How I Make A Full Time Income As A Stay At Home Mom + 7 Secrets To Success

how I make afull time income

I gotta tell you, this post is a little hard for me to even write. 


If you knew me in real life, you’d know I’m so not one to consider myself a “successful” anything, but I guess looking at the numbers, PPP would be considered a success.


Pure craziness I tell ya’.


I started blogging completely (seriously, totally)  on a whim, and never ever would have believed one day I’d make a full time income from my little blog. Back then I read Crystal Paine of Money Saving Mom’s series “How To Make Money Blogging” and thought just maybe it would work, but really couldn’t believe people actually made money online each day.

At that point my kids were ages 2, 6, and 9, and I knew that I wanted to earn extra income from home especially as they were getting older and heading off to school. I’d stayed home with them since my oldest was born, and while I’d taken on a few jobs here and there (I gave violin lessons, taught preschool, and did some data entry work), I primarily was a stay-at-home mom. I started obsessively clipping coupons back in 2006 (folks, I was nuts), so the idea of potentially earning an income from home while telling other folks how to save intrigued me.

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In October of 2009 I started blogging at (The header for the site was so ugly that a reader offered to fix it for me for free. Then I paid someone to fix it when I switched to Passionate Penny Pincher. As you can see from the picture above it was worse.) :) Because I’d never made more than $7 an hour while working (except for teaching violin lessons), my standards were pretty low and I never dreamed of any significant income.


I’ll never forget that following February after working a solid 4 months at least 30 hours a week when I made $18 in one day. I was hooked and determined to figure this whole blogging thing out.


I’m not going to tell you it’s been easy. Of the twelve blogs that I followed who started at the same time as I did, I’m the only one still typing away each day.


So what were the secrets to my success? (Gosh, that just sounds obnoxious, but we’ll go with it, okay?) Here are a few things that have totally transformed this former stay-at-home mom into a working Money Making Mom from home (that work no matter what business you choose):

1. Create a business that people actually need, and pay attention to your customers.

When I started PPP, jillions of blogs were also just beginning teaching people how to save. While I knew nothing about online marketing, advertising, affiliate income, HTML coding, or really even writing, I did know a thing or two about coupons. Pretty quickly I realized that while other (fantastic!) sites were out there, they didn’t always create simple scenarios breaking down how to actually use coupons, so I started coming up with those and posting them. People loved them and I knew right then that I’d found a spot to fill that might set me apart from everyone else.

You may not be a blogger, but you have some skill that you can share with people better than anyone else can. Figure out what your customers need and how you can help them, and the customers really will follow!

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2. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.

This was so hard for me! My nature is to be a little on the timid side, and the idea of putting my thoughts and ideas out there for anyone to read truly turned my stomach when I debated starting a blog.


But I realized that ultimately my goal was to earn income from home, and this was the only thing that I thought might really work. So, I decided to push down the voice in the back of my head which said this was absolutely ridiculous, and started telling folks about my little blog. It was so scary for me, but goodness, I’m so glad I chose to get over that hurdle!


I now remind myself constantly that this is a business. There are times when I WRITE ALL IN CAPS ON FACEBOOK to be seen, or use “7 steps to a successful title” for every single post, and goodness y’all, that’s just so not me. However, since I’ve found those to be successful strategies when working online, I’ve adopted them for my business, and separate who I am in real life from that kind-of-obnoxious-girl-I-feel-like-online a bit.

3. Set your standards low, and work your tail off.

This may sound counter-intuitive, but for me, setting my standards low during my beginning years has really paid off. I have a bachelor’s degree in psychology and worked in youth ministry as well as a group home for at risk girls prior to having kids. Clearly my standards for earning were pretty low!


Because I’d never worked in the corporate world and really had only had low paying jobs, my expectations were just not much those first few years.  This helped so much to not be discouraged when I worked so hard for just a few dollars, and goodness, when more dollars have come along the way I’ve felt like I’ve won the lottery. :)



Don’t expect to start out at a new business making big bucks ~ instead work incredibly hard (and smart) at whatever business you’re beginning, and have patience to wait and see the business grow. It will take a lot (seriously guys, a lot) of work, but if you’re willing to work with everything in you, you really can succeed.


