Monday, July 11, 2011

Stop Eating Your Nest Egg - Part 3

Saving Money on Groceries Without Couponing

I think that we can all agree that you can save an outrageous amount of money by couponing. But what if you just don't have the time, energy, or dedication to coupon?? Or more honestly, just have better things do with your time then clip coupons for hours each week and then match them to ads. Good news, you can still save 30-50% off your grocery bill. The average family spends around $120 a week on groceries. That's a pretty penny. What would you do with an extra $144 to $240 that you could earn by just shopping smarter and changing some habits? That's up to almost $2,800 a year to put away for retirement, use towards a down payment, pay off debt, or a vacation. Why eat away a nice vacay like that when you can just make some changes instead? Here are some wonderful ways to save money on groceries without couponing.

Follow the Ads

A major way to save money on groceries is to follow the ads, or at least follow a blog like I Heart Publix that will post ads for you. Blogs that post grocery ads will usually also mark items that are at a good "stocking up" price (we'll talk about stockpiling in the next section) and that will help you decide whether it's actually a deal or not. If it's not a deal, the best thing to do is to hold out and see if the price goes any lower. Once you start following your store's ad for a while you will start to recognize what the usual prices are for items yourself.

Sale items are a beautiful thing. Once you get a hang of what good prices look like, it is time to change some shopping habits. Start buying things only when they are on sale. "But what if I need this, right this second!!!" Well, try to keep things like that to minimum. Toilet paper or milk is understandable. Other items can usually wait. Do you absolutely have to make that exciting new recipe this week for $20 or can you wait a few weeks until you have all the ingredient for $10. See what I am saying?? By only buying things that are on sale you are saving a ton of money. Buy One, Get One (BOGOs) Free sales are a major lifesaver. You automatically are saving 50% with BOGOs.  You can stock an entire refrigerator and pantry with just a few weeks of BOGOs.


When I say "stockpile" I do not mean run out and buy 50 bottles of ketchup just because it was a good deal like the crazies on that stupid Extreme Couponing show do. When I say "stockpile", I mean buy just enough of an item to last your family 6 weeks. You should buy enough for 6 weeks because that is how long a typical sales cycle is.  In order to buy things only when they are on sale, you need to buy enough to last your family until they go on sale again. Yes, it is great to save some money but not if you're running out of all kinds of goodies. If you see a good price on something that you know you will use, buy enough to last you until it goes on sale again. That way, you won't be forced to go out and pay full price if you happen to run out. It may take you a few weeks to get your pantry stocked, but once you get started you will find that you have absolutely everything you need to make all kinds of meals all the time and you did it much cheaper than the old way.

Shop Smart

Unfortunately, there are just some things that do not go on BOGO. There's also items that go on "sale" but are never really a deal. Milk, meat, and produce all seem to be items that you will always pay a pretty standard price for. But don't worry, there's still some ways to save.
Produce - Try to not buy any produce at the actual grocery store unless you really know that that's the lowest price you can find. Many areas have produce buying clubs or co-ops where you pay a weekly price and you get a "share" of fresh, local produce. Prices at your local farmer's market or even that tent on the side of the road will always be cheaper (and alot of times yummier) than the produce at the supermarket.
Meat - From time to time you will find meat at a sensational price at the supermarket. Like around Thanksgiving you will find turkey's at .59 lb. or you will occasionally see chicken at .99lb. It just doesn't happen very often. Alot of times I noticed that the store that had the good sale on meat was never the store I frequented. Many times I had to make separate trips to another store just to get a certain deal on a particular item. I still have to do that. I have found that the best  consistent value on meat is usually at a Club store like Costco, BJ's or Sam's. We buy all the meat for the entire month in bulk and then meal-size portion it when we get home. We usually can get all the meat we need for an entire month for about $90 at Sam's. Not too shabby in my opinion.

By just making some changes to the way you shop for food you can save a ton of money. No clipping required. Personally, I do coupon and so I usually save 50-70% on groceries, but if you are a busy person with little patience, this may be the way to go. A little planning goes a long way. Watch those ads, buy only what's on sale, and keep all the essentials on hand all the time. Plan your meals by what's going to be on sale and eat by what's in season (because that's usually what's on sale). Easy peasy money-saving awesomeness!

