Friday, July 12, 2019

Frugal Friday 301

Happy Frugal Friday!

A Special Dance-cation version of Frugal Friday! Here is how we saved money/spent money wisely/made extra money this week:
(and a few frugal fails as well)

We spent our week in Collinsville, IL and the surrounding area for Annabeth's dance nationals. This is Annabeth's third year competing but our first year traveling for nationals.

I planned our original housing based on the schedule from the past two years and I booked a very affordable house (through Airbnb). The original housing was going to be around $550 and would house our family plus the grandparents/aunt who were coming. When the final schedule came out, I learned I would need more nights than I had planned for. The house was rented for those additional nights so we had to switch to a hotel. The hotel was more the double my orignial housing budget and more than our total trip budget. We borrowed the difference from our savings and plan to pay it back ASAP!

We did pay for a few attractions - Mark had been to Meramac Caverns as a kid and really wanted the kids to go too. We paid for our family as well as our guests and a souvenier for each child. We paid for one large family dinner as a thank you to our guests who drove/paid for hotel rooms. We also splurged and had lunch out at the arch ($37 for three of us BUT the best meal of the trip!)/bought souveniers ($15) for each child at the arch.

Other than that we had FREE (minus gas) fun!
We saw the World Bird Conservatory which was awesome! We saw so many beautiful birds, had a nice walk in the woods, and enjoyed a class about birds which included a bird flying right over the kids' heads!
The kids and I enjoyed Horseshoe State Park, the Collinsville Library, and the World's Largest Catsup Bottle.
At the arch, my sister treated Annabeth on the ride to the top. Owen and I enjoyed just exploring the free museum and the grounds around the arch.

We did luck out and the last minute hotel reservation was a hotel that had breakfast and dinner included as well as an indoor pool. The kids had a lot of pool fun with friends and it was fun to see other dance families at each meal.

I saved all of our water and coke bottles to recycle when we got home. I also saved many of the plastic cups from the hotel lobby and all of the brochures that the kids took from everywhere. I know that we did create lots of waste by eating in the hotel 2x a day and they used styrofoam plates/bowls. I tried to help make a little difference by saving and recycyling what we could.

Overall, we had such a great week away! The kids had a great time and we enjoyed cheering on Annabeth and all of the Style dancers at Nationals!

The kids and me below the arch on a sunny summer day
Thankful for time to explore the world with them!

- When we got home, I began a new training with my Usborne Books & More business. I am looking forward to finishing the training soon and expanding my book business. This month there is a $30 Kit Special so if you have ever thought about joining Usborne Books & More NOW is the time!

Happy Savings to All!

Friday, July 5, 2019

Frugal Friday 300

Happy Frugal Friday!

Here is how we saved money/spent money wisely/made extra money this week:

- I hosted two parties with my Usborne Books & More business. I am very excited to announce the 30th Anniversary $30 Kit Special. Ask me how you can start your own Usborne Books & More business for just $30 this month!

- Friday morning, Mark was the storytime reader at Toodleydoo Toys. Each fourth Friday, a member of the Franklin Police Department reads a story, hands out stickers, and answers questions. We were very happy to see our favorite officer! The toy store also kindly gave him a $10 gift certificate to spend. He bought Owen a die-cast school bus - this has been a wishlist item for Owen since Christmas and he was very happy to have it!

- Saturday we had our first stay-home-comfy-clothes day in about a month. We watched two 90s era movies, Mark took care of breakfast, and we stayed in our jammies until 11 or so. It was wonderful!

- Saturday evening we enjoyed a pizza party celebration for one of Owen's friends. She graduated from Kindergarten and we were so happy to help her celebrate that achievement. We gifted her a fun, musical Usborne Book.

- Sunday we worshipped at Mt Olive because Annabeth was singing with the VBS group. We enjoyed a church picnic afterwards, Annabeth had her face painted, and the kids especially loved seeing some live animals brought in for the event. There was a water balloon station where the congregation could throw water balloons at Pastor Jeff (Owen was VERY excited for this) but by the time we got to that Pastor Jeff had taken his lunch break. I got in the wet chair and let the kids throw and break their water balloons on me. #mamaoftheyear

 Face paint cutie
Hot sweaty 90+ degree cutie

- Monday we drove down to Charlestown for a day of play with our friends the Eblings. We brought fruit and oreos and Rosie made the rest of lunch. We enjoyed a beautiful afternoon golf cart ride and swim at their neighborhood pool. The kids and I love it! Thank you Eblings!

