Tips To Help You With Your Spring Break Planning

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If you live in some states you might have already had your spring break but here in Indiana spring break season starts next week. Which means it is time to finalize your spring break plans.

Spring Break Planning Help: Packing, Hotels, Snack Food, Staycation & Vacation


Today I am here to help you by providing links to help you with whatever your spring break vacation destination might be.


How To Save Money On Spring Break Vacations

10 Ways Thrifty People Save Money On Vacations

10 Ways Thrifty People Camp

A Simple Way To Stay On Budget During Vacation

2 Big Ways & 5 Little Ways We Saved Money On Our Disney World Vacation

10 tips for a successful staycation vaction How to fill your week with fun instead of chores (med)

How To Make Spring Break At Home Fun & Affordable

10 Tips For Staycation Vacation Success

20 Ways Thrifty Ways to Spend Quality Time With Your Child

5 Family Outings For $5 or Less

How to maximize your carry on luggage space I can't believe what fit in this bag! (med)

How To Make The Most Use Of Your Luggage Space Whether Road Tripping It Or Flying

How To Maximize The Space Of Your Carry On Luggage

How To Make The Best Room Of Your Trunk For Road Trips

Handy Website To Plan Your Trip

Trivago’s hotel search allows users to compare hotel prices with just a few clicks from over 200 booking sites for more than 700,000 hotels worldwide.

Once on the trivago website simply enter the name of the city you want to book your hotel in, when you want to stay and what type of room you want and let tivago do the comparison shopping for you.


Daily Deal Sites For Finding Discounts On Vacations & Staycations

Our family isn’t planning  a spring break getaway this year but we are planning a honeymoon (I won’t say second even though we have been married almost 20 years because we never really had a first) . My hubby and I have been amazed by the great all inclusive vacation deals available at daily deal sites like Groupon.

We have been asking around and found several friends who have booked these packages all who have had great experiences so far. It just might be worth looking into if you are planning a spring break getaway. The great deals book up fast so this might be one to pin and remember for next year.

If you are staying close to home daily deal sites can help make the week a bit more fun. Our family often grabs deals for our favorite restaurants off sites like Living Social & Groupon.

(psst…If your not currently a member of Living Social you can start your account with a $10 credit off an voucher of $20 or more which is good for 30 days when you use my referral link)

caramel crunch (small)

Road Trip Snacks

What road trip could be complete without a few snacks.

Here are two recipes that make great road trip snacks

Here are some of our families favorite ready made road trip treats

Vacation Photo Book For Less

When you get back from vacation don’t forget to gather all those great shots you took with your camera and cell phone and put them into a photo album you can look at together for years to come.

A great way to create photo books of vacation for less is by using Bing Rewards to receive free Shutterfly  photo book codes,(a $29.99 value) that leave you having to pay just for shipping costs (currently around $9).

Where are you going this spring break?

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52 Weeks To A Simplified Home: Project 11

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I continued work in the downstairs bathroom this week. Next week will be the last week in this room before stepping into a 4th room for this year. I am thinking the next room will be the kitchen, but that could change.

bathroom drawerI decided to do the bathroom drawer and…..

bathroom shoe binThe bathroom shoe bin. Yes I know most people don’t have a basket for shoes in their bathroom. We do! It all started because I was in a hurry to pick up the house one day so a grabbed a laundry basket and threw everyone’s runners in the bathroom in a bin and then left it there. You see when the kids and I work out we tend to head straight to the shower shoes and all. So the bin became kind of handy. There really isn’t room for it though and it is kind of an eye sore so I am going to try and get rid of it.

bathroom junkIt really didn’t take long to clean up the 2 areas. In the end I ended up with an entire plastic grocery bag full of garbage.

bathroom drawer doneThe drawer now just holds, swim goggles, hair accessories and my husbands wrist band support . The goggles and wrist band might find a new home that makes more sense when I declutter the last area of the bathroom next week.

empty basketThe basket is 100% empty and has now been moved out of the bathroom. Hopefully it stays out.

What did you declutter this week?

52 weeks to a simplified homefree printable plan (small)

3 Deals So Good I Had To Share

Enter to win a 7 day trip to Scotland by clicking image above.
$3.50 off (2) packages of PULL-UPS Training Pants
Here are 2 high value coupons for Pull-Ups.
$2.00 off PULL-UPS Training Pants

What True Prosperity Looks Like

One morning with my bible open and the house quiet I came upon the verse that I have read numerous times before but never seen from the angle that I did that morning.

True prosperity isn't money in the bank

PROVERBS 21:5 (NLT): “Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty”

As I read that verse while all snuggled up in a blanket sipping on my morning cup of coffee my heart was suddenly filled with all that I have in my life that I cherish.