Friday, July 1, 2011


If you are wondering why I haven't posted in ages, or why I never completed the "Stop Eating Your Nest Egg" series, it's because I thought my blog was deleted. I logged in one day and was given the message "Your Blog was Flagged for Removal". I wrote an angry letter but didn't think anything came of it.

Now that I see that we are up and running, I will making regular posts again. Yay!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Stop Eating Your Nest Egg - Part 2

Dining Out For Less

Last week we covered how the American food budget is spent. A family will spend 44% of their monthly food budget on eating out. I mentioned that dining out is not only going out for pleasure, but those quick stops for a cup of coffee or a snack at the conveinence store also count into "dining out". It's pretty much any eating or drinking that isn't at home. Part 1 covered how to cut that crap out. If you are going to spend hundreds of dollars a month eating out, at least do it for pleasure, not necessitiy.

If you absolutely love eating out and don't see yourself stopping anytime soon, it doesn't mean you can't save some money. Since the average family spends $350 a month on eating out, there's plenty of room to save some money. Over the years these little savings can add up to big dollar amounts. There's lots of fun stuff you can do in the future with savings like that.

Some of these things are more practical than others. It depends on how determined you are on getting your nest egg eating monster under control. Some of these things may take the "fun" out of eating out for you. What's more fun? Being broke at the end of the month or having some padding in your bank account? Thought so.

**Set Limits and Save Outings for Occasions  (This is by far the most effective and important saving strategy)**First decide how much is an acceptable amount to spend every month. A good amount is $100. That's $250 less than the average. That $100 may not seem like alot but it can definitely go a long way or make for a wonderful night out. If you have learned to eat all meals and snacks at home, 100% of that $100 budget can go to pleasure dining. You can now use that money for 1-2 outings. Save those outings for special occasions (mother's day, father's day, get the picture) and/or date nights. Don't use up that budget and then also have to take your mom out for lunch. Use that $100 however you want. It can be rigid, or it can be fun. In our home, we make a conscious effort to have one date night, just the two of us. We think it's really important for our relationship.We also have decided that we will only eat out 1-2 nights a month. So, we save our $100 for our "date night". If we end up using that allotment at other times during the night, then date night suffers or we go without eating out for that night (stay in or do something else).  You have to be strict about this stuff otherwise you will find that you're not saving at all.
Savings: $3000/year*

How to Make That $100 go Further...

Use Coupons or Gift Certificates
Make it a rule that when you do eat out, you need a coupon or gift certificate. If you are gifted a gift certificate, don't use it as "extra" dining out money. Use it as part of your $100. That will be all the more money you will be saving with the same amount of enjoyment. Utilize saving websites and blogs. Many blogs out there will post an article around the weekend every week on dining out deals. Many blogs such as Southern Savers and I Heart Saving Money post things almost daily on different restaurant deals, coupons and incentives. Follow blogs such as those on your RSS feed and you can save money on all sorts of stuff (especially around Christmas!). Another totally awesome way to save is using They are so awesome! This weekend my husband and I will be going to dinner and a show. We will be eating at House of Blues in Orlando. Thanks to my nifty blog following, I purchased a $25 gift certificate to House of Blues for only $1. Isn't that fantastic? Yes, eating there can be alot more than $25, but think of it as a $25 coupon that you only paid $1 for. You can subscribe to's emails to know when they have their 80% off sales, that's when you can get them for $1 only. There's tons of places to choose from, but the best stuff is found at the beginning of the month. Don't forget about your good 'ol newspaper. There's usually good dining coupons in there.
Savings: $10-$50/outing

Order Smart
Ordering soft drinks can be pricey, if not wasteful. I'm sure you get more than enough of your daily soda intake at home, so just order water. That can save you $5 or more per couple.You'll save money and make a healthier choice (yes, even if it's tap water...they do make your soda with the same water, ya know). Prefer a stiff one? Going out for drinks after dinner at a bar with drink specials can save you a pretty penny. If you haven't noticed, restaurant alcohol usually is really pretty and tasty, but perhaps watered down or light on the actual good stuff. They especially jack the price up for "specialty drinks" and call liquors. So, you're better off getting alcohol at an establishment that specializes in that.
Order an appetizer, or dessert. Not both. Do you really need both?? Probably not. Better yet, find a coupon for a free dessert or appetizer.
Savings:  $6-$27/outing

So there it is. Do that stuff and you'll have more fun in the long run and have a less sad bank account. Win-win, I say.

