Friday, April 29, 2011

My Grocery Shopping Tips

I've been wanting to share some of the ways I save money but haven't been sure where to start. I'm just naturally cheap, so it's in my nature. I will start with some of my grocery shopping tips (since a friend of mine asked me to share about a year ago) and in the future posts I'll move onto other subjects.
Over the years I have tried many different things and right now I have a system that works for our family.
My first word of advice is: Take others advice, try it out, but be willing to try different things and see what works for your family. Experiment. Just because one thing works for someone, doesn't mean it's going to work for you.
I have tried many different stores but what I found works best for me is to stick with 2 stores (sometimes 3) that I rotate and I don't even look at the sale papers for the other stores.
I live in an area where I have a lot of stores close to me. I have a local grocery store that I do most of my shopping at that is only 2 blocks away. I have another larger chain grocery store that I generally only buy extremely good sale items at. Then I also have an Aldi about 3 miles from my house that I go to once every month or two to stock up on certain items.
After trying many different stores I've found that this combo is the best for our family. I think I get pretty good prices and I don't spend too much time running from place to place.
Here are a few things that I've learned over the years:
1) Experiment with brands. Some are worth splurging on and others aren't. It's not worth buying the off brand if no one will eat it and it's not worth splurging if there is a cheaper brand that is just as good.

2) Shop the sale papers. I make my list strictly from the sale paper, then I add the few items that we absolutely need and any items that I might need for specific recipes.

3) Clip coupons but don't use them just to use them. The off brands might actually be cheaper than a brand name item with a coupon. I also will only buy certain items if they are on sale AND I have a coupon. I subscribe to 2 different newspapers for my coupons.

4) Try to stick with a budget. You can get a million good deals but you need to limit yourself to actually save money. I found when I actually gave myself a budget, I had to look harder for the deals.

5) Know your prices. The more you watch sale papers, the more you will know. Just because it's on sale doesn't make it a good price. I try not to pay more than $1 for a loaf of bread, $2 for a gallon of milk, $2 for brand name chips.

6) Stock up. When you see something on sale and you know you use it a lot, buy a lot of them when they are cheap.

I could probably go into a lot more detail on all of these but I'm trying to keep it simple. If you have any questions please feel free to email me or post a comment.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


My son Isaac is in Pre-K this year. He goes to school 3 days a week for half a day. To make things easier on us moms, we have 5 of us in a carpool. It has worked out very well and its nice because I only have to drive 2 or 3 times a month.

As with all 4 and 5 year olds, listening to their conversations can sometimes be amusing and at other times they can be just plain annoying.

Most of their topics of conversation revolve around poop. Both the boys and girls alike just find this word and this topic very amusing. I don't.

Today we were about a mile away from one of the girls houses and I said, "OK kids, let's play a game!"

They were very excited about the idea of playing a game. My game.......let's get all the way to Abby's house without saying the word pee or poop.

We made it about half a mile when 2 girls in the back started saying, "This is so hard!"

About 10 seconds after they said this Isaac yells, "POOOOOOP!"

The girls erupted in laughter.

Game Over.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Pictures I Found

I love when I don't download pictures off my camera for awhile (you know--- a whole week and a half) that I find things I forgot I took pictures of.

Now do you believe me that I'm forgetful?

I am not exactly sure what they have built here, but I am thinking it is some kind of ship since Isaac is driving it with a Wii wheel and the swords are in the air.

A couple weeks ago we watched one year old twin girls. I love watching other's younger children.

(That is not an invitation for everyone to call me to watch their kids)

It reminds me of the old days. Except this time I can give them back after a few hours AND I have 2 six year old girls that love to follow them around and make sure they don't get into trouble.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Jesus Lives

"I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve but your grief will turn to joy." John 16:20

"Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again." Luke 24:5-7

Finding joy today in my risen Lord.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

An Adult Night Out for the Children's Hunger Fund

This past weekend I attended the Children's Champion Award Banquet benefiting the Children's Hunger Fund. I've just recently learned about this organization and what I've learned, I really love. The biggest thing I love about them is that their goal is to feed hungry children but they not only do that. They build relationships with them and bring them the gospel. But don't take my word for it, head on over to their website and check them out. I am definitely looking forward to learning more about them and partnering with them in the future.

We attended with our small group from church and we had a lot of fun getting dressed up and having a night out at The Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. You can find highlights of the evening and videos of those honored here. One winner was S. Truett Cathy- you might now him better if I said Chick-fil-A. 

Since they did not include any pictures of us in highlights of the evening, here are a few.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I Organized, I Got Crafty, and Then I Ate

With today being a blah rainy day, I decided it was a good day to go through the kids rooms and the toy room and organize.

