Friday, July 31, 2009

Back to School and Freebie Friday

Didn't get a blog out yesterday :( sorry, today however I am so thankful that we are cooler and I am getting my house back to a normal temperature, I got some sleep last night so I feel much better today and a bit more productive.

I got the Staples e-mail today with their specials for next week, they are selling packs of filler paper for 1 cent each, I am definitely getting those for school. The kids and I went in on Monday and got some of the deals I told you about last week, I saw the filler paper on sale for 79 cents (I think) but I had a feeling it would go lower because we got it last year for a steal, so I decided to wait... smart choice. By the way, those sale prices are effective Sun. - Thurs.

Ok, so it's Freebie Friday... I've been looking around for a really nice freebie... sometimes it's hard to find, I came across this offer and although it's not completely free, you get 7 free bonus recipe books with your purchase. Anyway, I really like to cook so it appeals to me, they are offering recipes from all our favorite restaurants. Click on the link to take a look.
America's Secret Recipes

I hope you have a wonderful weekend. Be blessed!

Smart Mom

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Staying cool...or not..

It's almost 9pm on Wednesday as I write this, the temperature reached an unbearable 107 degrees here, I haven't heard yet but I think it might be a record. Anyway, I don't care too much about that I just want it to cool down a little, it's about 90 degrees in my house right now.

So what's my Smart Mom tip of the day...? I'm keeping it short because I want to get off my computer, yeah.. you guessed it.. it's too hot.. so I just want to refer you to a website I visited today, there's so much to look at there You'll find coupons for groceries, restaurants and all kinds of stuff, just be aware that some of the offers may require something of you, perhaps a few dollars or ultimately getting your name on a mailing list. Here's a tip for that one, create a free account with Gmail or Yahoo etc. and use it exclusively for those times when you want to sign up for something free, but don't really want your inbox to turn into Central Station! That way you can keep your personal email address personal.

Well, have a great day, I'll try to post a few updates on Twitter throughout the day. Follow me there if you like

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Save On Your Services

The temperatures are in the 90's here right now and I wish I could think of some Smart Mom tips to cut back on the misery of being too hot without air conditioning. I'm trying to keep my home cool with all the usual methods, but I'm failing.... it was still in the 80's after 10 pm last night, so cooling off overnight is a myth at the moment... oh well, may as well try to find other areas to save....

After taking a look at your major accounts, you might want to evaluate some of your everyday expenses to see if you can reduce your budget without compromising too much on the things you want. Some areas to look at could include:

  • Cable TV/Satellite TV: try cutting back to a more limited service, I reduced my bill by about $40 a month and we still get enough channels (so few are worth watching anyway!)

  • Phone/ Long distance calling: don't pay for more than you will use each month, the phone companies always try to up sell you to a better package - and they should, that's their business- just be aware of what you are paying for, you might be able to eliminate some features you never use. Take a look at Skype for free calling and video calling I haven't used this service but I have friends who have and they gave it a thumbs-up.

  • Cellular phone service: if you don't use it much, look into a prepaid or pay as you go plan; if you use your cell phone a lot be sure to get unlimited minutes in your plan. Shop around

  • Internet service providers: you can find many services online for free, but typically you will have to pay someone to provide you with access to the internet. Compare services from your phone company, cable/satellite company, cellular company. Be sure to find the service that meets your needs, really, who wants dial-up anymore

Check out the discounts you would receive if you bundle your services with one provider, and watch your mailbox for special offers. Of course, if you find you don't need any of the services I mentioned, cool.. you can eliminate them altogether. (Did I say cool? I must be dreaming of lower temperatures.)

Well, gotta go now, see you tomorrow.

Smart Mom

Monday, July 27, 2009

Account Check-Up!

Still on the topic of getting your finances in order, it is important to be in control of your accounts, yesterday we discussed setting yourself up with a system and establishing a routine for keeping your transactions up to date. Today, we'll talk about accounts and how to make sure they're working for you.

First of all, make a list of all of your accounts -maybe you already have them in your software program, if so you've got a head start, if not that's ok.