4. Make growing your business your primary business focus instead of making money.

From the very beginning of PPP, I’ve never focused on making money as a blogger. Instead, from day one I’ve focused on building traffic (which for me is the way that I determine if I’m building my business.)


Because that’s been my number one goal, the money has followed because more traffic has allowed my ad revenue and affiliate income to grow. (If you’re curious about what ad revenue and affiliate income even is and really want to start a business blogging, check out this book.)

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After years of (slowly!) growing this business, I now make a significant full time income from blogging allowing us to give abundantly and save for our kid’s college funds, which was my main goal when starting PPP. There have been many (many) times when I’ve seen a decrease in traffic and been so discouraged, but that always leads me back to figuring out how to jump start my growth again, and growing PPP a little more along the way.

Note: PPP has grown SO MUCH SLOWER than many other blogs that I follow, and goodness it’s been so hard not to get discouraged at times. Six years later though I’ve learned so much through that slow growth, so if you’ve felt like everyone else has passed you by, be encouraged that you’re not alone. Keep plugging away and focus on what you’re good at because goodness, growth really can come with hard work!
5. Hire help as your business grows.

This is huge. There is absolutely no way I could run PPP on my own, and even with some fantastic help I still work easily 40 hours or more each week.

Back in 2010 I had a significant income boost in one month from Amazon affiliate commissions, and used that money to hire Shannon (who I love!) for the next 6 months to work ten hours per week. At that point I had no idea if I could hire her to work long term, but hiring her allowed me time to work on growing other areas of the business. Since then I’ve hired a few other people, and every time I hire someone it allows me to grow PPP a little further.

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6. Be willing to change as your customers change.

Back when I started PPP my main goal was to teach people how to use coupons (which happened to be right when TLC’s Extreme Couponing show aired.) People loved hearing about coupons, and I loved sharing that information! However, eventually readers got a little less interested in coupons but loved online deals, so while I’ve kept some coupon posts, I’ve changed my focus to include online deals as well. In the last six months I’ve seen people change to enjoying content posts and recipes more, so I’ve worked harder to include those more frequently.

Whatever business you start, know that what your customers need right now may not be what they’ll need in a few years (or a few months, or even a few weeks in some cases!) Be willing to constantly tweak your business to fit your customers needs, so that they receive something from you that they won’t likely find elsewhere.

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7. Learn to leverage the power of social media.

Honestly, if anyone had told this stay-at-home-mom-to-three-small-kids seven years ago that one day she would reach over 350,000 people each week on some crazy sites called Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram, she would have just laughed at you. :) But social media has become a huge component of my business, and it’s what I spend the bulk of my time working at each week besides content posts.

Find what social media platform will give your business the most potential for visibility, and learn to do that one platform better than anyone else. Watch what other businesses are doing who handle their pages successfully, read every bit of information you can about that form of social media, and listen to podcasts from people that do it well.

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I promise, if you’re willing to really work whole-heartedly to grow your social media presence it can happen no matter what your business, but you’ve got to be willing to do your research and put some serious hours in. 

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If you’ve been thinking about ways to earn income from home, I highly (HIGHLY!) recommend Crystal Paine’s new book, Money Making MomI read it last week, and goodness, it is for every mom out there who wants to change her financial future, no matter what kind of business or work you’re considering. While I love clipping coupons and getting great deals, I absolutely am amazed that thanks to blogging I’ve now been able to watch our family’s finances thrive as I’ve chosen to become a “Money Making Mom.”


Crystal has fantastic advice on what potential business ideas are out there, time management tips, discusses the importance of networking, and so. much. more. 

I loved her encouragement on page 92 ~

“Whatever you have to do, show up and give it your all. The rest will follow.” Crystal Paine, Money Making Mom


I promise, if you really want to change your finances and become a stay-at-home working mom, the opportunities are out there. 


For real.


It may take some time to figure out how they can happen for you, but I really do believe they can.

For me, running this business as a stay at home mom has kind of become the way that I work to be just a tee-tiny bit more like the mom described in Proverbs 31. I really do believe John Wesley’s quote that we are called to “Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as you ever can.”

Successfully running PPP has kind of become my concrete way of working towards those goals, and getting to do that while staying home with my kids is just a crazy blessing which I hardly can even believe has happened for me most days.


