Saturday, July 31, 2010

Tightwad's Savings

Before my mama left to go back to Belarus, she asked me to not buy any more food. She joked that our spare bedroom is a grocery store in itself and that I don’t know half of the items that are on the shelf. Sadly, she was right and I decided to take my mama’s advice this week.

The only grocery store that I stopped by was Bi-Lo. I picked up country gravy, because the coupons were expiring and we love that stuff mixed with rice. I also picked up peanut butter to go cups, because after coupons they cost me $0.24 and my hubby loves peanut butter. Lastly I picked up Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce, because it was on sale B1G1. My family loves Baby Ray and I figures since summer (grilling season) is almost over, there possibly won’t be another good sale. I figured I better stock up now.

After Bi-Lo I stopped by Lowe’s. I remembered that it was almost time for the store to change their light fixture display, so I was hoping to find a treasure. I browsed the isles and was amazed at the clearance that I was coming across. My eyes stopped at “the one” beautiful chandelier. It was originally $200 and was on clearance for $50. Although I thought that $150 dollars is a pretty good savings, I didn’t really want to pay $50 dollars out of pocket. So I decided to ask for a discount. At first I was told that manager was at lunch and I decided to wait. About 3 minutes in my waiting I saw the manager and asked for a discount. He looked and me and told me that he can sell “the one” light fixture for $30 dollars!!! I was doing my money saving dance very quietly and was thrilled at saving $170 dollars on the chandelier. Woot! Woot!

Total spent (food): $9.05

Total saved (food): $8.60

Friday, July 30, 2010

You can save 50% off regular price without coupons

When I shop at a grocery store, I always walk the parameter of the store. I start in the produce department, walk through the meat department and finish up in the dairy department. My eyes always look for red stickers indicating the price reduction. But I must admit that my favorite part of grocery shopping trips is locating 50% off buggy.

Let me explain to you my relationship with Mr. Buggy. When the store is about to receive in new inventory, they must get rid of the old inventory. That is how the perfectly good in date items end up with 50% off the original price stickers. Furthermore, if a can is dented or if a box is bent the red 50% off sticker enjoys the spot light of getting the shoppers attention.

At our local grocery store I have seen organic pasta for less than $1. Baby diapers become regulars in the buggy along with many other food and household items. The best part about the pretty red sticker located perfectly on the items is that I can combine coupons with the marked down price. More often than not you can end up with close to free items.

If you are a busy wife, mom, student or a full time worker, you may feel that you do not have time to clip coupons. What works for one, may not work for another and that is perfectly fine. I love coupons, my husband learned to appreciate coupons and I am sure one day my children’s play time would include clipping coupons. Thus I would recommend anyone and everyone to use coupons. But lets say that you just can not learn to get excited over $0.50 paper, than you still can save money by simply always looking for items in 50% off Mr. Buggy. Some stores have shelves dedicated to reduced items, others have buggies. Ask a sales associate at your grocery store about the location of reduced items and you won’t regret it. I promise!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

It's Jelly Time

When I set my mind to accomplish a task, I pave my way through until it is accomplished. For example, I was on a quest of finding the perfect homemade thin crust pizza recipe. After making quite a few pizzas and watching my wonderful husband eating it to please the cook, I finally found the best recipe and will share with you soon. Next on my list was to learn how to can jelly. I decided to wait until my mama comes to visit so she can show me how to do it. As a little girl I remember my mama reading to me children’s book as the aroma of homemade strawberry jelly fill up the room.

Well, that same aroma was quickly knocked down, when my mama told me that she couldn’t remember all the proportions needed to make a jelly and she had no clue how to use a water bath canning method. This means that for the next two weeks I spent my time looking for books at our library and reading tons of literature on how to can jelly. I felt overwhelmed since all the recipes were calling for different quantities of sugar, so my mama decided to make up her own.

