Thursday, December 31, 2009

Scrubbing Bubbles Moneymaker

I just got back from Target and LOVE this deal!!! I had doubles of everything so I came home with 2 starter kits and 4 refills.

It's for the Scrubbing Bubbles Automatic Shower Cleaner and refills

  • Starter Kit $12.99
    • Use $7 off starter kit printable HERE
    • Use coupon for FREE $5 Target GC wyb a starter kit from 11/15 Smart Source insert (My store took $5 off at register instead of giving me an actual GC)
  • 2 Refills $4.14 x 2 = $8.28
    • B1G1 free refill kit HERE 
    • $1.50/2 Scrubbing Bubbles cleaning products (Target coupon) from 11/15 Smart Source insert
Save your receipts and you can then use them for the $5 SC Johnson rebate when you buy any three products HERE. Remember, you can get that rebate back 3 times before July which is $15!
Final Price: all for FREE with $1.37 overage!

Thanks, Moms By Heart!

Top 10 Freebies of 2009

Thanks, Freebies 4 Mom, for this list! I got all of these this year. My favorite is the ABC Orchestra book because my kids love it!

Freebies 4 Mom: Top 10 Freebies of 2009

Yo Gabba Gabba! Dance Time Brobee has a Yo Gabba Gabba! Dance Time Brobee for $9.99 with $5 shipping today. You can buy up to three and still pay only $5 shipping. This is a great deal because they are $22-$32 on Amazon and shipping is $8.

Hurry, though, because Woot deals don't last long! They only sell one item a day and when it's gone, that's it. 

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

$5 Rebate for SC Johnson Products

This is actually a really easy rebate to get. You can submit up to 3 forms per household as long as they are sent seperately.

If you purchase ANY 3 of the following products from the following brands, save the receipt and get this rebate!

• Ziploc®
• Glade®
• Windex®
• Scrubbing Bubbles®
• Pledge®
• Shout®
• Fantastik®
• Drano®
• Raid®
• Off®
• Saran™
• Nature’s Source™

The rebate must be postmarked by 07/15/10 so you have plenty of time to get your $15 back. Here is the link to the form.

The Cure

   My kids have pretty bad seasonal allergies and between the two of them, it seems like someone is always sick. The Big One is easier to manage because he's 4 and has more options on what he can take but I am still always on the lookout for non-drug remedies. The Little One is always a challenge because he's 1 and there really aren't many medical options for him other than a doctor visit and some sugar loaded prescription cough syrup.

   Well, I have found The Cure.

Meet Vicks© Soothing Vapors Plug-In Waterless Vaporizer. This thing is amazing! Until last night, The Little One had been coughing day and night for 2 days and has had a week of sleepless nights because of his cough. He started to sound like an old man because he was going hoarse from all the coughing. I plugged this in and within minutes, the whole room smelled like Vicks. Last night, he sleep better than he has all week (which means I slept better than I have all week) and woke up cough free. Everything else I tried (essential oil baths, herbal teas, elevating his mattress, mentol rubs on his chest) worked for a while but he would always start coughing again within a few hours.
                        The little pads that come with it are supposed to work for 8 hours but I've had the same one plugged in for closer to 12 hours and the room still smells great. It's nap time and I still hear no coughs.

   The GREAT news is that Walgreens has a deal on this (among other Vicks© products) through Saturday, Jan. 2nd! If you spend $20, you get $10 back in register rewards. Spend $10, get $5 back. They are $4.49-$4.99 each (so yes, to get $10 back, you'd have to buy 5 products). I bought two Soothing Vapors (each with 5 pads), a pack of 5 replacement pads, and more Baby VapoRub. I got $5 back which was like getting one of the Soothing Vapors for free. Also, I had a coupon for free Puffs with Vicks when you buy 2 Vicks products and a $1 off any single Puffs.

   I don't get anything from anyone for posting this, but I am so grateful for this new product!! As a mom, it's a huge deal to find something that works and helps sick kids sleep. These work for adults, too. It's not marketed as a kids product and it's safe for all ages. Go get some because someone you know will probably cough, sneeze, or wheeze soon!