You'll need to examine each account individually. Some of the types of accounts you may have are:

  • Bank/Credit Union Checking, Savings, Moneymarket, investment etc.

  • Credit Cards (Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express etc.)

  • Store credit cards (eg. Sears, Macy's etc.)

  • Mortgage accounts

  • Auto loans

  • Lines of Credit

  • Personal loans

  • Retirement accounts

  • Mutual Funds

This may take a little time, don't get overwhelmed, just take them one at a time.

Evaluate each account based on the following questions:

  1. Are there any monthly service fees?

  2. What is my interest rate?

  3. What are the penalties for overdraft, returned item etc?

  4. Are there any prepayment penalties for paying off an account early?

  5. Is it feasible to transfer this account elsewhere if I find a better deal?

No service charges and low interest rates for credit are always the best option, many banks and credit unions offer free checking, just make sure you are aware of any qualifying factors (such as maintaining a minimum balance etc.). Do shop around if you find yourself in a less than ideal situation. As you look at each account, please be careful to evaluate whether there's a real benefit in making the switch. It may be unrealistic for you to attempt to refinance your mortgage or auto loan, so be sure to read the fine print. If you have reasonable credit and want a better rate of interest on your credit card, it's definitely worth considering transferring a balance, there's a lot of competition in the credit card market.

Don't forget to look at the interest dividend rate you are receiving on any savings and investment accounts, you might be able to get a greater return elsewhere.

I know, all of this doesn't sound like a fun way to spend a summer's day but remember your investment of time will reap rewards later.


Smart Mom

Just in...for homeschoolers

From Alpha Omega Publications, one day sale. Save 20% today, July 27th.

Alpha Omega provides high quality homeschool curriculum from a Christian perspective. I have personally used the LifePac, Horizons and Switched on Schoolhouse curriculum with my kids.

Call 800-622-3070 or shop online at

Start Smart With Your Finances

When we talk about savings usually our first thought is in regards to saving money, of course my blog is all about saving in lots of areas, not just financially, today however, I do want to talk about getting a handle on finances.

Everyone's circumstances are different so I won't presume to know your situation, what you spend or what you have to spare; so don't expect a lecture on cutting out the daily lattes to save $20 per week, because I know a lot of you wouldn't dream of buying lattes and others of you want to keep that luxury as a well-deserved reward.

Mastering your finances begins with examination. You need to look at how much money you have coming in, examine what you are spending it on and create a budget from there. Easy, right? For some it is easy and even fun, but for others it is an overwhelming task and that can lead to financial errors which can be costly in more ways than one.

For several years now I have used Quicken on my home computer to manage our personal finances. It is easy to set up, you can input your income and all your monthly recurring bills, create a budget and keep track of your spending by category. Record your transactions in the check register and the program does all the calculation for you. If you use a debit card, be sure to keep track of those transactions. Most banks/credit unions offer online banking nowadays, I recommend logging in regularly to check on your account in case you forgot to record a transaction, also you will likely notice immediately if someone has used your account fraudulently.
I believe the most recent version of Quicken is Quicken Deluxe 2009 and costs less than $20.

There are free alternatives to Quicken and you can search online for those, I just did and I found the following article on where you'll find a comparison of 5 free alternatives, here's the link.

If you are comfortable with managing your finances online, Quicken now offers an online version of their product free, take a look

Regardless of the choice you make, what's important is to get started. This is just the beginning, check back for more tips, I'll be sharing some specific suggestions for you in the coming weeks.

By the way, you can now subscribe to my blog by e-mail (just figured out how to do that yesterday!) or subscribe by feed like before.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Love Your Library

My kids love to read books, there is absolutely no way I could finance or store the amount of books they consume, it's a good thing we have our local library. We visit usually a couple of times a week because it is conveniently located for us. But don't underestimate your library, chances are that it's a lot like ours and offers much more than the books on the shelves.

Some of the cost saving features you can access at most local libraries are:

  • A library catalog which allows you to access resources from other libraries and place holds. We can do this from our home computer using the internet.

  • Audio books.

