep both the dorm and the car tidy for small accidents.

This one will take up minimal space, but get the job done in a pinch.  (Plus this new Black + Decker Wet/Dry Hand Vac can handle spills as well!)

dormbedding

Bed in a Bag Set

Your graduate is going to be spending a lot of time in bed – it’ll be their couch and hang out spot, homework lounge and oftentimes where they eat. Other than wall art, the bed is also the easiest way to personalize a dorm room.

Help them deck out the one piece of furniture that’s about to play a central role in their new world!

graduation gift ideas 2017

Soft Lighting

Flourescent lighting is the WORST – and on a college campus it’s literally everywhere. ¬†Find a lamp that gives off the opposite of harsh lighting for times when they need something restful. ¬†The ENO Eclipse lantern is a cool option because it can serve as a dorm nightlight (it has 4 lighting modes) and serve as lantern and tent light on weekend camping trips as well.

 

snapfish Photo Book

Photo Book

Fill a book with good memories, positive vibes and personal accomplishments that led up to this day – a great way to spend a little on something that means a lot!

Kitchen Tools & Dishes Set  

Walmart has some great everything-included sets, especially these Gibson Total Home packages at Walmart!

You could even put together a whole set of what they’ll need for dorm room cooking from the Dollar Tree! ¬†They seriously have some AWESOME bargains there ūüôā

Laptop

This is a more expensive gift – but will be invaluable to your graduate as they do research, work on papers, keep up with course information, etc…

Bathrobe

Many dorms have community bathrooms Рand a bathrobe is a great gift to help them feel more comfortable journeying to and from the shower.  Pair it with a shower caddy and nice toiletries to make it a bigger gift!

contigostorage

Water bottle with Storage

I fell totally in love with these Contigo Kangaroo bottles – the perfect place for Cash, a Key, and school ID!

frugal graduation gift idea

Plants that are hard to kill

Succulents are a good choice because they’re hardy and need little watering – and they’re very trendy besides! ¬†A giftcard to Lowe’s garden center would be a good way to not only outfit your graduate with all the houseplants they could wish for, but also pick up one of the following…

Roadside Car Kit   and Basic Tool Kit

Both of these are helpful for the first time on your own – and will last beyond the college years.

best graduation gift ideas 2017

Of course, cash is ALWAYS going to come in handy – as well as gift cards to local restaurants, movie theaters or stores….

Gift Cards:

  • Grocery Store
  • Restaurants (Check out this adorable Pizza Box giftcard presentation!)
  • College Bookstore
  • Gas Card

 

Graduation Gift Basket Ideas:

Laundry Supplies Bundle

Pick up a cute Laundry Bag and add detergent/fabric softener + lots of Quarters in a container (My mom sent me to school with those mini M&M containers full of quarters!)

Quick & Easy Food Basket

Pack a box full of meal items that are super easy to prepare. ¬†Include cans of soup, ramen, granola and protein bars, peanut butter and crackers, cereal, etc…

Box of Love

Ask friends and loved ones to each write a letter to your grad so when they’re having a homesick moment they can get a hug from far away.

grove1

Suds & Bubbles Bundle

Put together some¬†Cute Dish Towels + Dish Soap & Scrubber¬†in a fun caddy. ¬†Or send them a box of Mrs. Meyer’s products from Grove – we love their natural products and they smell great too!

Study Kit

Snacks, pens, Notebook, Gum and other odds and ends to help study time be a little more pleasant!

First Aid Kit

This one you can either buy or put together yourself – but it will come in handy (especially if your grad will immediately join the Ultimate Frisbee group out on the quad ūüėČ )

 

*Not all of these are frugal, but graduation is one of those events that only comes around once ¬†– so I’ve also included some special gifts on here that are a little pricier ūüôā

In pulling together this list, we collaborated with some of our favorite brands Рwho provided a product for review.  Those companies are Shark/Ninja, ENO, Samsonite, Black + Decker, UE Megaboom and Peachskin Sheets.  All ideas and opinions are my own.

Join Prime Student FREE Two-Day Shipping for College Students

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Margaret Ann’s Country Cobbler

My sweet friend Margaret Ann was gracious enough to visit us again last Friday, and made the absolutely yummiest homemade Country Cobbler to share. 


 If you missed the video you can watch on Facebook here.
 

As I shared earlier, we met at Bible Study 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?

 

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. ūüėČ

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.¬†

 

She taught us in the¬†Dinner’s Done Facebook group she taught¬†us how to make omelets (I learned so much from her!), and the recipe she shared this week for cobbler is out of this world.

 

Like really ~ WOW ~ I wasn’t even positive I liked peach cobbler when she mentioned sharing this recipe with us, but now that I’ve had it I’m hooked!¬†

 

 

 

(Note: I DEFINITELY recommen¬†watching the video to see all of her tips – she had so many tricks that I’ve never read in a cookbook. Thank you Margaret Ann!)

Margaret Ann’s Country Cobbler Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of fruit (peaches, strawberries, blueberries, etc…) (and some of the juice)
  • 1 stick of melted butter
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup of milk

Directions:

  1. ¬†Pour the melted butter into a 7×9 dish.¬† Add the dry ingredients (right into the dish) into the melted butter and mix up a bit.
  2. Next pour one cup of milk on top of the ingredients and mix that in just a little bit.
  3. Add strawberries on top of the mixture with a little bit of the juice (don’t mix it!)
  4. Pop in a 350 degree oven for 25 – 30 mins.

 

Margaret Ann’s Biscuits & Sausage Gravy Recipe

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Spice Cabinet Organizing + Last Day To Get Your Lists

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

Soooo,¬†this¬†is what my spice cabinet looked like this morning at 9:08 AM. ūüėČ

And here’s what it looks like after a little Facebook Living with a few of you. ūüôā

 

Success! 