We started off by weighing the tub in which we were going to cook berries on the regular “I am on the diet again” scales. Then we weighed the same tub again with berries and calculated that we had about 5 lbs of berries to can. By the way we have a neighbor who has a gigantic garden and sells berries for $15 a bucket (big bucket). My mama and I had fun picking the blackberries and sampling them.

Now back to the jelly. So my mama makes the executive decision to put for every pound of berries a pound of sugar. Just typing about it gives me a sugar shock. My mama always knows best so we went with her decision. We added berries; sugar and a little bit of water and turned the stove on high. I thought that it would take 20 minutes to make the jelly, but it took 2 hours for the jelly to cook. My mom would come to the stove and would stir the jelly making sure that it does not stick to the bottom of the pot.

Occasionally she would take the top foam layer of the jelly and I would take a spoonful of it at a time. Finally two hours later the liquid evaporated and we ended up with thick jelly consistency. The next part was the most difficult, since neither of us knew what all involves in the water bath canning process. I filled up a big tub with water and let it come to a boil. I then carefully placed all the jelly filled jars in the boiling water and let it “cook” for 20 minutes. I wasn’t sure at which point the popping should occur to let me know that the top of the can is sealed.

When we took the jars out of the pot, we set them on the counter and waited, and waited until we decided to go watch a Russian movie. When the movie started, we heard a pop. I jumped, ran in to the kitchen and danced until the other cans started to pop. My mama and I laughed. Actually, we laughed quite a lot at not knowing what we were doing the whole time we were canning the blackberry jelly. When jelly cooled off, I decided to sample it….and it was good and very sweet. I am so looking forward to can tomatoes and green beans and share with you the results.

I want to invest in good canning and preserving books and would love to hear your suggestions. If you have a favorite canning recipe, I would love to hear it. Thank you in advance.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

3 years down and many more to go

To most July 28th is just another day, but to me it is the day when I said “I do” to my sweet Daniel. While I should be happy that today we are celebrating our 3 year anniversary, I must admit the day is bitter-sweet. Instead of celebrating this milestone together, I am celebrating all by my lonesome. My husband is in Washington state attending a military camp and I will spend today re-watching our wedding ceremony, eating lots of chocolate, looking through the “books” and pictures.

                                                      (our engagement pictures)

One of my favorite things to do from time to time is to open “our book”. Let me explain! The first several years of our relationship, which was long distance, we documented our thoughts in “the book”. One day Daniel brought a journal and asked if I wanted to keep it for several weeks and write my thoughts down. Then when we see each other again, he would take it and keep it for several weeks writing his thoughts down. And I am so glad that we did that, because now several years later I love reading our love letters to each other and laugh from time to time!

                                                 (ladies who were a part of our wedding)
                                                   (enjoying that yummy cake)

But my husband creativity did stop with “the book”. Daniel always expressed his feelings through actions and not so much through words. About a year into our dating he showed me a “memory” book. He bought a photo album and used the slots to fill up with pictures of us and other items like tickets from concert, movies, cards that I have sent him and he even cut out a picture of oatmeal cookies from the package that we used to bake cookies together. Although on the outside Daniel looks tough at time, he does have a soft, creative, and caring spot that I adore!
                                                     (my sweet Daniel at the military camp)

There are lots of qualities that I adore about Daniel and I am thankful to be able to call him my husband!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I love freebies

My friends, I am about to share with you a topic that I am very passionate about. You want to take a guess? Fine, you are very close…it does have to do with coupons. Ok, let me just tell you. It has to do with acquiring free products and I am all about freebies. And yes, I have shared this topic before, but I am going to do it again…and again…and again until you will tell me that you are going to try it.

About a month ago I decided to conduct an experiment of using the principal of asking. My mom was coming from Belarus to see my family for 3 weeks. Well, I decided to e-mail all the restaurants in our areas asking for a coupon. The result??? Free food! I received the following coupons.