- We started back to school on Tuesday. I had originally scheduled to go back July 15 but some changes to our summer plans meant I needed to sneak in a few days before then to keep us on the schedule that we like. (In Indiana, children ages 7+ are required to have 180 instructional days between July 1-June 30)

- We found a gas gift card in our room. Neither one of are sure where it came from but it has the full amount on it so we plan to use it for an upcoming trip.

- We ate all of our meals at home. Mark packed his lunch to work.

Thank you all so much for reading this series for the past 300 WEEKS!

Happy Savings to All!

Friday, June 28, 2019

Frugal Friday 299

Happy Frugal Friday!

Here is how we saved money/spent money wisely/made extra money this week:

- Last Friday my dad was in town, he took the kids out geocaching and to the museum for the morning. I enjoyed a quiet morning getting things done around the house. We made homemade pizza for lunch before he drove home.

- Saturday we enjoyed a family reunion for Mark's family in Greenfield. The kids absolutely loved playing with all of their cousins and Mark and I had a good time catching up with the adults. We took pasta salad and fresh fruit as our contribution to the pitch in. We came home with a veggie tray and package of rolls - both Annabeth's choices and she was thrilled.

- Sunday after church, I drove down to Columbus and had lunch and dessert with my best friend. It was so good to see her, and her youngest son, and to catch up in person. She will be moving even further away later this summer so we're trying to soak up as many visits as we can before then.

- Sunday afternoon Mark did a deep clean of his closet and the kids and I did a deep clean of the school room. Annabeth has begun asking to start school soon so I knew I needed to get the summer mess cleaned out so I can set up for school in the near future.

- We checked out two games from our library's Library of Things. The kids and I enjoyed Animal Upon Animal and Mark and I played many rounds of Codenames. Our game was really fun and we hope to check out again to play with a group.  

- Annabeth enjoyed morning VBS at Mt. Olive this week. This is her third year going and she just loves it more and more each year! Our home church hosts a late evening VBS which just doesn't work for us so we are so thankful for Mt. Olive and their commitment to providing a daytime VBS to the community.

- Owen and I enjoyed a "cool mom date" and redeemed a $10 Target gift card and free ice cream from Chick-Fil-A.

- Tuesday was the first day in forever without rain!!! We played outside, got out Owen's new birthday sprinkler, blew bubbles, rode bikes, and just generally loved an entire afternoon and evening outside!!

Mr. O is SO happy to have been cleared by the doctor
and can return to normal. He was excited to return to "scootering"
Tuesday night he found a big stick to wave around while growling.

- We visited and enjoyed free play at three libraries this week - Franklin, White River, and Greenwood. I LOVE our local libraries! So much fun for free!

We had such a great week and I really enjoyed one-on-one time with Owen each morning. As a homeschool family, that is one thing that I do feel both the kids and I have missed out on. If Annabeth was going to brick and mortar school, I would have all my days one-on-one with Owen. I am so thankful for have her home and for us learning together as a family but a week of something different was also very special and fun.

We are looking forward to a quiet weekend with just two commitments on the calendar. 

Happy Savings to All! 

Monday, June 24, 2019

"Cool Mom" Date with Owen

This week Annabeth is at VBS so I planned some fun things to do with just Owen.

We kicked off the week with a "Cool Mom" date - Target and Chic-Fil-A. Nearly every stay at home mom, and lots of working moms, I know love to play at Target and Chic-Fil-A but we never do either. I see Pinterest boards, blogs, and moms groups filled with Target sayings and memes so I decided to see what all of the hype was about.

Date Day with Mr. O 

Stop One: Target

We don't often go to Target. Our nearest Target is a town away, a 20 minute drive that I just don't think to make very often. Owen still had a $10 gift card from Christmas so we went to spend that. We did wander a bit, their party decor and stationary aisle is a place I could spend LOTS of money. Owen is a quick, decisive kind of kid and chose his toys in about 4 minutes. I did a quick walk through the clearance sections in each of our sizes but passed on everything - $20.40 is NOT a clearance price in my mind! We checked out spending just his $10 gift card + tax.

Was it fun? Yes. It was great to be out with just Owen and to have him all to myself.
Was it something I want to spend hours doing? Nope. I just don't feel that Target love.

Picking out his toys.
He chose a vampire man from "Super Monsters" 
and a police SUV with a trailer and boat. I was impressed with how well
he spent his $10. 

 Entertaining himself while I flipped through
the women's clearance section.

Stop Two: Chic-Fil-A

I honestly don't think  have ever been inside a Chic-Fil-A since it is not Annabeth-Safe. It was as clean and the employees just as nice as everyone says.