Check back next week for Part 3 of this series: Saving on Groceries Without Using Coupons.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Money Monday

Sorry, friends. Your next installment of Money Monday will be posted tomorrow evening. Check back then and thanks for stopping in!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Where's the Support?

Becoming a new parent can be one of the most stressful and scary things that can happen to a person. The entire 18 years (and beyond) that you are responsible for raising another human being can be filled with uncertainity, self-doubt, and confusion. These years can also be filled with love, wonder, happiness and confidence. This is where support comes in. When parents have a good support system, the chances of feeling overwhelmed are dramatically reduced. Parents surrounded with love, support, and good information make better choices and are less likely to do things that negatively impact their child's life. But it can go the other direction too. When parents are surrounded with critical, negative people, false or damaging information (although well meaning), and hostile people, parent's tend to feel alone, alienated, or attacked. This, in turn, makes for some bad decision making.

You really need to have a discerning ear and a clear idea what kind of parent you want to be. And when I say a clear idea, I mean detailed. Everyone wants to be a "good" parent. Who in their right mind would say otherwise? So when I ask "What kind of parent do you want to be?", "A good one" is not the answer. No shit sherlock. We all know how much I hate labels, so I am not asking for you to label yourself, just be aware of who you are. What being a good parent means to you is different for everyone. Perhaps you want to be strict, stern, yet loving. Perhaps you want to be an "attachment" parent, or "natural". Maybe your idea of a good parent is just someone that does their best with what they have. That's all that we can all really do. Once you have a clear idea of who you are, then you have a clear idea of how you want to raise your children. Everyone is different. There is no one true path when it comes to parenting. You make your own path. Some people think there's only one way - well, they're wrong in my opinion. Yes, there are some choices that you can make that have fewer negative consequences, but that's for you to figure out on your own. As long as your intentions are good, your love is grand and your mind is open, there's no wrong path.

So where's the support? It's all around you. In the real world and here in the good 'ol world of cyber space. Finding good support is not an easy task sometimes. Once you know who you are and what kind of parent you are, this task can be easier. You can look at advice and know if it lines up with your philosophy or end goal. Remember, in the middle is where the balance is. There is nothing good to be had in the excess or deficient. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing. You can look for support in your community, family, and social circles. Just ask around. Sometimes the best support isn't a organized group or service, it's just your friends. If you are a brand new parent, it can be likely you are the first of your friends and you feel alone. Don't panic. You are not alone. This is a prime opportunity to reach out to new people. Broaden your horizions and give new people a chance (especially the ones you wouldn't of considered to be your friend).  Sometimes, though, if people aren't an option right now, the internet is a wealth of good information as long as you can discern between good sources and no-so-good sources. Articles, blogs, websites can offer support in the form of knowledge. Knowledge is definitely power when it comes to pregnancy, birth, and parenting.

Unfortunately, sometimes when you find an awesome group of like minded moms or dads, (especially,'s the hormones, I guess) you will see some not-so-good things go on. Recently, in one of the groups I frequent, there were some sad occurences. A mom had posted about making a certain decision and wanted some information and opinions to aid her in making her final choice. What ensued from this was pitiful display of narrow-mindedness, judgement, and quite frankly, bitchiness. I didn't even read all the drama, but from what I saw, this seems to have really tainted the group. I didn't read the entire thread in question but I read the threads that came after.  Many moms posted to say that they were leaving because there was too much judgement and drama. Others posted to put their two cents in on what had happened. Whenever a group starts losing people because of disputes like this it means that the support is no longer support at all. I know that we are all human and have things that we get passionate about and everyone has their one subject they don't like to compromise on, but....really? Can we get that close-minded to each other?