  • DVDs

  • Magazines, newspapers

  • Digital downloads - audio and e-books

  • Computer use in the library branch with internet access

  • Children's events, storytimes, book clubs, summer reading programs

  • Teen resources, homework help

  • Book discussion groups for adults

  • Book sales

  • Computer classes

  • Local area information

  • Citizenship info, Federal Tax Return form tips

Our library also has a Bookmobile, so if you can't get out to your local library, ask if they offer that service also, maybe it comes to your neighborhood and you don't know it. If not, consider placing holds for the items you want and ask a friend or relative to pick them up and return them for you.

Oh.. yeah.. that reminds me! Be sure to return or renew your books before the due date or you'll accrue some fines... ask me how I know!!!! (my son has a bill to pay as we speak, hmmm not such a smart saving....)

My daughter is working her way through the entire series of Little House on the Prairie on DVD. Love it! I grew up with Little House and I'm glad she likes it too.... we are about to start Season 5. To buy the set would cost us around $200 from Ebay which isn't bad for the whole set, but for now FREE is better.

So check out your library if you haven't already, encourage your family to read more, we are never too old to learn something new!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Freebie Friday 7-24-09's a bonus today, two blog posts for the price of one... sweet deal , huh??? Ok, so the blog costs you nothing, you're still getting two for the same price... hee..hee.

Well, thanks for reading, I promised you a freebie each Friday, and I stumbled upon this one today, believe it or not this website gives away a free software item every day. I haven't downloaded it yet, but it looks neat. Here's the address:

They say today's giveaway is PDF to Word 3.0. With PDF to Word you can open a pdf file and save the content of the document as Word file. The program maintains the layout, that means the position of the the text, the pictures and the vector graphics.

Thanks again for stopping by, have a great weekend! Remember to save smart!

Back to School Savings

Seems like just a few weeks ago I was wrapping up the 2008-09 school year with my kiddos, as a homeschooling family we make our own schedule, I like to start the school year earlier than our public schools and we don't take as many days off so we get done sooner.
So, it's time to start preparing for our new school term coming up, we are already set up with our curriculum but we still need the miscellaneous school supplies.
Here's a few deals that Staples has going for the week of July 26-Aug. 1. I imagine some stores are offering different specials so you might want to go to for your local store ad.

25 cent deals:
  • Elmer's Glue 4oz
  • Staples manual pencil sharpener
  • Bic Matic Grip mechanical pencils (5 pack)
  • Staples 3"x5" white ruled index cards (100 pack)
  • Staples cap erasers (12 pack)
  • Slider pencil case

Print coupon from ad: $5 off any in store purchase of $30 or more

Save 25-50% on all backpacks

There's much more, check it out. By the way, sign up for the Staples Rewards card, it's free and they'll send you a rewards check each month. That was easy!

I'll keep watching for more back to school specials and update you as I find them.

Have a blessed day!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Homeschool Savings

Are you a homeschooling family? I received this today in my inbox from the Homeschool Buyers Co-op, membership is free and you can save a lot of money by being part of their group buys. Below is a special offer for language programs, of note... Rosetta very highly acclaimed.

Check out the Homeschool Buyers Co-op website for more information

~~ July is LEARN A LANGUAGE MONTH ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~The competition is heating up! The top three foreign language products are battling it on the Co-op home page, for the first time ever -- head to head!If you are looking to buy foreign language curriculum for the coming school year, NOW IS THE TIME and the CO-OP IS THE PLACE! We won't have this many great deals in one place for a long, long time!
Rosetta Stone -- Get Bonus Curriculum + 500 SmartPoints -- REDUCED!NEWS FLASH: This offer keeps getting better! Rosetta Stone just announced even deeper discounts for Levels 1-3 and 1-5 and the Co-op immediately increased our discount to the maximum permitted on those products - 14%. We not only offer the BIGGEST discount permitted by Rosetta Stone, but we give you FREE Shipping plus FREE Bonus Curriculum!
Auralog TELL ME MORE - Save up to 50% - EXTENDED!!GOOD NEWS: Auralog has agreed to extend our Group Buy through July 31. We're only 10 orders shy from reaching the 40% discount level, so there is an excellent chance we'll blow past that and perhaps even get up to 50%! TELL ME MORE packs four years of language learning for the entire family in a single software package, making it one of the best values in language software around.
powerspeaK12 (formerly Power-Glide) from K12 - Save 25% - NEW!This program was designed specifically for kids, boasts a Reader's Choice Award from Practical Homeschooling, as well as Teacher's Choice Awards for 2004 and 2005. Co-op members SAVE 25% off of their choice of the powerspeaK12 programs. As far as we know, this is THE best deal available for this product for homeschoolers -- anywhere!
TELL OTHER HOMESCHOOLERS!!! IT'S A PITY!! In these tough times, it's a pity that non-member homeschoolers collectively are paying HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS more than they need to for foreign language instruction, simply because they don't know about the Co-op!!! Even if language learning is not on your agenda for this year, help us make sure that other homeschoolers know about these great deals!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Getting a Handle on Housework

