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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Free Combo From Pick Up Stix!!

I found this great freebie over at Money Saving Mom . If you register here, you get a coupon mailed to your inbox for a free combo. I received mine in less than 30 minutes. I plan on using it tomorrow for lunch on my way out of town!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Sunday Shopping

No pictures to share this week as it was a rather large trip and not our best "deal" week although we did still save over 50%. At Ralphs(Kroger) we spent $117.00 but saved $109.00, not too bad. They had Huggies Supreme Diapers on sale for 9.99 and with coupons I had for 1.00 off each doubled I was able to get three bags for $7.99 each and plan on sending in for the five dollar rebate here.
That makes each bag just over $6.00 each! I can't even find cheap generics for that price!

We did get a few freebies and near freebies as well, so we can't complain too much.

We didn't do any CVSing this weekend as I am waiting for May first as there are quite a few "deals" I want to work with my saved ECB's. May looks pretty good to me at CVS.

Between my shopping this weekend and my Angel Food Box, we are good for at least two weeks! Counting the Angel Food cost(30 bucks) and what I spent at Ralphs that averages out to 70 dollars a week to feed my family of six which isn't too bad! That counts pet food, diapers, toiletries and all!!

With rising gas and food prices I highly recommend if you haven't already looked into couponing you do now. We've had to change a little some of our food preferences, but with the coupons and deals at CVS and others we are not being effected to badly by the rising prices and are actually able to get higher quality products as far as the toiletry items go. You can get generic toothpaste or body wash at a discount store for a dollar if you're lucky OR you can get Aquafresh, Colgate Total toothpaste and body washes such as Soft Soap, Caress and Dove for 50 cents or in many cases completely FREE!! Which sounds like a better deal to you?

At least sign up for the trial over at Grocery Game for a few weeks and give it a try! I recommend signing up for a store list that always doubles coupons, it gives you more freedom as far as shopping days, and in most cases increases your savings, although you may want to do the rest of your non-coupon shopping elsewhere. I highly recommend Ralphs(Kroger) or Vons.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Food Shortages....Stockpiling??

I've seen and heard of alot of talk on a message board I frequent about food shortages in the U.S. Specifically rice and flours. I don't know for sure how much is a true shortage and how much is because people are panicking and over buying out of fear of a food shortage. I did find this article today on Yahoo News.

Interesting, makes one think a bit. I can't help but have a new respect for my Mormon friends and neighbors who have been stockpiling for years. They are prepared for a possible shortage, are you?

Sixty Cent Cearl!!!

What a great week for cearl this has been! Ralphs(Kroger in other areas) had selected General Mills Cearl for 4 for $6.00 which in of itself is a good deal as that is $1.50 a box which is my hightest end limit. BUT with coupons from last weeks paper I was able to get several boxes for sixty cents each!! My pantry overflowith with cearl at the moment! Sixty cents a box is just too good a deal to pass up with four fast growing boys. Too good a deal not to share. This deal should be good through Wedensday, so look through your coupons and head out to Ralphs/Kroger and stock up! The only catch is you can only purchase four boxes per transaction so we did multiple trips.

If you are aware of any other good cearl deals please share here as we can go through the stuff rather quickly!
I love quizzes!

You Are a Dash

Your life is fast paced and varied. You are realistic, down to earth, and very honest.

You're often busy doing something interesting, and what you do changes quickly.

You have many facets to your personality, and you connect them together well.

You have a ton of interests. While some of them are a bit offbeat, they all tie together well.

You friends rely on you to bring novelty and excitement to their lives.

(And while you're the most interesting person they know, they can't help feeling like they don't know you well.)

You excel in: Anything to do with money

You get along best with: the Exclamation Point

Monday, April 21, 2008

Just For Fun!

I had a rare few free minutes and did some fun quizzes. Check them out and let me know your results!!

You Are Kermit

Hi, ho! Lovable and friendly, you get along well with everyone you know.

You're a big thinker, and sometimes you over think life's problems.

Don't worry - everyone know's it's not easy being green.

Just remember, time's fun when you're having flies!