Winn-Dixie Meal Deal!

Winn-Dixie has a great deal that is good through 1/5. If you buy 2 Tombstone Pizza (2/11.58), you get Winn Dixie brand breadsticks, Farm Rich mozzerella sticks, Breyers ice cream, and a 2-Liter of Coke FREE!!

  • Sign up at Farm Rich (click coupons on the side) for 75¢ any Farm Rich product. 
UPDATE: I used the self checkout lane because WD was packed and it wouldn't let me use the Farm Rich coupon. The manager came over and said since they were free, I couldn't use the coupon. My advice is to go to a cashier because when they a similar meal deal with lasagna, I used coupons on the free stuff with no problem. Oh well, even without the coupon, it's still a great deal!

    Monday, December 28, 2009

    Free Cheerios

    General Mills is giving away 53,000 boxes of Cheerios. Go here to register. They will notify the winners by mail and all entrants get four $1 off coupons. You can enter daily!

    Thanks, Southern Savers!

    Also, remember to enter my giveaway for a free box of General Mills cereal!

    Giveaway and coupon for General Mills cereal

    Did you know that ready-to-eat cereal eaters consume less fat, less cholesterol and more fiber than non-cereal eaters? Cereals also deliver important vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients, making cereal a top source of key nutrients in children´s diets.

    Other cereal benefits:

    • Ready-to-eat cereals, including presweetened cereals, account for only 5% of sugar in children´s diets.
    • Ready-to-eat cereal is the No. 1 source of whole grains in a child´s diet today.
    • More frequent cereal eaters tend to have healthier body weights and lower Body Mass Index measures.
    Studies also demonstrate the benefits of eating breakfast. A 1998 study showed that children who eat breakfast tend to perform better at school. Compared to children who skip breakfast, children who eat breakfast score higher on tests, are less likely to miss class or be tardy, have fewer reported discipline problems, and make fewer trips to the office.

    For more information about kids and cereals, please visit Cereal Health and Wellness.

    COUPON: Right now if you visit here you will find a $1 off coupon for one of four General Mills cereals.

    GIVEAWAY: If you post a comment below by January 2nd at 11:59 pm. I will choose one person using The prize is a coupon for one free box of any General Mills cereal (exp. 12/31/2010). 

    (This information and coupons were provided by General Mills through MyBlogSpark.)

    Wednesday, December 23, 2009

    When coupons don't work

    This is more of a post to reiterate the importance of knowing the coupon policy. Most companies have it written and it's usually hidden on the website somewhere but you may have to ask.

    I received a holiday mailer for Papa John's with a coupon for a Free Order of Cheesesticks with the purchase of any large or extra large pizza. So, I looked online and saw that the XL3 pizza was $11.99. I called to order and apparently, the $11.99 was a "coupon" so if I wanted that pizza with the cheesesticks, the pizza would now be $21.99. Obviously, I did not want to pay an extra $10 for my "free" cheesesticks. Ordinarily, I would have ordered from Domino's because I know their coupon policy and probably could have gotten more food for the same price but I was hungry. I, stupidly, said the p word in front of my 4-year old, and I wanted the XL3 pizza (instead of the medium 1-topping I would have gotten from Domino's.)

    I do have an email into Papa John's to see if they have an actual coupon policy because if they do not, they would have to honor the advertised price of the pizza with my coupon. I'll keep you posted!

    Tuesday, December 15, 2009

    Update on Walgreens

    Walgreens (at least the one by me) does take printed coupons from the sheet that I posted a link to earlier. In fact, most of the stuff already had coupons taped to it. Here's a rundown on what I got after using both the Walgreens coupon and a manufacturer coupon:

    • Viva paper towels (6 pack) - $3 (saved $4)
    • Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal - $1.54 (saved 55¢)
    • Tampax Pearl (50 count) - $7 (saved $3)
    • Hershey Kisses (2 bags) - $4 (saved $2)
    • 4 Mars candy products (Skittles and M&Ms) - $1.56 (saved $2)
    • Huggies wipes (2 packs) - $1.58 (saved $4)
    • Huggies diapers - $6 (saved $3)
    I also used $7 in Register Rewards from last week so for $43.13 worth of stuff, I payed $17.68 (+tax). Not bad for 20 mins work! 