If it can happen for this mess of a momma, I promise (promise!) it really can happen for you too.


Order Crystal’s book, determine to find exactly the right way for you to turn into a Money Making Mom, and change your family’s future. If it can happen for me, it really really really can happen for you too. :)

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Curious about how exactly PPP got started and where the money we earn from it goes? Head on over HERE

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The Ultimate Black Friday Cheat Sheet 2015


I am so (sooooooo) excited to share this with you! If you’re like me and overwhelmed trying to keep up with who has the best prices on what this Black Friday, this is for you.


In one quick and easy document, here is a huge list (HUGE, folks I’m telling you ~ HUGE) with all the best prices on top selling Black Friday items including tablets, televisions, video gaming systems, video games, printers, appliances, housewares and so. much. more. The list is still being updated as more stores Black Friday ads come out, so keep checking back over the next few weeks to plan your trip well.

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Because Amazon doesn’t offer a traditional sales ad, I’ll continually update those like I normally do, as well as highlight any awesome deals that I see as well. But, I wanted to give you this guide to keep you on top of things! Bookmark this page, print it (although it will be a lot to print?), or keep it handy on your phone so you know exactly where to find those best prices.



Go HERE to access it, and let me know what you think. I hope this makes surviving the Holiday season a little simpler in your home, so you can enjoy the things that matter most this Christmas!


Kohl's 7-Piececomforter sets

And don’t miss all the great deals going on at Kohl’s Black Friday deals that have already started online: 



blackfridayshoppingLooking for more Black Friday Shopping tips? Go HERE to check out these 10 Secrets You Need to Know about Black Friday Shopping 



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25 Days of Dollar Tree DIY Day 5: Pumpkin Topiary


Anyone else love the Dollar Tree? I thought it would be fun to check out 25 days of Dollar Tree Thanksgiving & Christmas decorating ideas, because they’re always my favorite projects. :)

This Dollar Tree Pumpkin Topiary from Debbie at Debbie Doo’s is so cute!  It does require a couple of supplies that may not be found at Dollar Tree, but you should be able to find them at your craft store or Walmart.  See the full tutorial here.

See more Penny Pinched Dollar Tree DIY Projects:

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10 Secrets You Need To Know About Black Friday Shopping


Good gracious folks, Black Friday is just 3 weeks away from today (crazy!) So, to get you ready I thought I’d put together my most important tips for shopping Black Friday well.




(Nope, me neither, but we’re going to tackle it anyways.) :) Let’s get started.


1. Many stores offer a few “Black Friday deals” all month long . . . 

. . . and honestly, they go in full force on many online sites the Sunday and Monday before Black Friday. Kohl’s came out with their big door busters last year Sunday night, so my bet is that will happen again this year, and online retailers everywhere will start offering great prices.


For most deals though, you really don’t need to leave your home at all, so be sure to watch PPP for the very best deals each day. (You can even sign up for once daily updates, delivered to your inbox over HERE.)


Do know that many of these deals go quickly, so you’ll want to visit a few times throughout the day and follow on Facebook as well to keep up.


To take advantage of Amazon deals, sign up for a free month of Amazon Prime if you haven’t tried them out before ~ you’ll get free shipping on everything you order for the entire month! 


2. Newer Apple products don’t often go on sale at deeply discounted prices.

You may see a few discounts on iPads and iPhones, but don’t expect seriously deeply discounted prices (if you find savings of $50 – $100 off you’ve done pretty well.)

ipad Mini

However, Walmart already has their iPad Mini2 on sale for $199 right now, which is a pretty incredible price. Because it’s not the newest model you’re getting some significant savings, so watch for discounts on older model Apple products is definitely a great way to save Black Friday.


(Amazon does usually offer incredible deals on Kindle products though this month, and have already started discounting their Kindles for Amazon Prime Members!)

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3. Televisions are great to buy on Black Friday.

One of the best times of year to buy televisions is Black Friday, but if you’re not in a hurry you may want to wait until the Super Bowl to purchase one in January.  If you’re looking for a higher end television you probably want to wait for January, however the Black Friday deals on smaller TVs usually can’t be beat.


