Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Day 3: How I "made" some extra money to fund our Christmas budget!

What does that look like to you??  Don't worry, I don't think you are stupid, we all know it's a bunch of coins...BUT, would you believe me if I told you I collected this and a BUNCH more from all over my house??  Well I did.  It is kind of embarrassing, and I feel like it is almost sinful.  I had money ALL OVER MY HOUSE.  Every room, almost every drawer, everywhere!!!  I didn't really start the day thinking this would be my blog post (I actually had another one in mind) but I had to find something in one of my 50 junk drawers and I started to go through it.  Low and behold I found a whole mini mason jar full of coins.  So, I thought to myself "hmmm, I wonder how much more money I have hiding in my mess of a house".   So I began my quest. It took me about an hour to go through my well organized house (HA!) and collect all the loose change.  You will honestly NEVER believe how much I collected. Are you curious??

I gathered all my coins and headed to the BANK....NOT the "coinstar" in the grocery store.  Please people, never go there...they take a percetage of your money!  Just go to your local bank and hand over the coins!!

After patiently waiting (because you all know how patient I am) Sue the teller presented me with my CASH.......$65.95!!!!  I feel almost ashamed to admit that.  For someone so concerned with budgeting money, I had all that just sitting in random hideouts all over my house!  WOW!  So, although I didn't technically "make" money, I did "find" I figure that counts!!

TOTAL in the "jar" :  $172.95

Moral of the story, you may not even realize that you have money right under your nose!  Take a peek in those junk drawers!!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Day 2: Funding our Christmas Budget!

So,  I know I am supposed to tell you all about making the big bucks for our Christmas budget, but I really wanted to share how I PREPARE to SPEND the funds I make.

You see, I really do love all things Christmas, but I try and focus on what Christmas means to our family.  Above all, Christmas is a time of year to reflect on and celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Presents and trees and parties are fun, but without the birth of  Jesus it would be insignificant.  I try and teach my children about the true meaning of Christmas and let them know that all the "extras" are exactly that, extra. 

With that being said, I try and not "over-do-it" when it comes to gifts.  Around October 1st, I will make a list of all the family/friends/kids that I am planning on buying a gift for.  I will go through the gifts I have already purchased (CLEARANCE RACKS LAST CHRISTMAS...more on that later) and add those to the the appropriate name.  I will also list items that I want to purchse in the future under the persons name. This makes things a lot less confusing and a LOT more organized when I have to go out and shop.  One year I somehow ended up with 4 pairs of mittens because I forgot to go by my list and just started purchasing "things" bueno.

Ok, now on to the fun stuff.

So there's this little website where you can buy and sell's called EBAY, ever heard of it??? Yea, I thought so.  SOOOOO, I love ebay.  I have purchased many a sweet "I MUST own this immediately" items on ebay. For example, the rare Mario Bros. figurines from China for Jack's 5th birthday, or the Halloween costume that I knew Luke had to have.  BUT, I have never sold on Ebay,  it seemed scary and time consuming.  I have sold things on craigslist, but for some reason EBAY seemed like a lot more work.  WELL, I was wrong (first time for everything).  I listed a few old Halloween costumes yesterday and guess what....????  One sold in 3 minutes.  Yep. Sure did.  So, they paid me and I shipped the item.  That was it.  No meeting creepy people in parking lots at a random grocery store, no waiting around for someone who said they would buy an item and then didn't show up...nope, no hasstles.   I list an item, they pay for it, I ship it.  EASY!  Go look around your house and see what you can list on would be SHOCKED at what sells for big money on ebay!!  Now, I only made $7 for the particular item, but the other auctions are not up yet so I will keep you posted on how much more I make! 

TOTAL in the "jar" :  $107

Saturday, October 6, 2012

25 Days of earning Christmas Money!

So....excuse me for not keeping up with the blog, I birthed a child and lost all track of time.  I have found being fabulously frugal has been a lot more difficult with three children running a muck.  Although I still use coupons regularly and rarely miss a great deal, staying disciplined has been VERY hard.  I will eventually get back to highlighting coupon use and where the great deals are, but for this series of posts I wanted to focus on something that can be relevant to many, CHRISTMAS spending and budgets!  let me explain:

I love ALL things Christmas.  I love the decorations, the snow, the pine tree aroma, but especially I LOVE giving gifts.  Now, you may be asking yourself, "has Katie lost her mind, it's only October, why is she talking about Christmas??".  The question to that is no...I am actually quite clear headed (shocking).   You see, if I want to purchase gifts for all the loved ones in my life, I need to BUDGET for them.  I see too may people that overspend around Christmas time.  I have vowed that I will not be one of them.  I also REFUSE to be one of the CRAZED women running through target throwing toys mindlessly into the cart..REFUSE!  I am better then that and you should want to be too! 

