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Goodbye….and Hello!

Friday, December 12th, 2014

I don’t know if you noticed or not, but things have been a bit more quiet than normal around here lately.  That’s because I’ve been working on something that I’m super excited about- my new blog!!

Yes, today is my last day blogging here at Parents.com.  You can now find me at ThriftyFrugalMom.com where I’ll be sharing my usual money saving tips, money making ideas, my weekly $200/mo. grocery spending posts, delicious easy recipes and household tips as well as the occasional deal.  (That’s my new logo you see up at the top of the page.)

These past 3 years of blogging for Parents have been good ones.  Never in my wildest dreams did I believe that I would have an opportunity like this.  In fact, I still remember the day when I received that email from one of the editors at Parents.com asking me if I would consider blogging for them.  I actually almost deleted it because I seriously thought it was spam!  I’m so glad I didn’t though, because I have learned so, so much from this opportunity.  I also have met some of the most amazing readers and have become friends with many of you as a result.  I am extremely grateful for this experience- it has been such a blessing and gift from God.

But I’m also excited about this new opportunity of launching an independent blog.  I can’t wait to see what the next year will hold as I share life with you all there.  Please, come on over and visit my new online “home”.  I’ll look forward to seeing you there!

- Lydia

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Tags: | Categories: The Thrifty Frugal Mom

$200/Month Grocery Budget Monthly Spending Summary

Friday, December 12th, 2014

You know how I regularly post my weekly What I Spent & Saved posts showing you what I bought on our $200 grocery budget?  Well, I used to also regularly post a Monthly Spending Summary as well so that you could see exactly how our budget was working, because some months we are over budget and sometimes we are under.

Somehow, I fell off the bandwagon back this summer and stopped posting the Monthly Spending Summaries.  I was thinking of redoing how I post them anyway, so it actually probably ended up being a good thing.

From here on out, I plan to just do a quick summary in the last What I Spent & Saved post of the month to show where we are budget wise for the year.  I think that will be more efficient and keep things a bit less cluttered.

But, just so we can get up to date, I kind of need to post how things are looking since I lost posted a Monthly Spending Summary in July.  At that point, I was under budget by $410.68!  Unfortunately, it hasn’t exactly stayed that way!

Here’s the breakdown:
STARTING ANNUAL BUDGET: $410.68 under budget! 

AUGUST:

Week 1: $95.03
Week 2: $94.49
Week 3: $11.58
Week 4: $147.52
Week 5: $112.24     

Total Spent for the month: $460.86
Total Saved for the month: $91.63

Over budget for the month by $260.86
Under budget for the year by $149.82 

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SEPTEMBER:

Week 1: $31.15
Week 2: $147.86
Week 3: $102.04
Week 4: $64.05      

Total Spent for the month: $345.10
Total Saved for the month: $158.63

Over budget for the month by $145.10
Under budget for the year by $4.72

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OCTOBER:

Week 1: $36.92
Week 2: $0.88
Week 3: $85.90
Week 4: $74.49
Week 5: $68.37     

Total Spent for the month: $266.56
Total Saved for the month: $178.62 + $85.03 in gas savings

Over budget for the month by $66.56
Over budget for the year by $61.84

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NOVEMBER:

Week 1: $31.70
Week 2:- $6.91
Week 3: $94.17
Week 4: -$20.12     

Total Spent for the month: $98.84
Total Saved for the month: $170.76 + $141.50 in gas savings

Under budget for the month by $101.16
Under budget for the year by $39.32

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It feels good to be under budget for the year, even though it is not by much!  I am pretty confident that I can end the year well since I don’t have any major things that I need to buy grocery wise, instead, I’ll basically be just purchasing a few basics and then whatever is on sale of course. 

How are you doing budget wise for the year?  Finding it hard to stay on track due to rising costs?  Or are you managing to stick to it?

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Tags: | Categories: Monthly Spending Summary

PicMonkey Photo Editor- 30 Day Free Trial of Royale!

Thursday, December 11th, 2014

The best photo editing features for free.
For a limited time, PicMonkey is offering a free 30 day trial of their Royale service!

What are the benefit of PicMonkey Royale?

  • 50% more Frames, Fonts, Overlays, Textures and Effects
  • Twice the Touch Up tools
  • Extra layouts and customization in Collage
  • Absolutely, positively, not a single ad 

If you aren’t familiar with PicMonkey, it’s a free online photo editing and graphic design site.  I love PicMonkey and use it to edit photos for my blog and for personal use too!  It’s super easy to use and has tons of great features.

The main version of PicMonkey is free and honestly, you can do an awful lot just with that.  In fact, for a long time that is all I used.  But I finally decided to upgrade to Royale because there were a couple of features and fonts that I really liked and to me it has been worth every penny- and that says a lot since it comes from someone who rarely pays for this sort of thing!