. . . and video game savings are huge on Black Friday as well.

There are a ton of video game and video game console deals that come out on Black Friday and Cyber Monday as well. However, those deals are already starting on some sites now, so watch the price of the game and console you’re looking for to guarantee the best price.


A peek at last year’s Kohl’s Black Friday deals

4. Buy all your kitchen gadgets on Black Friday.

Kitchen gadget savings will be huge on Black Friday and really throughout Black Friday “week” and Cyber week too. 


So what kind of items to watch for? Usually we’ll see the best prices of the year on Kitchenaid Mixers, Ninja Blenders, Cookware, Pyrex Sets, and just about anything else you’ll need in the kitchen. These are usually my favorite deals of the Holidays, so I’ll be watching right with you!

5. These stores are just a few that offer price matching.
  • Walmart
  • Target
  • Best Buy
  • Lowe’s
  • Staples
  • The Home Depot
  • Bed Bath & Beyond
  • Sears
  • Toys R Us

Take advantage of price matching at several stores to get a great price, in case the item you’re looking for isn’t in stock at your store. If you can bring proof of the price in a physical ad to show to your cashier. (Although most will accept these ads from your Smartphone, having the real ad in hand may make price matching even easier.)

Remember that on some special Black Friday deals retailers may not price match all the deeply discounted deals stores have to offer. To find out if another store is price matching a specific Black Friday ad, call ahead and ask your store management.

6. Don’t forget that many stores also offer price adjustments.

If you purchase an item in a store within a few weeks of a better price during Black Friday sales, check to see if your store offers a price adjustment. While all stores won’t offer that (especially if they have deeply discounted items on Black Friday), it never hurts to (nicely!) ask. Make a quick call to your store to see what they offer.


7. Stores offer huge loss leaders to get you in the door on Black Friday.

Most stores offer a limited number of “loss leaders” which really are your best deals. Stores like Amazon and Walmart tend to also offer these deals in the wee hours of the morning on Black Friday, so keep up with PPP as we’ll be here bright and early working to get you the very best deals.


8. Don’t forget the drug stores.

Y’all, my favorite Black Friday shopping ever happens at the drug stores, and what I love is that they typically are best on Thanksgiving morning. Now, I am not one who likes the idea of stores being open on Thanksgiving at all, but because the drug stores supply their customers with needed medications they really do need to be open to serve those in need.

CVS actually offers their new Black Friday ad at 6PM the night before Thanksgiving at any stores that AREN’T open 24 hours, so if you want to sneak in early you can save big and beat the crowds. I go first thing on Thanksgiving morning before my family is awake, then and home and ready to help with Thanksgiving cooking by 9AM. To see what Black Friday looked like at CVS in 2014, go HERE.

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9. Some “doorbusters” just aren’t worth it.

Some deals are fantastic on Black Friday, however some tend to be lower quality items that really aren’t worth it. Make sure that what you purchase is really what you want, and you’re not just picking up something quickly to get a deal that you didn’t really need in the first place. (Read more HERE.)



10. Keep up with PPP for all the very best deals this Christmas season.

Sign up for PPP text alerts and daily emails to get the best deals, not just on Black Friday but throughout the Christmas season. We’ve got a big surprise that’s going to help you out a ton coming out this Monday, and the whole PPP team is working hard to make sure you never miss a deal.


 Here’s how to sign up for free text alerts: 

  • Text Follow ppphotdeals to 40404
  • You’ll receive a message from Twitter that says “want to tweet? Welcome to Twitter! You’re now following @ppphotdeals and you’ll receive your Tweents on  your phone. (Std msg rates apply. Reply w/HELP for more.)
  • To STOP getting updates, just text Off ppphotdeals to 40404


So there you have it, my top 10 tips! I’d love to hear what other thoughts you have on Black Friday shopping too. I’ll be right here behind my computer bright and early on Black Friday (and the days prior to Thanksgiving as well), so be ready to save big this year!


Looking for more tips on how to save at your favorite retail stores? Here you go:

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17 Secrets You Need to Know Before Planning a Trip to Hawaii

Note from Laurie – I’m so excited about Shannon’s post on her recent trip today! We’re dreaming of a trip to Hawaii ourselves, so I loved hearing her tips. If you’ve been to Hawaii before I’d love to hear your suggestions too!