O.K. so, here is the plan.  I will highlight 25 different unique ways I used to make our Christmas money this year!  EVERY penny spent on Christmas gifts this year will come from the "extra" money I earn from these 25 ways!  **Disclaimer, I respect the fact that everyone has different traditions, principals and budgets around the Holidays **

So without further ado.......

DAY 1:  How I made extra cash for our Holiday spending:

I sign up for random things.  Sometimes it is a major blessing, sometimes not so much.  About a year ago I signed up to be added to Fieldwork Denver's database.  Fieldwork Denver is a company that organizes focus groups for company's.  Basically, you sit at a round table discussing products/topics you use while people observe you behind a two way mirror.  After you sit and share your opinion on the chosen topic/product, you get paid! 

Ok, so I was a little weary when I signed up.  It sounded too good to be true, but I figured $100 to talk to other people about products/topics/current events for 80 minutes sounded like a vacation.  So I signed up and applied for every research group available.  Sometimes they called, sometimes they didn't, sometimes I didn't qualify for the group, or other times I was unavailable for the days/times requested.  But I hung in there and continued to apply.  Alas, they called, I qualified and I was available. 

I was a BIT nervous to attend my first research group, but AM SO THANKFUL I went.  First of all, the Denver Fieldwork building is in the Wells Fargo building 26 floors up with AMAZING views of the city.  Secondly, they feed you Jimmy Johns, chips, fruit, drinks,. and snacks.  Some of you may not be impressed with that but for a busy mom to three, it felt like I was on a vacation!  My group was ushered into the "round table room" to meet our facilitator.  From that point on, you basically just talked about the chosen topic with the other people at the table.  The topic for this particular round table was illegal immigration (amazing what I qualify for!).  After 80 minutes they ended and I walked out to get my $100 Visa Gift card.  Easy-Cheesy-Japanezee. 

I currently have attended 3 different research groups and have been compensated the same every time.  I did my third last week and earned $100 for our Christmas Fund.   All I had to do was talk about Milk advertisements!!

If you are interested in being added to Fildwork's database, you can find more info HERE.

My hope is that I can encourage, guide and inspire you to be wise with your spending this Christmas season.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Adding to the stockpile!

DAY 9:

Howdy!  Today was BUSY, BUSY, BUSY.  I had to work all day and shuffle kids to and fro in between!  Although hectic, it was a productive day and everyone seemed happy.  After cleaning my second house, I decided to make a quick stop at kings to pick up some "freebies".  These are items I DO NOT PAY ANY MONEY FOR.  If It is free I will buy it.  If it is an item we do not use, I donate it!  Below is a picture if all my freebies:

(8) 3 musketeers candy bars
(4) M&M candies
(4) Reach flossers
(4) Reach toothbrushes
(5) Colgate toothpastes (some not pictured, Luke was building a tower!)
(2) 4 regular rolls Angel Soft bath Tissue
(1) Nestle butterscoth morsels
(1) Men's speadstick deodorant
(1) Beach Nut Fruit snacks

All of this cost me nothing!  I had coupons that either matched or exceeded the price of the items.

Yesterday I mentioned I would teach you a little something about stockpiling.  I stockpile items that are either free or at the rock bottom price I will pay for an item.  Today I added more laundry detergent to my stockpile.  I prefer Tide, BUT, I will not pay $8.99 for a bottle of tide when I can get another brand for under $2.  Wisk detergent was featured this week on sale at King Soopers.  Three weeks ago when I price matched Wisk, it was being sold for around $6/bottle.  This week it was on sale for $3.49!!  even better, I had a handful of $2 off coupons.

That is (5) 32 load bottles of Wisk.  I have more coupons, but decided on 5 today.  All in all the detergent cost me $7.50...that is less than one bottle of tide costs! 

I also bought (2) smart waters sale priced at .49 to get to my 20 items for the mega event!

The cashier rang up an item twice, which messed up my WHOLE order.  Thankfully, customer service refunded me the amount with no questions asked!