    Monday, December 14, 2009

    Free Veggie Tales DVD

    Go here to choose one of six Veggie Tales DVDs free. To get this, you'll have to sign up for their newsletter. Shipping is $2.99 but that's a great deal for an hour of entertainment with a purpose. I got Abe and the Amazing Promise which is normally $8.99 + shipping on

    Walgreens coupon sheet

    Go here for a 4-page sheet of good Walgreens coupons. Just at first glance, there are manufacturer coupons for a bunch of these. From the Sunday paper, I have coupons for Duracell batteries, Huggies wipes, Hershey's candy, Always and Tampax products, Pampers, and Cover Girl. Go to for the match ups on this. Some of these things will be almost free if you use both.

    I am not sure if Walgreens will take the printed version of the coupons on the sheet but it's worth a shot. The hard copy version is located in the store but you'll have to look for all of the sheets because they aren't together (at some stores.) I'll let you know if they take the black and white version after I go.

    Saturday, December 12, 2009

    Why I don't shop at Walmart

         Since I am so money conscious, sometimes people ask me why I don't take my coupons and money saving knowledge to Walmart where prices are generally lower. I wanted to address why, for me, Walmart doesn't work. First, I would like to say that my experience does not apply to all Walmart stores and I have heard of other people enjoying hundreds of dollars in savings there so I know it is possible. I am only addressing my local Walmart.
        When I first realized I needed to make major adjustments in my family's outgoing money, we did shop at Walmart and I bought the lowest costing brand of everything. I have never had a problem buying generic and I have never had a certain brand I had to buy for anything. Our average weekly grocery bill was $120 for a family of 3 (and then 4) including all toiletries, cleaning supplies, and diapers.
         Around January, I learned that Walmart price matches. I spent two hours pursuing the ads and finding corresponding coupons. I would have saved about $80. Before I started shopping, I consulted with the customer service desk to make sure I had all the right ads and understood their price matching policy. They approved my ads and even looked at what I had circled and said I was correct. So, I spent two hours shopping because I made sure I had the right items and quantities. Keep in mind, I had two small children with me who were incredibly patient that day. When I got to the register, I told the cashier what I was doing and she helped me sort my groceries according to the ads. Then she said she needed to make sure with her manager that she knew how to do the price adjustments on the register. The front end manager came over, looked at my ads, and said, "Do you honestly think we will price match the buy one, get one items?" I said, "I checked with customer service and they said it was no problem." She then laughed at me and said, "Boy, you really are ignorant." I was completely taken aback and in shock. I told her I had spent two hours shopping and that the manager told me ahead of time I was doing the right thing. She said, "Well, they were wrong. I will not allow my cashier to do this." I started to cry and left my $200 worth of groceries on the conveyor. The cashier asked me what she was supposed to do with all that stuff. I said, "I don't care what you do with it. Put it back." The front end manager told me I had to put it back. I promptly left the store.
        When I got home, I called the corporate office with names and the store number. They apologized and said they would have the store manager call me. The "interim store manager" called me and said, "Wow, yeah, that wasn't cool. I'll definitely leave a note for the manager when she gets back in town." I called back two days later when the actual store manager was back in town and she apologized saying she reprimanded the woman who called me ignorant. The store manager also said that "technically" Walmart doesn't accept buy one, get one price matching but that she was ok with it "due to the economy" but didn't make it known among the cashiers or front end managers. I never felt much remorse from anyone. In fact, they all acted like this kind of thing happened often. It left a very bad taste in my mouth.

        All in all, Walmart has a very ambiguous coupon policy that differs from store to store. I do not work well without set rules, especially if I am putting in time doing the legwork. My local store will accept many ads and coupons but it absolutely depends on the cashier. I am not ok with that. I do not want to fight for the ability to save money.