As I shared this morning on Facebook Live, this is the last day to download your Motivated Moms 2017 Chore Sheets for $6.75 with the code PPP at checkout.

 

That’s 52 lists ~ 12¬Ę per list ~ to totally take back control of your home this year.

 

After following these more faithfully this last month as we’ve worked on our Be Awesome in April Challenge, I’m simply amazed at how just a few moments each day of maintaining your home can totally transform your space.

 

But the best part?

This morning I handed the list to my 10 year old.

 

With a $1 bill attached.

 

If she tackled most of the things (within reason) on the list, she got $1.

 

Then we did the math.

(Note how she edited the lists¬†by crossing a few things out at the bottom ~ we actually ended up with enough time before school to do some of the daily bible reading together, and she didn’t spend a single minute on any TV watching or iPad playing. I LOVE THAT!)

 

If she did this every single day for the next 7 years for me . . . 

 

She’d have $2555. ūüôā

 

She told me that sounded like a plan, and decided to start saving for her car with all that moo-lah.

 

Clearly she’s the baby sister of two big kids who have worked to save for a car ~ we’ve promised to double whatever they save, so she’s on a mission early. ūüôā¬†

 

So this morning, she started the dishwasher, swept the floors, made her bed, took out the trash, cleaned out 2 sinks, changed the dish towels, fed our dog, and laid out her clothes for tomorrow. 

 

Not too shabby. ūüėČ

 

 

Just thought I’d share a little encouragement for you mommas of little kids that these kids one day really can grow up to be responsible, and if your kids are a little older this might encourage them to get to work too.

 

But it makes things a lot easier when you start with a great list. ūüėČ

 

 

 

clicktosave

 

 

Would you love these lists? Here’s what you’ll need to do to get the best price:¬†

  • Go HERE
  • Choose the printable that works for you (I’m using the 2017 Motivated Moms Chore Planner with Bible Reading in Black and White, but there are several options available)
  • Use the code PPP at checkout to save 25%
  • Within a few minutes of ordering, you’ll receive an email with the download to your printable list

I promise, this list will change your life!

Looking for more motivation to get started today? Here you go! 

 

Be sure to also join our Home Sweet Home Facebook Group for more motivation and encouragement ~ I’m loving this group and am so inspired each day by them to truly be awesome in April!

 

 

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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!!!!! ūüôā¬†

 

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!! ūüôā

 

 

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 Рyou 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 РOnce 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? ūüôā¬†

 

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. ūüėČ

 

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” ūüėȬ†

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.

screen-shot-2017-01-04-at-11-52-16-am

(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!!!!! ūüôā¬†

 

(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: ūüôā

 

  • 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!! ūüôā

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! ūüôā¬†

 

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.¬†ūüôā

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. ūüėČ

 

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
Correct invalid entries

 

WOOHOOO! ūüôā¬†

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. ūüôā¬†

 

(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. Amazon, Ebay, 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 РEither 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 РHave 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 ‚Äď LulaRoe,¬†Beach Body, Jamberry Nails, Essential Oils,¬†Thirty-One Gifts, Juice Plus, Avon,¬†¬†Scentsy, My Premier Designs ‚Äď jewelery,¬†Origami Owl, Younique Beauty Products, Wildtree Food Products, Radiantly You

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

9 . Stock Photos ‚ÄstShutterstock,¬†iStock, 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 ‚Äď ¬†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 ‚Äď 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¬†ūüôā

19 . Photographer

20 . Take on Sewing or Alterations

21 . Tutor¬†‚Äď Tutor.com, Ask A Nerd

22 . Teach Music Lessons

23 . Virtual Assistant РLike 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 ‚Äď my favorites are Ibotta, Mobisave, Checkout 51

27 . Get Paid to Shop & Search Online¬†‚ÄstSwagbucks, 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. ūüôā
  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.) ūüėČ
  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. ūüėȬ†

 

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 ūüôā

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 ūüôā

  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. ūüôā ¬† 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!

    cruise1

    cruise2

  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. ūüôā

  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.

    cruise3

  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!) ¬†ūüėČ

  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 ūüôā¬† 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!

.   

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! ūüėȬ†

 

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. ūüėČ


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. ūüėČ

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. ūüėČ

 

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

 

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? ūüėČ

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. ūüėČ

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!

I¬†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‚Äôm looking for on my profile.¬†I also include a link to my ‚Äúcute outfits‚ÄĚ 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‚Äôll 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‚Äôs like getting $20 in free credit!)
  • If you keep your entire box you‚Äôll save 25% off the entire purchase
  • Invite friends on Facebook or via email (or even text messages)¬†to sign up through you and you‚Äôll 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 HERE, HERE, 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?) ūüôā

 

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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. ūüôā¬†

 

I was shocked (seriously, SHOCKED) by 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.) ūüôā

 

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! ūüėČ

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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 ūüôā¬†

 

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! ūüôā¬†

 

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 Рyou 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 Рfrom 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  РI 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 ūüôā

 

 

 

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 ūüôā

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 Рthey 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. ūüôā

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: ūüôā

  • 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‚ÄôS 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‚Äôre 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.) ūüôā

 

groceryweek3

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!

I¬†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‚Äôm looking for on my profile.¬†I also include a link to my ‚Äúcute outfits‚ÄĚ 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‚Äôll 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‚Äôs like getting $20 in free credit!)
  • If you keep your entire box you‚Äôll save 25% off the entire purchase
  • Invite friends on Facebook or via email (or even text messages)¬†to sign up through you and you‚Äôll get $25 in free referral credit¬†~¬†love that!

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

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