- 2 free whoppers from Burger King
- 2 free subs from Jersey Mikes
- $5 dollars gift card from Schlotzsky’s
- 4 coupons from Zaxby’s for a meal of my choice
- 2 Chick Fil A Sandwiches and 1 coupon for free chicken tenders (I actually asked managers of a restaurant for coupons)
- 2 free drinks of any choice and any size from Starbucks
- 2 free coupons from IHOP for free pancakes
- 2 free subs from Firehouse Subs

Next on the agenda was to wait on my mom’s arrival and e-mail some of the companies she liked. Of course, the avid coffee drinker that she is, we e-mailed coffee companies asking for coupons. The result??? We received two coupons for free bags of coffee and one company sent us a huge can of coffee for my mama to take back. Can you hear me singing “Oh Happy Day?”

We didn’t stop with coffee…we decided to e-mail Chef’s Requested. If you are not familiar with Chef’s Requested, the company sells steaks and oh very tasty steaks may I add. So one day we received a letter from the company with coupons. We opened the letter and almost fell out of our chairs. The company has sent us almost $100 worth of high value coupons. This translates in almost 20 packages of free steaks. Have I convinced you that e-mailing companies is worth your time? I sure hope so.

In a matter of a few minutes my mama and I took off to Ingles to buy a pack of steaks. The pack had 3 tender and juicy steaks. She cut the steaks lengthwise in half because they were thick enough. Then she beat them very good with meat tenderizer. After dipping the steaks in egg mixture and then flour, she fried them until golden crust formed. And let me just tell you, the steaks were wonderful!!! I ate two steaks right away and then two more a few hours later. No wonder I have gained at least 5 pounds during my mama’s stay.

My mama has always taught me to express my appreciation, so we decided to take a picture of my mama holding a pack of steaks and send the picture to the company. Since our letter had a business card of company’s VP, we also wrote a letter letting the gentleman know how much we appreciate his kindness.

I hope today you will take several minutes of your time to e-mail your favorite companies. If you need some help in starting, just read my older post here.

Please come back and let me know if you have any success with companies sending you coupons.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Be a Blessing to Someone Today...

I have never met Jenn in person, but always enjoy talking to her on the phone. Our friendship started when I had to ask her for work related help and in no time I had my answer. Months later we were talking about families, weekend plans and exchanging TGIF on Fridays! It is always a joy talking to Jenn on the phone, even if she is miles and miles away.

The distance does not keep our friendship from growing and one day while we were exchanging work related e-mails, I had a brilliant idea. I should go home, make a care package and send it to Jenn’s work as a surprise. That day I couldn’t wait to go home and pack all the goodies in a basket and send it the next day.

Several days after the package was sent, I received a phone call. I could picture Jenn’s grin and surprised look as she thanked me for the basket. But what Jenn doesn’t know is that I was blessed by her excitement far more than she would ever know. Act 30:25 says, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.'"

So you all wonder why in the world I am sharing this story with you. Well, get ready, I have a challenge for you. Find someone this week to bless! If you have a garden, share your crops, if you have extra cash, pay someone’s bill, if you meet a stranger, say a kind word. Let your imagination go wild, the options are endless. But there is a catch, you can’t tell anyone of your good deed. “But you have shared yours”, you may say. Well, I just wanted to give an example of how I was blessed by blessing someone else. My husband didn’t know about it, and he is usually the first in line to hear when something exciting happens. When you start sharing with the whole world about the good deeds that you do, the spotlight begins to shine very bright on you. With the bright light the initial intention of blessing someone else starts to lose its intended purpose. As the word says in Matt 6:3-4, “But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

So are you in? Has that someone already come to your mind?

Matt 5:16 says, “In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Lead Me to the Cross

Every time I read Proverbs 31 about a virtuous woman, I feel exhausted. At time I wonder if the woman ever had time to sleep. To me sleep is important, because when I lack sleep and feel exhausted… well I am not the world’s most pleasant person to be around (at least I am honest, right?!). However, I admire the virtues that the Proverbs 31 woman demonstrates and I do strive to be a godly woman daily.

