Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Free is not always best

I had the opportunity to try 2 antivirus programs for free. I thought--wow! Great! I'll save $40 by not having to buy Norton. Well, $40 would have been a lot cheaper than the expense and hassle of the programs (McAffee and Bitdefender) which led to the demise of my computer =(

I wasn't using them at the same time, but I hadn't completely uninstalled Bitdefender before I had tried to install McAffee and McAffee locked up my computer. =( Big lesson learned...

Free is not always the best choice...

Monday, October 26, 2009

Funny the way things work...

It's interesting to me to notice how different companies are increasing their prices in different ways...

Kraft Mayonaise. The jar I used to pay $2 ($3-$4 regular price) is now always $5 and finding it on sale for $3 or $4 is unusual. And the coupons are now $1 on 2 in stead of $1 on 1. The other tactic they've done is introduced a smaller jar that they sell at the old price of $3. It's deceiving! Someone in marketing/production/whatever department they're in was trying to be pretty pretty deceptive.

Fisher-Price Loving Family Doll House. 2 years ago, it came with all of the furniture for $80-$100. Now the dollhouse is $70-$80, but only a table and 2 chairs. The house with all of the furniture is packaged differently for $160.

More and more the size of packaging is changing as are the size/timing of coupons and the prices of items.

When I get BJ's coupon book for the next month (and Costco's too), I can be pretty certain that many of the items that have coupons have just gone up on price. It's as if the manufacturers are trying to distract you from noticing that the price on the item you've always bought has jumped $1, $2, or even $3.

At least that's what I've been noticing lately...


Homeschooling is definitely cheaper than private school, but it definitely is not cheap. I spread out my curriculum purchases for the next year through the year and it still feels crunched a little at times. Right now, I've been deliberating about science. I want a book that has beautiful pictures, is not 15 years old, will help children retain what they've learned and use mostly everyday materials. I am using Harcourt this year (used via Amazon). I looked all over today and perused a lot of samples on CBD (I am very thankful that you can do that there), but didn't come up with anything great. I like the My Pals are Here curriculum from Singapore Science, but it is $208 for 2 years and that's a lot to sink into something without being certain that I will really like it. So, I think my feeling is that I will stick with Harcourt again for next year. If anyone has any other suggestions that are affordable =) please let me know!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

IKEA Baltimore

October 19-25: Free lunch for the kids (no purchase required), dine-in only

What a treat! I went to IKEA today to get some zippered boxes for our new cube and I discovered that kids get to eat free this week--and I didn't even have to buy lunch, but the kids did have to be present =)

So, my kids got to have chocolate milk, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and applesauce (mac and cheese for Autumn), for free =)

I don't know if this special is at all of the IKEAs this week or just the one in Baltimore...

Monday, October 19, 2009

A new Christian News Broadcast online...

Today I went to check out online. I found this show and thought it was interesting and right up the alley of this blog.

Some of the other episodes look interesting.

We just recently subscribed to World Magazine. Back in July, they had a great special, so we took advantage of it =) I'm thankful we did. Amidst all of the yucky stuff going on in the world, it's good to hear about the world from a Christian perspective--and to hear about good things going on in the world.

I am realizing that it is so easy to get lost and forget about the hope we have when we get bogged down in the news of the day. I haven't listened for a while. Not intentionally--I've just had a lot going on.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Little Treats

This is a little rabbit trail...please forgive me if it doesn't entirely make sense!

I have had several friends say to me over the past few months--it wasn't long ago when they didn't have to worry about what they spent or about paying the bills and that now they do. What a blessing for them for a time to not have to worry about things!

I think there was only one very short time span of 2-3 months during my freshman year in college when I felt that way. That was a long time ago. I don't know if it's easier to go up or come down--but I tend to think that it's easier to adjust our standard of living up than down. And yet, when our income goes down (whether monetarily or by inflation), if we don't adjust we can find ourselves in trouble very quickly.

I have always felt in my heart that God would likely never put me in a place of where I didn't have to think about how and where I spent money. I realized in grad school, that for me--because of my personality--it is a blessing to have to be aware of how and where I spend money. It is a blessing to me because it makes me very aware of the little blessings that God has given me and of how He, not me, continually provides for my family.

Yesterday, I went to Dunkin Donuts with some great gals whose kids are in the same homeschool pe program that my girls are in, because it was raining and we couldn't hang out outside. One of the gals that went in my car was very kind and paid for my small latte and I had a coupon for a free donut. The gal at the counter put in 2 donuts and some munchkins! Not only did Eli and I get treats, but so did the gal who bought me my drink and my girls after their pe class. The girls were thrilled. Such a little thing, but it still makes me smile, because it was such an unexpected treat!