Owen loved the play place, his food, and redeeming his free ice cream coupon from the library Summer Reading program. The free ice cream was our reason for having lunch there and it was well worth it - it was awesome! I also enjoyed a frozen coffee - yum! I was also impressed with the price as we spent less than $15 on fast food that was really quite good. 

Owen's Lunch - Water, fries, and a fruit cup
He was very pleased. 

 Free ice cream! 
Thank you JCPL and Chic-Fil-A

As a homeschool mama, I don't have many "play mornings" out and I have to say, this was pretty fun!
I am looking forward to a week of play mornings with just O this week!


Friday, June 21, 2019

Frugal Friday 298

Happy Frugal Friday!

Here is how we saved money/spent money wisely/made extra money this week:

- Last Friday and Saturday we enjoyed Annabeth's dance studio's rehearsal and recital. We spread out the family's tickets across two days to help keep Owen entertained and so Annabeth would have cheerleaders at each show.

- Sunday was Father's Day and we had all of our parents and some of our siblings over for lunch. We provided drinks, pizza, and salad and Mark's mom/my mom provided desserts. Mark took the leftover cake to his work for a surprise for his coworkers on Monday morning.

- We enjoyed giving our Dads their gifts. I think everyone had a very nice Father' Day with new coffee makers, fishing supplies, and lots of Buffalo sauce from our trip to Buffalo and candy.

The kids giving Mark his Father's Day gift.
He was out of town all week so they ended up SO excited to see him/tell him
about his gifts that we did his Father's Day on Friday evening.

- Saturday, Sunday, and Monday night we had leftovers for dinner. I am thankful for a family that is okay with eating leftovers, even when they are our company.

- Monday the kids and I took my parents to Garfield Park for my Dad's Father's Day outing. We loved exploring the conservatory and especially enjoyed the fountains being on for the first time this year!

- Monday evening Mark and I had a date. We went to Wings Etc and each had an appetizer. We also ran to Meijer for paper towels and coffee. Not an amazingly romantic date but it was our first time out together alone for a while and we really enjoyed it. Thank you to Mama and Dad for keeping the sleeping kids at home.

- Tuesday Annabeth performed in our local fair talent show. She loves America's Got Talent so we thought this was a good, age appropriate option to enjoy talent show fun. She won her category and was the 2019 Grand Champion! She looks forward to competing in August at the Indiana State Fair!

Receving her Grand Champion from the 2018 Fair Queen
and Court. She now is dreaming of her own high school 4H years so
she can run for fair queen. 

- Annabeth enjoyed two birthday parties for her friends this week. She was able to go bowling and take an art lesson, they made a really neat butterfly painting, with her friends. We, of course, gifted mostly Usborne Books that she chose for each friend.

- Tuesday morning my parents took us bowling and out for pizza. Wednesday morning my dad took the kids out geocaching and to the park between rains. Thank you all for a wonderful week together! My parents provided me some much needed break time as well which was such an incredible blessing. Thank you!

- We purchased the kids  BIG Christmas gift this week on a ticket presale. I earned $1.00 back through Rakuten.

- Yesterday morning Annabeth enjoyed a Pioneer Craft class at a local library. We also met up with some homeschool friends and I was able to purchase a science book for Owen's 1st grade year and some math games at a very small fraction of the price they would be new. 

We are looking forward to a rare opportunity to see Mark's whole extended family this weekend and for some equally rare down time!

Happy Savings to All! 



Friday, June 14, 2019

Frugal Friday 297

Happy Frugal Friday!

Here is how we saved money/spent money wisely/made extra money this week:

- Last Friday night we enjoyed a dance rehearsal of one of Annabeth's friends. She enjoyed getting to watch her friend do something she loved. One of the biggest things I am hoping to instill in the kids is that letting someone else shine, have a moment, doesn't take anything away from us or our moments - we can all sparkle.

- Last weekend we had two birthday parties. We gave gifts all purchased through my Usborne Books & More business, with coupons, or from fundraisers.

- We scored an AWESOME deal on Mark's Father's Day gift. The item was on a special at Meijer for 20% off + $20 coupon off next purchase. I also had a coupon for $15 off $75+ order. Thus I saved $35 on the item! I used the $20 off my next purchase as a second transaction to buy an accessory to go with it. The kids and I are so excited for this surprise!

