Bag Lady

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I am a bag lady. 

 

I have a bag for my coupons, my Bible Study bag, a laptop bag, a gym bag, a donation bag, a we’re-going-to-watch-a-ball-game-and-I-need-entertainment-for-my-kids bag, a library bag, an emergency-snack bag . . .

 

and, then of course there’s my purse. :)

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My kids also have their bags. They have bookbags and soccer bags, gymnastics bags, a gym clothes bag, their lunch bags, and even a special bag for drumsticks.

 

Our loads of bags sometimes seem to take over every nook and cranny in our home. (However, as I’m thinking about it, it seems my husband has no bags . . . hmph.)

 

Some days those bags get too heavy to carry, for both myself and my family. There’s not always enough time to clip coupons from the coupon bag, dig through the Bible Study bag, pick up extra donations for the donation bag, and haul eighteen bags around with my kids to each event.

 

As we race between soccer and gymnastics and band practice I sometimes wonder “Why are we doing this?”  And yet, we wake up again the next day and we all pick up our bags again.

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Jackson, now 15, way back in 2011 taking our donation bag to church. I thought he was so big then!

But most of these bags are here for such a short season. 

 

In just a few years the drumstick bag will be off at college.

 

The gymnastics bag may be stuffed under the bed.

 

And those soccer bags might just end up at our local Goodwill.

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For everything there is a season.

 

(This hurts more than a wee bit to even type.)

 

ooch.

 

If you’re feeling overwhelmed today by the bags that you carry, know that it’s okay to leave a bag by the wayside for a small portion of your life. If you can’t clip every coupon, donate to every charity, and read every library book it’s really okay. (I promise!)

 

Sweet mommas, most of these bags just aren’t gonna last. 

 

Embrace what you have, with who you have it, right here, right now, today. 

 

Take a deep breath, gather up those bags, and focus on your favorites as you race them around town today.  These bags won’t last, but who knows what new (cute?) bags we might pick up along the way.

 

(When these bags all head out the door, I’m thinking I’ll pick up a Kate Spade suitcase bag alongside a passport to just about wherever.  Anyone with me?) :) 

 

 

 Leave a comment to share your thoughts if you feel life fleeting way too fast too . . . I love hearing from you!

 

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Clever Idea For Saving On Hanging Baskets

 

I’m so excited about this smart idea to share with you! A PPP reader shared that they had read you could use burlap to replace coconut liners in which seems to me like it would totally work. If you’ve tried it, let me know, and check out this post to see what it looks likeLove it!

Amazon actually carries Gardener Natural Burlap that might be worth checking out.  You can also see how we created beautiful hanging baskets for a fraction of their regular cost last Spring by creating them ourselves. Happy Planting!

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Have You Checked Unclaimed Property For Cash?

 

I’ve had several friends who were able to find Unclaimed Property! It never hurts to try – let me know if you’re able to find anything!

A friend of mine sent me an email about finding a little cash through searching for unclaimed property, and I’ve got to tell you, I was pretty skeptical about the whole thing.  But, I figured it didn’t hurt to see what the sites she recommended had to say, so I checked them out.

 

Well, I didn’t find any money for our own family, but I did find some for a friend of mine’s family (I was shocked!)  It’s pretty simple to see if there are any claims available for you, however I’m not sure how easy it is to actually file get that money back.  If you’re interested in checking out whether or not there is unclaimed property under your name, check out the national site listings over HERE, or HERE.

 

Have you had any experience filing to receive unclaimed property? I’d love to hear your thoughts! 
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The Greatest Coupon

This is a guest post that I’ve shared before from a friend of mine (who knows the value of a coupon!)  May you know the love and peace of Our Manufacturer all year long. :)

 

No deal is perfect. Everything has a cost. Many things come at a high price, yet thankfully most can be discounted. Some things can even be free with a great coupon!

 

The greatest coupons still have problems. Most will eventually expire. They are “void where prohibited.” There is a limit on how many people can use.

 

Some people don’t take advantage of great coupons though. Why? Maybe some don’t even know about them. Even if they do, they might defiantly refuse to use them. Some people don’t believe they are really worth anything. But every coupon has worth in our eyes, right? Maybe non-couponers would cash in on the offers if they were just taught how. We couponers should share the good news!

 

So here’s the gist of how to reap the benefits: 1) Seek out something you love. 2) Find a coupon, maybe from the manufacturer. 3) Pay the price for the item. 4) Once the coupon has been redeemed, celebrate how much you saved! 5) Tell everyone you know about your great deal. Happy shopping!