I was also humbled because one of the gals shared that her husband just lost his job. It made me really think about needs and wants in my own life. What comes first--a new refrigerator that will make my life lots easier or paying off a motorcycle loan? The motorcycle loan is a need to pay off and the refrigerator--though it would be immensely useful--is a want. Are we being wise stewards with what we have? I have always felt convicted that it is important.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Have you noticed how teenage girls are getting their periods much younger today than girls did when we were growing up? They are also developing physically in other ways at younger ages. This is disconcerting to me as the mom of two little girls. There hasn't, to my knowledge, been any scientific cause and effect relationship identified yet, but there are suspicions. One of those suspicions is the artifical growth hormones (RBST) that cows had been injected with. Milk and beef that young girls have been eating and drinking for the past ten years has been coming from such cows.

When I read about that suspicion last year (which I want you to know I'm not a conspiracy theorist), I thought it would be a good idea to choose milk for my family not treated with the hormones when given the choice. Thankfully, it is much easier than it was even a year ago to find milk not treated with the hormones. Milk from cows not treated with them is labeled as such. BJ's, Costco, and Food Lion milk all are labeled as such. LeHigh which 7-11 here advertises as having is the brand of milk sold at BJ's. Aldi's milk is not advertised as such. And I have noticed on a few others that they don't say they aren't treated with RBST. Target advertised one time in their Sunday ad that the milk wasn't treated, but when I checked their milk later, it didn't specify. I haven't checked it again in a while, so I don't know if their labels have changed.

Last year, the Baltimore Sun ran a really good article about Milk and the differences between the types of milk available. I was so glad to have read it! Here's a condensed version of that article:
This article just basically tells what the different types of milk are. In the end, I felt that it wasn't worth it to try and buy Organic milk because I wasn't sure what I'd be getting, but to buy milk without the artificial growth hormones was something I could do.

This is an article about Organic vs. Natural that I thought was also interesting...,0,834771.story

I do have some friends that are in the Raw Milk camp. But, there are downsides to that too. It was actually in Uncle John's Bathroom Reader that I read about how and why Pasteurization was developed. So many children died from Listeria and other diseases before they began to pasteurize. If you are one of my friends who drinks raw milk, please know that I totally respect you =) and your decision to go that route. But, I worry when I read about the outbreaks of Listeria (which there were several of last year) in communities who drink primarily raw milk. There are articles on both sides of the fence and I realized while researching something else that you can find an article to back up whatever you want to believe on the internet--but it's getting harder and harder to know what is true because of it. (That's actually one reason why I still like books better!) Anyways, sorry for the rabbit trail.

Such a simple thing--buying milk--seems to have become pretty complicated.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


I am one of those people who is willing to return something. With little kids, it is very hard sometimes to try things on in the store. So, I will take things home and then return them. I love Target because you can return things with your credit card even if you don't have your receipt. Costco and BJ's are my next favorite places because of their return policies.

We bought a new tv and dvd/vcr back at the end of July. We've had issues with the tv, but none big enough to make us return it. But, every week, we've been frustrated with it. But, then yesterday, I tried the vcr and discovered it didn't work at all! I called Samsung and discovered it was definitely broken and I could either ship it to them or see what Costco's policy was. So, I called Costco. I found out that we had 90 days to return the items we'd purchased! Yahoo!!! So much easier than dealing with shipping the dvd/vcr to Samsung.

So, I broached the subject of the tv with my husband and offered to return it and deal with the customer service. He agreed that it would be wise--it really didn't work the way it was supposed to. So, he ended up going today and returned them both! Yahoo!!! Our new tv works great and we got a plain dvd. We now need to get a vcr, which I guess you can't find on its own anymore. But, we'll figure that one out.

I don't like combo items. If one part breaks, then you're in trouble. We have a coffee maker and a grinder. We have an Oreck vacuum. We have a component stereo. We definitely like things separate. But, it seems like it's easier to fix a part or replace one part--than throw away the whole because one part doesn't work!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

One of those things about being frugal...

I find that it's often hard to not shop around. I worry that I haven't gotten a good price. But, I'm coming to a place where I just don't have a lot of time to shop around. So, I've often switched to choosing a store that I know is reasonable and then picking from what they have.

Sami needs a new coat for the winter. I went online and found one at REI for $65 =( and then went to Target and found one for $27. But, the liner wasn't zippered in. I just knew I was going to get totally frustrated having to zipper 2 zippers for her every time we go out in the really cold weather. I could see lots of frustration ahead. As much as I'm concerned with price, I am also concerned with simplicity. So, I passed on it and decided to look at BJ's.

Yay! I found an Osh Kosh winter jacket for Sami for $25. =) Quick and easy and I am so thankful!

On the same trip today, I found slippers there. I didn't grow up with slippers, but I have found that since we have hard woods and the winter is cold here, we have to get a new pair of slippers for each of the kids each winter. Last year, I went to about 5 stores looking for slippers. I like ones with a sole on them. If they don't have a sole, my little Sami is bound to break her foot again. Anyways, I found them today! BJ's has Carter's slippers with a sole for $10. I just wanted to mention it in case anyone is looking for slippers too =) They're easy to get on and off and very simple and cute.

I am so thankful that I felt like I didn't pay too much and got so many things taken care of in one trip (along with groceries of course)!