When I read that verse before I always thought of working hard to achieve financial prosperity, but on that morning, I had my eyes opened to the fact that prosperity in life is so much more than money.

Prosperity is those friends you hold so dear. The ones that will drop everything to be by your side when a loved one passes away. Nothing will keep them from celebrating the good times with you either.

Prosperity is a tight knit family, who laughs together and cries together.  A family that still loves you even when  you neglect them, or you don’t act the way you should.

Prosperity is a strong marriage. A spouse that is willing to come home and make dinner after his 10 hour shift so you can get more work done. A spouse that brings you chocolate or flowers or whatever just because. A spouse who will hold you when you sob so hard your whole body shakes with grief of losing a parent. A spouse that will laugh with you and not at you.

Prosperity is a caring church. A church that sends you notes in the mail that let you know they are praying for you. A church the arranges to have meals sent to your house when you have a baby, or surgery, or a loved one dies.

Prosperity is great neighbors. Neighbors who will come over and take your kids at a drop of a hat because you have to take care of a family emergency the children don’t need to see. Neighbors that will decorate your house for Christmas, clean your house, mow your yard, or shovel snow because you simply are not up for it  either emotionally or physically.

proverbs 215 Good Planning & Hardwork lead to prosperityRich relationships like these require HARD WORK from all those involved. Prosperity in relationships is not a one way street. It means we have to give our 100%  when the other half just isn’t able too. It means we have to pick up the phone and say we are sorry even when we too are hurt and feel like it isn’t all our fault.

It means we plan our days to include those we love. We plan dates with our spouse. Coffee time with our friends. We choose an activity in our church to be a part of. We plan to make a double batch of cookies so we can take the neighbor some.

To achieve prosperity in relationships means even when we are tired, we need to go that extra mile for those we love.

THAT IS TRUE PROSPERITY. That is love. That takes hard work and planning from all involved.

Let’s do it, let’s avoid emotional shortcuts, let’s push through tired. Let’s love even when we don’t feel it is returned in the same measure it is poured out.

Go out there today, and do the hard work. Prosperity will follow. Your heart will become full.

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41 Websites & Apps Thrifty People Use & Love

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I know some of you are looking at  the number and going why 41 websites and apps? Why not shoot for an even 50?

Well yesterday was this thrifty gals 41st birthday! Each year since I have started blogging I like doing a post that is a bit more personal in nature around the time of  my birthday. This year I decided to share 41 websites & apps I a thrifty person use and love.

41 websites and Apps thrifty people use and love websites guaranteed to save you money

Honestly though there are a few sites on here I have not used but instead just researched or found thrifty people I trust who said “yes I used that site and loved it” because my “personally used” list ran out in the 30s and I am not in that decade anymore.

41 Websites & Apps Thrifty People Use & Love

This list in not in any rating order. I love all these sites equally for how they help my family and other families save money. I tried to put them into categories but there is of course some websites or apps  that could go in more than one category so I just put them in the one I thought they served best.

Websites For Finding Sales, Discounts & Cash Back

1. Cardpool

I love stacking discount upon discount and Cardpool lets me do that. It makes me my thrifty heart swoon when I can purchase an item on sale with a coupon and pay for it with a discounted gift card. That is a win, win….WIN.

2. Brad’s Deals

I love opening my Brad’s Deal emails and checking out the top deals of the day on name brand clothing, electronics and more all around the web.

3. Ebates

Thrifty people love using cash back sites to earn back a bit of money with their purchases. Ebates is a great cash back site offering 1000’s of stores.

4. Lucky Vitamin

Lucky Vitamin is I think a gold mine of great deals for health conscious thrifty people. When I compare their prices to Amazon Lucky Vitamin  is often cheaper. Shipping is free with an order of $50 or more so I try think ahead and bulk buy my orders.

5. Money Saving Mom

I have been reading Crystal Paine’s blog Money Saving Mom since the very early beginnings when a neighbor told me about it. It is a great site for finding out information on all things thrifty and frugal. Coupon deals, free samples, and much more.

6. My Points

My points is the main point program I use for earning cash backs on online purchases. They often run  great high cash back value promotions. In fact they are how I earned $75 for staying home on Black Friday.


A friend of mine kept going on and on for months about how I had to check out I finally did and saved quite a bit on new sweatshirts for my son.

Apps That Will Save You Money Or Earn You Gift Cards

8. Ibotta

Ibotta is an app that gives you cash back on groceries, movie tickets, clothing, pet supplies, craft supplies and more. Cash out to Paypal or for an e-gift card to Amazon, Starbucks, Walmart and more. I have cashed out numerous times without issues.