From what I did read of the reaction posts, it seemed that no matter what side of the argument the mom was on, the bottom line was the same - they didn't understand why a parent would be attacking other parents, the very people they are supposed to be supporting and/or receiving support from. So, if everyone wants to just get along, why don't they? I don't have the answer to that. It's just human nature to have the occasional dispute. The important part is to just agree to disagree, cool down, and move on. Just change the subject and reconnect on what you do have in common. As people, we just want someone to connect with us and understand us. Emotions can just run high.

Everyone is different, with different sets of values, ideas, and core beliefs. If we were all expected to be the same, where would the fun and freedom be in that? The sooner we all realize and embrace that, the sooner we can put our differences aside and love one another. When looking for support or advice, just take what is useful to you and leave the rest. Find a group or friend with similar ideas and philosophies. You will learn great things from one another.

Here are some places that I have personally found to be useful in my journey (so far):

BabyCenter Community - There are tons of message board groups. You pick the subject, they have it. It's great to read postings from people going through what you are going through or learning about a new parenting aspect. The best thing about boards is that you can talk back and forth but you can remain pretty anonymous if you want to.

Facebook Groups - Use good discernment here. With it being Facebook, they will start to know every detail of your personal life.

MeetUp - A good website to find playgroups or other groups with shared interests.

Churches - If you attend church, many churches have small groups that are organized by interest or age group. Some churches may have a women's group or a small group for people with children.

Those are just to name a few off the top of my head. Check your local yellowbook for parenting organizations or groups. Many times, wherever you had your prenatal care may have a group of moms with babies the same age as yours. Organizations such as the United Way also offer good local programs. And don't forget, you may have friends that are looking for the same exact thing you are!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Money Monday - Stop Eating Your Nest Egg

Part 1 of 3: Dining Out Less

Let's talk about dining out. It's ridiculously expensive. You have to eat, but does it have to be so damn expensive?? 13% of the average American budget is spent on food. This is definitely something you can control. There's some things in your budget that you just can get any cheaper, gas and insurance are some examples. But, food? Oh, there's definitely room for improvement in that department. The average American family of four spends $9,534 a year on food, 44% of that being on dining out. That's almost $350 a month eating out! Are you fucking kidding me?! Really?! I can imagine a zillion other things I would love to do with $350 a month.

In our home, we spend $300 a month on food, period. That's groceries and dining out. That's a savings of $444 a month over the national average, or $5,328 a year. Now that's a pretty penny. Put away those savings for 30 years (the average amount of years an adult would work), and you would have $159,840. That's a good bit of money. That's money that can be earning interest. Combine that with your usual retirement plan and your golden years might look pretty nice (despite the shit economy).

 Now, I am not saying that your budget has to look like ours or you even have to take my advice, but I am saying that you should definitely rethink the way you dine out. You can still save a good bit of money by just trimming the edges a little bit. Don't get into a dining out habit. You can throw thousands of dollars away over your lifetime eating away from home and not even enjoying it. You know what I am talking about. The I'm-too-rushed-to-make-my-coffee-Starbucks-run, the I-didn't-have-time-to-pack-my-lunch-so-I'll-grab-a-sub-here, and the I'm-too-tired-to-cook-let's-get-take-out. It's not even enjoyable dining out. You are just eating out because life keeps getting in the way. With a little bit of planning and some better conscious decisions, you can turn your whole food budget around. If you are going to spend some money going out, let it be for fun, not just a mundane habitual rut.

Here are some great ways to cut down the habit:

Learn To Cook
Not knowing how to cook is not a good reason to eat away at your child's college savings account. Learning to cook can be fun, rewarding, and best of all, YUMMY! If you don't have the funds or time for formal cooking lessons, turn it into a mini goal or hobby. There are countless resources out there to help you out on this. YouTube videos, cookbooks, friends/relatives, websites, and the list goes on. Start simple. Easy homestyle recipes will feed your family just fine. Only do the fancy stuff if you really want to.

Set Limits
Eating out is fun but don't over do it if you have more important priorities. Set aside a realistic budget for dining out. If you're in a bad money situation, eating out once a month with a $50 budget should be just right. If there's breathing room in your budget, perhaps 2-3 times a month better suits you, but keep the bill low ($30 or less for a couple). In part 2 of this topic I will cover how to dine for less and still have a blast. Personally, we only eat out for special occasions or if someone is treating us out. We try to have a date night once a month but if there's a holiday or special occasion that month, then that's our eating out night. Sometimes there's a couple of "special" things going on in a month. We just try to keep it to a minimum or find "extra" income (doing odd jobs) to make up the difference.

