Monday, August 30, 2010

Lifestyle Changes= Couponing Changes

I won't spend a ton of time repeating what I wrote in the post below labeled Make it Yourself Monday, but I will encourage you to read my thoughts and get a little more perspective on why I am making some changes in life.   I've been struggling for a few months with the balance between couponing and buying healthy foods for my family.  Yes, there are coupons for healthy food, but not a lot for the foods I want to buy.  For example, I like to eat peanut butter with no sugar.  I have been buying it from health food stores, or farmer's markets, at a cost of $7.50 per jar.  I have also purchased Skippy Natural which is low in sugar for almost $4 per jar.  It took me some time but I figured out I could make my money go farther by purchasing bulk peanuts, with not salt, for about $7.50 and make several jars of peanut butter!  Most coupons for peanut butter are 75 cents off two, not saving me much money and it still has a little sugar so I am not even getting exactly what I want.  I am stretching my food dollars and getting healthy, fresh, wholesome food at the same time.  Most of the time it is as simple as searching on Swagbucks for a recipe and then I can earn points toward gift cards at the same time!  

Another great way I have been saving money this summer is shopping at the farmer's market!  How tired are you of me preaching about this?  I've been able to buy produce in bulk for cheap and have been canning it to have for winter when prices on produce are sky high and they are shipped from hundreds of miles away.  Don't you just hate it when you buy lettuce at the store and it is rotten in two days?  It makes me crazy! I may as well throw money in the trash!  You can also do this by purchasing fresh produce on sale at the grocery store and canning it.  Check out Fresh Preserving's website - there are a ton of recipes and I was surprised to find I do not need to add salt to most vegetables to preserve them!

For me, I am able to spend less time clipping and organizing coupons, and shopping for deals.  I spend less time because I am not traveling from store to store all the time.  That may not be a benefit to you, but it is important to me.  I still seek out great deals on other products, like shampoo, toothpaste, cold medicine, etc.  Much like couponing though,  once I master cooking from scratch and canning, I plan to begin making all natural cleaning products from scratch,  as another layer of this natural lifestyle I am trying to achieve. 

I hope that you will join us and learn a few new things!   Oh, and by the way, in order to make my own peanut butter I just place peanuts in the food processor and process until they turn smooth-and you can make them as smooth or chunky as you like! 

Make it Yourself Monday Homemade Vanilla Extract

I, along with my sister have, have been making a conscious effort this summer to buy organic from the local farmer's market.  It has been really wonderful but it has sparked something in me to start eating more organic and homemade products.  A few months ago I saw the maker of the documentary Food Inc. on the Oprah show.  Oprah discussed the fact that our foods have so many preservatives, and added hormones & antibiotics than the food our grandparents ate.  This really stuck with me.  The last time I felt really well and healthy I was eating organic foods, and meats with no added growth hormone I lost 50 pounds, and slept like a baby!  If the thoughts above are not currently a high priority for you, let me appeal to your money-minded side, which is really what this blog is all about!  I decided to make a small jar of vanilla extract as a test, and if this comes out well, I am going to be using it to give as gifts for the holidays, most likely in some gift baskets with other homemade items like peanut and almond butter.    I used a canning jar since we have so many but you can find many jars at garage sales, thrift stores or Dollar stores. 

I took a whole vanilla pod, split it lengthwise, and cut  it into several pieces.  I estimated an entire pod based on recipes I had seen, like one vanilla bean to 3 tablespoons of vodka.  That was not enough for me to make.  I added almost a full  canning jar of  Grey Goose that had been given to us as a gift.    Now, I just shake the jar every day for 4 weeks, after that you can strain it and bottle it. 

Since I estimated I will taste it after 4 weeks and add more vanilla beans if needed.  This will give me plenty of time to have this ready for Holiday gifts.  Here are a few recipes that can fit multiple needs.  Enjoy! 

 I will be posting the "recipe" for my almond and peanut butters as well.....


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

What Are you Waiting For???? Join MyPoints already!!!!!!!!!!

I have been earning money through MyPoints for a little over a year now.  Above are two gift cards that I redeemed point for last year and the bonus FTD gift cards that came with them. I would estimate that in about 30 days time I earn enough points for one $25.00 gift card or two $10.00 gift cards.  It does not stop at CVS and Wags either!  You can redeem points for Pottery Barn, Old Navy, and all of their friends! 

So how does it work?   This is the best part, you have a few ways to earn points.  First, they will send you emails and when you click on the link to read the advertisement you get 5 points.  Second, they offer surveys.  Most offer 50 to 60 points for completing and 10 if you take the screener and do not qualify.  I earned 50 points tonight on surveys that I did not qualify for!  Third, you can print coupons off of their site and get points for each one you use!!!!!!!!!  I am talking coupons like you find on, not restrictive-the-store-is-50-miles-away-coupons.   Fourth, you can go to their site, find a store you want to shop at, and earn points per dollar for shopping online through MyPoints!  Finally, you can download their toolbar and use it to search instead of Google, etc., and get points for that! Could it be any easier?  It is like they are just handing points to you people!  I mean, get on the bandwagon already!  Here is a sample of what I earned today:

My Account

Manage your MyPoints account

Account Balance

Member Since:

(This week's 5 most recent activities.)
View: go go

  1. Pending (09-18-10)

    Michaels BonusMail Download Coupon
    +15 Points
    Questions about this transaction? See all related transactions. | Contact member services.
  2. Pending (09-18-10)

    MyPoints SurveyMail Non-qualifier
    +10 Points
    Questions about this transaction? See all related transactions. | Contact member services.
  3. Pending (09-18-10)

    MyPoints SurveyMail Non-qualifier
    +10 Points
    Questions about this transaction? See all related transactions. | Contact member services.
  4. Pending (09-18-10)

    MyPoints SurveyMail Non-qualifier
    +10 Points
    Questions about this transaction? See all related transactions. | Contact member services.