Now this one is interesting, as this is my VERY favorite sweet treat!!! YUM!

Reeses Peanut Butter Cups

Very popular, one of you is not enough.

Sunday Shopping Trip

After trying the last two weeks to get the "deals" at CVS and Ralphs(Kroger) and having them sold out, I figured it may be best to go Sunday when the sales begin for best selection. Turns out that works pretty good! The only negative is when it comes to CVS I am not able to right away roll over my ECB's as I have to purchase all at once which mean more out of pocket initially, but the savings come out the same. I have found if I even wait long enough to go out to my car and back, I may miss out on the deals. Yesterday when I got there, there was only five of the Soft Soaps left, so I grabbed them all, because in all likely hood they wont be restocked this week!

So here's what I got at CVS:

After coupons, ECB;s used and ECB's earned all of this came to under five bucks!! Not bad if you ask me! The five body soaps, Deodorant and FreeStyle monitor were 100% free(other than tax!)

I had coupons and earned ECB's on the Clariton. Not a great deal, but I had to buy it anyway, and with the coupons and ECB's it was less than what I normally pay at Costco each payday. I got a pretty good deal on the bars, and the wipes and dish soap were on sale and much needed although they didn't earn any ECB's.

I am not planning another trip to CVS until May 1st when there are some really good deals I am looking forward to. I still have close to 50 ECB's so I wont have to spend any cash out of pocket for a while!!

At Ralphs I didn't score quite as big, but not too bad:

Some of the items fell behind the bigger items so you can't see them all, but I got all of this for under twenty bucks! The four cleaners were 50 cents each as were the four baby bath products. The soda which I normally don't buy was a quarter so I thought that would make a nice treat! The Kotex were 99 cents each, the cearls were 1.49 each and the potatoes were 49 cents! The baby crackers were only a dollar off each, but my grandson eats them like their going out of style, so I HAD to get them.

Thanks to Money Saving Mom and the Grocery Game, I have set new limits on what I will spend on any given item. The basics are no more than 50 cents for toothpastes, deodorants, and similar items, but I can often get those for FREE, cearl which I don't really like to buy anyway I try to keep under a buck, but refuse to spend more than a buck fifty!! Cleaners no more than 50 cents either.

Most other items I buy fresh but still try to get the best bargains I can. I try to keep my produce around 50 cents a pound, and the rare occasions I buy meat, I wont spend more than $2.00 a pound.

I am so thankful to Money Saving Mom and others who share where the best deals are. It has saved me lots of time and work. It has been such a HUGE blessing to my family during this time of financial struggle. It has given me hope that we can cut back expenses without suffering or doing without, and save enough to apply towards our overwhelming debt and actually get out of this hole!!

Saturday I pick up my first order from Angel Food and will share what we get. Between that and the shopping I did yesterday and throughout last week, I will need very little to sustain us through this pay period!!

I forgot to share that we also shopped at Costco yesterday with a $97.00 rebate check we had from our premium membership, so we stocked up on batteries, detergents and some juices, chicken and bread products, not costing us a penny!!

Not a bad shopping day, and I feel like these are all Gods blessings being poured out on us in seemingly small but rather large ways!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

More free and nearly free shopping...

These are all of the items I got this week for free or nearly free. Actually there was one more purchase I forgot to take pictures of.

The first was at CVS and I got all of those pain relievers for just the cost of tax! I did pay 21.50 out of pocket, but got $19.95 ECB's making them all only $1.55!!

That same day we went to Ralphs and got the air freshener, 2 coffee filters, tooth paste and deodorant as well as some candies not pictured. The total was $2.39 with $1.79 being the candy. So for the items pictured, after using coupons we paid 60 cents!!

The following day we returned to CVS(my husband stops by on his way home from work as we live 40 miles away, so I'd be losing gas money if I drove several times a week for these deals) and purchased the pictured(sorry, the photo came out really dark) 2 packs of diapers, 2 tubes of toothpaste, Pepcid AC EZ Chews, and 2 Benefiber Chewables for just the cost of the diapers! Or there a bouts....I lost the receipt but we used some previously earned ECB's, coupons and got back another $18.00 ECB's.