I am sharing pictures so that I can document that for a few hours things look good.

Of course a good majority of the toys are in the basement, which I have not gotten to yet. The kids are under strict instructions to not bring any toys up or down until that floor has been gone through.

Joshua was a huge help today. He was more into it than me and was more than willing to pitch things. Sometimes this kid's personality, I think he is a clone of me.

After we finished the girls room he asked me if we could mess it all up and then organize it again. Not really what I was going for.

Meanwhile, the other 3 were busy unorganizing (according to spell check this is not a word--I disagree) and playing with the newly organized toys. Needless to say, when we were done......the TV was turned on.

In the past I have learned that I am good at some things and not so good at other things. Although I would love to be crafty, it's just not really my thing. But I am cheap frugal. So, when I saw this idea in a magazine I decided this might be my kind of craft. It is a cheap, functional and easy craft. And since my husband is a painter, it just made sense that I should make it.

Maybe next week I will do a little tutorial on how I made these. Of course, I am forgetful so please don't hold your breath.

After I was all done organizing and crafting, I decided to celebrate by making a big bowl of Puppy Chow and eating half of it. It was delicious!

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Biggest Benefit of Writing It Down

Ever since I started a Budget I've seen the benefits of writing our expenses and spending down.

Even if you go through your month paying your bills, buying your groceries, you make sure you don't spend more than you make but you don't write it are still missing out.

If you write it down, don't change how you spend (as long as you live within your means), you WILL still see the benefits.

When I think back on all the months we were writing it down, the BIGGEST Benefit was being able to look back over the month and see how God worked. How He provided. How when it didn't seem the numbers would add up, they did!

When there were weeks we didn't get a paycheck, we could see how God made it work.

When there were months that we had extra bills, people who were in need, we had it right there in writing and we praised Him. The One who provided.

Are you struggling each month? Getting frustrated that there just never seems to be enough? Write it down and see how God has provided for your needs and so much more!

Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all.     I Chronicles 29:11-12

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Faith Like Moses

In March, I began reading through the Bible in One Year. I use the the NIV One Year Chronological, which just makes sense to me to go through it in the order it actually happened.

I love reading through all the Bible stories that I listened to as a kid. Every time I do this, I love how I notice new things that I never noticed before. Little details. Things that I just kind of skimmed over because they weren't part of the main story.

For instance, there are so many crazy names in the Bible but Esau married a woman named Judith. Such an ordinary name just doesn't seem to go with Esau.

I never remembered reading that after Sarah died, Abraham got remarried and had more children.

This past week I've been reading about Moses and the 10 plagues. As I was reading I noticed what great faith Moses had as he continued to go back to Pharaoh over and over again. And God continued to harden Pharaoh's heart over and over again.

While I was reading I thought to myself, 'Why did God keep sending him and putting Moses and Aaron through this if He was just going to harden Pharaoh's heart time and time again?'

I kept reading and I came upon this:

Then the Lord said to Moses, "Get up early in the morning, confront Pharaoh and say to him, 'This is what the Lord, the God of the Hebrews says: Let my people go, so that they may worship me, or this time I will send the full force of my plagues against you and against your officials and your people, so you may know that there is no one like me in all the earth. For by now I could have stretched out my hand and struck you and your people with a plague that would have wiped you off the earth. But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth....."   Exodus 9:13-16

Each and every plague was To Show His Power! To Proclaim His Name!

When we are doubting what God is doing.......He's not done showing His Power!

As we look forward to Hebrews, these beautiful words were written about Moses faith.

By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king's anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible. Hebrews 11:27

I don't know about you but I want to have that kind of faith! The kind that doesn't fear men and perseveres after our Great God!

Monday, April 11, 2011

"Hilarico" Things My Kids Say

Yes, I said "Hilarico." That is because recently I overheard Amanda say this to one of her siblings.

"That was Hilarico!" 

Here are some conversations I've overheard and a few other things my kids said that I found "Hilarico".


Me: "I smell a skunk."

Amanda: "I didn't fart!"


Alex: "How does God put the babies in your tummy?"

Me: "Ummm, I'll have to explain that to you another time." 


Alex and Amanda were talking in the car about what to do with Alex's old diary because she had gotten a new one.

Amanda: "I know! You can garage sale it!"

So, if anyone wants a used diary, Alex has one for sale. No juicy dirt, just a lot of drawings.


Isaac: "I have a dillion."

Alex: "That's not even a number."

Amanda: "A dillion is 12."


Isaac: "Dad told me he would pay for our high school but if we go to college we have to pay for it ourselves."

Joshua: "Isaac, don't lie."

Isaac: "I'm not lying, I'm serious. He said that."

Joshua: "How much does it cost?"

Isaac: "A lot of money. Like $100!"