Recently my husband and I celebrated our 10th anniversary in Hawaii.  Besides mission trips, this is the only major trip without the kiddos that we have taken since our honeymoon. So, for us to splurge and go on a trip that is not missional was definitely out of our comfort zone.  (And still is).  We live very frugally though, which allowed us to go on this trip debt free.

My husband is a planner.  He spent countless hours researching and asking me what I wanted to do, then made a schedule.  (Can anyone tell he is an engineer?)  Here are a few things we learned along the way . . .

1. Use Frequent Flyer Miles if you can.

If you have frequent flyer miles with an airline you may want to see if you can score a free ticket. If you don’t have them, sign up before your trip since points to Hawaii would be a great start towards another trip.

2. Use websites like,,, or to find discounted hotel rates.

Also, talk about your plans to others who’ve been, and see if they have suggestions on places to stay (and possibly even family discounts they can offer you if they have family nearby.) 

3. Decide whether to rent a car (saving time) or take the bus (saving money.)

Hawaii has a great bus system, and we debated whether we should take advantage of it to save a little money or splurge on a car. After talking with some friends we decided to rent a convertible, but used the cheapest rental car discounte we could find.

Some good friends of ours said if we were going to rent a car, make it a convertible while you have the chance.  Since we were staying for several days we got a discount by using the weekly rate , and we didn’t waste travel time waiting on the bus.

Still, take into consideration that most hotels have pricey parking fees, and gas may be more expensive than you’re used to (although we used less than a tank for the whole trip).  Also, several areas of Waikiki did not have parking, so we had to walk to most of restaurants at night.


4. To Hop or Not to Hop?

A lot of people island-hop when visiting Hawaii, staying at one for a few days then going to another.  We decided to stay at Oahu only, which gave us time to see the entire island. Obviously you’d get to see more islands by island hopping, but it would cost more money and give you less time to enjoy each area, so just be mindful of that before you go.

5. Determine the best season to go to Hawaii.

During the peak season in Hawaii you’ll see significantly more traffic and things tend to me much more expensive. Fall and Spring tend to have less traffic, but do your research to find the best time of year to go. Go HERE to learn more.

6. Groceries are expensive in Hawaii.

Oh my goodness . . . I could write a whole post on groceries in Hawaii!  Food is just expensive there . . . like crazy expensive.

Expect to pay $7.69 milk on sale and $7.99 for a box of Frosted Flakes.  We decided that we didn’t want to eat at fast food restaurants or places that we have near our home, so most meals cost $50-$60.

However, before leaving for Hawaii I packed granola, flax seed, peanut butter, Flat-out bread, and lots of snacks (protein bars, granola bars) in our suitcases.  Once there we took advantage of our hotel’s mini-fridge and spent $20 on milk, yogurt, individual size cereal, bananas, and chips.  While those groceries were still expensive, that $20 covered most of our breakfasts and several lunches, saving us $300 and several hours waiting at restaurants to eat.

7. You won’t catch a bargain eating out.

Honestly, there just weren’t many ways to save while eating out.  But Yelp and Zomato are great places to check for ratings, reviews, menus, locations, etc., so we did take advantage of those sites.

My favorite restaurant was this awesome little Italian place we found called Buona Sera in Kailua.  We also really enjoyed Big Kahuna’s Pizza in Honolulu (and apparently everyone else does too!)




8. Bring your own water bottle.

Bringing your own water bottle will save big in the airports and throughout your trip.  Airport security allows you to bring an empty thermos when you travel, and then just fill it up once you’re through to your gates.

Our hotel had a water filter in the lobby, so we filled up every morning before leaving and while site seeing we found water fountains to fill up.

This saved us a lot of money.  (At the Dole Plantation a bottle of water is $4 ~ crazy!)

9. The USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor is a must see.

Order tickets online the day before you plan to visit for $3.  1300 free tickets are given out daily too, but for the cheap online rental rate you can guarantee your tour time instead of chancing having to wait for a couple of hours.

Visiting Pearl Harbor was probably one of my favorite parts of the trip, which I totally didn’t expect. Definitely include a few hours as you’re making your plans!