The end of the season

This Saturday is the last of this season of Garage Saling for me. It's bittersweet. I love going, but I love the break, too. The winter and early spring give me a break, so that when I go in late spring, I will be excited and look forward to it. It's just like chocolate--when I have it every day, I don't appreciate it or savor it nearly as much as if I have it once in a while =)

Nothing is jumping to my mind to share on this blog this morning. Except to share one struggle that I have. My children need new sheets. So, my mom was going to give them fun sheets for their birthdays and Eli for Christmas. I was thinking Character sheets. But, as I was looking at them, it's hard for me to justify spending the extra money on them--especially with the economy the way it is. Would they enjoy them? Yes, but would it be wiser to get just good quality sheets? Usually, if it's not a special occasion, I go with the wiser choice. For their birthdays and Christmas, I try to allow myself to really find something my kids will just love. I think I may end up in a compromise on this one. I saw some really fun patterned sheets online that are somewhere inbetween on price. I'm going to talk to my mom and see what she thinks--she's the most frugal person I know and really it's up to her!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Guarding one's heart

I enjoy saving money and there is a satisfaction I have felt in making things stretch. But, I also have watched God urge me to guard my heart. I am in the midst of reading a really good book about prayer called the Praying Life by Paul Miller. In the book, he mentions his frugality in this quote:
"Even my frugality was a form of the love of money. The obsession of saving small amounts of money isn't that different from the obsession of gaining large amounts of money. In both, money is the center."

I thought the last sentence explained everything. Is the goal of my frugality saving money or is it being a good steward or is it providing for my children for fear they will be looked down upon as I was as not having the right clothes? Or is it what it should be--to glorify God by seeking HIM in all things?

That was what I liked best when I read Matt Bell's book this summer--he started out stating very clearly that our finances are not separate from our faith in God. In fact, they should not be separated at all! Having faith in God and trusting the Lord means walking with him in all things.

I had two times in my life while living on my own which I had just enough, literally, to pay my bills. Both times were while I was in school--one in undergrad and one in grad. One time was 4 months and the second was 20 months. I am so thankful for those times--I try never to forget them because that was when God taught me most about not holding on to the little I had. I had to trust him to provide. To provide when I played broom hockey and had to go to the hospital and get 4 stitches. To provide when I needed new glasses. To provide when emergencies came up. A friend told me about an unexpected surprise she was given yesterday. It was such a blessing to her! And it was a blessing to me to hear about it! It reminded me of a blessing that I received when I was working for the church I attended back in Denver. I was given an envelope with some money from someone anonymously. It has a huge blessing to me! I can't remember what I needed it for, but it gave me room to breathe. I was working 2 jobs and in grad school full time and living on my own.

I'm never been crazy about the phrase Random Acts of Kindness. It's a very nice idea, but I feel like it is the Holy Spirit working in our lives that prompts us to bless others by loving and serving them. It is the way that God's love is made complete in us (I John) Calling them Random Acts of Kindness takes God out of the picture for me--and I don't want to do that.

This entry is a long way from the point where it started, but hopefully, it is still all connected together!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Birthdays and Christmas

It is amazing that October is already here. The girls will have a joint birthday party in 4 weeks! And then Christmas will be 7 or 8 weeks after that. Lots of fun ahead!

Birthdays and Christmas can be really expensive. We decided to go with the 3 present tradition for our kids at Christmas a few years ago and it does simplify things a lot. With birthdays, we try to be simple, too. They get a lot of toys from garage saling during the summer and fun things for homeschooling, so I am thankful for that.

I love Family Fun magazine because it always has such great ideas for making parties fun--inexpensively. So, this is the first of my planning. I had thought of something else to write about, but now I can't remember it =) so I'm going to write/talk through my plans...

Theme: Princess party
Since we don't celebrate Halloween, we make the girls birthday party a costume party every year. Last year we had a Dora Pirate Adventure party.
This year will be princesses. My girls just love to dress up.

Time: 2-3 hours in the morning into lunch. I decided that I want to make special Belgian Waffles and put whip cream on them and chocolate chips. (sort of brunchy) I thought the kids could decorate their own waffles. I'm not sure what this will mean for a cake, though =s

Decorations: Homemade. I don't know what they'll look like yet, but I think lots of shooting stars (pink/white/red)

Plates, etc. I picked up some glittery pink and purple butterfly plates/cups/etc on clearance at Target a few months ago.

Usually, I pick a theme a few months ahead and start gathering things here and there. It helps me find sales and it helps me spread out the cost of the party. I read in one book that a lot of families spend $200-$300 on a birthday party. Wow! I think I figured out that their party last year cost $50-60 at home. We had about 8 kids and had a lot of fun. They found their gift bags in a treasure chest and we had 3 games outside. I made sack lunches for the kids--already assembled--which made things very simple.

Gift bags are an interesting thing. I don't think they used to be a given at birthday parties, but now they seem to be. I want to think of a craft they can make this year that will be their primary thing to take home. I bought a korigami book at the book sale last week about how to make hats. That will definitely be part of it this year--a homemade hat =)

So, those are my thoughts for now...