        Another reason I do not like Walmart is that everyone who works there is either in a rush or acts bothered by customers questions. They seem like their jobs would be much more pleasant if all the people would leave the store. I have never left Walmart feeling happy or with a positive attitude because the staff doesn't smile or make me feel glad to have chosen to shop there. That negativity spills over into everything. The bathrooms are never clean, the shelves are sloppy, and the store even smells bad most of the time.

       Again, I could not and would not say if this is true of all Walmart stores but it is true of the store closest to me. I suppose I could drive 10-15 miles and test my theories but the added time and gas would take away from my total savings. I'll stick with where I know I can save money regardless of the cashier I choose and where I will be greeted with a joyful hello.

    I'd love to hear positive stories about good shopping trips to Walmart!

    Free Photo Book (Kinda) is giving away a limited number of 20 page 9.5 x 8 soft printed photo books. You can choose from holiday, travel, or wedding theme. You do have to pay $8.99 in shipping but you fit a whole bunch of pictures in 20 pages. It's still a pretty good deal especially considering the size of the book!

    Friday, December 11, 2009

    Photo Deals

       We just had our family pictures taken and we had so many great shots that I am adding presents for the grandparents. Here are the deals I got. Most of these codes expire very soon so act fast! :)

    • Become a fan of Walgreens on Facebook and get 50% off of a 11x14 photo poster (does not apply to collage posters.) The total cost with shipping was $7.47.
    • While at Walgreens photo, get 50 4x6 prints for $5 with code PRINT.
    • (Fuji Film) has a bunch of great deals, especially for new customers. You can get 100 free (but you pay shipping) 4x6 prints with your first order. I got a 11 oz coffee mug for $6.94 with overnight shipping (all shipping was free!) using the code NICOLESNICKELS. 
    • also has a bunch of good deals. I got a 10 page flip book for $1.99 shipped using the code GMAFREE. 
       I'm sure there are more deals out there but these were the deals I liked. If you hear of another one, let me know!

    Thursday, December 10, 2009

    Yoplait Delights Spa Giveaway

    Freebie Spot is hosting a giveaway for a Yoplait Delights Spa Giveaway. The prize pack includes a spa mask, a wrap bath robe, slippers, and a coupon for a free pack of Yoplait Delights. There are seven easy ways to enter and you can enter all seven times. Click here to find out how.

    GREAT Yankee Candle coupon

    For those hard to shop for people, candles are my go to gift. Here is a great coupon for $10 off your purchase of $20 or more at Yankee Candle Co. It seems like you can print it more than once so I might take the hubby so we can get $40 worth of candles for $20! Click here

    Wednesday, December 9, 2009

    Publix makes me happy

    Total:  $80.20
    I paid $13.35
    What I bought
    2 4-packs of BeneVia vitamin juice
    2 bottles of Nivea body wash
    4 packages of Toll House cookies
    2 bottles of Sundown vitamins
    1 box of Monkey Bread
    3 Yakisoba noodles
    1 Revlon nail polish
    1 pack of Goody hair bands
    1 Cover Girl compact
    1 8-pack of Fruitables juice
    2 packages of Kim and Scott's pretzels
    1 loaf of Publix brand bread

         I had at least one coupon for everything I bought except the bread. I stacked coupons (Publix from the Green Advantage flyer  or Family Holiday magazine with a manufacturer coupon) or they were BOGO and I had two coupons. This has never happened to me before but they even had to bring a manager over to override the register because I had more coupons than I had stuff! The cashier and manager looked at my stuff and coupons and said I was doing everything exactly to the letter of the coupon policy. My Favorite Bag Boy, who never says much, leaned over to see the register screen while I was paying. I asked him if he was seeing how much I saved and he said, "I just had to look."

       No, this is not a week's worth of groceries but I'm pretty stocked up. All we needed this week was bread but we have a bunch of Christmas parties so I would have had to buy cookies soon anyway. I am having trouble getting The Big One to drink anything because he says he hates everything other than Sprite so I am now on a mission to find anything remotely healthy that he will drink. The juice was a fulfills that. My husband loves the Yakisoba noodles and will eat them as an after dinner snack. I didn't buy anything we won't use so it was a good trip.