TOTAL SPENT AT STORE (approx since my receipt was off): $9

We were kindly invited over to a friends house for supper.  It was a PLEASANT evening spent with friends in their air conditioned house :)  I brought a pasta salad that I whipped up using pasta from my stockpile! 


TOTAL SPENT DAY 9: $9 (-$1 rollover,  Total rollover $22.98)

TIP: ALWAYS check your receipt when you leave the store for errors, it could save you some moola!!

DAY 10: 

I put $15 of gas in my van using our rollover.  I still had a half tank of gas, but wanted to stay ahead of the game since I hate when I get down to E!  I have been DILIGENT in making sure that if I drive anywhere, I am killing as many birds as I can with my one stone.  I cleaned a house on the opposite side of town from where we live and made sure that I brought the library books with me to return, and went to the bank near where I was.  USUALLY I would pay no attention and make 3 DIFFERENT trips.  I'll tell you, when you are living on $8/day, you think a LOT more about what the most economical way to do something is. 

My whole $8, was spent today on produce.  I weighed out everything and made sure to buy whatever was on sale.  All in all we were able to get some bananas, celery, apples, grapes, and a pepper. 

TOTAL SPENT: $7.93!!

TOTAL SPENT DAY 10: $22.93( TOTAL rollover after deduction: $8.05)

Monday, July 18, 2011

I am so ready for Winter...Days 7&8

Anyone else feeling the HEAT????  Let me just say that having no AC in 100 degree heat is miserable....even more miserable is having no AC in 100 degree heat AND BEING PREGNANT!  My body hates mother nature right now.

DAY 7:
Sunday morning I woke up and realized we were out of milk and bread.  Thankfully, I had a loaf of bread in the freezer so only had to run out for the milk. 

It was Hot, I was grumpy (REALLY GRUMPY!) so lunch was a hodge podge of "things" I threw together.  We spent most of the afternoon at the pool to try and cool down.  I was planning on doing a big pot of spaghetti sauce for dinner, but the thought of a stove made me dry heave.  Instead, I drove my happy hinee to Little Ceasers and picked my men up a $5 pizza...I already had plans with the leftover wings I got for free :)
TOTAL FOR PIZZA: $5 (plus tax..??)

TOTAL SPENT DAY 7: $8.01 (-.01 deducted from rollover, TOTAL rollover $23.98)

DAY 8:
When I woke up and I was still hot, I figured I better stop complaining and make the most out of the day.  Jack started Vacation Bible school this week and it could not have come at a better time.  You see, I like to have my son V.B.S. hop...that is sign him up for every vacation bible school within a 10 mile radius.  He makes new friends, learns about Jesus, and is out of the house for three hours doing something constructive.  Oh, and did I mention they are all free?? 

After VBS, we decided to go to the free lunch at the school since Jack is INTRIGUED by it.  I am so pleased with the fresh fruit and wheat buns they include in the lunches.  My boys eat it up, and I do not have to prepare it!  I was thankful for the lunch today since my kitchen is pretty bare.  I am blessed with a father that gardens all summer and sends fresh vegetables my way on a weekly basis, but other than that, we are getting down to the nitty gritty!

I needed another activity to cool us down since it was 103 degrees at 3pm today.  We decided on the library.  Have I mentioned how much I love the library??  My boys got a summer reading prize, sat nicely and read books, played on the computer and rode up and down the elevator...10 times (hey, I didn't care, I was in AC!).  When we left the library, I was not yet ready to go back to the sauna-like conditions of our house so the boys decided to use their summer reading coupons.  They both received a FREE noodle bowl from Noodles and Company for reading 12 books.  They LOVE the mac and cheese at Noodles, and can split a normal size bowl.  I used the other coupon and we all drank water.

TOTAL SPENT DAY 8: $0 (rollover $8, TOTAL rollover $ 31.98)

It is still about 89 degrees in my house and I am still miserable.  If only I could get an AC unit for $8!!!

Tomorrow I will HAVE to use some of my rollover for Fresh produce and gas...I will also try to highlight the art of STOCKPILING! 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

A totally awesome day 6!

DAY 6:

Money, I love money.  When I was a 13, I babysat every weekend and bussed tables at my dad's restaurant after school.  I would take all the money I made and hide it in a box on the top of a bookshelf I had in my room.  One day, my mom was dusting my bedroom and happened to stumble on my treasure, she found over $1000.  My mom wanted me to put it in the bank, but I loved to count my money.  To me it represented hard work.  Still to this day I  think that hard work is one of the most important characteristics one could possess.  I loathe the lazy man.