Verses 13 and 20 touch me the most, when I try to mimic the virtues. In verse 13 she is “willingly (accepted by choice) works with her hands”. The key word is willingly with out complaining, force or pride. I do not believe that works with her hands means that she loads her dishes in the dishwasher or turns the dial up for the laundry to dry for 80 minutes. Somehow I picture roughness of her hands that show the signs of hard labor. She is not afraid to get her hands dirty and thus is blessed by the fruits of her labor.

Her labor is not in vain when she reaches out with her hands to the needy in verse 20. The servant heart is what touches me. Oh how I want to have a servant heart… to be the hands and feet of my Savior! But would I jump for joy when God asks me to “wash the feet of a homeless person?” I would love to say yes, but until I am faced with the task I would rather leave this question unanswered. In John 13:12 when Jesus washed the feet of the disciples, He showed us that to serve others may require us to get our hands dirty.

By serving what if the Lord appointed you to eat lunch with a homeless woman every week? Would you let the whole world know about your act of kindness, or would you keep it to yourself? Would you serve to receive recognition or would you serve humbly so that God would get all the glory? The choice is yours and it is my prayer that through your act of “washing someone’s feet”, the Lord of the universe would get the glory, honor and praise.

"You know, Lord, how I serve you with great emotional ferver in the limelight. You know how eagerly I speak for you at a Women's Club. You know my genuine enthusiasm at a Bible study. But how would I react, I wonder, if you pointed to a basin of water and asked me to wash the calloused feet of a bent and wrinkled old woman day after day, month after month, in a room where nobody saw and nobody knew?" ~Ruth Harms Calkin

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Tightwad's Savings

I had my last week of shopping with my mama and it makes me sad just to think about it. Nevertheless we had a fun last week of shopping together. We stopped by Ingles and picked up meat that was reduced for quick sales. I was able to save around $10 on meat alone this week. I also had a coupon for a free Hershey pie, which I absolutely love…so I decided it was time to redeem the coupon. Since my mom and I were going to cook freezer meals…well, my mom was the one cooking it and I was the one sampling it, we picked up a few items that we needed.

CVS was our next stop, where once again I couldn’t pass up diapers. One day when we have a baby I would love to be able to not stress about how expensive the diapers are. Skin Effects lotion was on clearance so we bought it for my mama along with some other makeup items for her to take home with her. The best part because of ECB, coupons and a gift card from transferring prescription, we had no out of pocket expense…woot…woot!

Our final stop was at Wal Mart and Ingles again. At Wal-Mart we purchased chicken livers (my mom makes the best chicken livers in the world), flour and cherries. I also had a gift card, so no out of pocket expense there. And at Ingles we were thrilled to acquire a package of free steaks thanks to high value coupons that we received from Chef’s Requested.

Total spent: $25.48

Total saved: $118.89

Friday, July 23, 2010

My mama and I

My mom is back in Belarus, but the precious memories filled with laughter and joy are with me in the US. During my mom's visit, we went to Hilton Head to visit my American family and had a blast.

During my mom's visit we also sent out e-mails to companies asking for coupons. The result...2 coupons for free packages of coffee and a can of coffee that arrived in the mail. Furthermore, we received a letter from a compay with $100 worth of coupons for steak. I will write a seperate post on that...woot...woot.

During my mom's visit, we picked blackberries and made a blackberry jelly. I will share a post on that too. We had quite a few laughs since neither of us knew how to work the canning system.