    A game you can win today!

    Victoria's Secret Pink - This one is a "play until you win" game. It took me about 10 minutes to win a printable certificate for $10 good at any Victoria's Secrect store. Click here

    You will win!

    Tuesday, December 8, 2009

    Deals at Target

    Starbucks coffee (12-14 oz bags) - Buy 3 bags for $7 each, get a $5 gift card. That's a $5.33 Christmas gift!

    Glade candles (1-pk. PlugIns oil refill, 4-oz. candle or scented oil candle tin, or 4-ct. oil candle refills) - Buy 5 at $2.50 each, get a $5 gift card. You should have a bunch of Glade coupons saved up from the past month. Here is an example of how you can get 6 Glade products candles for $1-$1.50.

    • Buy one oil candle holder, 3 oil candle refills, a Plug-in warmer, and a Plug-in oil refill.
    • Use these coupons:
      • Buy any Glade Plug-Ins Scented Oil refill, get a warmer free.
      • Buy any Glade Scented Oil candles holder, get a refill pack free.
      • Save $2 on two Glade Scented Oil candle refill packs.
      • Save $2 on any two Glade Scented Oil candle products (I got this coupon from the last time I bought an oil candle but there was a save $1.50 in the newspaper so use that one if you don't have the $2 one.)
    Rayovac alkaline batteries -  (Free - 50¢)  Check the $1 section for 2 packs of these. Make sure you get the alkaline because there is another type there, too. I had 5 save $1 on any pack of Rayovac batteries from the newspaper so I got 5 packs for free. I also had a save $1 on any 2 packs so I got those 2 for 50¢. In all, I got 7 packs of batteries (AA and D) for $1. That is about 15¢ a pack!!

    Johnson's Bathtime Buddies - (Free) Use the $1 off any Johnson's product coupon. I had 2 of them and these are 97¢ each so I got two free. The cashier did tell me that since they were only 97¢ and my coupons were for $1 off, I could not get the extra 6¢. I said ok.

    Another daily win game

    Toys-R-Us Hot Holiday Toy Giveaway (ends 12-13-09) - Prizes change daily but there are 40 winners a day so you have a good chance of winning something. Click here

    Happy playing!!

    Free chips!!

    Become a fan of Stacy's Pita Chips on Facebook and they will mail you a coupon for a free bag of chips. They are usually $3.99 at Publix so it's a great freebie! I bought some of these for Thanksgiving and they were amazing with guacamole! My boys loved them, too and I felt fine about letting them snack on them because they are actually pretty healthy.

    Do this quickly because I'm sure this promotion won't last long!!!

    Monday, December 7, 2009

    Couponing 101

    I wanted to give everyone a few tips on how to make coupons work for you. They may seem like common sense, but it's taken me a while to actually do these things every week.