9. Checkout 51

If you think coupon apps are only for highly processed food think again. Checkout 51 has at least a few offers each and every week for basic grocery items like milk, vegetables, eggs, and fruit. Plus it is not store specific so you can use this app to earn money back on your groceries regardless of where your buy them . You can request  check when your account reaches $20. Mine account hasn’t yet reached a pay out but I haven’t had problems submitting cash backs so far.

10. SNAP by Groupon

SNAP in another handy cash back app for groceries. Just like Checkout 51 you can use Snap by Groupon where ever you shop. They do offer cash backs on basic food items like vegetables, bread and eggs but their deals seem to run out fast. You can request a check when your account reaches $20. Mine  account hasn’t yet reached a payout but I haven’t had problems submitting  cash backs so far.

11. BerryCart

If your family has members with Gluten allergies or you love to eat healthy on a budget you need to check out BerryCart. This app is store dependent but does list a variety of not just health food stores but major grocery chains. Cash out starts at $6 for Paypal or various gift cards. I have cashed out twice without issue.

12. Shopkick

If your going to be at the store you might as well earn some gift cards by scanning the various items you pass in the aisle with Shopkick.  In some stores you earn Shopkick points just for walking in the door. You are paid in gift cards or merchandise. I have cashed out for Starbucks gift cards without any problems.

13. Gas Buddy

Thrifty people generally know the cheapest gas station in their own hometown. Now with  the Gas Buddy app they can quickly look up the best price for gas in any town they visit.

14. The Kindle App

The Kindle App is a Thrifty bookworms dream. A free app that you can use on whatever device you own and fill with free or low cost kindle book titles. (more on where to find those free books later)

15. The Favado Savings App

This is one of those apps that I  have yet to use but read great reviews about it from bloggers I trust.

Here is the description for The Favado Savings App….

“Favado is a mobile savings app that helps shoppers save time and money by discovering the best deals in more than 65,000 grocery and drugstores nationwide. The Favado app uses real-time couponing data to provide access to exclusive matching deals (coupons plus in-store promotions) for ultimate savings. Other features include planning tools for weekly shopping trips and insider access to unlisted deals.”

Sounds pretty cool to me and I plan to try it out really soon.

Daily Deal Sites

16. Zulily

Although they don’t always have the cheapest prices Zulily is handy to have in your thrifty tool bag. The site offers daily deals on name brand items. They often feature the running shoes I wear at 50% off and the sandals I like for cheaper than I can get them in store.

17. Groupon

Our family has used Groupon mostly for deals on family entertainment like discounted admission to the local ice skating rink. My husband and I also like to grab deals to our favorite date night restaurant through Groupon.

18. Living Social

I have used Living Social deals to save money on my favorite restaurant as well as my favorite shampoo and at the Luck Vitamin website I mentioned earlier. (if you haven’t used Living Social before you get a $10 credit towards a purchase of $20 or more  when you sign up through my referral link )

19. Educents

If you are a thrifty educator you are going to want to sign up for Educents. Educents offers great daily deals on educational materials and often offers 100% free downloadable printables as well. Currently when you sign up for Educents you get a $10 credit that is good for 6 months.

Survey And Point Programs That Are Worth Your Time

20. Paid Viewpoint

I am not a fan of many survey sites, finding them too lengthy for little return however, I really like Paid Viewpoint. Sure their surveys don’t pay much but the don’t take long either. Most surveys are under 2 minutes and you can have your earnings paid to Paypal once your account reaches $15.

21. Swagbucks

What thrifty person wouldn’t like earning gift cards from normal every day actions they do online, and that is just what Swagbucks does.

22. InstaGC

Hidden in its name is the reason why I love InstaGC. You receive the gift cards you earn instantly. Most of their ways to earn can be easily done while multi tasking. For instance you can listen to music and earn points while working on your laptop through the Radio loyalty section.

23. My Survey

My Survey is one of the only longer survey sites I stuck with for several years in a row. I don’t use My Survey anymore due to a change in life stages that mean I don’t have the same down time in my day. When I did use it I generally earned $10 to $20 a month in gift cards. What I liked most about My Survey was their screening process didn’t take long, so I wasn’t wasting too much time figuring out if I even qualified for the survey.

24. Bing Rewards

Bing rewards is a very simple program where by spending 2 to 5 minutes a day you can earn enough points for various cash outs including Shutterfly Photo Books, a 500 Swagbucks code, Amazon gift cards, Hulu gift cards and more.

Websites For Learning DIY Skills

25. YouTube

My husband and I have learned numerous skills through Youtube. Me mainly for blogging purposes. My husband for household repairs.

26. Craftsy

Cratsy currently offers 40 free mini video classes. These are high quality videos with professional instructors on the topics on photography, gardening, jewelery making, sewing, cake decorating and more.