I will treasure every second that I spent with my mama and I look forward to see her and my dad next summer. I am praying hard (and will ask if you can join me) that everything will work out for my dad to come for a visit also.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Bacon Cheeseburger Roll Up

GUEST POST by Kristie Roach

Are you like me? I get off work late in the afternoon starving and dreading cooking dinner for my wonderful, but super picky family! One thing that keeps me sane, my grocery budget in tact, and the family happy is menus. I make a full week menu, and the guess work is gone...poof! I use the in paper store ads and coupons that are high value or getting ready to expire, and I base my menu off what values there are for the week. I make my shopping list from the menu, and I already have most of the coupons pulled out, and I cut my shopping time in half. I am “locked and loaded” for the week ;-) I found a yummy new dish to try on (love, love, loooove this website) that I would like to share with you. It is easy, fairly quick, and had a super easy clean up, and the whole (yes, I dare say the whole) family loved it, earning four and a half out of five gold stars in my book. I did take the half of star for the meal being not so scale friendly. It is comfort food. Luckily, it is very filling. I could not eat everything on my plate in the picture. Enjoy!

Bacon Cheeseburger Roll-Up

What you need:

1 lb. lean ground beef
4 slices bacon, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
½ lb. (8 oz) Velveeta Cheese, cut into ½ inch cubes
1 pkg. (13.0 oz) refrigerated pizza crust

Make it:

Heat oven to 400 F
1) Brown ground beef with bacon and onions in large skillet on medium heat; drain. Return meat mixture to skillet. Add Velveeta; cook 5 min. or until melted, stirring frequently. Cool 5- 10 min.
2) Unroll dough onto baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Press into 15X8-inch rectangle; top with meat mixture. Roll up, starting at one long side. Rearrange if necessary so roll is seam-side down.
3) Bake 20 to 25 min. or until golden brown.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The "B" Word

Budget is not the most likeable word in the English dictionary. The fear of changing our habits or simply being exposed to our addiction of shopping parse can make any one give endless excuses for avoiding a budget. We tell ourselves that we can manage money and reach our goals with out filling out any kinds of budgets weekly, just to find ourselves living overwhelmed from paycheck to paycheck. When you aimlessly trying to reach your goal, not having any kind of guidelines or plans for reaching it; you will either take a long time getting there or simply give up. My goal is to help you save money and it must begin with setting a budget.

For my family our first step in creating a budget was to list all expenses that we incur through out the month. We listed everything from paying for utilities to buying groceries. Next we looked at variable bills, for example groceries, versus fixed bills, such as car insurance. We decided to spend no more than $40 a week on toiletries, house necessities, and food. There are two people in our household, but often we are under budget each week thanks to coupons. Sure it takes time to hunt the best deals, but it is worth it to me and my family. We use brand name products, eat healthy food and give to others. If you think that there is no way you can cut you grocery bill, I would ask for you to reconsider. I believe you can achieve anything you put your mind to. Start off with baby steps by setting a goal of perhaps spending $20 less each week on groceries and keep on challenging yourself by reducing your allowance for groceries every time you meet your goal. The key to controlling our grocery budget is to use cash instead of credit card or a debit card. I take out $40 each week in cash and once it is gone, I know that I will have to wait until next week to buy the desired item.

Our next budget goal was to see our electricity bill go down. As our bill skyrocketed during the month of December, we knew we had to make some changes around our home to reduce the cost. We made the following changes around our house: we rarely use a dishwasher; we dry our clothes on clothes line outside (weather permitting), installation of a water heater timer happened last month and we changed the light bulbs to more energy saving ones. Lowering thermostat during cold month and raising it during hot months as we were told will significantly decrease our electric bill also. As we continue to work on ways to reduce our electric bill, we pride in the new changes that we have already adapted as our lifestyle.

Thankfully we didn’t have to make any changes to our phone bill. We live in the mountain area, where you can’t receive cell phone signal, so land line is a necessity to us. But we manage to keep our monthly bill low by using the basic and cheapest service that is available by our phone provider. We can’t call long distance, however when I married my husband I was introduced to a new way of making long distance calls without occurring any cost. Most of our family and friends live several hours away from us and know that when their phone rings one time and stops that means we are letting them know to call us back. You see, we dial a long distance number, wait for several rings and then hang up before any one has a chance to answer the phone. This alerts our family and friends, who do use long distance or cell phone to call us back. This allows us to keep our phone bill to the minimum. In additional to that we don’t have cable or internet, which not only eliminates the monthly bill for these services from our budget, but also allows us to spend more quality time as a family.