The final day we went back and got a Precision Blood Monitoring kit, an Oral B Sonic Toothbrush, and a Colgate Sonic toothbrush. After using coupons and ECB's our total was $7.03. We earned another $26.95 ECB's!!

Everything we bought with the exception of the blood tester is something we use regularly and needed now. WE got the blood kit because after ECB's it was totally free and plan on donating it and others to charity.

I have to admit I was very frustrated shopping at CVS this week. Even though I did manage to get some good deals, I missed out on many. They just simply run out of the "deals" very quickly and don't restock. That is part of the reason I bought so many Excedrin's last week all at once as well as the pain relievers this week all in one deal rather than breaking them up. IF they have something, you better grab it when you have the chance. I drove down yesterday planning to use my ECB's to get more of the buy one get one free diaper deal as well as the advertised buy one get one free laundry soap and another monitor they had for free after ECB's and they were out of all of them!! As well as the Airwick air freshener starter kit and Soft Soap.

As I mentioned I live 40 miles away and would be losing money if I drove down there for these deals only to have them sold out. So my poor hubby after working hard all day and already driving over 100 miles stops in to check if the items have been restocked. Most of these deals we missed ended today, so we just miss out.

On the bright side, I have ECB's to use next week and it looks like there will be a few good deals.

The May ECB Book looks very promising, I will just have to get there early to be sure not to miss out on any of them!

We haven't blown up the car yet!!

Well, the good news is the car hasn't blown up yet with the hydrogen booster installed in it. The bad news isn't really bad news, it's just not the great news we were hoping for. We have not been able to achieve the 58 miles to the gallon again that we had that first day. We are averaging 37-38 which is still an improvement, just not as big of an improvement as we were hoping for.

As mentioned in a previous post, my husband did all of this without buying any kits or plans or books. So, I think when we get our tax rebate we are going to break down and buy the book!

The other person who we helped install one in his car hasn't noticed any improvement in gas mileage but does state that he feels the engine has more power.

The other person hasn't reported back if or how much improvement he's noticed.

So there probably wont be any more posts on this subject until after the first part of May when we start working on improving it after purchasing the book........

I suppose we shouldn't feel to bad though, we do have a little improvement on gas mileage, and the car hasn't blown up as a few suspected it may! And with gas prices rising the way they are, even a little improvement can mean big savings!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Still Waiting...

It occurred to me that I haven't posted any updates of where we are on our Foster Care journey recently.....

Well, everything happens for a reason, although we don't always see it right away. It always amazes me when I finally see how it all works out, and everything then seems so clear.

The fact is we're still waiting...We were a bit disappointed when things slowed down in the process and it even looked like we may not be able to go through the certification process just yet. I was really upset, then we got the call that we could begin with fingerprinting and it looked like we were good to go again.

By the time we got the paperwork for the background check life happened and we got busy and the paperwork still just sat on my desk.

Turns out that was a good thing, as we recently got a phone call and it appears we may be taking in yet another family member. Out of respect for the other parties involved I wont post details beyond that. So, until we find out whether this will be happening or not the paperwork continues to sit on my desk. See, we barely were making the room requirements for one foster child until we do the add-on. If we do take in this other family member....well, there wont be enough room!!

As I said, everything happens for a reason! We still will become foster parents, it just may be later rather than sooner.

We are hoping and praying this new family member will be able to stay with his/her own parent/s, but chances are he/she may be here at least temporarily at some point, and that will have to take priority over the foster care plans for now.

I sometimes get dizzy and nauseous with all of life's twists and turns and ups and downs, but it seems no matter how crazy things get He always provides just what we need when we need it, whether that be financial, emotionally or spiritually. These days it seems we literally get by on faith and prayer!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Photo's and update of hydrogen ran car

Well, the results following the first day weren't as great as the first day, but it is still a rather big improvement. The first day as I stated before we got 55+miles to the gallon. A rather large improvement compared to our normal 30ish.

Well, the second day my husband was quite disappointed that he only got 38 miles to the gallon. But it turned out something was wrong and all the water in the tank he made burned out so it wasn't functioning on the drive home.

