Thursday, May 19, 2011

Retail Therapy

*Confession* Sometimes when everything is going haywire, spending money makes me feel better. Inevitably, I realize how much I've spent and that it isn't necessary (unless it truly is which isn't often) and I take it back.

One such trip happened yesterday. Our van (which we had just picked up from the mechanic and was supposed to be fixed) had problems on the way home Tuesday night. Major problems. My immediate reaction was to go shopping. Something about spending money felt like it would fix what I was feeling. Spending money, drinking caffeine and eating chocolate.

None of those things made the problem go away. And today I'm returning items that aren't necessary.

Retail therapy is overrated.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Avoid Pitfalls of Budgeting

Sometimes this is how I feel about budgeting. Like it's a rope walkway that I keep falling on.When you've been budgeting for a very long time, it can get so.....ugh. And when you get in that funk, it's very easy to fall off the budgeting wagon. Here are some tips to help you renew your desire for budgeting.

  • Redefine your vision for budgeting You and your spouse need to take a real look at your financial situation. Why? Because you need to see that you're making progress.Gather your previous month's budget papers, the current bills due, the debt statements and the pay stubs. Then, redefine your next stage of budgeting.   
    • Do you want to continue to pay off debt? 
    • Can you be more aggressive about it? 
    • Do you have a small credit card that you can knock out quickly? 
    • Is your debt paid and you want to start saving to a certain amount?
           Renewing or redefining your purpose for budgeting helps both emotionally and mentally.
  • Do sweat the small stuff- I find that budgeting is like dieting. I can deprive myself of things for a certain period of time, but eventually I'm going to go on a sugar rampage. The same is true for myself when I'm budgeting. I can cut the coffee fund, clothing, and other things that I deem unimportant when we begin. After a while, though, the kids need new clothes. Jon inevitably needs to buy coffee at meetings. I don't want to make dinner and we eat out or pick up food. If you have room in your budget from the very beginning, put a few dollars a month into the funds that you use but aren't necessary. Those funds can get out of control, so make sure you don't go overboard. Everything in moderation.
  • Celebrate the accomplishments- If you pay off a credit card, validate that accomplishment! Celebrate with a coffee, or a dinner out. Make a special dessert. However you choose to mark the momentous occasion is up to you, but make sure you do it. This is a big deal. And when you're budgeting, axing a debt may come once every few months maybe even years. 
Budgeting is a lifestyle for our family. It gets boring, aggravating and irritating. But when I think of my options, I realize again the life I'm able to have because of this choice, is a very blessed one.

Happy Budgeting!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Something I've Wanted To Try

I have always wanted to make a gnocchi dish. If you don't know, gnocchi are small dumplings made from potatoes. Maybe it's the Iowa in me, but I love potatoes. Fried, mashed, in a pierogie...they are extremely versatile.

Rachel Ray featured a recipe on her show once with gnocchi that made me want to try it. But when I went to the store, at that time I just couldn't justify spending $6 on a small package of gnocchi. And that was the price at Wal Mart. I love a challenge, so I thought I'd find a recipe to make it myself. Upon looking, though, I found the comments discouraged me from trying. It seriously takes a lot work, and with 3 kids that won't be happening!

In a post a couple of months ago, I told you All Recipes was a great website for recipes. I am not lying. I promise. I get a daily e-mail from them of featured recipes. Usually it's one recipe, but sometimes it's like an article with multiple recipes. Yesterday's e-mail was '5 Meals In 15 Minutes'. It featured a quick gnocchi recipe made with instant 'taters. Yes!!!

So I will most definitely be trying this one out. When Jon gets home of course. He'd really be sad if I made it, it was amazing, and did it while he was gone hehe. 

A quick tip, though. I like to try recipes like this one that have 4+ stars with many (read high hundreds or thousands) people rating it. If I have time I'll try one with less ratings, but I'd prefer a guaranteed winner. Of course, it could be fabulous and my kids end up not liking it...that's possible. But as long as Jon and I do, it's all good!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Saving Gas Moolah

I have an app on my Blackberry called Foursquare. You check into various places, some that offer coupons or deals. Well I happen to be the Mayor of my daughter's school (on Foursquare of course) and that keeps me checking in. I like to be in charge, hehe.
Yesterday my car was running extremely low on gas. My mom would have a fit. She tells me to gas up as soon as it hits 1/4 tank. It rarely goes below E. I had plenty left, but knew I'd need it quite soon. As I was keeping my position as 'Mayor', I noticed in the nearby places Murphy USA had a deal. I clicked for more information, and it said I got $2 off a $20 or more gasoline purchase.