 

 

 

No one is perfect. Our sins have a cost. Many sins come at a high price, yet thankfully they can be discounted. We can even be free with the “Greatest Coupon.”

 

The Greatest Coupon has no problems. It will never expire. It is never void or prohibited. There is no limit on how many people can use it.

 

Some people don’t take advantage of the Greatest Coupon though. Why? Maybe some don’t even know about it. Even if they do, they might defiantly refuse to use it. Some people don’t believe they are really worth anything, but every person has worth in God’s eyes. Maybe non-Christians would cash in on the offer if they were just taught how. We have the opportunity to share the Good News!

 

So here’s the gist of how to reap the benefits: 1) God sought out someone he loves—you. 2) We have a coupon from our Manufacturer. 3) Jesus paid the price for our sins. 4) Since our sins have been redeemed, we can celebrate as we have new life. 5) Tell everyone you know about the Greatest Coupon. Happy Easter!

 

 

My prayer for you this Easter is that you mayt know salvation from the One who values you so greatly that He willingly gave His life for you. It truly is the greatest gift we’ll each receive, and allows us freedom that comes only from Him. As my son reminds me each Easter morning, “Christ is risen!” He is risen indeed.

 

Photo courtesy of billaday on Flickr.

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What Really Impresses Me

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Me with one of my favorites – teaching me more about value than anything else!

 

I read a fantastic article this morning, and goodness, it so hit home for me today. As a busy mom who simply doesn’t have time to keep up with the newest trends, who couldn’t care less that her minivan has 160,000 miles on it (it runs great!), and who’s never owned expensive jewelry other than my wedding ring, it just felt good to have those words written out for me.

 

Here was my favorite quote from the article . .

 

“Too often, people pay a premium just for the privilege of become a walking billboard. I am no longer impressed by the logo on your shirt, your purse, or the face of your watch. Instead, I admire those who are confident in timeless fashion and seek to make an impression by their character and their countenance.”

 

I’ve struggled my whole life with feelings of inadequacy (and am betting I’m not alone.) I’ve looked at skinnier girls, dressier-upped girls, oh-so-put-together girls and from my very earliest memories have never felt I’ve even come close to measuring up.

 

And as I’ve gotten older, it’s gone beyond how I look some days to what I have. Folks, we live in an absolutely perfect home. Ridiculously nice, really. But a few weeks ago when visiting a new house in our neighborhood I noticed the home’s perfect mudroom and excessively large pantry.

 

It was beautiful.

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I came home, and all of a sudden the my own mudroom and pantry just felt a little puny. 

 

Did you hear me? I LIVE IN A HOUSE THAT HAS A MUDROOM AND A PANTRY, AND I LET MYSELF BELIEVE THAT WASN’T GOOD ENOUGH FOR ME? 

 

Jeesh.

 

Wherever you are in your finances, wherever you are in your life, don’t allow yourself to fall into the trap of believing more stuff equals more value. 

 

It doesn’t. 

 

And honestly? No matter what you have, someone will always have more, so you’ll never win the if only war.

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Instead, exemplify by your character and countenance your true value, whether you’re checking out at the grocery store or playing with your babies at home. Your value has absolutely nothing to do with your stuff ~ don’t allow this world to trick you into believing anything else.

 

Take a minute to read this post today. 

 

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Facebook Fans: Please Read

 

 

If you follow Passionate Penny Pincher primarily via Facebook, don’t miss this! While Facebook is an awesome place to share deals, Facebook doesn’t always allow everything we post here on PPP to be seen by everyone.  (In fact, less than 5-10% of the PPP fans on Facebook see most of the things I post.)

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Here are a few tips to make sure you keep up with everything:

 

  1. Go to the “LIKED” tab at the top right of the PPP Facebook page and click on “Get Notifications”. This will mean you get updated on everything here on PPP (I think!), but I will warn you that I post 12-18 times per day (just want you to know that upfront so you’re not completely overwhelmed by updates!) 😉
  2. OR, go to the “LIKED” tab at the top right of the PPP Facebook page and click on “Add to Interest Lists”. Create a list (sometime like “coupons”), and then the list will appear on your Facebook home screen.  When you click on the that list, any Facebook page that you’ve included will appear along with your full feed.
  3. Leave a comment or “like” a Facebook post every once in awhile frequently.  The more you interact on a FB page, the more often those sites will show up in your feed!
  4. Visit PPP directly HERE and be sure to sign up for the daily PPP email newsletterI love our Facebook community so much, but there’s no guarantee that all of the content here on PPP will be seen by many folks on Facebook, and often by the time it shows up in your feed a deal may have expired. So, stop here when you have a second and never miss a deal!