The third day things seem to be functioning ok, but we only got 44 miles to the gallon. We are not sure if we still need to make adjustments(hubby is working on that as I type) or if it is because the first day was all freeway driving and the third was a lot of city driving.

While 44 isn't bad, we are hoping to get back up to the 55 again.

Here are some pictures of the tank/device/thingy under the hood:

I will continue to share our progress and results. Today Husband is working on helping a friend convert his car, and hopefully will be doing my min-van tomorrow! I will post results of these as well as they come in. If we can do it so can YOU! We all have got to do something about these gas prices. It is effecting the cost of everything!

Nearly Free, Free & Better Than Free!!

You just can't get much better than free can you? Actually you can! I recently started doing some shopping at my local CVS after reading other blogs and seeing the deals these ladies are getting! Here's what we got this week:

Tuesday: 2 Excedrin Migraine on sale for $1.99
-I used 2- $2.00 off coupons
-paid .29 at registrar
-got back: $2.00 in ECBs(see here for great explanation of ECBs and how they work!
(I'd say this deal worked out better than free!)

Wed: 1 Excedrin Migraine on sale for $1.99
-used $2.00 off coupon
-paid 14 or so cents out of pocket
-got back $1.00 ECB
(again better than free!)

Thursday: This deal doesn't look as great as the others but it was all stuff we needed, and the ECB's earned helped us with Fridays purchases.
2 bags Huggies Diapers on sale for $8.99 ea
2 CVS baby wipes on sale for 2 or $4.00
2 Gerbers Fingerfoods at $1.50 ea
I lost this receipt, but the total was just slightly over $25.00. We used our $3.00 ECB's and paid roughly $22.00 and got back $10.00 ECB's

Friday: 2 Swifter Refills at $5.99 each
1 Pepcid Ez Chew on Sale for $7.99 (AHH! I forgot my $2.00 off coupon!)
1 Oral B Battery tooth brush at $13.49(the dentist recommended this for my youngest DS)
We used a $1.00 off coupon for the swifters, and the $10.00 ECB's from the day before paying out of pocket 24.28
BUT we got $14.00 ECB's making the total $10.28, AND I have a $5.50 rebate for the Pepcids bringing the total down to $4.78 AND there was a surprise in the Oral B package; a $10.00 rebate!! So now I am basically getting paid $5.22 to take these items from the store!!

I am just getting started at this and hope to learn more and get to the point I am rarely paying anything for toiletry items! Can't beat free? I can!

Next week I will take photos of the deals we get and post them to show you that yes, you can beat free!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

More on our hydrogen ran car....

We have gotten lots of questions about how my husband converted our car, how we fuel it, where we got the plans etc..

My husband searched lots of websites and did lots of research before he did this. He didn't use one set of plans or follow any exactly, as he is really mechanically inclined and made improvements where he saw fit, and cut corners where we could due to expense, but the two main sites he used were this one and this.

Just today alone with the verifiable increased gas mileage, he already has people lined up asking him to help them convert theirs!

My husband assured me that most average people with a minimal of mechanical experience should be able to do this.

I hope some of you look into this, and save yourselves some money, help the environment and feel like you got one over on the money greedy oil giants!!

Me? Worried About Gas?? HA!!

A few weeks ago my dear husband started a project that no one took very seriously. He was convinced he could convert his car to hydrogen and save on gas. We all kind of laughed and let him enjoy his project(he loves working with his hands)

Well, we're not laughing any more! He hasn't been able to fully convert yet, but he basically created a "hybrid" and is now getting over 55 miles to the gallon!!

What did this cost him besides a few hours of his time? Under fifty bucks. How did he do it? He looked up plans on line. There are places that will sell you the converter kits, but he just studied plans on different sites and did it all on his own!!

Supposedly, it help the engine run cleaner and better as well.

I hope he's not still mad at me for laughing, because now I want my mini-van(The Tinker Mobile!) converted as well....

With prayer, a little creativity and willingness, we CAN beat these rising prices!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

New(to me!) ways to save even more!!