    • Save every coupon you think you MIGHT use. Save coupons for products you wouldn't normally buy because they aren't your normal brand, are normally too expensive, or things you don't love but would use if it were free or super cheap. My rule of thumb is if I would ever use it, keep the coupon. Yes, some of these expire without ever making it to the store but Murphy's Law is when you start throwing coupons away, those things end up on sale and you kick yourself because if you had the coupons, it would have been almost free. On the other hand, if I will NEVER use it, even if it is free, I don't save the coupon. I will never use dog food or Depends so I don't save those. 
    • Look at all the ads, even if you don't want to go to four different stores. Sometimes the extra 30 minutes of trip time can save you an extra $50. I typically allow 2 hours on grocery day but with average weekly savings of $100, I'm ok with that. If you think of it like a part-time job, that's $50 an hour which is definitely worth it.
    • Memorize and know the average generic price and name brand price of things. I never made price lists but I am always aware of the cost of everything I pick up. Eventually, those numbers will become second nature and you will be able to remember if you can get it cheaper somewhere else without straining yourself. This is great to know because typically, drug stores are more expensive but sometimes they have sales, bucks back, or coupons that make those products worth the trip. For instance, I know I can always find name brand tuna for about $1.20 somewhere and I know there are rarely coupons for canned tuna available (coupons for the pouches are easy to find, though.) So, I know that when I see that Walgreens has name brand tuna for 69¢ and it's limit 4, I should buy 4 cans. This also saves time at the store because you can shop with confidence knowing you are getting the best deal instead of standing in front of the coffee trying to do math in your head.
    • Know the benefits of price matching and using competitor coupons. I have no problem using competitor coupons at Publix but sometimes, it's better to just go to the competitor. This is usually true for CVS and Walgreens. If you shop using CVS Extra Care Bucks and Walgreens Register Rewards, I would not recommend using their coupons at Publix. If you have store dollars to spend, use them! But if only want one or two things at the competitor, just get it at your normal store and price match or use the coupon.
    • Learn how your store interprets the coupon policy before you shop. Publix has a very lenient store policy but each particular location make accept different coupons. The location I go to does not consider drugstores a competitor but if I drive 4 miles west, that location will take coupons from ANY stores located in our city. Call the store manager before you go to save yourself any frustration. They are usually very polite and love that you will be shopping there. The more you know you are doing things right, the happier your trip will be. 
      • Buy when it's on sale, not when you need it. Obviously, I'm not talking about milk, bread, and eggs. Those rarely go on sale and you can't stock up even if they do. Everything else, you can stock up on when it's on sale, even fruits and veggies if you have freezer space. 
      • Know the difference between stocking up and going overboard. It's fine to have four extra toothbrushes but is it really ok to "stock up" on toothpaste when you know you have ten extra tubes at home? It's only a good deal if you'll use it within a year. Look at expiration dates of what you have at home already and keep in mind how much your family really uses. Right now, I will only bring more lotion, toothpaste, and razors into this home if it's absolutely free and I can find the coupons needed very quickly. The only exception to this is if you plan on donating the things you have at home that are close to expiring. 
      • Find an organization system that works for you. I have a 13 pocket coupon folder and right now, it's not working for me because my "bath/body" and "cleaning supplies" sections are overflowing. In reality, I need 20 pockets to make organizing my coupons very quick and easy. If you spend more time finding the coupons than cutting them, you might want to revamp. Also, think about how you want to make your shopping trip as quick as possible. For me, it works to pull out coupons I will use at home and take an envelope full to the store instead of digging through my folder in the frozen foods section. If you follow any coupon matching blogs, they make this easy and worth your while because most of the time, you can print out extra coupons to stack with what you have from the newspaper. When I am at the store, I only go down aisles where I need something. 
      • Sales are on a 6-8 week rotation. Anything that will go on sale, will do so at least once every 6-8 weeks. If you are addicted to Goldfish crackers, make sure you stock up a 6-8 week supply when they are on sale to last you until the next sale. This is also why it is a good idea to keep all coupons you might use because when it does go on sale, you will be able to buy as many items as you have coupons for to create your stockpile.
        • Ask questions. Once you commit to making this a lifestyle, people who know the "rules" will help you. I have actually asked strangers at the store what they are buying or if they thought the store would take a certain coupon. Make friends with people who are saving hundreds a week. Ask managers and be ok if they say no. But also know when to call corporate or ask for the store manager. No one ever has the right be rude or mean because you want to use a coupon. I have been treated badly one too many times at Walmart and I do not agree with their coupon policy (or lack thereof) so I will not waste my time there. On the other hand, start calling corporate or asking for a store manager to report GOOD customer service, as well.
        Happy shopping!

        What I am playing (and winning)

               One of the ways I actually make money is through (reputable) online sweepstakes and instant win games.
        Here is a list of the games I have actually won or know that people are winning. I have a folder in my bookmarks called “Daily Win!” and since you can play or enter these every day, I do just that. Some of them have multiple prizes or grand prizes along with the smaller instant win prizes. I have read on other blogs that the best time to win is late at night or early in the morning but I typically play after the boys get up (8am) or during nap time (12pm-2pm) so it seems like time isn’t as big a factor as some people think. I will say, however, that if I play every day for 2 weeks or so and win nothing, I will try switching to a later time. That worked on the Wendy’s game.

