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Archive for the ‘Frugality’ Category

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. ~John 10:10

How is couponing like the abundant life? Does couponing reveal the abundant life? Is it good stewardship? Or is it motivated by selfishness and greed? This is something I’ve been ruminating on for quite awhile. So let’s go:

1. You have to believe it before you see it. You have to be prepared to experience it. You have to expect it. It doesn’t just happen; it takes practice. And the more you practice, the better you get at it.

Your eyes become attuned to seeing what’s possible. Before I started couponing, actually researching it and practicing it, I did not believe it was possible to obtain the savings that I now regularly procure. I still don’t always see it. I have to look for it. I have to do my homework. But there is also definitely an element of chance and of being in the right place in the right time.

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. ~Rev. 3:20

2. Flexibility is key. It’s about someone else’s timing, not mine. Always be ready.

The savings are not necessarily something I can control. I must always be watchful and ready to receive or to wait.

But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, ~1 Peter 3:15

3. Periods of lack are part of the cycle. Expect them. Don’t freak out when they come.

This cycle of savings is a cycle. It is not never-ending or static. There are times when there are no savings to be had, times when I happily eat soup or work with what’s in my pantry ’til there’s nothing left.

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. ~Phil. 4:11-12

4. It is a function of community. Friends help each other find tips and encouragement. It is something to be taught and passed on.

I would never have figured all of this out on my own. I am indebted to many women who were willing to share what they know.

Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God ~Titus 2:3-5

What are your thoughts?

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Dear Readers,

As a frugalista, I feel compelled to share some recent news with you regarding store brand vs. name brand formula.

Mead Johnson, maker of Enfamil LIPIL formula, recently lost a false advertising lawsuit brought against it by PBM Products, maker of store-brand infant formulas for stores like Walmart, Walgreens, Target, and other retailers.

Mead’s ads were found to imply that their formula was superior to store brands in nutritional benefits when in reality the only difference was price.

Breast is best. Even from a purely frugal point of view, you’ll save approximately $2,000 a year by breastfeeding exclusively.

I don’t think formula ever passed the lips of my first child, but when baby number two came around, I did sometimes offer formula as a supplement to breast milk once I understood the rhythms, challenges, and strategies of breastfeeding. I have used both Enfamil LIPIL, and Walmart’s Parents Choice brand.

If you choose an infant formula, Consumer Reports recommends powdered formula as the most economical choice. They also remind consumers that all infant formula sold in the U.S. meets the same basic nutrient requirements specified by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Full details of the decision and the complaint can be found at:

http://www.pbmproducts.com/docs/Order_Laches.pdf

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Gayle of Grace4Gayle and Grocery Cart Challenge is hosting a recipe swap. This week’s edition is all about cheap dinner recipes.

If you haven’t been over, you should go check out her blog. She is a real frugal self-starter. I love all her creative “recipes” for things we don’t necessarily need to buy. She really challenges me to think outside my frugal box.

This is one of my mom’s very few “signature” recipes. We had it all the time when I was a child, and I HATED it — mostly because I was convinced I hated tuna fish. And my mom insisted on putting raw onions in this recipe, which crunched when I bit into them and squirted tangy onion juice into the nether regions of my mouth. (But I’m not high maintenance or a whiner…I know I’m really sellin’ it.)

The good news is, now I love this recipe. It makes me so nostalgic for my childhood. This has always been “the one” recipe I turn to when we have nothing else. I keep a can of tuna on hand just for such an occasion. And I have made a very few minor OCD modifications to the recipe, which of course make ALL the difference. I will admit, my children are not particularly fond of this casserole, which is why I dubbed it “Mermaid Casserole” in an effort to make it more appealing. Because clearly, this is what mermaids eat. I’m sure my kids will look back with fondness on this recipe, when they are old like me and force feeding it to their kids.

1 c. hot milk
2 T butter, melted
1 c. shredded cheese
1 c. bread crumbs
1 egg
1 T onion, finely chopped
1 tsp salt
dash pepper
1 can tuna
4 oz cooked noodles

This is a mix and bake kind of casserole. It bakes at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. I usually either saute the onion or throw it in a pan with the milk and butter to soften and soak up their flavor. I also add the salt and pepper to the milk and melted butter so things are distributed more evenly throughout the casserole. My mom used to leave big hunks of tuna here and there, so I am also pretty anal about mixing everything evenly throughout. At our house, this was always served with tiny peas, so I just go ahead and mix them into the casserole now. And my husband has added his signature touch of baby biscuits baked on top. This dish is excellent served with potato chips, which also increases the kid friendly factor exponentially. I like to load each bite on top of a chip…salty heaven.

Enjoy, thrifty friends.

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Be a blessing

Today’s small thing:

Order a free Olympic prayer band from Voice of the Martyrs and pray for China during the Olympics.

Thanks to Money Saving Mom for publishing this link in her freebies post.