Perhaps you love to spend your weekend cleaning up after your family, or not.... does your week get so busy that your house looks like a battle zone by the time Friday rolls around? Help is just a few short tasks away, here's a few tips to get your household chores under control so that you can spend less time cleaning on your days off and more time doing the things you want to.

  • Get a laundry organizer basket, something with at least 3 compartments (you could probably find one at Wal-Mart or Target). Sort your dirty laundry as you put it in the hamper, so you will easily see when you have a full load to do and it'll be ready to throw in the washer. Teach everyone in the family to sort their laundry as they put it in. Make sure everyone picks up their dirty laundry EVERY DAY. Schedule it in to your kids routines, even toddlers can learn to sort their clothes by color.

  • Don't ever leave dirty dishes in the sink, take care of them right away, then wipe the counters clean.

  • Before bed do a quick sweep around the house - that is, pick up items that were taken out and put them away.

  • Keep a container of disposable disinfectant wipes (eg. Clorox or Lysol) in each bathroom. Each morning after everyone is done with showers etc., give the bathroom a quick wipe down with a disposable wipe. Your bathrooms will always look clean and this will probably only take you 1-2 minutes.

  • Make your bed each morning, after your shower is a good time, then pick up any clothing etc. and leave your bedroom looking neat. You'll be glad you did when bedtime comes around!

These are just a few ideas to get you started, again you'll be making investments each day which will save you time later!

One last suggestion... don't feel like you have to do everything yourself, get your family involved!

Monday, July 20, 2009

A Little Planning Goes A Long Way

I have come to the conclusion that in order to realize a savings, typically an initial investment is required. Sounds kind of weird, but it's true. Think about it, your bank savings account won't grow if you don't first make a deposit. A store coupon won't save you any money if you don't first find that coupon and then present it at the store with your purchase. Likewise when we invest time, we often reap the reward of saved time later.

One of the things which I know many moms struggle with is "what's for dinner?". I've "been there, done that" and still do sometimes. However I do know a solution which has been a tremendous time-saver, stress-reliever and blessing in my life. Yes... it just takes a little planning and you can enjoy weeks of worry free meals. No, you don't have to cook them all in one day, but that's a great idea too, if you can muster the energy!

You need to start with a list of meals, grab your favorite recipe books, paper and pen, and don't try to rush it. I like to do 2 weeks at a time so I usually choose about 12 meals, because in our home we can usually count on leftovers a couple of times. You might want to allow for eating out one night o ordering pizza etc. depending on your family.

In your list of meals try to plan for variety based on your family's preferences, it's more fun if you can get each family member to choose at least one meal, then everyone feels involved and they're sure to get at least one thing they like!

Don't choose too many complicated recipes, allow yourself some meals that will be quick and easy on your busiest days. Perhaps try at least one new recipe during each 2 week period. I highly recommend for recipe searching, there are so many to choose from, be sure to read some of the reviews before you make a new recipe, the experiences of others can really help you decide if you want to try it.

If you like to prepare ahead of time and freeze your meals, I love "Fix, Freeze & Feast" by Kati Neville &Lindsay Tkacsik. I got mine from, the Salisbury Meatballs are my favorite! Having a few meals in the freezer can be a life-saver too.