               You do have to sign up for most of these but they do not bombard you with 10,000 emails. Some will send you coupons so it’s actually really good. If you are going to enter daily, signing up makes it very fast later.

        Currently Playing:
        • Johnson’s Right at Home Rewarding Indulgences (ends 12/31/09) – Win Glade candles or $100 American Express gift card, Click here
        • Unilever Making Life Better (ends 12/31/09) – Win an eco friendly tote bag full of a sponsor’s products or a $500 gift card to “a store,” according to the rules. See the website for sponsor list.  Click here
        • Febreeze Freshest Game Day Ever (ends 12/27/09) – Win a trip to the Super Bowl, a trip to the Pro Bowl, a 50′ plasma, a gift card to the NFL shop, or a coupon for a free Febreeze product.  Click Here
        • Dave Ramsey Christmas 09 Give Like No One Else (ends 12/23/09) – Prizes change daily. Click here
        • Famous Footwear Make Today Merry (ends 12/31/09) – Win $10,000 cash or CDs, movie tickets, or gift cards. You have to play a Memory-type game with shoes to play the instant win part. I am horrible at Memory so I doubt I’ll win this one, haha. Click here
        • The 3PM Snackdown Challenge (ends 4/30/10) – Win a training session with The Biggest Loser Traner Bob Harper and a trip to The Biggest Loser Resort or “Smackdown Cash,” which can be traded in for thousands of prizes. Codes are found on packs of Extra gum or click “Request a Code” for a free one. Click here
        • Snyders of Hanover and Better Homes and Gardens (ends 12/31/09) – Win a different prize each day or $5,000.  Click here
        Games I’ve won prizes (and still play):
        • My Coke Rewards Instant Win (various games, most end 12/31/09) – YOU DO NOT NEED COKE POINTS TO PLAY! Here’s how you play these without points. Go to “Spend your Points,” then “Instant Win,” and click on the “Rules” of any game. Each set of rules will say “Free Method of Entry” or “Alternate Method of Entry.” Read through that section and find where it says “Click Here.” A small window will pop-up asking you to enter the security code. Once you click submit, you will have a free entry. Request as many entries as it will let you and do this for each game. Play them all the maximum number of times allowed each day (some will let you play 3 times, others will let you play 5 times). Click here
                       These games change all the time so play it every day. I have won DJ Hero for PS2, a $15 Best Buy gift card, and a $10 Best Buy gift card from Coke.
        • Wendy’s Home Makeover Combo (ends 1/4/10) – Win Home Depot gift cards, a home makeover, or tools. You can win up to 7 times so even if you win once, keep playing. This is another one that you can do an alternate method of entry. You are supposed to use codes from Wendy’s cups but if you click “Need a Code?” at the bottom, they email you codes. You can play 5 times a day so request 5 codes a day. Click here
                       I won a $10 Home Depot gift card playing this game. I played everyday for two weeks and got annoyed because I never won so one night at 11pm, I tried again and won on the first try.
        • Redbook Magazine (ongoing) – Redbook Magazine does a Giveaway-A-Day. This month it’s a $100 gift card from You can enter every day and when the month is over, they award prizes. There are also a few sweepstakes you can enter, too. When you enter, it will automatically susbscribe you for a trial issue. You don’t have to do that. On the entry page, there is an option that says, “No purchase is necessary to enter.” Click that option. Then, just click no on all the additional information. Click here
                       I won a $100 gift card to Newport News last month.
        • Huggies Enjoy the Ride (ongoing) – This one you do actually have to have codes from Huggies but has a list of free codes that is updated very often. Click here
                       I won a $25 Starbucks card in the Instant Win games.

               It may seem like alot of work but it takes me about 10 minutes every day to enter all of these since they are saved in my bookmarks. For the $260 worth of prizes I have won, it seems worth it to me. Weigh it out for yourself. If there are prizes you really don’t want, then skip that one. When you win, share the joy with all of us! Good luck!!

        The Reason

        I have a blog!