In our budget we also estimated monthly use of car gas. My husband drives about an hour one way two days a week for work and almost 40 minutes one way daily to attend university. On the other hand my commute is much shorter averaging about 20 minutes one way to work. We did set a budget for our gas consumption but do not have much control over the rising prices of gas. As prices increase we will have to adjust our budget, in a mean time we enjoy low gas prices and ability to use two cars for driving.

Enjoying the privilege of driving two cars is not the only fun we see in our budget. In order to have motivation to stick with the budget we penciled in once a month dinner date at a restaurant. I believe it is ok to splurge occasionally, plus budget doesn’t feel so boring anymore.

Next in our budget came fixed bills such as car insurance, student loans, medication and tithes. We know what we are expected to pay each month, thus it was easy to put a value in our budget. On the other hand the last expense that we listed in our budget is miscellaneous account. Unexpected visits to the doctor’s office or the need to buy a wedding gift for a friend are tracked under the miscellaneous account. I must admit that occasionally we make purchases that are not listed in our budget, but looking at the end of the month at our miscellaneous account makes us aware where the money is spent and reevaluate our purchases for upcoming month.

As I evaluate our purchases weekly by entering the receipts in our budget spread sheet, we know where every penny is spent. The best part is when at the end of the month you see that you have left over money in your account, it feels so good to be finally in charge of money instead of money being in charge of you. We can then dictate where we want our money to go.

So call me practical, sparing and penny wise, I can’t take credit for all your compliments. I must give God all the glory for wisdom in continuing to teach me how to be a good steward of riches He has instructed me with. It is my hope that you too will take pride in riches that is entrusted to you.

I have shared our budget strategy with my co-workers through a work newspaper. Since starting school, I have not had time to write out our monthly budget on a piece of paper. However, as soon as I am done with school in October, I am planning to pick up my good ole habit back. I just wanted to share this article with you, in case you want to start budgeting with your family.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Hmmm...what can I use....

Have you ever went go grab an item lets say for example a coffee filter just to remember that you have used up the last one yesterday? I have to admit that I have been in that situation plenty of times. There are times that I feel like I need to start taking a memory pill because I forget things often. My husband tells me that I have a selective memory in that I remember only what I want to remember. Enough about my memory lets proceed with ways you can substitute much needed items.

1) Shaving cream
The very first time I used a razor without assistance of soap and water to shave my legs because I was running late, I paid a very high price for it. Well…let’s just say I paid for it 30 minutes after shaving when the red bumps covered my legs with what felt like fire. Now when I am in a hurry and do not have shaving cream around, I simply use hair conditioner that gives the same smooth feeling as a shaving cream.

2) Mascara
It is time to throw your mascara away, when you see yucky mascara clumps that make your eye lashes look like a spider web. I throw my mascara away and wonder what I can use on my eyelashes to look awake. The good news is Vaseline comes to the rescue! Dab a little bit of Vaseline on a tip of your finger and gently apply it to your eyelashes. Before you know your co-workers will be asking you for your face glowing tip!

3) Coffee Filters
Since I do not drink coffee I do not stress out too much over coffee filters; however my husband who is a big time coffee drinker cares a lot. If my memory serves me right, I have seen my mother in law use paper towels to align inside of a coffee filter, fill it up with coffee and press the on button to brew some good smelling coffee. She used this trick when we first moved to the mountains and they came to visit us. The day was saved, when all the family members (except for me) received their doze of caffeine.

Monday, July 19, 2010

More tips on how to save money on a phone bill

My co-worker not too long ago shared with me that his online subscription for Wall Street Journal is almost $150 a year. He then pointed out that another co-worker pays $99 for online subscription and a daily newspaper. Not realizing that online subscription can cost so much, I quickly came to a conclusion that one co-worker is a new subscriber, while the other one is a returning subscriber.