Score! That's a 10% increase! 

Guess where I got my gas...

I hope your Friday is amazing, and your weekend full of fun! My hubby is still up north which means my kittens and I will be keeping busy. I thought about taking them to see a movie at the dollar theater tomorrow, but the only kid's movie playing is Gnomeo & Juliet.

Have I mentioned that I have a serious fear factor thing with garden gnomes? Maybe I can put on my big girl boots for their sake...Seriously though, I don't use Travelocity's website because of the garden gnome. Heebee geebees.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Free Movie From Redbox

The first time we used Redbox was about 3 years ago. My family lives in Iowa, and we were on the way up to visit them when we saw one at a McDonald's. The concept was amazing! It was a great idea for traveling, since we could return it in Iowa and it kept our movie selection fresh for the kiddos.

Years later, I still enjoy renting from Redbox. Unless the movie that needs to be returned falls into the deep recesses of my purse where it gets lost for days and we end of paying crazy money for it.

That just happened this week actually.

Today only, May 12th, Redbox is offering a free rental code on it's Facebook page. Simply 'Like' them on Facebook, then click the 'Get My Code' button. I have mine sent to as a text to my phone. Way easier.

So tonight I'll enjoy a movie while my honey is gone to a techy world that I have no understanding of. He's in Minneapolis where I told him to visit Mall of America. I was shocked he said no! They do have roller coasters!

Enjoy your movie! But remember to take it back...

To Bake or To Buy

When I was in Bible College (many, many, many years ago) there was an older couple in the church that was notorious for their cooking. They made the best white chicken chili, lasagna, bread, desserts...oh man. I'm hungry. They would cook in the soup kitchen once a week, and the students that worked that day ate for free. Students that just came to eat had to pay $5. It was worth it, though.

Anyways, there was one cake that they made which is the favorite of one my friends. So I'm making it today. Well, I'm icing it today. I baked it last night.

I personally love making cakes, cupcakes, cookies and pies. Anything that's good for you *wink wink*. So for me, there's really no question of baking over buying. I love it, and I have the time. I'm not professional by any means, but they look good enough for my kiddos.

For a regular iced cake, it probably takes me an hour and cost me around $5 depending on the flavor. I don't count the cooling time, because I'm busy with other things. But if I were to buy a plain iced cake at the grocery store (bakeries are more expensive) it would cost me $20 for a quarter sheet. It's about $30 if I get a themed cake.

I'll let you know how this strawberry cake turns out. If it tastes half as good as it smelled, then we're in for a treat! As long as it doesn't turn out like the turkey on National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation....

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Great Idea For Kids

So we went to a birthday party last night for my little friend who's present I posted a week or so ago. The dessert was so perfect for kids I just had to post about it!

Top your own ice cream. Same theory as Peachwave, Orange Leaf, Cherry Berry stores where you get your flavor of yogurt and then put as many toppings on as you want. 

Each kid gets a bowl of ice cream, and then each topping has it's own bowl and spoon. They add whatever they want and are only limited by mom and dad, hehehe. Last night's toppings of choice were mini chocolate morsels, gummy bears, oreo's, rainbow mini marshmallows and sprinkles. They were in heaven!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Half Price Frapp!!!

We have a Beauty College in Jenks where Jon has taken Konnor for a haircut. Mom's here & we took Konnor yesterday. It was an awful experience. Konnor told us 'This is NOT cool', cried and sobbed, told his hairdresser he had girl hair (it was pink, blond & black) but ended with a smile.

After yesterday, I am in dire need of today's deal from Starbucks. From 3-5pm, get a frappacino half price! No additional purchase necessary. I totally want to try the new one.
Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®

Monday, May 2, 2011

Free Prints

Who doesn't love free photos?!

Since we've had a digital camera, I have the hardest time getting photos printed. I hated taking the roll of film to get developed and having maybe 5 pics out of 24 keepable. Plus, there isn't a need for the physical photo anymore. There are so many wonderful photobooks you can have printed. You can view photos on digital photo frames. And you can even take them on your keychain!

However, I try to be a big picture thinker. When I got married, my mom gave me a few photo albums with photos of my childhood, where I was the main subject. How am I going to be able to do that for my kids? Do I buy 3 copies of every photobook I make?! That is a whole lotta photobooks.

Luckily, I get e-mails from places like Snapfish, Picaboo and Mixbook. They often offer free prints, or percentages off on items that are of interest to me. Today I got an e-mail from Shutterfly for 101 free prints.


I wish I could share the code with you but they have specific codes for every account that can only be used once. Getting all high tech and stuff!