So, what does this have to do with living off of $8/day?!  Well, I am always looking for ways to make some extra money for my family.  My husband is the main provider, and he works very hard to give us all that we need ( I love him for this!), but I have something stamped deep in my soul that makes me want to stash away money in a box on a bookshelf.  If you know me at all, you know that I have at least 2 yard sales per year to clear out all the crap we have accumulated and make some extra dough.  I also sell items on craigslist that we no longer need/use.  TODAY though,. I drank milk.

Yep, milk.  A friend of mine on facebook had posted that she participated in a consumer testing panel and was compensated $80 total...just for tasting milk.  Sounded good to me, so I applied and was asked to come in on Saturday afternoon.  I arrived a bit skeptical of the whole situation, but heck, I was kid free and am always up for a new experience.  Sure enough, after exactly 18 minutes of tasting a few different samples of skim milk, I walked out with $35 cash in my hand.  I go back next Saturday for another 18 minutes and will be compensated $45...TOTAL $80.  Sound wierd?  I thought so too, but it was totally legit, quite fascinating, AND I MADE MONEY!

Now one of the reasons I like to stash money is because I know that unexpected "things" are always lurking around the corner.  Now, I have not always been it situations where I can stash money like I did when I was 13, but even hiding $20 for emergency pizza money makes me feel a bit more at ease.  A few weeks ago, our toilet "guts" decided to fail us and we have been without a main floor bath for quite sometime.  We have also been without one side of a kitchen sink thanks to a stubborn garbage disposal.  Now remember that hard working husband I was talking about earlier?  Well, he is VERY hardworking, but not the "handiest" of handy man's if you get my drift.  So, after realizing that just to get a plumber to my house will run me about $100, I decided to enlist the help of a friend (actually her amazing handy husband).  I asked what they wanted to eat when they came over and at their request, I ordered chicken wings.  I had a coupon for .35 wings at a wing joint down the street.  I knew I was going to go over my $8/day budget, but did not care one bit since hiring a plumber would have cost me 10 times that!  I ordered the wings, paid $15 and drove home.  When I arrived home I opened the bag and quickly noticed that it was NOT my order.  I called the place, and the kind gentleman said he was remaking my order and to KEEP the other order (30 wings, 2 orders of fries and a dessert!).  When I arrived to pick up the correct order, they GAVE ME BACK MY MONEY and sent me on my way with the 40 wings I had originally ordered.  All I could say is wow, that is customer service at its finest!
TOTAL FOR 70 WINGS: $0 (and a fixed sink/toilet)

All in all, day 6 was surprisingly awesome.  I was willing to shell out double our $8/day budget but instead did not spend a dime and MADE $35!!!!

TOTAL SPENT DAY 6: $0  ($8 rollover, TOTAL ROLLOVER $23.99) 


Friday, July 15, 2011

Day 5. $8/day challenge

This morning I partook in one of my favorite pastimes; garage saling!  Thankfully for my $8, there were really no good buys to be found.  I did pick up a new dog leash for our pup and a gap kids sweater for Luke.  Almost ALL of my children's clothes come from garage sales because I just can't justify spending $300 on a wardrobe for a 3 year old!! 

My mother was kind enough to gift us a Carrabba's $10 gift card that was expiring today.  If you have ever been to Carrabba's, you know that the you can't get much for $10.  Thankfully, their kid's menu was very reasonably priced.  I ordered a kid's spaghetti and meatballs and a kid's cheese pizza and ordered carryout  (the fear of getting kicked out of a restaurant thanks to two tired kids was a chance I was not willing to take).  This fed me and both boys and we still have 2 leftover pieces of pizza! 
TOTAL FOR DINNER: $10.00, but we had the $10 GC!!!  
TOTAL MINUS giftcard: $3 (for tip!)

Now, neither of these things were necessary, but it was so nice not to have to cook, and the boys LOVE our "date nights".  Also, a little retail therapy is good for the soul....even if it is at a yard sale!!!!

TOTAL SPENT DAY 5: $5 (rollover $3, total rollover $15.99)

I want to let everyone know that there is a HUGE difference between being frugal and being cheap.  It is one thing to clip coupons and find the best deals around, it is a complete other thing to tip poorly or use your coupons unethically.  Please be generous and respectful to those around you.  If you do not have money to tip accordingly, do not go out to eat.  (CAN YOU TELL I WAS ONCE A SERVER?!?!?)