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Tags: | Categories: Freebies, Must Read, Online Deals

Amazon: Huggies Diaper Deal- diapers as low as $0.12 each (plus Luvs deal too!)

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

 

Please note: Amazon prices may change at any time.  Please verify that the prices before you buy!

Amazon currently has Huggies Snug & Dry Diapers for a great price.  The price is different for each size diaper but you can get them for as low as $0.12 per diaper:

  • Size 1 (276-count) $38.39
  • Size 2 (246-count) $38.39
  • Size 3 (222-count) $47.17
  • Size 4 (192-count) $47.17
  • Size 5 (172-count) $47.97
  • Size 6 (140-count) $47.17
 Here’s how to maximize your deal:

1.  Add any of the Huggies diapers to your cart.

2.  Choose the Subscribe & Save option to save an additional 5%.

3.  Clip the $4.00 coupon found below the price.  You will need to choose the Subscribe & Save option to use the coupon.  If you do not wish to continue receiving automatic shipments, be sure to cancel your subscription once your order arrives!

4.  If you want free shipping, add enough other products to your cart to make your cart total $35.00.  Of course if you have Amazon Prime your shipping will be free already.  (There are two other deals listed below that you might be interested in.)

5.  Pay for your purchase and wait for it to arrive at your door! 

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You can also get the following deals:

 

* Luvs With Ultra Leakguards Diapers for as low as $0.13/diaper
– use the same method as outlined for the Huggies, the only difference is that your coupon will be for $0.50 instead of $4.00.

* Huggies Natural Care Baby Wipes, Refill, 624 Count for as $10.82 or $0.02/wipe
– be sure to clip the $2.00 coupon!

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Our $200/mo. Grocery Budget: What I Spent & Saved This Week (11/30-12/6)

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

WELCOME AMERICAN BABY READERS!

So glad you dropped by.  Since you are new here, I wanted to explain a few things about how I shop.  I do something called stockpile shopping.  This simply means that when I see an item at rock bottom prices that I regularly use or know that I can use, I’ll buy several of it.  This might seem kind of crazy, but it honestly saves me hundreds of dollars a year!  Simply put, by buying 6 bags of frozen veggies when I can get them for $0.50/bag with a coupon sale instead of paying the full price of $1.50, I save $6.00.  This savings adds up pretty quickly!  Want to know more about this kind of shopping?  One of my readers wrote a great post about 5 Tips to Spend Less but Get More.

I also buy meats and veggies in bulk.  The meat I either can or freeze and then obviously have it on hand whenever I need it.  I buy large quantities of fruits and veggies when they are in season and I can get them at really great prices.  By canning or freezing them, I save a lot and we are able to enjoy great produce for less cost all year long.  I do still buy some fresh fruits and veggies too.  In fact, every 7 to 10 days I go to our local farmer’s market and get several heads of lettuce so that we can enjoy salads at least 4 times a week.

I hope that helps you make sense of some of this.  I realize at first glance it can really look like we eat rather strangely!  And as always, if you have any questions just leave me a comment!  I’ll be more than happy to try to help you out.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Some of you have wondered where I get my printable coupons. Here are the main coupon sites that I use: Coupons.comCoupon NetworkSmart SourceRed PlumIbottaSnap,HopsterCheckout 51, and Saving Star.  Manufacturer websites and Facebook pages are another great source.

Favorite buys:

  • Turkey Hill ice cream for $0.04/box
  • Free banana
  • Free Jello
  • Tissues for $0.50
  • Cream cheese for $0.89

Total Spent: $66.61
Total Saved with Coupons: $16.98
Total Saved with Sales: $16.14
Total Saved: $33.12

CVS: $1.31
Saved with Coupons: $8.98
Saved with Sales: $4.53

I wasn’t really planning to go to CVS this week, but our son was sick and needed antibiotic.  So when I picked it up, I grabbed a few deals too.  All of this was free or better than free after coupons/sales.  Three of the things were bought using a rain check.  The neat thing about CVS rain checks is that if you were to receive an Extra Buck coupon for the item, with a rain check it prints out to the nearest dollar.  So, just because of that, I made $0.72!  No, it’s not much, but hey, it would buy me 2 1/2 taco seasoning packets at Aldi!