10. Budget money for snorkeling.

You can rent snorkeling gear for $20 per person at Hanauma Bay, however we decided to purchase our own gear instead while we were there. (You could easily bring this with you in your suitcase and save money by purchasing in the states.)

Before our trip I bought waterproof cameras for $9 at Wal-Mart, compared to $18 in Hawaii.

11. Take a few hours to go kayaking.

We had fun kayaking at Kailua Beach and got a 15% discount by reserving online at Kailua Beach Adventures.  The waves were crazy and starting out was hard, but once we got going it was fun.  I told my husband it should be a marriage builder experiment. :)



12. Don’t miss Diamond Head.

My husband and I decided to walk from our hotel all the way to the top of the mountain and back which was about 3 hours total.  The one tip I’ll offer for easier accessibility is when you get near the top of the mountain top and see a steep staircase to the right, go left instead. (Trust me on this.)  Diamond Head only costs $1 per person for walkers or $5 for parking.

13. Hiking in Hawaii is incredible.

In addition to hiking at Diamond Head we hiked Manoa Falls to see the most beautiful waterfall.  It is a must!  And all you had to pay is $5 for parking.

14. Everyone says you have to go to a Luau while in Hawaii.

Luaus are pretty expensive in Hawaii, and we chose a highly rated one during our trip. Honestly, we didn’t enjoy it as much as we’d hoped, and if you’re not into dancing this may be something you can sip.

15. The beaches were gorgeous.

I grew up in Florida, but their beaches just can’t compare to the six beaches we saw in Hawaii.  In addition to the beautiful beaches the mountains are right there, so you really get the best of both worlds.

My favorite beaches were Hanauma Bay down South and Waimea Bay on the North Shore.  The waves were awesome on the North Shore, and you can watch the surfers for free entertainment.shannon

16. Dole Plantation is a must, simply for their famous Dole Whip.

Okay, I love pineapple, and their Dole Whips are just incredible. They also have the world’s largest maze which was super fun, because my husband did the guiding.  We would still be lost if I navigated.  :)

17. There is an awesome swap meet at the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors to get souvenirs for you and the family.

The prices are great (especially for Hawaii), and the people didn’t pressure you at all.  Definitely do this instead of souvenir shopping for souvenirs at all the expensive tourist stores.

 I hope this helps if you’re dreaming up a trip to Hawaii soon!  I’ve you have any tips or questions I’d love to hear them ~ leave a comment to share. 



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

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Toys R Us Black Friday Ad 2015


Ready to start thinking Black Friday? (Me neither!) Just in case you can’t wait though, head on over HERE to see a sneak peek of the Toys R Us Black Friday ad. ‘Tis the season! :)

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How I Made $127 In One Hour Yesterday

five reasonsALL WHO WANDERARE LOST (4)

Okie dokie folks . . . confession time. 


My “organized command center” was a MESS.


Like, bad.


For whatever reason, the ten steps that you walk into near the back of our home tend to always be the absolute disaster in our house (no matter where we’ve lived), and goodness, over the last few busy months ours has gotten way out of control.


So yesterday afternoon I was determined to tackle it, and about an hour later I was so glad to have it done.


The best part? Along the way I found a whopping $127 that we didn’t even know we had.




Here’s a peek at before and after (I know y’all, I’m embarrassed for myself too . . . )




And here’s how I made $127 by cleaning things up:

  • Found a $50 Lowe’s Gift Card (my husband forgot about it)
  • Found a $13.21 Lowe’s gift card (he forgot this one too . . .)
  • Found a $3.80 Menard’s Rebate
  • Found and mailed a $2.80 Menard’s Rebate
  • Found $6 left in free coupons on our Chick-Fil-A Calendar (I am SO MAD AT MYSELF ABOUT THIS ONE – had that calendar with freebies all year long that we missed while it was hidden away, but at least we still have November’s free milkshake and December’s free drink!)
  • Found and mailed a $35 contact lens rebate
  • Found $17.02 in Lowe’s returns
  • Total = $127.33 ~ crazy!

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I made myself go ahead and mail out all the rebate forms, and put the returns in my car to return the next time we’re near Lowe’s. (We of course were there yesterday, hmph.)