Joshua: "What! I don't have $100."


The boys were playing basketball in their bedroom.

Alex walked in the room and went to sit down and watch them.

Isaac to Alex: "You can't sit there, those seats cost $1000. You need to sit up there."

I later found the girls sitting on the top bunk watching their brothers play.

They learned this because when we were at the Bulls/Pacers game Isaac asked why we couldn't sit in the seats that were closer. I told him those seats were really expensive, so we get to sit really far away. I guess that's the one thing he took away from the game!


Hope you enjoyed these and that they brought a smile to your day.

Friday, April 8, 2011

It's In The Envelope

Two and a half years ago when I first read Dave Ramsey's book Total Money Makeover, I started using the envelope system. I probably used it for about 6 months and then decided that it just wasn't working for me.

My biggest problem was when I was at a store and would have a purchase that required money from 2 different envelopes. I'd come home and try to figure out how much money I owed which envelope.

It all seemed way too confusing and like too much work. I decided a debit card would be way easier, so I got one.

In February, I went back to the Envelope System.

For those of you who don't know what this is, I'll explain.

Basically, figure out your budget and certain categories are cash only. You take that money, put it in an envelope and you can only spend what is in the envelope. If the cash isn't there, then you simply can't buy it.

There is just something great about going into a store and paying cash.

I still remember a couple years ago when I had saved up for a few months with my clothing fund and then headed out to the outlet mall. I had tons of bags full of clothes and it felt so great knowing that it was all paid for. I didn't have to go home and check how much I put on my debit card to see if I went over budget and I also didn't get a credit card bill in the mail the next month. It was a big shopping spree with none of the guilt!

I have envelopes for Adult Clothes, Kids Clothes, Groceries, Household Items, Gas, Date Nights, Entertainment, Dining Out, Babysitting, and a few others as well.

When you are paying cash, you think more about your purchase because you only have a certain amount to spend. Once it's gone, it's gone. You spend wisely.

If you don't believe me, I challenge you to try it. Try it for 2 months and see if it changes how you spend.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


Here is a quick and easy treat to make with your kids.

All you need is:

2 bags of Wilton Candy Chocolate (Light Cocoa or Dark Cocoa)
Bunny Marshmallows

Melt the chocolate according to instructions.

Insert the toothpicks into the marshmallows.

Give them to your kids and have the dip them.

Let them dry on wax paper.

Then enjoy.

Simple. Easy. So Delicious!

As we were making these one child said that we can make these instead of coloring Easter eggs. Brilliant idea, since I think coloring Easter eggs is pointless and a waste of time. Can you eat an Easter egg? No, but you can eat a delicious chocolate bunny!

And speaking of bunnies......aren't these the cutest little bunnies you've ever seen?

One bunny, wasn't very happy.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Spring Break

Last week was spring break for us. We did a whole lot of not very exciting things.

We started out the week with my sister coming over for coffee. We pretended that we were in Florida, with no kids and if we stepped out the door it would be 85 degrees. It didn't work very well.

Monday night I found my kids jumping off the top bunk of the bunk bed with backpacks on and into a pile of blankets.  They were parachuting. I have to admit, it was quite genius. I did have to tell them to stop though because I have was having visions of me sitting in the ER with all 4 of them when they were supposed to be snug in bed.

Tuesday we went to a friends house for lunch and then karate at night.

Wednesday I had to work, so they got to hang out with dad.

Thursday, Brad took the day off and we went to the Children's Museum. I had a Groupon there that we needed to use up (I love Groupon!).

The girls and I painted some beautiful flowers and we all went into the wood shop. Alex made the thing with the bottle caps on both sides, the boys sawed a piece of wood with dad, and Amanda made the square thing. She decided she could use it as a picture frame. Maybe for a tall, skinny person. Uncle Scott?

Thursday night Brad and I left the kids at home and headed out for dinner with some friends.

Friday the boys went to my sister's house to play with their cousins so me and the girls did what girls are supposed to do when there are no males around.

We went dress shopping.

I love dress shopping with them. We each had our own dressing room and the girls came out modeling dresses for Easter. I came home with 5 dresses and 3 shirts for myself. This week, I will be returning 4 dresses and 2 shirts. I'm about ready to give up on clothes shopping. One of those things that I feel like I waste a lot of time doing and get nothing accomplished.

Friday night we watched 3 boys while their mom and dad went on a date. It sure is busy when you have 5 boys in the house.

Saturday I decorated a cake for my nieces 1st birthday party and then we attended her party that night.

I just loved her little tutu.

See, a whole lot of nothing. As uneventful as it was I enjoyed having Brad home for a long weekend, having the kids home and sleeping in. Now it's back to alarm clocks and schedules.