We are still slowly but surely trying to hack away at our debt. For a while we were making progress, then the cost of EVERYTHING went up! Gas in our area in close to $3.70 a gallon. Even though I am intentionally using far less eletricity my bill has gone up nearly $60.00, same with our propane bill. Even groceries have sky rocketed! I am buying far less and spending more! This all combined in really hurting us right now!

Not only are we not making progress towards the debt, we are now falling behind on payments, OUCH!! We have been selling items we don't use or no longer need as well as making some sacrifices and selling things still dear to us. It is hard but I can do this all with a smile on my face, because little by little it is helping us achieve our goals.

But the fact remains that I need to cut back even more and find more places to save. I had heard of Angel Food Ministries before but never looked to much into it as the closest one to us was 100 or more miles away!! But they finally have a location near us, so I am going to take advantage of it this month. It is for anybody of any income level. There is no qualifying based on income. You pay $30.00 for a box of food worth up to $70.00. At their site they list each month menu. As it that's not good enough Hillbilly House Wife now posts menus based on the food supplied in each months food box! There is alot of meat in these boxes which will make meat eaters happy. My youngest and I try not to eat meat, but my older boys and husband will be VERY happy to have meat in the house again! After you purchase your box for $30.00 you can also purchase bonus boxes for between $18.00- 20.00(ish) dollars. ?Some are all chicken, some all beef, they even have a senior convenience box which I am thinking of getting one to keep on hand for couples that may be ill or recovering from surgery, it would be nice to have on hand for such an occasion.

Recently I also stumbled upon this blog, which is FULL of great money saving ideas. But my favorite page was this one, which explains in detail how to get free and near free items from CVS.
I have heard of CVS before , but wasn't aware of the money saving opportunities. She has similar pages for Walgreens and a few other stores which I am not familiar with.

I also just signed up once again for The Grocery Game. This site gives you a printed list full of all the best bargains specifically for the store you shop at. They also tell you which coupons are the best deals that week. I think coupons can be a great way to save but I don't have the time to figure it all out, so this is a HUGE help to me. I do find that most coupons are for convenience type foods I try to avoid, but many are for toiletry items we all need, and if I can get them for just pennies each or even better FREE then I will take advantage of the deal. Even the convenience foods I will use if I am getting it for free. In most cases I am not willing to buy them if I am spending ANY money as if it was something I wouldn't buy normally, then I'm not really saving money am I? But sometimes if it's a really good deal and I am wanting a treat I will, not often though.

So these things should be enough to keep me busy for now and give me a little hope that I CAN do this and get out of this hole. I hope there is something here you can use too. I really recommend the blog I linked above, there are just so many great tips there!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

The "S" Word

This is the fourth and final post in a series on homeschooling.

When people find out we homeschool, the first question we ALWAYS get asked is the good old "What about Socialization?" My thought; What about it? Seriously, out of all the concerns outsiders have in regards to homeschooling, this one more than any other concerns them the most. Here is my thought;

That is from a Tshirt my husband has, I just love it!( you can find this and other great homeschool tees here) But back to the point on a more serious note. Why when we are talking education, is socialization peoples biggest concern? It is not only friends and family who worry about this, if you read my other posts in this series I shared that the public schools teacher was more concerned about my sons socialization than his academics!

My question is; is public school where I want my child to get his socialization skills? Does public school really represent real life socialization? Where else in your child's life is he going to be age segregated? I have worked in all kinds of fields and participated in all kinds of community events, and never have I worked with strictly all 38 year olds! EVER!

In real life we will work and play with others of all ages, all backgrounds, all levels of education, all religions, races, often does public school prepare us for this?

Most schools service children in the same neighborhood, and then separate children according to their academic levels as well as age levels. So children are only "socializing" with others from very similar backgrounds.

Now lets take a look at my family, which I think fairly represents homeschoolers in general. My children regularly participate in AWANA, Boyscouts, and Tae Kwon Do. We also take advantage of any events in the community and through churches and such. Sometimes as homeschoolers we go to extremes to take care of our children's "socialization" needs! After several years of this though, we have pared it down to these activities.