If you needed some motivation to clean out a cabinet or two in your home this might be just the encouragement you need ~ you never know what hidden treasure you may find until you just get the job done! If you’re lucky enough to find some hidden moo-lah along the way, I’d sure love to hear about it. :)


Looking for more ways to find hidden money before the holidays? Here you go!

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Best of PPP Week of 10/26/15 – 10/31/15

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Here’s a peak at the most Popular Penny Posts here on PPP this week! Hope you have a fantastic Sunday hanging out with folks you love.


6 Things You Need to Do Before Christmas Shopping

5 reasons to use your slow cooker

5 Reasons  You Need to Use Your Slow Cooker Every Single Week {+ 17 Recipes To Get You Started}

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50 Best Items To Pack in An Operation Christmas Child Shoebox


14 Secrets You Need to Know Before Shopping Kohl’s

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Hunter Boots $79


No-Sew Burlap Table Runner

From the Archives (most popular posts according to Google Analytics)


Butterfinger Cake


Christmas Crack

Inexpensive Door Hanger


7 Items You Should Always Look for at Goodwill

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Walgreens Ad


Here are the best deals this week in the Walgreens ad starting 11/1/15! Great prices on Tresemme Products, Scope, Colgate and more.

Balance Reward Points

Spend $15, Get 3,000 Balance Reward Points

*Deal Idea*

Buy 2 Tresemme Shampoo – $3.99
Buy 2 Tresemme Stylers – $3.99

  • Use $2/1 coupon from the 11/1 SmartSource insert
  • Pay $7.96 out of pocket, Get 3,000 Balance Reward Points
  • $1.24 each after coupon and Balance Reward Points

Register Rewards

Buy 2 Scope Mouthwash (16 oz), Crest Toothpaste or Oral B Toothbrush at $3, Get $3 Register Reward
Use $2/2, $.75/1, $1.75/2 printable or $0.50/1 coupon from the 11/1 P&G insert
$0.50 after coupon and Register Rewards

Buy 1 Colgate Toothpaste (2 pk) or Mouthwash (33 oz) at $5.99, Get $3 Register Rewards
Use $2/1 printable 
$0.99 after coupon and Register Reward

Other Deals In Ad 

Tru Meter Gluclose Monitor – $9.99
Use $9.99 Mail In Rebate
Free after rebate

Jello Pudding $0.50 (with In Ad coupon)

Scott Paper Towels (6 pk) – $3.99
Use $.75/1 coupon from the 10/11 SmartSource insert
$3.24 after coupon or $.54 per roll

Cottonelle Toilet Paper Large Rolls (12 pk)- $3.99
Use $0.70/1 printable
$3.29 after coupon or $.27 per large roll


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6 Things You Need to Do Before Christmas Shopping

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Okie dokie folks, time for a little heart-to-heart about that fantabulous (don’t you love my new word?) Holiday just around the corner. . . Christmas. Grab a cup of coffee and a piece of Halloween candy, curl up on your sofa, and let’s just pretend we’re having a chat face to face about how we’re going to handle this one.


In just a few days, the deals are going to be flying fast and furiously at you (including quite possibly a few hundred here on PPP ~ yikes!), so I want you to be prepared. I promise you’ll see deals on Legos and Powerwheels and Kindles and Barbies and just about anything you could ever imagine anyone on your gift list will ever need.


But that doesn’t mean you have to buy them.


Because the deals are out there, my job is to make sure you see the best of everything, and find you as many awesome deals as I can.  However, I do not want you to purchase a single item that you do not need or cannot pay for even if it’s a dealDid you hear me??? I mean it.


So, how do you know where to start with Christmas shopping? Here are six things you need to do before Christmas shopping:


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1. Consider the 4 gift plan that my friend Lynette uses.

I. love. this. Honestly, we didn’t start this when my kids were younger, and I kind of wish we had. Back then our budget was pretty tight throughout the year, and Christmas was our time to “splurge” (within our budget) so we bought kids extra clothes they needed, along with fun toys and more.

However, they get a ton of gifts from family, and I think this is a really (really) smart concept to start when your children are young. If you’re new to this idea, see how Lynette breaks it down over HERE. 