Websites For Finding Quality Gently Used Clothing

I am talking about these websites from the perspective of a clothes buyer, but you should also know ThredUp and Twice will buy your clothes from you all you need to do is request a bag, postage is free. Schoola also offers a free send in bag but instead of receiving payment for your clothes the money earn is donated to the school of your choice.

27. ThredUp

ThredUp was the first consignment clothing website I tried. I have ordered from ThredUp several more times since and have been happy with all my orders. The have clothing for boys and girls from infancy through the childhood years. Teenage clothes for girls. Maternity clothes and women’s clothes. You also  start your account with a $10 credit when you sign up through my referral link.

28. Twice

Twice just started consigning clothing for men. They have up to recently just sold women’s clothing. Their clothing is generally more higher end name brands. So far I have order clothing that would be perfect for church, job interviews or conference wear. If you are not already a member of Twice you can start your account off with a $10 credit when you sign up through my referral link.

29. Schoola

Schoola is a fairly new consignment clothing website where 40% of the proceeds fund schools (you can even pick the school you want the proceeds from your sale to go to) . They sell clothing for both boys and girls starting from 1 years old to 13+ years old ( the teenage section has both men’s and women’s sizes so adults could shop there too). I haven’t personally used Schoola yet but I do have an account and am hoping to soon place an order for summer shorts for my daughter (waiting for her size to come up). I have read several great reviews about Schoola, and seen several bloggers I trust use and give the site a positive review. You can get $15 towards your first order when you sign up through my referral link.

Websites for Thrifty bookworms

30. Tyndale Rewards

Earn free hold in your hand books from Tyndale Rewards. I recently cashed out some Tyndale points for an Adventures In Odyssey CD set.

31. Paperback Swap

Paperback Swap is a great site for finding those books on your want to read list. I often find books that we use in our homeschooling. You start your account by listing 10 books which then gets you one free book credit. After that you get get swap credits every time some one orders and receives one of your books. There are some cost involved (see the site for all the details) but it is still a  thrifty way to find books on your want to read it list.

32. Recycle Bank

Recycle Bank is a program that pays you to learn about thrifty actions. Most of their actions don’t take long. I like trading my Recycle Bank points for magazines like Runner’s World. What magazines they offer changes from time to time. Also make sure that you read what format the magazine comes in; it could be digital or a traditional held in your hand and mailed to your door. Recycle Bank also offer gift cards that you can cash your points out for from time to time.

33. Spirit Filled Kindle

My current favorite source for either free or low cost kindle books is Spirit Filled Kindle. I liked their Facebook page and clicked “get notifications” so that I don’t miss out on their daily listing of free, .99 cents and $1.99 titles.

Websites Where You Can Find Printable Coupons

Printable coupon sites are a great way to save money on groceries, toys and more. Here are few coupon sites I have used..

34. My Savings


36. Red Plum

37. Smart Source

Websites Where You Can Buy Stuff You Need & Sell Stuff You Don’t

38. Craigslist

Our family has had more luck selling on Craiglist than buying. But I know others that have gotten amazing deals through Craiglist on cars, furniture, appliances and more.

39. Facebook

Facebook is for so much more than socializing. I don’t know how many times I have said “our family needs….” only to have offers in seconds of items for either low cost or no cost. I am also a member of several Facebook buy and sell groups  and the few times I have used them to sell my items I have been very happy with my success.

40. eBay

eBay and I go way back. I started as a part time seller selling things to raise enough money for my kids activities like swimming lessons. I then branched out into  helping my children buy items such as lightly used iPods at a fraction of the cost of new.

41. Amazon

Amazon is a great site for finding items that are often lower than in store. You can also sell there and not just your old books. Last year I listened to a podcast on Smart Passive Income about a couple making an amazing income selling items the find on clearance on Amazon.

Thanks for letting me share my favorite thrifty sites with you for my 41st birthday! Now tell me about a thrifty website I missed in the comments below.

Linked to Thrifty Thursday,

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Snapshot Thursday: A Look Back

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Snapshot Thursdays 3 pictures from my week to give you a peek into my daily lifeWelcome to Snapshot Thursdays. Please join me on  Instagram  to see more pictures I share all week long.

Today is my 41st birthday. I have a pretty special post coming out to celebrate it tomorrow but, I wanted to do something for it here too. Around our house a birthday is more than a day it is more like a week. Birthday week!

I decided the best way to celebrate my birthday for Snapshot Thursdays would be to share with you 3 photos taken on 3 of my favorite moments on my 40th year of life.