- While at the store, we also scored some awesome deals in the clearance section. We are staying in a hotel next month. They have free breakfast and dinner snacks but we'll need to take lunches. The kids love those microwave macaroni and cheese cups and I found them for $.40/each (Annie's organic brand) so I snagged all that they had. Since we do not have a microwave at home this is a real treat for the kids!

- We stopped at Starbucks one afternoon for a treat. I used my Mother's Day gift card and got a coffee for me and cake pops for the kids.

- Tuesday night we enjoyed Travel Club at our local library. This month we "went" to Ireland. It's nice that as Owen gets older he is able to sit and enjoy these programs more.

- Tuesday night we also had a camp out in the living room. The kids slept on the air mattress, I slept on the couch. They loved it!

 Hanging out during the movie
Our living room is the brightest room in our house and this 
was taken around 8:00 with no lights on
It's no wonder they didn't fall asleep until 10 or so

Early morning snuggles and Garfield reading

- Wednesday night we had our budget meeting for next year's dance season. I really appreciate how well our studio lays out fees well ahead of time. As a family on a budget, we plan very carefully for this expensive travel sport.

- Thursday morning Annabeth enjoyed a science class at one of the local libraries. We also turned in Summer Reading minutes (I finished and earned a water bottle) and activities (the kids and I earned coupons for places around town)

- Thursday afternoon our best friends came to play! We love summer when we can see the Eblings as much as possible!

We are looking forward to Annabeth's dance recital, a birthday party, and Father's Day!
We are so thankful for the families that the Lord gave us - for our grandfathers who are all Home now but who taught us so very much, for our fathers who have been such a source of leadership in our lives, for the gift of our children making Mark a father, and most of all for our Heavenly Father from whom all blessings flow. 

Happy Savings to All! 


Friday, June 7, 2019

Frugal Friday 296

Happy Frugal Friday!

Here is how we saved money/spent money wisely/made extra money this week:

- Mark spent an afternoon fixing our black car. It had not been running properly since it returned from the repair shop and the check engine light had come on. Mark was able to fix two issues in about three hours for $50. I am very thankful that he could make these repairs at home - saving us the cost of going back to the repair shop.

- We do our electric bill on the budget plan. We have been trying SO hard to be very, very midful of how we use electricity and have been trying to use as little as possible this past year. We came out ahead and this last month's bill was $0 with a $25+ credit still on our account. This was a huge blessing following the cost of the car repair.

- We were very surprised to receive the bills for Owen's Immediate Care visit, x-rays, and cast work. Our new inurance made ALL of that less than one visit to Immediate Care last year! I will keep praising God for this new job and new insurance as it has truly changed our lives.

- We held Owen's fourth birthday last weekend. We spent around $12 on decor/party supplies, $24 on cake, and under $100 on food to feed 20 people. Owen very much wanted Chicago's Pizza so we budgeted, saved ahead for that cost. He was so excited and we were happy to be able to make it happen.

- Owen chose a very low key birthday day on Sunday. We had breakfast at home, lunch out as a treat from my parents, then we treated everyone to ice cream (under $20 for 7 people thanks to the affordability of Hoosier Candy Cupboard) Owen just wanted to ride his new ATV (a gift from his friends who were ready to hand-down. Thank you Eblings!) and play at home. We couldn't argue with that! Happy #4 Owen!

- We had a surprise change to make one of our upcoming summer trips longer (thus more hotel nights than we expected) I had a bit of panic about the price of that. As always, God is good and that same night when I went to book another trip for the year I found that the hotel there was now 15% off and I was able to save almost exactly the amount that I needed for the first trip's extra nights.

- I finished our Niagara Falls photo book and the base of it FREE from Shutterfly. (Saved $20) I did have more than the allotted 20 pages so I did have to pay for each of those extra pages. I also had a few prints that I wanted for frames around the house. I ordered online and printed at Walgreens using a 50% off coupon. I ordered all of this through Rakuten and earned $1.88 cash back.

- Annabeth completed 10+ hours of summer reading and redeemed her prize at the library. She chose a Lego minifigure to build. We spent Wednesday morning at our local library and enjoyed a walk at the Story Walk during a little sprinkle. It was extra fun since the book at the storywalk was about rain.

"Double the amount of time you spend outside."
- Erica Layne

- Annabeth used a coupon that we won around the holidays for a free meal at McDonald's. Saved: $6.89

- Thursday morning Annabeth enjoyed a fun class at a local library about games from around the world. Owen enjoyed playing with his friend and I had a good talk with a mama friend.

We are looking forward to a weekend filled with birthday parties and a graduation open house.

Happy Savings to All!