After you've made your list, go back through and check the ingredients for each recipe and make your shopping list for the entire 2 weeks. Be sure to check your pantry as you make the list so you don't miss anything and add other staples that you might be low on. I don't make a lunch or breakfast plan as such because those are easier for me to throw together.

When you're all done, post the list on your refrigerator (or other place that's convenient for you) then each morning choose a meal off the list for that evening, so you'll be able to plan your day and know how much time you need to prepare dinner.

Be sure to save your meal plan at the end of the 2 weeks, after you've done a few of these you'll have a good variety to choose from, you can either just cycle through them again or use them as a starting point for a new plan.

So, it takes a little investment of time but it will save you time every day for 2 weeks and I"m pretty sure you'll spend less on groceries because you'll be making less trips to the store.

Have fun, I'll be getting busy on my meal plan and grocery shopping...tomorrow!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Freebie Friday!

Each Friday I will try to bring you a suggestion for something you can get for FREE! I love to get things free and I'm sure most of you do too. On occasion I will have something FREE to give away to you, so be sure to keep in touch with my blog.

This week I want to share with you an opportunity to go to the movies for free, you may already be familiar with this offer, and perhaps have already taken advantage of it. During the summer months, select Regal Theaters around the country participate in their Family Film Festival.

Selected G & PG movies start at 10AM each Tuesday and Wednesday during the festival. First-come, first-served seating is limited to theatre capacity. The Free Family Film Festival is safe, lots of fun and a great way for kids to spend a weekday morning in the summer. Log on to their website and search for a theater near you and view the upcoming movie schedule

My family and I went to the free showing of Kit Kittredge this week, boy did that family learn how to save or what?? From turning their home into a boarding house, to selling eggs and making dresses out of chicken feed sacks, they learned to save and to survive through a difficult time.

Please e-mail me with your savings tips, your savings success stories or savings ideas you would like me to evaluate. I would love to hear from you!

My e-mail is

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Chistmas in July?

While driving home yesterday my kids were making suggestions for watching a movie when we got home, my son wanted us to watch "Charlie Brown's Christmas" which he had checked out from our local library. (Yes the library offers great ways to save..... I'll talk about that another day!) Anyway, knowing I like Charlie Brown, he was hoping I would encourage him, however I commented that I didn't really want Christmas in July. Well, that got me thinking about ways to save..... for July....

  1. Make a list of all the people you plan to buy gifts for, there are approximately 23 weeks until Christmas, so divide those weeks between your number of people. For example if you will buy gifts for 10 people you could easily plan to buy one gift every 2 weeks and be done in plenty of time for Christmas.

  2. Start watching for sales. If you see a great sale going on, take advantage and look for something that suits someone on your gift list. (By the way, if I see a great sale I will alert you too!) Back to school sales will be promoted very soon, you might get some great deals.

  3. Do you send Christmas cards? Make your card list and if you have some cards on hand you could even write one or two each week.

  4. Think about online shopping, you can research some of the items you might want and subscribe at various webstores for e-mail alerts so that you know when items go on sale. Also, lots of stores offer special offers to those on their mailing list.Being in the know can save you lots of money.

Well, these are just a few ways to save for Christmas in July, you might enjoy your results:

  • Reduce the stress associated with Christmas time by being ahead of your game!

  • Invest a little energy each day or week to be able to enjoy more family time during the Christmas season.

  • Save money by shopping when you see an item on sale!

Be sure to let me know if you have great results or any ideas to share!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Welcome to Smart Mom Savings!

Thanks for stopping by my blog! I am excited to share lots of Smart Mom Savings with you!

In today's economy we all need to find ways to be smart and save in every area, look for ideas each day to help you save time, money, energy, resources of all kinds. Some may be new and some may be familiar but worth a reminder of.

I will also include links to websites which offer savings, but only if I have previewed them and think they are worthy of your consideration.

Subscribe by e-mail and don't miss any posts, also I would love to hear suggestions and comments, if you have a smart saving idea, please share. Even if you are not a mom, I'm sure you would like to save too!