               I have wanted to do this for a while but never made the time. Now the time is here because I really want to show other moms (and non-moms) that it is possible to live within your means if you think of it as a part time job and do a small amount of work. On a good week, with 10 hours of research, I can make and/or save $300. Some of that is savings at the grocery with sales and coupons, some of that is free samples or products, and some is items I win in contests and sweepstakes.

               Being able to stay home with my kids and “work” while they play, take naps, or watch a movie is the best job I’ve ever had. Some days, I do think it would be easier to go to work and not have to cut coupons but I know my family would be miserable. I did work. Since my older son was born, I have been an insurance agent, a teacher, and an office manager. I made decent to great money at all three jobs but I wasn’t happy. I could afford to spend $200 at the grocery but I missed my husband and I missed my son.  I even took my son to work with me when I was an office manager but I either didn’t get any work done or I passed him off so I could work. I cried often because I didn’t think I could live that way for the rest of my life.
        During the 07/08 school year, I was a teacher. I taught 7th grade Language Arts and 6th grade Intensive Reading. I did love (most of the) kids but I hated the job. I hated the amount of work I had to take home and do outside of school since I didn’t have a degree in education. I was tired and we were still broke. My son spent half of the school year with my mom during the day which worked great. In February, we moved and daycare became a better option. In five months, he went to two daycares. The first daycare  worked on a kind of demerit system and he was “written up” for bad behavior twice in a month. He was 2. They also sent him home five times that month because he was “sick.” Each time, I left work and took him straight to the doctor who said he was fine. The fevers, pink eye, and vomiting were always cured on the car ride to the doctor’s office. So, we moved to a different daycare which we loved. He was potty trained within two weeks of attending and was never sent home. Meanwhile, the school year ended and job assignments were arranged within the district. I was not rehired but I was not discouraged. There were still open jobs and there were lots of changes happening so I kept applying for anything I was qualified to teach. In July, after weeks of paying the daycare partial payments, they told me my son could not come back until I got a job or was able to pay them in full each week. I thought that was one of the worst days of my life because, in my mind, since I was college educated and willing to do anything, I should have had a job. I see now that was actually one of the best days of my life because it was the day when I acknowledged that every door had been slammed in my face. I knew it was time to live with the income my husband brought home. We had been married for almost three years and had never lived that way. We lived on the hope and expectation that money, jobs, and life would come to us. We never prepared for or dreamed that I wouldn’t be a teacher forever or that my husband would ever lose his job (which he did in October 08.)

               I wish I could say that I am just a naturally frugal woman and I have always lived as a good steward of what God has given me. Obviously, I can’t. My credit score is appalling and I wouldn’t be approved to buy a pencil on credit at this point. Between my husband and I, we have lost a house, two cars, and have tousands of dollars in credit card and medical debt. The good news, however, is that I get it now. I understand why I couldn’t find a job and why my husband lost his job (and insurance) two weeks before the birth of our second son (a child we planned on having when I was teaching.) I understand now what it means that “from everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” (Luke 12:48) We were given much and probably could have accomplished more by throwing it all out a car window. We have absolutely nothing to show for the good years we had. We fought all the time about money, too. Now, after everything was taken away and we were forced to start from scratch, we see it for the blessing it is. We know where each meal comes from and we know that the only way we will be blessed is to give thanks each day. We, a family of 4, are living on less than my husband made when he was 20 years old. The funny thing is, though, that we are happier and more in love than we have ever been. We own more than we have ever owned and we eat better than we ever have before. I absolutely cannot explain to you how we have such abundance without pointing to the presence of God. Once we fell flat on our faces and told Him we were out of ideas, He said, “Finally, now I can work!” And work, He did! He is still working and we are along for the ride.

               This blog will be my way of sharing the proof I see that God is real, He is smarter than us, and He loves His children without fail. As a parent, I relate to God as a Father. When my kids are well behaved, take care of their toys, and are nice to each other, I reward them. I will take them to Chik-Fil-a for lunch. I will buy them a new Hot Wheels car. I will rent a movie just for them. But when they are mean, throw tantrums, break things, and hit each other, I do not want to take them anywhere or buy them anything. That is God the Father. And I get it now.