 

If you have any tips or suggestions, please let me know! We are closing in on TWO HUNDRED & TEN THOUSAND FACEBOOK FANS (*C*R*A*Z*I*N*S*S*!*), and I love connecting with you all over there.
And by the way, if you’re not on Facebook join in over HERE – you can also check out PPP on Instagram as well!
Thanks for making my job so fun each day!
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What To Buy At Costco: Top 15 Items To Help You Save Big

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What to Buy at Costco

Curious what to buy at Costco? While I think some (many?) items can be overpriced at Costco compared to grocery store sale savings (especially after using coupons), there are some prices at Costco that you just can’t beat.

 

My rule of thumb is to stick to whole foods while shopping Sam’s and Costco – they’re pre-packaged convenience foods tend to be very over-priced from as I’ve compared them to other stores. But, their regular prices on produce, meat, and dairy products are pretty reasonable, so if you can skip them temptation to buy too much while you’re there the membership cost may be worth it. You’ll likely find lower prices on even whole foods during a good sale ad at your local grocery store, but Costco’s prices on these items are usually fairly competitive.  (And, they consistently offer good quality at those prices!)

 

Here are my top 15 deals  . . . 

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1. Milk. At $2.45 a gallon, I haven’t found another store that regularly carries milk anywhere near this price. Occasionally I’ve seen milk around that price at Aldi, but recently even Aldi’s price has been closer to $3.  If your family drinks a lot of milk each week, a trip once every two weeks might be worth the Costco membership.

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2. Bananas. At $1.39 for 3 pounds of bananas, your price comes out to 46¢ per pound. While I’ve seen prices a little lower than these at the grocery store, this is a pretty great price, and are always fresh enough to last quite awhile.

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3. Water bottles. If you absolutely have to buy water bottles (I choose to re-use them when I can!), Sam’s Club has a great price on these. These come out to 8¢ per bottle, which is so much less than you’d ever pay while you’re out!

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4. Gift cards. If you’re planning to eat out anyways, you might as well enjoy some savings, right? Both Costco and Sam’s Club offer gift card savings of up to 20% when you purchase gift cards in store. They include several great restaurants ~ PF Chang’s, Smashburger, Texas Roadhouse and more, and some stores carry entertainment gift cards like Cinemark as well! The best part is you can combine these gift cards with restaurant coupons, which can save you a bundle while eating out.

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5. Salad Mix. 
Costco’s big three pound bag of salad is just $2.79, which is a fantastic price. You can also get their Organic Spring Mix for $4.49, which beats the price that you’ll regularly find at the grocery store, and is so nice to have on hand if you have a large family who eats a lot of salad.
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6. Kirkland Brand Fabric Softener Sheets. These cost $.018 per sheet, and is the lowest price I’ve seen on fabric softener sheets without combining coupons and a sale. If you just need to stock up, this is a great price!

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7. Kirkland Frozen Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast. Kirkland’s Frozen Chicken comes out to $1.96 per pound, and while this isn’t the best price I’ve ever seen, it is a really good basic every day price. Worth stocking up while you’re there to make your life easier!

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8. BACON! This one kind of surprised me, but is so worth grabbing when you’re there. Get 4 pounds of bacon for $10.99 or $2.74 per pound ~ we bought this recently and the quality was great (not fatty), so I would definitely recommend this one. (Don’t forget you can freeze it too.)

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9. Honey. Honey at Costco comes out to 17¢ per ounce, which is a great every day low price. If your family uses a lot of honey for baking or as a natural sweetener, this one’s worth picking up.

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10. Canned veggies. Canned veggies at Costco are priced between 43¢ and 46¢ per can, which is almost my stock up price even with coupons! You’ll have a lot of veggies on hand, but you won’t need more canned vegetables for quite awhile.

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11. Sugar. Sugar is $4.39 for a 10 pound bag at Costco, which is a good price for sugar unless you watch for a great sale around the Holidays.

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12. Butter. Butter at Costco comes out to $1.99 per pound, which you may be able to find during a good sale at the grocery store, but since it’s their price every day it’s worth stocking up on while you’re there.