(real life friends if you are not in these moments, it is because I had to pick just 3! That was really hard, so if your not in them it doesn’t mean I love you any less)

Mother's day dinner 2014What your looking at is my Mother’s Day dinner for 2014. I had a pretty awesome Mother’s Day including gifts of roses, chocolate, Starbucks gift cards and a new tea cup. We had lunch at a Mexican restaurant and I relaxed all afternoon. However my favorite part of the whole day was sitting around the table at dinner time eating sugar coated cereal. I let everyone pick their favorite type. I had Reese’s Puffs. Sugar coated cereal is a treat at our house, that my kids get only on Birthdays and at Christmas. I loved the atmosphere around the table more than the cereal though, me and my favorite peeps, laughing together.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThat is me reading UNstuff (good book by the way) in the park. The picture was taken by my husband during our anniversary date. We had such a great day. We drove to Fort Wayne had lunch at a new restaurant we wanted to try and then spent several hours right here reading side by side. We don’t often get to sit in the shade of a tree in late spring soaking up quiet and sun. It was like a piece of heaven on earth.

sitting around the campfireOur family hauled the RV out to a local campground for 10 days mid summer. One night my redhead runner friend (the one in the pic) came out with her children and we took turns going kayaking followed by an old fashioned over the fire pit wiener roast.  Such a simple night but such an awesome one.

Looking at these three photos make me think; some of life’s best moments are found when we slow down and take time to really enjoy the people God has placed in our life. Whether it is your cereal loving children, or you fellow bookworm hubby or perhaps one of your closest friends and her crew.

Another thing I notice, none of these events cost much. Some cereal and milk, some grass, a blanket, a few pillows and good books, some hot dogs and a fire pit.

Don’t wait to enjoy your loved ones until you can afford that “big trip” or “those concert tickets”. Enjoy them right now today,  over a bowl of sugar filled cereal severed for dinner. Hmm… maybe that is what I will have for my birthday dinner tonight.

3 Deals So Good I Had To Share

Happy Birthday Freebies (fb)







I don’t know if we will really have cereal for dinner or not but one thing is for certain I will be using my birthday freebie coupons today. Check out my birthday freebie list to make sure you are getting your share of free food and more on your birthday.

$2.00 off any TWO (2) Right Guard Products

$5.00 off two (2) Schick Disposable Razor Pack

Our New Flexible Children’s Chore System

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If there is one thing I have learned in 19 years as a parent it is that schedules, routines, and systems all change with the seasons.

One such system that changes as the children age is chores. How much to pay for a chore. How many chores each child has. What the child is expected to do with their money and so forth.

I have known for a while now that our current system of a set chore chart for each child and a set allowance wasn’t working anymore.

My children are all older now and no longer home all day at the same time. My oldest just got his first job. My middle child attends a christian private school 2 days a week. My daughter is a social butterfly visiting with her friends when ever she gets the chance.

A flexible Children's chore system adaptable to changing daily life.

All the activities mean that sometimes during the day only one child is home. Other times no children are at home. Problem is chores need to be done whether the kids are home or not and that left my husband and I or another child picking up the slack for the child/children not home when the dishes needed doing or the laundry needed sorting. Which means we were doing chores other people were getting paid to do.

So in a moment of pure parent frustration born out of a child who was whining about sorting laundry because it wasn’t her chore, our chore system got  long over due update. One that I hope will last us through these final years as the children leave the nest (our youngest is now 12).

I made this system up in one afternoon, and based it on the sugar bowl system we use to use when the children were much younger and had been using still for irregular chores. This system is flexible. The chores are assigned on a day by day basis meaning those that are home get paid to do chores and those that are not home that day, miss out on earning money.

Our New Children’s Chore System

monoply money

I am all about simple, so I knew we needed a simple way to keep track of work done as it was done so that I knew how much I owed them at the end of the month.

I knew the simplest thing to do would be to switch to an automatic pay system. As in you do the chore you get paid instantly. However, I like making payment for chores as close to real life as possible. I don’t know about you but I know my husband doesn’t get cash at the end of each work day.

I also prefer paying my children in a lump sum at the end of the month because I find it easier to teach them how to tithe and save for bigger purchases. It is possible to take the .50 cents you just earned from emptying the dish washer and put .05 cents aside for tithe , save .30 cents and put .15 cents in your spending but time consuming. My children do several chores a day and I didn’t want that much change in the house at one time.