Without hesitation I told my co-worker that he should call the publisher and ask for a new subscriber price matching. He nodded and walked away. Believe it or not but I love bargain calling because adrenaline rush that I receive from a reduction in our monthly bill is irreplaceable. When I started the tightwad journey, I realized that companies want my business and will do anything to keep me happy. In return I keep companies happy by using their service.

A while back I called our phone provider to negotiate our monthly rate. I couldn’t bargain too much with the rep, because this provider is the only one who covers our area. However, he did remove several charges that otherwise we would have had to pay. If I had another service to choose from, I am pretty sure that our monthly rate could have been reduced further. On the other hand my friend, who had the power of bargaining, was able to negotiate a lower rate on her land line. It never hurts to ask!

If bargaining makes you nervous, looking for other phone service alternative is always an option. Consider using Magic Jack or Skype online phone services. My in-laws recently canceled their land line and now use Magic Jack. Aside that getting in touch with my in-laws is like getting in touch with the president, Magic Jack allows them to save lots and lots of money. You have to have DSL and a functioning computer to receive incoming calls and place outgoing calls through Magic Jack. Instead of paying monthly for the service, subscribers pay one time $35 dollars fee that covers one year of service. The best part is there no contract or hidden fees.

Pay as you go phones may also be a great way to replace your current land line provider and save some money!!! If you want to try pay as you go option, this is how you do it. You can find pay as you go cell phones at almost any store. Minutes then can be purchased through a cell phone provider, such as T- Mobile. You can pay as little as $0.10 cents a minute and your minutes do not expire for a year. Virgin Mobile also offers pay as you go plans and in fact you can purchase unlimited minutes for about $50 a month and $10 for unlimited texting. No contracts are require and you can stop using pay as you go service any time.

This is just several more ways to help you save money on the phone service. Do you have a tip or a trick that allows you to save money? We would absolutely love to hear about it.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Lead Me to the Cross

The first year of our marriage was definitely a learning experience for both of us. I was so thrilled to cook, clean and simply to be a wife that saying “I DO” was nothing less but joyous. However, when the reality sat in, cooking, cleaning and being a wife 24/7 was at times overwhelming. There were days that I prayed asking the Lord to change Daniel. “The least he could do, God, is to take the stinking cup of coffee that he only drank half way, to the sink.” I could only imagine what Daniel must have prayed….umm…probably for me to stop whining.

Little by little my prayers have changed. Instead of praying that God would change Daniel’s ways, I began to ask God to change my ways. The desire of my heart was to be the best godly wife that the Lord designed for me to be, however my flesh often rebelled against the desire. The area in which I struggled the most was submission.

Seriously, have Daniel not heard the song about the independent women that were asked to raise their hand up in the air? Perhaps I should have accidentally placed the CD with the song in Daniel’s car, so that he could grasp the idea of independency and forget the definition of submission. But no matter how hard I tried to covey the message, the Holy Spirit kept on bringing me to Eph 5:22, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” Ouch…it hurts, because I was doing the opposite of what the Lord instructed me to do. And when I allowed the desires of my heart and not my flesh to guide me, the Lord began to transform me and my desires.

Transformation was not only intended for women. In my opinion, men have the hardest command in Eph 5:25, “Husbands, love your wives as Christ also loved the church”. Have you ever stopped for a moment and though about Christ’ unconditional love for you? I have, but my mind can not comprehend how He could love a sinner who falls short of His glory day after day, months after months and year after year. You see when I mess up; God doesn’t turn away from me…instead He keeps on loving me, unconditionally day after day, months after months and year after year. My husband is to follow the example. When I get irritable and not pleasant to be around, my husband is to love me. When my big mouth says hurtful things, my husband is to love me. When I do not look my best, my husband is to love me. Watching Daniel stepping in the role of a husband and loving me just the way I am has giving me a tiny glimpse of just how much my Heavenly Father loves me.