    I am saving my points- hah, no pun intended-for Christmas shopping.  I think I will redeem at the beginning of November.  The last time I redeemed points the cards arrived within days.  I almost forgot to tell you, you really have to keep me on track!  MyPoints has now added a PrePaid Visa card, so you can shop at multiple stores!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    So, I do have one little favor to ask you to pay forward??? Post a comment here or send an email to and let us send you an invitation to join?  

    Hellloooooooooooooooooo??????  Did you hear me?  Send us an email or post a comment!  Then invite your friends to join so you can earn even more points!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

It pays to call Customer Service

Look at my brand new food processor! She retails for $99.99!  I got her for free! Yes FREEEEEEEE!  Thanks to my ingenious husband!  Last summer I bought a much less gorgeous model on clearance for $30.00.  The box was damaged and I knew it had been returned but I took a chance.  It worked! We were so thrilled!  At Christmas time I took it over to my sister's for what must be the 1oth annual Cookie Baking Day, and it would not start!  I brought it home and told my hubby and as most men would, he assumed it was user error.  I put it away and did not think of it again.  Two weeks ago I wanted to use it, and, surprise surprise,  it still did not work.  Hubby tried it, and well, he must not know how to use a food processor either.  He took out the manual and called Oster and we did not have a receipt but these come with a two year warranty-which we also had no paperwork for.  Unfortunately, Oster does not make that model anymore so we were just going to have to make do with a shiny, beautiful new model, with her attachment for making juice, and french fries, and an extra blade, and the little spatula, and they all come in this cozy little attachment container (pictured below).    Yes, those are canned Green Beans behind it- on sale at our local Price Chopper for $1.29 per lb this week.  Oh, and in the picture above?  I made my own homemade peanut butter tonight!  The can of peanuts was $3.49 at Target and will make about 5 jars!  The added benefit-I can add as little sugar or other additives as possible!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Free Breast Cancer Walk Sneakers for Me (Hooray!)

So you may have read my blog post here about how I'm a 5-year breast cancer survivor and I'm going to be walking 60 miles for breast cancer this Fall and all of that. Each week Susan G. Komen sends it's walkers a training email and last week mine said it was time to purchase a 2nd pair of sneakers to start breaking in for the walk (only 9 weeks away!). Well, cut to the quick, there just isn't enough money in the budget right now to spend around $100 or so on good, quality walking sneakers. The ones I've had my eye on, a pair from New Balance, designed specifically for walking and with this walk in mind AND being raved about 3-day walkers on all the 3-day blogs and sites are averaging anywhere from $75-$100....and here's me, racking my brain, where am I going to find an extra hundred dollars this week? Eureka!!
A few months ago, I did a 3 day focus group survey for 20/20 Research panel and was paid with a $100 Amazon gift certificate. I looked up the sneakers on Amazon, ordered my size and used my gift certificate with no money coming out of my weekly or monthly budget! My new pink sneakers are on their way. I can't wait to try them out. I also did another focus group survey for 20/20 Research a couple of weeks ago and am awaiting my $75 payment! If you have never looked into Focus Groups as an extra way to make money, you might like to try it out. I did have to spend time legitimately answering questions, reviewing a product (or, actually the idea of it) and responding to different marketing ideas for it. But I got to do it all from the comfort of my couch, during time I would have been watching tv or waiting to pick up a child from preschool...totally worth it for $100! 20/20 sends me screeners several times per month - sometimes for points toward earning different gift certificates, etc. and sometimes for the big lengthy focus groups that pay a lot. I learned about Research/ Focus groups from Carrie at Money Saving Methods here.
This post is linked to Life As Mom's Frugal Friday here.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

House Party Fisher Price Perfect Playdate Party

I received this in my email at 4PM today so hurry up and sign up here!  If selected your
kit will contain the following:
  1. 5 new Fisher-Price toys:
    • Go Baby Go!
      Stride-to-Ride Dino
    • Laugh & Learn
      Learn & Move Music Station
    • Laugh & Learn
      Learning Kitchen
    • Lil' Zoomers
      Spinnin' Sounds Speedway
    • Stack 'n Surprise Blocks
      Musical Croc Block Wagon
  2. 10 Brillant Basics
         Rock-a-Stack® Toys
  3. 10 Fisher-Price Day and Night
         Diapers sample packs
  4. ...and much more!
New to House Party ?  They promote various products by sending you free kits and coupons to share with your friends in exchange for having a party to show off the products- it completely free of charge!  My Sister had a Ziploc party last year and we gave away a free pack on the blog.  So we can vouch for its authenticity and the fact that there are no fees to you!  You need to host the party on the date specified or close to it, and take photos or videos and upload them to the House Party  site.  Good Luck!