Which is where the picture of the Junior Monopoly board game comes into play.  I wanted the problem fixed right now! I wasn’t about to run to the store and buy fake money. Nor did I want to make up a bunch of paper slips like last time, since the kids earn a lot more chore money now then they use to and writing all those slips out would cramp any hand.

making chore moneySo I grabbed the money out of the Junior Monopoly game and photocopied it and then broke out our laminator and  laminated it. I assumed that since this is only for personal use, and I owned the Junior Monopoly game I used that I wouldn’t be breaking any laws to photocopy it and use it in our families chore system.

photo copied quartersThe Junior Monopoly only has $1, $2, $3, $4 and $5 and I wanted to do a half dollar too. I thought about cutting a bunch of the $1 in 1/2 but then thought I could just photocopy quarters instead.

large paper cutter slicing chore money in halfI then cut the laminated sheets of money in half with our large full sized paper cutter.

small paper cutter for chore moneyI then used my smaller creative memories paper cutter to cut out the rest of the money.

our pay slips for our new chore system

I put all the money slips into separate bags and placed them all in a zippered pencil case.

The rule is each child is to report to mom or dad when their chore is done and ready for inspection. If upon inspection a parent sees something that isn’t done right the child must correct it without whining. If you whine, you don’t get paid.

Once the chore is done right the child gets their pay slip which they put in their pay envelopes.

Our chore cards The children pick out a certain number each day and exchange them for payment when done

For the chore cards I didn’t get as fancy as I did with the money slips. I used simple index cards and wrote what the chore was across the top. Then below I wrote any further instructions (such as cleaning toilet means cleaning around base, both sides of seat and the bowl) .  I then wrote in the price.

chore envelopes they hold the chore payment slips until the end of the month when they have pay day.

To keep the pay slips all in one place until the end of the month when my children get their pay day, I wrote each child’s name on an envelope and placed it in an empty container.

What chore system do you currently use at your house?

7 ways to raise a thrifty child (button)Here are 7 ways we are raising our children to be thrifty

Linked to One Project At A Time,

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52 Weeks To A Simplified Home: Project 10

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I am 10 weeks into 52 Weeks To A Simplified Home and I have to be honest every single week I struggle to get started with the area I am decluttering.  However week after week I love the results, and those make me glad I did it each and every week.

I ….don’t…like…to…clean. Not one bit. But as Ruth says in her book  Living Well Spending Less: 12 Secrets To The Good Life, cleaning is part of being an adult.  I am an adult so whether I like it or not I must clean.

Our messy bathroom counterThis week I decided to do the counter of our main floor bathroom. The mess on this counter has bothered me for months. When the mess started it was just a hair dryer in that white bin. As you can see the mess grew.

clearing the bathroom counterI decided the best way to start with this mess was to clear off the entire counter, mirror and all. After the area was all cleared off I wiped it down with our families favorite Seventh Generation All Purpose cleaner that we get through ePantry (start your account with $10 towards your first purchase when you go through my referral link) .

all the bathroom counter stuffI then took the time to go through ever single item that was on the counter. I filled an entire plastic grocery bag with garbage.

I found a few smaller stackable containers to put the rest of the items in. I placed them in those containers and put them in the area under the sink that I freed up last week.

clean mirrorThe first item I put back on the counter was the mirror. I gave it a good cleaning with the Seventh Generation glass cleaner I ordered from ePanty a while back. I really like the way it worked; best part no harsh fumes.  Cleaner fumes often trigger my migraines.

clean bathroom countersI put back just the essentials and am very pleased with all the empty counter space.

What did you declutter this week?

52 weeks to a simplified homefree printable plan (small)

Grab a plan and join along as we simply our homes this year one area at a time.

3 Coupons For Products I like

I have had Settle’s best coffee on numerous occasions and really like it. I also love True Citrus products. My favorite are their stir sticks that are sweetened with Stevia .  Another great product True Citrus sells are lemon packets that allow you add the hint of lemon to your water where ever you are.
$1.50 off (1) Seattle's Best Coffee bag

$1.50 off (1) Seattle's Best Coffee K-cup packs

$1.00 off On Any ONE (1) True Citrus Product

How To Maximize Your Carry On Luggage Space

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My son had the chance to go on a week long mission trip with Back to Back Ministries through the small christian private school he attends 2 days a week. The first email about flying instructions stated a $25 fee for checked luggage I immediately decided “I refuse to pay for a service that use to be free, so carry-on it is.”

How to maximize your carry on luggage space I can't believe what fit in this bag!Then I read the included packing list in detail and began to doubt myself. The list suggested 2 outfits a day due to the hot and sweaty conditions. Also on the list was a twin sheet set, beach towel, swim trunks, notebook and bible, snacks, flashlight, batteries, hat, socks, work shoes, flip flops, sunscreen, soap, shampoo, deodorant, underwear, anti nausea pills, imodium, ibuprofen, wet wipes, hand sanitizer and of course snacks.

Since he was going for an entire week, that meant he needed 12 outfits. In the end with my son’s agreement I packed 12 t-shirts, 12 pairs of boxer shorts and 8 pairs of shorts . We both figured he could change the things closest to his body after working and reuse the shorts for the rest of the day.