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The blog, people, the blog!…My one year blogaversary has come and gone. I started this blog one year ago on Father’s Day. I was looking for companionship, community, intellectual life (ha!), and a blog that would honor God. I have found many of those things, but I’m still not sure where this ole blog is going.

That intellectual life I was hoping for has just not been happening of late; or should I say that where it is happening is not so much connected to the blog. I’ve agreed to help our church assemble its first library. I’m participating in in-depth Bible study, and find myself in two summer book clubs. If I know anything, it’s that Bible study has got to be a top priority during this season of mothering.

Perhaps it’s just the demanding phase my 3 year old is in, but it’s all I can do to fire of a quick twitter and check in on my peeps before we’re off to the park or I’m schlepping peanut butter crackers to him yet again — let alone step back far enough from the aforementioned slim intellectual pursuits to share them on the blog. Yet, I don’t want to completely give up taking time to document the sweetest moments of motherhood or chewing over a blog post for several days.

And the bloggy spiritual life…I love that you guys love “God Posts,” but they’re kinda drying up for me (probably b/c I’m spending so much time perusing frugal blogs). But Emily’s recent find did suggest the idea that I let you guys share what you see God doing in the blogosphere. But I’m not sure what kind of schedule I should adopt for that. And I really did enjoy praying for you. I could enjoy doing that on a regular basis. But I’m quite sure my blog would have to take on a monthly publishing cycle vs. a weekly one; and that seems like such a loooong time in the blogosphere.

I love the bloggy treasures (that would be you) that I have found along this journey. I’m just not sure what to do about the fact that by the time I wade through my feed reader, I’ve barely any time left to blog myself. But I’ve learned tons about couponing and other clever ways to save money and about mystery shopping, which is such a great bonus.

And this, in a nutshell, is why it’s been so quiet here for so long. Well, also, the husband went to Indonesia for two weeks, which turned into three weeks away from home b/c we went South to visit family while he was gone. I’m still too paranoid sensible to share such things with you the whole Internet while they’re actually happening. But I will have some sweet pictures to share with you from our trip. Later, friends.

I leave you with a photo of my dad and my boy in honor of Father’s Day 2008:

Jeremiah 17: 7-8:

“But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”

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When I was last fishing for blog fodder, Emily asked me to write more about mystery shopping. I most likely discovered mystery shopping as the “shop-ee” while laboring away at Blockbuster video when I was a young, wide-eyed, recently-graduated card-carrying English major. It was that job that introduced me to the cold, cruel world of corporate uniforms and scripted conversations. (Really, a part-time job during high school would not have been such a bad idea for me. But NOOOOOoooooo, I was too busy overachieving for such bourgeois activity.) (hmmmmm, wondering if having a part-time job really counts as a bourgeois activity)

Here is an excellent and much more coherent overview of mystery shopping from the Jobslinger website.

I signed up with a couple of mystery shopping companies last February after reading about mystery shopping on some of my frugality blogs. I have to credit Bargain Shopper Lady for suggesting I sign up with Market Force (then Shop ‘n Check). They have provided me with the bulk of my mystery shopping jobs thus far. I am definitely still learning.

I have done mystery shopping for Market Force International and Spies in Disguise.  I would recommend both of these companies. Both companies list a variety of jobs in my area and provide helpful instructions on how to complete the jobs successfully.

I am also “registered” with several other companies, including A Closer Look, National Shopping Service and Kern Scheduling Services, but haven’t yet had a chance to complete a shop in my area.

Some qualities that will help you to be a successful mystery shopper are good organizational skills, attention to detail, and strong writing skills. There is a lot to remember.

Don’t expect to be able to drag the kids with you. Most shops will specify whether you are allowed to bring anyone else along. I definitely prefer to go out by myself in the evening or on the weekend and clear the ole brain cells while making a few bucks. When I go out with my kids, all my brain cells seem to be sucked away making sure my children are not illegally filling their pockets with tic tacs or hurling themselves in front of oncoming traffic.

I like to think of mystery shopping as an interesting new hobby. I sign up for shops that are not that far afield from my normal travels, because often the shops do not pay that much. You might get reimbursed for a purchase and/or paid a small fee.

But, you know I love the small things. And I’m an “every little bit counts” kind of a girl. Also, having worked in public service for over 10 years (after that fateful first job at Blockbuster), good customer service is very important to me. I worked hard to master the art. And I enjoy helping others perfect their skills as well.

So there you go. That’s pretty much the extent of my current mystery shopping knowledge. Anyone else have any experience to share?

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Be a blessing

Today’s small thing:

Walgreens Maxi Pads 12 or 24 pack – $1.99
Free after rebate

Purchase and donate these to a local women’s shelter or group home. I know they are on the wish list at our local community ministry.

Not expensive if you’re not a bargain hound. And you can easily claim your rebate online now. I’m trying it for the first time this month. It looks glorious.

Our God is a creative God. He is not bound by space or time or by our pocketbooks. Be a blessing today.

And my God shall supply of all your needs through His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. ~Phil. 4:19

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