BOUGHT:

  •  Triaminic $5.99
    - used $1.00 printable coupon
    - counted towards a $5/$15 Saving Star offer
  • Combos $1.50
    (bought with rain check)
  • CVS panty shields $0.99
    (bought with rain check)
  • Total Home detergent $1.79
    (bought with rain check)
OTHER COUPONS USED:
  • $7.98 in ExtraBucks (CVS coupons that print at register for purchasing specific items)
GOT BACK:
  • $5.00 in ExtraBucks for purchasing the Triaminic (can be used on next purchase of any item)
  • $2.00 in ExtraBucks for purchasing the Combos (can be used on next purchase of any item)
  • $1.00 in ExtraBucks for purchasing the CVS panty liners (can be used on next purchase of any item)
  • $2.00 in ExtraBucks for purchasing the Total Home detergent (can be used on next purchase of any item)
 Giant: $14.89
Saved with Coupons: $8.00
Saved with Sales: $ 11.61

My favorite deal here was by far the ice cream!  We usually only buy the Turkey Hill all natural ice cream just because it is healthier and so, so good.  But when I realized that I could get this other Turkey Hill ice cream for just $0.04/box after coupons and sales I figured I might as well get it.  I need ice cream for a birthday party and another event any way, so this seemed like a good time to buy it!  Basically I was able to get the ice cream for that price by combining gas rewards, coupons and an Ibotta offer.  That’s the best way to use coupons- combine them with other offers to get maximum savings!  It isn’t always possible, but when it is, you can usually save big.

(If you aren’t familiar with how the gas deals work, basically you earn so much off a gallon of gas when you purchase a certain number of specific items.  This time I earned $10.00 worth of free gas for purchasing the Turkey Hill ice cream.)

The banana and Jello were both free after coupon app offers (see below) and the Scott tissues were $0.50 a box.  Plus the tissues also counted towards a Saving Star offer where I’ll get back $5 when I purchase $18 worth of select products.  I already have spent $8.55, so I have a good chance of accomplishing it!  I got the molasses because I really want to make some ginger snaps and gingerbread cake here in the next couple of weeks and realized that somehow I had totally ran out of molasses!

BOUGHT:

  • 7 Turkey Hill $2.50 each
    - used three $1.00 Turkey Hill printable coupons
    - used four $1.00 Turkey Hill coupons received from manufacturer
    - got back $0.25 via Ibotta
  • Grandma’s molasses $2.29
  • Jello $0.79
    - used FREE product Saving Star offer (got $0.79)
  • 2 Scott tissues $1.00 each
    - used $0.50/2 Scott printable coupon
    - will go towards $5/$18 Saving Star offer
  • Banana $0.25
    - got back $0.25 via Checkout 51
GOT BACK:
  • $10.00 in gas rewards savings for purchasing the Turkey Hill ice cream
Aldi: $30.41
It was time to do another Aldi run since I was running out of some of my Aldi staples!  (Some of you have asked what I regularly buy there and I hope to get a post done about that sometime soon.)Not a lot to highlight here but I was excited to see cream cheese for just $0.89!  It has a long expiration date so I bought a bunch.  I also want to mention that I love Aldi’s taco seasoning.  Not only does it taste delicious, it also is free of preservatives and yucky stuff that most other taco seasoning has.  Oh, and another bargain that I found was the brown sugar for $0.99.  Usually it’s $1.29.  They also had all their chocolate chips for really cheap but I didn’t need any since you may remember that I got a boatload for free a couple of months ago at Giant.
BOUGHT:
  • Extra virgin olive oil 3 liter $9.99
  • Taco seasoning $0.35
  • 6 Cream cheese $0.89 each
  • Ranch dressing $1.29
  • Sour cream $1.29
  • Oregano $0.99
  • Basil $0.99
  • Brown sugar $0.99
  • 4 Black beans $0.59 each
  • 2 Great northern beans $0.59 each
  • 2 Corn chips $0.89 each
  • 3 Saltines $0.89 each

Misc.: $20.00

* Mom Made,  a small family run company, generously sent me some coupons to try their kid’s food.  I was very impressed!

First of all, let me explain that Mom Made uses only the freshest quality ingredients, such as organic products and meats raised without antibiotics, all sourced in the USA.  They don’t contain all the added junk that you’ll find in most bought food- basically it’s like buying food that you would make at home from scratch.

The thing that I really loved, is that many of their products contained extra veggies, but in a way that you didn’t realize it.  For instance, their mac and cheese sauce is made with organic butternut squash and organic sweet potato to give it that nice orange look.  I’ll be honest, I was a bit skeptical not only because I’m not a huge fan of bought mac and cheese but also because I was suspicious that I’d taste the added veggies.  But boy, was I wrong!  The sauce wasn’t overly cheesy, but it was good and tasty and did not taste like vegetables.  I thought it was good and my kiddos did too!  Score!

I thought all the products we tried were good, although the turkey meatballs tasted very much like turkey.  I know, they are turkey right?  But some turkey products still taste a lot like beef and I these most definitely didn’t.  My favorite was the Italian beef meatballs and the cheese pizza munchies.  I added some spaghetti sauce to the meatballs and we all enjoyed them and thought they would make delicious meatball sandwiches.  (Shhh!  Don’t tell the kids that they are supposed to be kid food!)

I bought my Mom Made products at Giant but they also sell them on Amazon if you are interested.

This was cash that we withdrew to pay for milk that we buy from a local dairy.

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