If my son were not such a picky eater, snacks would have been unessential, but I couldn’t let the boy who likes roughly 20 different food items completely starve, so we ended up packing 12 granola bars and 12 snack sized containers of fish crackers.

My son is also extremely heat intolerant and gets dehydrated quickly so I packed 24 sticks of Gatorade so that he could have 2 sticks a day to put in his purified water and make sure he keeps up his electrolytes.

I knew I only had a backpack that he could consider a personal item and the black carry on bag seen in the photo above to fit that all in. So I used some of my husband’s tricks for compact packing and then came up with a few of my own.

How to Maximize Your Carry On Luggage Space

1. Purchase good quality zip lock bags

I know from past experience that packing clothes in zip lock bags takes up less space and keeps them clean until the child wears them. The second half of that tip comes in handy when you send younger kids to summer camp.

The key to this step is use good quality zip lock bags. I have used and liked the Aldi brand and the Ziploc brand.

2. Roll or fold the clothes to fit the bag.

Here is how I fit the t-shirt and boxer shorts in their bags

folding t-shirts step oneI placed a pair of folded in half boxer shorts inside a folded in half t-shirt. If my 14 year old ever reads this I am sure he is not going to like me talking about his boxers so much, but hey at least there are not photos of them. (but you do get to see my foot in this picture :) ).

t-shirt one foldI then folded the top down to mid way down.

folded again t-shirtI folded the bottom over the top for the final fold.

putting t-shirt in bagI then slipped the t-shirt into the gallon sized Ziploc bag. You will notice it matches the width of the bag almost perfectly. My son is an adult large (he is almost 6 feet at 14 yrs of age), so depending on the size you are packing you might have to play around with your folding to achieve the width.

how to get the air out of a ziploc bag when using it for packingI then harnessed the power of my behind and sat on the Ziploc bag to get out all the air. While sitting on it I sealed it. I left all the space at the top so that the bag could fit upright in the carry on. By having the bags upright I could squeeze more in.

t-shirt packed as small as possible for carry onThe result is a vacuum sealed bag effect without the vacuum seal machine. The Ziploc bag does seem to regain a bit of air over time, so I did all of the t-shirts and shorts at the same time so that I could get them squeezed in while they were at their smallest.

rolled in shorts to fit in carry onFor shorts I simply rolled them up and then…

2 pair of shorts packed for carry onplaced 2 in a bag one on top of the other and used my bottom air vacuum technique to get them as small as possible.

 3. For items that don’t fit in zip lock bags roll them to fit remaining space

The twin sized sheets and beach towel did not fit in zip lock bags so I simply rolled them to fit down the space beside the bags. This left me with one small square space at end where I put in his quart sized bag of personal items like shampoo and soap, as well as a small travel sized flashlight and batteries.

The carry on also had two front pockets. I used one to hold his bible and notebook and the other to hold his bandana and socks.

I was also able to get a few of the snacks in the bag as well.

There are actually 6 shorts, and 11 shirts & boxers in the black carry on bag. I will show you what I did with the last 2 pairs of shorts and t-shirt and a few other items.

back pack as personal item for carry onI packed the last t-shirt and 2 pairs of shorts in this backpack. I probably could have squeezed it in to the carry on but I was sending these things with a very absent minded 14 year old and I just had this fear of him walking onto the flight with the backpack slung over his shoulder and the carry on left by itself next to the chair he was sitting on while he waited for the flight. Rather than leave him with just the clothes on his back I made sure he would have at least a spare outfit should this happen.

In this backpack I also packed his water bottle (empty for refilling at filtered water station) His anti-nausea pills (he gets travel sick). The other over the counter items the mission recommended . His wallet and passport. Chewing gum to pop his ears. Tissues for bleeding noses (I get them almost every time I fly and I didn’t know if he would or not). Wet wipes for his hands. Plus a few other travel papers he needed.

The shirt on the front you see in the photo was his group travel shirt that he put on just before he left.

I am pretty happy with how I was able to fit things in. I think I could have even taking things smaller if I didn’t divide up his snacks into one days worth per zip lock bag. However, knowing that my son is a picky eater I wanted to help him to ration out his snacks to last the week (whether that worked or not only time will tell :) ).

Road Trip Packing To The Max (small)See how our family of 5 makes use of every square inch of our SUV for road trips.

Linked to Mom2Mom, One Project At A Time, Thrifty Thursday, The Mommy Club, WFMW,

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15 Ways Thrifty Knitters Save Money On Yarn

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This post won’t show just knitters how to save money on yarn but of course those who crochet too. I couldn’t fit both in the title and since I love to knit and can barely crochet, I decided to go with thrifty knitters.