Prayer is a powerful tool in a marriage and can transform the hearts and desires of two people!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Tightwad's Savings

My mom and I had another fun week of shopping.

Bi-Lo had a yogurt sale and after coupons it was free. Needless to say, I will be eating yogurt for a while. In addition to free yogurt, thanks to my co-worker we had free eggs also. On our way home one day we stopped by Ingles and redeemed a coupon for a free box of coffee. At Aldi we pick out 4 peaches and they were as hard as a brick and not tasty at all. Grrrr…

At Publix we picked up apple sauce for $0.25 a bottle and yummy farmer’s cheese for my mama to make me farmer’s cheese filled crepes. They are absolutely wonderfully delicious.

We managed to find Kroger on our way back from a short vacation at Hilton Head and I stocked up on Gatorade. My hubby has been asking me to buy Gatorade, but I have been waiting for a good sale. Finally I found a great one. If you buy 10 bottles of Gatorade at Kroger, you automatically receive $5 dollars off at a check out. In addition to the sale, I had coupons. So after sale and coupons my total for 20 bottles of Gatorade was only $4.20.

Finally at Target I was able to pick up free Tide and face wash...woot woot for freebies.
Total spent: $15.08

Total saved: $45.98

Friday, July 16, 2010

It is time to make some money...woot...woot

Are you familiar with Swagbucks? I want you to get a head start at starting to accumulate Swagbucks so perhaps you can down the road redeem them for gift cards for Christmas presents. Do I have your attention, yet? Free = super exciting. is a website that is similar to and Personally I always preferred to search for whatever I needed until I discovered By doing your every day searches you can earn points and later redeem these points for gift cards. One of the most popular gift cards is for which sells tons and tons of items anything from diapers to electronics. And on orders over $25 you score free shipping.
To get started visit and because you will be going through me (oxinabox1), by signing up you will automatically earn 30 Swagbucks. Then if you refer a friend and they sign up, when they earn a Swagbuck you will automatically earn it too up to 1000 Swagbucks! Each day you can do your normal searches through instead of and earn free point for something that you would normally do anyways. To make things easier you can download a tool bar, but if you don’t want to do that just make sure you sing in when you log on to
There is no science behind which word or phrase you should type to earn swagbucks, points are given out random. On Fridays you can be a winner of 100 Swagbucks, because Fridays are super swagbucks days...woot woot!

You will be surprised how fast you will accumulate swagbucks and can redeem them later for gift cards to help you lower your expense of buying a gift or an item that you may need. There are people who earn enough swagbucks in a year to help them pay for their entire Christmas shopping. In about 4 months I have earned enough Swagbucks to redeem my points for a $50 gift card from Amazon. Seriously I didn’t break a nail to earn free money, and I hope you are now feel encouraged to start earning your free money too.
So are you ready to start Swagbucksing??? Go and sign up following the steps that I outline and start searching away.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Yummy Russian Dessert

This dessert has a very special meaning to me…mama used to make it when I was little on special occasions. Not too long ago when we decided to bring snacks to work, my mom sent me the recipe for this super easy and amazingly delicious dessert. We call it kalbasa, but you can call it sausage, because when all is done the dessert takes a shape of a sausage.

Let one stick of butter sit at a room temperature until it has soften enough to squeeze it in your hands. Add half a can of sweetened condensed milk.

Next add 3 table spoons of baking cocoa.

Crumble 1 package of Sandies short bread cookies leaving small chunks of pieces not crushed all the way. Add cookies to the liquid mixture and blend everything well.

Tear a piece of plastic wrapping paper and drop 3-4 table spoons of mixture on it.

Roll it up in a form of a sausage and place it in the fridge for several hours.

The whole preparation process took me less than 5 minutes and the results were absolutely amazing. Make sure to serve the dessert cold, because if left out at a room temperature it will start melting.