Stock Up
To fight away the take-out temptation, always have a stocked fridge and pantry. It's much harder to justify getting a pizza delivered when you have all the ingredients on hand to make something much yummier yourself. In part 3 I will cover how to shop sales and fill your pantries with staples and other stuff to make meals. At any point and time I always have all kinds of stuff to make a dinner. Always. It's great that way. No running to the store the last minute to grab a missing ingredient and walking out $50 later with everything but that ingredient.

This one is pretty important. To stop dining out, you're gonna have to plan some meals and shop accordingly. Never leave a night with nothing planned for dinner. You'll get home tired and end up just getting something. That's no good. Once you have a stockpile, know how to cook, and have broken that nasty dining out habit, you probably won't have to plan quite as much and still eat at home regularly.

Socially...Dining out is usually a social thing if it's not a I'm-too-tired-to-cook thing. Entertain at home. Have friends bring a dish. If you're buying, cooking and serving food at home is still much cheaper than going out if you do it wisely. If you have to go out to eat for social reasons, in part 3 I will cover some ways to do it cheaper.

The Bottom Line
Eating out can be a hard habit to break. With some lifestyle changes and willpower, it can totally be done and you will be richer in the long run. Just stop flushing your money down the toilet (literally and figuratively). Eating your nest egg is never a good idea. Even if you eat organically, you can save money eating at home.

Check back next week for Part 2: Dining Out Cheaper

Weekly Totals:

I didn't bother with CVS this week. There wasn't anything we really needed and the sale wasn't really all that awesome in my opinion. I refreshed my ECB last week so I can hold out for a good sale for a couple of weeks. Publix kinda sucked too. Most of the deals required newspaper insert coupons and because I only subscribe to one paper, I didn't save as much as I could have.

Publix $86.05OOP+$86.09 Saved= $172.14 worth of groceries at 50% savings. Nothing special. Still saved half. Got some cheap ziplock bags and windex among other things. Nothing worth mentioning.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Moment of the Week

What a cute moment! This was taken earlier this week when I decided to give baby led weaning another chance. I never really gave up on baby led weaning, I just was too much of pansy for it. The gagging just made me too uncomfortable. It still makes me uncomfortable. I just tell myself that I am human and that just because I "planned" on doing baby led weaning doesn't mean that it was right for my family.

The concept behind baby led weaning is that it is baby led and you allow your child's eating skills to develop as their motor skills develop. You allow them to play with and explore their food in order to learn how to eat it. They experiment with taste and texture. Babies that are fed this way will learn how to chew first, then swallow. Babies that are fed purees may just learn to swallow their food without learning to chew until much later. Another great thing about BLW is that the baby controls how much they want to eat and how fast they want to eat it, reduces the chances of biting off too much or being fed too much. You don't have to sit there with a spoon coaxing your baby to eat and then fretting over whether they are full or not. It goes wonderfully with breastfeeding because the baby will naturally eat more as their motor skills develop, which is a good timeline for solids introduction. As they eat more, on their own terms, they will eventually wean themselves. This is a natural process and thus, the baby will naturally wean when they are nutritionally ready to (between 18 months and 3 years). If you would like to learn more about baby led weaning, or are just a curious person, there's good info here, here, and here.

Now, don't get me wrong, it is a wonderful concept and it makes sense and works beautifully for other families, but I just don't quite like it. It's mostly because I started waaaaay too early. I began offering food at about 5 months because he was refusing to nurse and wanted to put everything in his mouth. He was showing all the signs of food readiness. If I had waited, it probably would of worked out better and some problems may of been averted. He was probably not nursing because of developmental milestones and being distracted; hindsight is always 20/20. Since it's never too late to make changes for the better, I occasionally re-offer whole table foods in attempt to give baby led weaning another chance. There's still alot of gagging with most foods, but I will probably continue to offer whole table foods occasionally. He does mostly feed himself with a preloaded spoon. Makes a huge puree-splatter-fest, but totally fun for him.