2. Set a Christmas budget meeting with your spouse & decide your Christmas budget.

I cannot tell you how very, very, very important this one is, but trust me on this. To make January 2016 happier in your home, you have got to sit down and talk about what you both really want Christmas to look like, and who’s going to purchase which gifts for who.

While my husband and I have always had a Christmas budget, inevitably we both struggle with keeping to our lists (~ahem~). However by going over the plan beforehand it just keeps us working together throughout the frazzled Christmas season.


Set up a budget “date” night and determine exactly how much money you have to spend on Christmas and what to purchase for every single person on your list. (Be sure to include a budget for shipping and gift wrap – those expenses can really add up!)

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Not sure where to start? There are some fantastic free printable gift lists you can print (I like this one and this one and this one), or even use an app like Santa’s Bag to keep track of your list.

Make sure to have a general idea of what the items on your list should cost, and then watch for any deeply discounted savings. In the next few weeks we’ll be rolling out some Black Friday price comparison sheets, so know those “hot ticket” items on your list and watch for savings on them. I really believe just about everything goes on sale during the Christmas season, so be patient and watch for a deal!

3. Decide how you’re going to Christmas shop.

Do you love Black Friday shopping? Is online shopping for you? Whatever you choose, have a general idea of how you’re going to tackle Christmas gift purchasing before you’re bombarded with Christmas deals.

I do about 90% of Christmas shopping online because I’m already here watching deals every day. (Sign up for free daily emails from me with those deals delivered to your inbox every day over HERE.)

While there are some great in-store offers to be had, I’ve found that with all the free shipping and codes available through the Christmas season I can get some incredible deals while shopping in my pjs. Decide what you want Christmas shopping to look like for you, and plan ahead so you’re not stuck at the last minute wondering the best way to get whatever you need.

4. Set a plan for how you’re going to spend.

Using cash will definitely help maintain control of your spending over the holidays, however I know that can be difficult when so many deals are available online. If you shop online, put your budgeted amount into your checking account and use a debit card, and remember to keep a detailed list near your computer so you don’t miss what you’ve spent.

If you absolutely are set on using a credit card to earn points or for other reasons, be sure to write down every single purchase on your list so that you don’t over-spend. As we all know, those credit cards can be a HUGE budget buster!

5. Anticipate how you’ll spend your “savings”. (This is a bone of contention in our home!)

My hubby is one incredibly passionate penny pincher, so he feels that if we get a great deal on an item, those savings should not be spent during the Christmas season. However, I always want to spend the full amount on each person that I budget on my list, so if I find a great deal I’ll buy them more great deals! This is not the greatest way to spend my savings, but we have so many people purchase for our family who are incredibly generous. (And I want to be generous right back!)

However, if your budget is tight this Christmas, don’t spend those savings on more Christmas gifts. Instead, put it right into a savings account. (Wouldn’t it be fun to fund a savings account with extra Christmas spending money because of your penny pinched deals?)

6. Plan what you’ll spend to give to those in need.

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

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

Ultimately, decide that Christmas is about more than just oodles of gifts under the tree.

I love Christmas presents. 

I love spoiling my kids with fun surprises on Christmas morning.

I am so not against that fun and completely know how magical that time can be.


The gifts are just the icing on Christmas, not the whole cake. Christmas for us is the cooking and baking and decorating and all the wonderful things rolled up into this one just beautiful season.

It’s the giving and music and lights and Silent Night and just the wonder of this special time of year. If you haven’t already, create special Christmas traditions that make Christmas even more precious to your family, no matter the gifts under the tree. Give to someone in need, decorate cookies as a family and let Christmas gifting just be the fun Christmas topper on top of your Christmas tree.


I hope you’ll find some deals here on PPP, and my promise to you is that I’ll only post items I see at their lowest prices or so close to that pricing that I don’t want you to miss it. But, I do not want you to spend one single penny on things that you have absolutely no business buying.

Got that? :) 


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Go get your kids ready for a few days of Halloween festivities, enjoy an extra piece of chocolate for me, and watch for the online deals to go a wee bit crazy here over the next few weeks. But, in the midst of it all, take a deep breath, determine to stay really focused on only what you need to purchase (and even more focused on what this season is all about), and choose to enjoy every bit of the Christmas season as it races its way towards us.

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