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13. Eggs. Eggs are priced at $1.39/lb at Costco, however they’re sold in as 7.5 dozen eggs, which is a lot of eggs! I haven’t seen those prices on eggs here in the Columbus area in quite awhile, so why I normally think it’s a little high egg prices have definitely gone up over the last few years.

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14. Rotisserie Chicken. For $4.99 you can get one of Costco’s huge Rotisserie Chickens, which is a very good price if you’re in a hurry but need an easy meal. You’ll skip paying too much for dinner out, and their rotisserie chickens are delicious. It won’t be quite as penny pinched as cooking a whole chicken yourself, but on a busy night that convenience is sometimes worth it.

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15. The Costco restaurant. 😉 Okie dokie, if you just want a chance to skip cooking, you can’t beat Costco’s $1.50 hot dog and drink. They also have pizza slices for $1.99 ~ my favorite way to easily feed my kids when we’re running errands out and about!

 

So there’s my top fifteen! What would you add to the list? I’d love to hear your thoughts ~ leave a comment to share!

 

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Looking for more? See what to buy at Sam’s Club and what to buy at the Dollar Tree too!

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Crazy Morning . . . But at least dinner’s done!

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Have you ever had one of “those” mornings? Today was that day at our house I think! Woke up to no internet, found out kids were on a two-hour delay (didn’t know until after they were up ~ grrrr), and PPP’s site on the backend went down a few times this morning. (Whew!)

 

I did manage to pop dinner in the slow cooker (folks, this is the best. recipe.) and am heading out to Costco for some price checking. Hoping for smooth sailing the rest of the day ~ and lots more deals up shortly!

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My Favorite Gift (Well, One of them . . .)

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My sweet Caroline turns 12 tomorrow.

 

T.W.E.L.V.E.  

 

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Isn’t she just perfect???? 😉 (yes, I’m biased.)

 

According to the oh-so-smart-blogging-experts, I should only blog about penny pinching. Every single thing that I share here on PPP should directly reflect something about saving money, penny pinching, or using a coupon.

 

But, I figure since I own the site, I can do what I want. 😉

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This. girl.

 

She’s my gift. 

 

My perfect-even-when-not-so-perfect-and-driving-me-absolutely-crazy gift. 

 

Really.

 

The day she was born, I remember looking at this little fuzzy-brown-haired baby and knowing right there and then that she was my gift.

 

In fact, I remember whispering to her from deep down . . . “baby, you are my gift.” 

 

And then . . . um . . . life got a little hairy.

 

She was busy.

 

She climbed on every. thing.

 

She spent hours (seriously folks, HOURS, quite possibly days, I think), in time out.

 

We fought over learning to say “yes ma’am”.  We fought over spelling words. We fought over which outfit to wear.

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(We still fight over which outfit to wear.) 

 

But somewhere along the way, this girl of mine turned into this perfect girl of mine.

 

Here’s the secret the internet doesn’t tell you when your toddler is screaming.

 

(Ready for this?) 

 

That child of yours. Yes, that one. The one that’s making you crazy. The one that makes you want to pull your hair out. The one that you discipline until you feel like you’ve got no disciplining left in you.

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That one is your gift. 

 

One day they might just surprise you. One day they might be the one calling you up to their room for some unexpected quiet and time to say prayers. One day they might turn into this beautiful precious gift that you absolutely never expected.

 

Life’s crazy that way.

 

And here’s the other thing.

 

The internet tells you that watching your babies grow up is a wee bit depressing. Something that you need to fight with everything in you.

 

But I’m here to tell you that watching that gift of yours grow up is this oh-so-fun present as you see that gift unfold.  That sweet child of yours all of a sudden turns into someone who has their own thoughts, their own opinions, and if you’re willing to put in the effort in those early years, they might just become one of your favorites ever to hang out with.  And it’s exciting to look forward to who they’re turning into each day.

 

 

This gift of mine . . . she’s oh-so-different from me. She hates writing. Hates spelling. Doesn’t really love reading.  (Spending hours poring over oodles of words just isn’t her thing.)

 

But.

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She loves working. Loves organizing. Loves exercising. Likes math. Can pump out a whopping 15 pull ups without flinching. (All while I watch from the corner of my eye I wonder how on earth she’s mine ~ I mean really ~ how could I possibly have this cute thing so very different from me?)

 

And she could single-handedly run our home way better most days than I ever could. (Thankfully, some days she just takes charge and does!)