So, my point with this is that we are not all perfect. Things don't go as planned. All the perfect methods we previously chose don't always work out the way we imagined them in our heads. But, just because something went "off'plan" or you "failed", it doesn't mean that you actually failed. It's just a little bump on the road of parenting. You certainly don't need to give up. With a few tweaks here and there, you can be the best parent for your family. Not every family is the same and so we can't be expected to do everything the same. Donnie is having fun eating either way I give it to him and our breastfeeding relationship has not suffered. I probably feed him too much food but he likes it and he still drinks plenty of breastmilk. It's all good. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Let the Little Things Stay Little

Today, much like any other Tuesday, our mailbox was filled with the usual junk mail. There were grocery store flyers, coupons and other advertisements - nothing special. I usually go to school on Tuesdays and my husband watches our 6 month old son. In the past, I have come home to find my living room resembling a home where a small puppy may live. Toys with teeth marks and scraps of torn and chewed paper everywhere. Also in the past, I have freaked out and said things like "You let him eat paper?! Are you crazy!? No wonder he is constipated! Do you have any idea how many carcinogens are in that paper?". Today, I looked at it differently.

Donnie is learning to crawl, er...something like that...he uses more of a scooting and rotating method to get where he wants to go. If there is any kind of paper product anywhere on the floor, he will find a way to get there. Even if you are holding him, he will find a way to escape you just so he can relish in the simple pleasures of paper fun. He clearly loves the stuff. I assume it's a fairly common obsession among 6 month olds. It makes noise and has a lot of tactile stimulation.  Sounds like a good time for a little person. Inevitably, he found his way to the junk mail. Yes, I could of put it out of reach, but I just didn't. I had been sitting on the floor trying to read the ads seconds before this video was shot.

This time, instead of ripping the paper away and watching my son scream bloody murder, I just let him play. How can I expect my son to become a confident, independent child if I am constantly hovering over his every move and taking away every fun thing he finds? I imagine that ad and magazine paper is much like the thermal paper that was recently found to contain many, many carcinogens. But, I am slowly realizing that I can't worry about every little thing. If I allow myself to worry about every item that contains a carcinogen, I might as well put him in a plastic bubble (although I love watching the movie "Bubble Boy"). I'm not going to just let him sit there and consume huge amounts of the Winn-Dixie circular, but I am not going to tear it away and hand him a toy that he is sick of playing with. Babies need to play independently and explore new things in order to learn. Maybe he's not going to learn a whole lot from chomping on some ink laden ad, but he's going to giggle and have some fun.  He is so curious these days, do I want to squash that new wonder?

I know that I can't let him play with everything that he finds amazing just because "aww! he likes it!". If he picked up a razor or electrical chord and thought it was the coolest thing ever I would still take it away as fast as humanly possible. I just think little things like paper are no big deal. I'm supervising, making sure he isn't ingesting large amounts or choking. He is learning, having a good time, and finding that he can have fun all by himself. Yes, there's chemicals in the paper, but, to me, letting my son play with some paper is pretty inconsequential. That's just my opinion. He will survive.

Monday, May 2, 2011

A New Journey

I wanted to make an introductory post for those of you newly stumbling upon my blog. You may wonder what my "topic" is. I don't have a deadset  topic that I stick to. I do have a theme. I focus on balance and objectivity when it comes to all things in life, particularly, parenting and family life. One week I may only speak about finances while another week I speak about food or music. I hope we talk about a bunch of different stuff. The point will be that there are many choices in life and no one can make the right ones for you except you. Also, many things in life are not black and white.

Moral excellence, or virtue, cannot be achieved if you are in excess or in lacking of any emotion or action. If you are in excess, it's not a virtue anymore, it is a weakness or flaw. If you are lacking, it is a vice. For example, the virtue of compassion can be callousness if in deficiency or it can be pity if it is in excess. When you find the balance between the two, that is when you find yourself in harmony with ethical and innate virtues. Your personal values usually come from your personal belief system and personal opinions. Thus, your virtues are affected by what you personally believe and hold valuable. In other words, moral excellence may mean something completely different to you than it means to someone else. It depends on who you are, where you live and who raised you. Ultimately, reaching a virtuous and moral life exclusively depends on balance in your life based on your personal opinions and beliefs.