At Tae Kwon Do my oldest son became an instructor and also participated in the Jr. Olympics. He became captain of the Olympic Sparring Team. As such he has instructed, trained and befriended children as young as 4 and adults as old as 65! Now to me, that is real life socialization. These people come from neighborhoods in at least four different towns that I am aware of and are of all different economic backgrounds. Here we have met and befriended families literally from all over the world, and of all different faiths.

Through such activities my children have been exposed to wonderful adult mentors, rather than tired burnt out teachers who are overworked, over stressed and not paid or appreciated for all the hard work they do!

Would I rather have my children learn socialization skills from other children or from a rich variety of people of all ages?

I don't know what it is about this one issue that makes so many concerned about homeschooling, I really don't. Perhaps these people met one or two children who seemed to be lacking in social skills and spread the word, and from there this MYTH of homeschoolers not properly being socialized began.

Homeschoolers just like children from public or private schools come from all sorts of backgrounds and some are shy and some are outgoing. I don't think it can be blamed on homeschooling alone. Take my own children for instance. I have one boy who is extremely outgoing. He is the center of attention everywhere we go(he makes sure!) My middle boy is the extreme opposite. He is so shy it is almost painful for us as parents to watch. He just doesn't do well in social settings. I am happy to say it is improving, but it is still an issue. Then there's my oldest who is more middle of the road. He is well liked and has friends, and takes on leadership positions in activities he attends, but he also likes his alone time.

There was a time after nine years of homeschooling that I was burnt out and needed a bit of a break. I put the two youngest in our local private school for a semester. My children were in separate classes. My middle sons teacher went to the administrator of the school with her concerns about his shyness and social awkwardness. She told the administrator she was sure it was a result of him being homeschooled his whole life. The administrator giggled and led the teacher to another class and opened the door. There was a child who was outgoing, laughing, helping other students and being a motor mouth. The administrator said, then how do you explain this? This child is that students brother who also has only been homeschooled up until now!!

My point in sharing that story is that more often than not, personalities are just what they are. They aren't a result of public schooling or homeschooling in most cases. Children are born the way God intended them to be. I have two children with completely opposite personalities, and they both have only been homeschooled with the exception of that one semester.

Just like I don't blame public school for some children who are obnoxious, please don't blame homeschooling on that shy, awkward kid you know.

Homeschooling gives us the time and freedom to explore and participate in alot more outside activities then most public school students have time to do. I really just can't think of an argument against homeschooling in regards to the socialization issue that really holds any ground.

I had planned on having one more post about homeschooling, but I am just going to leave it here for now. If you are interested in homeschooling or have any questions you are welcome to comment or email me and I will be happy to answer. If you google "Homeschooling" you will get link after link of helpful websites and resources.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

I've Been Tagged!!

This is the first time I've been tagged since moving here to Blogger!

One of my Sonlight friends(who I am looking forward to meeting next month!) Rose tagged me.

The rules are as follows...
1. Link your tagger and list these rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.
3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.
4. Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

1. I can meditate while standing on my head.(and make a grocery list, pray, yell at the kids and more!) Quite a talent I know.

2. This may surprise some people...I LOVE tattoo's, have a couple and plan on more!

3. We are planning a trip to Texas next summer based all around churches we want to visit!

4. My biggest dream is to go to India someday.

5. I didn't get my drivers license until my 35th birthday. I still HATE driving, but when I have to drive, I LOVE to drive FAST!!!!

6. I love to sing, but can't sing a note in tune if my life depended on it!!

7. As someone pointed out to me this morning: I MUST be weird because I homeschool my kids, and at the end of the day, I STILL want to spend more time with THEM!

Let's see....who to tag??

1. Joy is my Strength

2. Leslie(NUOY)

3. Apple Leaf

4. Hmmm...Anybody else who wants to play!!!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Ooops! A Note on the Homeschooling Posts

I wrote several of these over the weekend and saved them as drafts to post during the week. Because of this, any I wrote over the weekend(the 2nd and 3rd in the series) posted BELOW the first one. So, if you are interested in reading those posts, you will have to scroll down to find them.

I will be writing the next two today and tomorrow, so they should post accordingly.