 

She’s perfect.

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Absolutely the best gift right alongside her brother and sister that I ever dreamed of.

 

So, happy birthday sweet Caroline ~ thank you for giving me one of my very best gifts twelve years ago today.

 

And mommas who are about to lose it because that child is pushing you right on over the edge today?

 

It’s worth it.

 

I promise.

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Hang in there ~ keep at it ~ don’t give up.

 

Your gift’s waiting right around the corner ~ just stick with it and enjoy every precious second because it’s the most fun gift you’ll ever get to watch unfold. 😉

 

And just to be clear, I know that 13 . . . and 14 . . . and 15 (yikes!) are just around the corner and this girl and I may feel waaayyy differently a time or two over the next few years. Um, we’ll deal with those when we get there. (Yikes!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Money doesn’t really buy happiness . . .

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It’s time to chat budgeting . . . anyone else with me? 

 

I had a huge revelation over Christmas that I kind of knew before, but this time it hit me like a ton of bricks.

 

Money can’t buy happiness.

 

(You knew that though, didn’t you?)

 

Over the last year, we’ve shelled out some serious cash in hopes of making our kids happy here after moving last Spring. And while I’m not going to lie and tell you it hasn’t softened the blow a bit, doling out cash hasn’t just magically made life easier like I’d hoped.

 

We bought a trampoline. It blew away in the first windstorm. (Totally our fault for not planning ahead of time ~ grrrrr.)

 

We bought a kayak for my son. We were able to use it a time or two, but he of course wanted a friend out there with him. You can’t buy friends, you know, but he’s working on that! 😉

 

We added extra gym classes for my daughter in hopes of helping her enjoy her new gym more. So far, she’s surviving, but it’s just not the same as home. 

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WE BOUGHT A PUPPY. :) Okay, the verdict’s still out on this one because he is just a puppy, but the kids who’ve begged for a dog for the last five years have been a little unimpressed with how much work this little guy is to manage. They’re starting to enjoy him some, but they had no idea what they were getting us into!

 

See how we’ve kind of failed at the whole penny pinching thing? 

 

Thankfully prior to moving our finances were in decent shape so we haven’t blown our budget, but it’s become the principle of the matter.

 

Ultimately? Contentment comes from the inside. 

 

No matter how much money you have, it won’t fix all your problems.

 

Money can’t take away sadness. It can’t automatically make you fit in. It doesn’t fill in the areas of your heart where friendships should be. It won’t magically make life better.

 

However, choosing contentment no matter where life takes you can be learned. I’m working on teaching it to my children, and more importantly hoping to model it myself. Hopefully they’ll see it at work in this heart of mine one day? (Folks, I am so bad at showing contentment with the ones closest to me. And everyone. Just really bad at it.)

 

A very fun-sweet-friend of mine and I were chatting yesterday (ummm, actually I was whining, and since she recently moved to another area in Ohio she’s been a great sounding board.) She offered me sage advice . . . “Sometimes you just have to fake it ’til you make it.”

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Ahem.

 

Things aren’t always easy. Financial burdens are HARD. (So. hard.) But I’ve seen first hand that while money undoubtedly makes life a little less painful, it simply won’t fix all your problems the way you think it might.

 

Be encouraged this very minute today though. Wherever you are ~ financially, physically, emotionally, spiritually, contentment can be found way deep down somewhere. 

 

If your home is making you nuts because you just want some more space, take a few minutes, grab a grocery sack, and fill it up with as many things as you can so that less clutter gives you a little more freedom. 

 

If you’re dreaming of a new car but that’s not realistic right now, give the car you have a really good washing, scrub right down to the nooks and crannies, and clean that car til it shines.

 

And if you know the situation you’re in is just so much more than you can handle, take a deep breath, lavish yourself with grace, and say a quick prayer for peace to come in the midst of your day today.

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If financial issues are causing your family tremendous strain right now, I so encourage you to really really really really (did you get that? REALLY) determine to make wise financial choices today, clip coupons, skip dinner out, and don’t go to Starbucks. (Really.) After years of penny pinching it is oh-so-worth it to have financial freedom, and while it won’t make life better,  it has undoubtedly made life easier. 

 

But don’t fool yourself into thinking a lottery windfall will fix all your problems today. Instead make the absolute-very-best-oh-so-amazing-life-right-here-today where you’re at. Okay?

 

I’ll be working on it on this side of the screen too. 😉

 

 

 

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