I believe these ideas and concepts pertain not only to personal morality and virtue, but they also pertain to all aspects of life. If you are in excess or lacking in any area of your life, there can be consequences. Some consequences are smaller and more subtle than others, but trust me, they are there. But just as I said earlier, your "virtue" or life balance is based on your own personal opinions. Balance in your life looks completely different than balance in my life.  When any area of your life is too extreme in one direction, things can get ugly. 

This is what this blog is going to be about. It is my personal journey to finding balance in our family and parenting style. I want balance in how I feed, discipline, interact, teach and treat my son. I also want balance in how we spend our money and our time. I hope that you read this blog and it gives you ideas on how to find balance in your own life. Maybe the information I present is useless to you because our circumstances are just too different. Hopefully you can just read it and it will make you ponder about how you can balance things out. Balance is virtuous and when everything in life is in balance, all the choices you make will be right. I'm the mom in the middle and I like it.

Money Monday

Money Saving Tip of the Week:
Quit paying for cable. Really, stop it. Unless you have a pretty damn good reason why you HAVE to have it, why? As of last year, the average digital cable bill for a family was $75 a month and it keeps going up. $75 a month just to sit on your ass and get fat? Sit on your ass and get fat the cheap way!

If you were to cancel those hundred channels of nothing-to-watch and get Hulu-Plus or Netflix in it's place you could save around $800 a year. What would you do with an extra $800 a year? Buy yourself something nice? Take time off of work? Pay off debt? You could put that $800 in a savings account each year for five years. Then you would have $4000+interest. Sounds pretty nice to me.

HuluPlus - I'm not saying you should skip out on good entertainment. I love a good couch potato session as much as the next person. With HuluPlus, you can get entire seasons of 1000s of series plus all current episodes of many, many popular shows. Seven bucks a month gets you nearly the same content you were getting for $75. They even have cable network shows (Sorry folks, no Dexter or Weeds, no premium channels). HuluPlus is only $96 a year in comparison with $900 a year for cable.

Netflix - Okay, you wanna save money but you like your shows that appear on HBO and Showtime and you also like to watch full length feature films? Then Netflix may be the answer. You can get any show under the sun (that's on DVD, that is) through the mail. You can save $780 a year for 1 at a time or $660 a year with 3 at time. Unlimited instant streaming on many devices is also included in that. Plenty of tv and movies on there too.

Yes, there are pros and cons with whichever choice you make. HuluPlus is cheap and instant but may not carry your favorite show or be offered on your device. Netflix is affordable but you don't get to watch the current season that is on TV. You choose whatever you choose depending on what features are most important to your family. Maybe you just love your cable and don't mind renting a redbox movie from time to time. I just want to point out a few new popular choices that can give you comparable amounts of entertainment (if not more) for far less money.

Weekly Totals:

Publix - $70.64 OOP + $138.31 Saved = $208.95 (66%)
It was a 10 day ad this week. It was an awesome sale. We got alot of frozen items to have on hand for snacks. Frozen pizzas are hard to find under $4-$5 and we snagged them for $2.33. Free Heluva Good dip was also a good find for us along with Texas Toast and some pharmacy items. You have until Wednesday, May 4th if you don't want to miss it. 

CVS - $32.20 OOP+$76.07 Saved =108.27 (72%)
Yeah, I know. That's a pretty high total for CVS. You're probably thinking "Shouldn't that be something more like .05 out of pocket?". Well, I wish. I didn't plan on shopping CVS this week but unfortunately, when I went to check my ECB they were ALL going to expire. That's right, all $32 in ECB that I had stashed up. No one wants to throw away a hard earned $32 ECB. Instead, I went through the horrible ad (05/01/11) and purchased enough deals to use my ECB and replace them. I didn't want to just go in and buy $32 worth of stuff and not get any ECB back for the future. I like to roll 'em. So, I ended up spending $32 out of pocket but I got $30 in ECB back and I got a shitload of stuff (cascade, deodorant, shampoo, bodywash, laundry detergent, fabric softener). Things that we will use very quickly and definitely worth more than $32.