15 ways thrifty knitters save money on yarn

My addiction to knitting started with the pregnancy of my second child. I developed a condition that caused me to need to have my feet elevated most of the day ( I will spare you the details as to the condition).

I don’t like siting for long periods of time and it was driving me a bit crazy. My mom was visiting and decided to teach me to knit. We started with a dishcloth, and let me tell you it was a long, long road before I knitted one that was at all square.

Once I got the hang of it though, I was hooked. Knitting gives my fidgeting hands something to do. I knit while my husband drives. I knit while waiting for events to start. I knit while watching TV. I have even been known to knit while waiting in line at the drive thru window.

10 Ways Thrifty Knitters Save Money On Yarn

1. Freecycle

A friend of mine once got a huge tote full of yarn for zero money spent off of  the website Freecycle. Granted some of the yarn wasn’t usable due to it being tangled or not of great quality but some of it was, and the usable yarn was well worth the drive to pick it up.

If you live in a big center where Freecycle is active you might want to keep an eye out for yarn.

2.  eBay

You can find yarn in lots on eBay for great deals.

3. Craigslist

I did a search of my local Craigslist and was surprise at how much yarn was listed for sale. These are mostly “lot” deals meaning the seller has a bunch of different types of yarn they are selling for a take it all for …….price.

4. Facebook Buy & Sell Groups

I couldn’t see any yarn currently listed for sale on my local Facebook buy & sell groups but, my guess is if I am seeing yarn available to buy on Craigslist and eBay people will also list it for sale on Facebook.

5. Estate Sales & Yard Sales

When a loved one who was a knitter passes away often there is no one who wants the yarn stash and so it ends up at an estate sale.

Other times someone gets ambitious and decides they are going to learn to knit this year and so they buy half a dozen balls of yarn thinking they will make a blanket as their first project only to get several rows in and decide knitting isn’t for them. When this happens they sell it for .50 cents a ball at their next yard sale and those who knit treasure the find.

6. Purchase It On Sale

Yarn goes on sale frequently at craft store like Micheals, Hobby Lobby and Joann . Sign up to receive their emails and mailedflyers so that you are notified of current sales. Also don’t forget to look for sales at department stores that are not craft exclusive but do sell yarn and do put it on sale from time to time like Meijer.

7. Use A Coupon

When you join the email clubs of all the stores mentioned above you will start receiving coupons that you can use on yarn. This is how I buy a lot of the yarn I use for my dishcloths.

8. Take Apart Sweaters

Here is a good article that explains how to take apart an old sweater so that you can reuse the yarn in a new project.

9. Make Your Own Yarn By Repurposing Items You No Longer Use

I have knitted dishcloths from t-shirt yarn before. Although I didn’t find that they made very good dishcloths I did find that they made excellent floor cleaning cloths. I have seen others knit t-shirt yarn into floor mats .

You can also make yarn out of plastic bags (it is called plarn)  that you can crochet into an easily cleanable beach bag or shopping bag.

Fabric can be made into yarn and then  knitted or crocheted  into various different items too. If you have sheets you don’t use that are like new, fabric yarn would be a great way to put them to use.

10. Clearance

Non knitters might have a hard time believing this but yarn is actually seasonal. There are spring colors, fall colors and winter colors. I often find yarn marked down to as much as 75% off and sometimes even 90% off. Search end caps and clearance aisle.

11. Search For Yarn In Discount & Dollar Stores

I have found name brand yarn for $1 a skein at my local dollar store before. Big Lots gets in yarn from time to time. I have seen yarn in close out stores as well. Keep your eye out where ever you shop.

12.  Use A Discount Gift Card

If you purchase your yarn at a retail store like Joann or Michaels you might want to check out cardpool for a discounted gift card before you shop. This can save you an additional 5 to 10 percent or more on your purchases.

13. Sell Enough Of Your Work To Pay For Your Habit

I have done this for years. Each year I set up an album on Facebook and sell my dishcloths to my friends. I don’t sell them for high prices, just enough to keep me in yarn for the next year, no profit made as I give away more than I sell.

This means I can knit all year long and not have it effect our family budget.

14. Find Small Projects To Use Up Your Odds & Ends

I love using the ends of my cotton yarn to make little round scrubbies. Search Pinterest for projects like mug cozies, ear warmers, boot cuffs, cell phone holders, and you will get lots of ideas for small projects that can make sure you get every penny possible out of your ball of yarn. I pin the ones I find to my All Things Yarn Pinterest Board.

15. Join Point Programs & Cash Out For Amazon Cards To Buy Yarn

Amazon often has great deals on yarn and  yarn supplies.  You can earn gift cards to spend on your purchases at Amazon through various point programs. Here are a few of my favorites

Bonus tip: Not often but every once and a while Zulily a daily deal site will run discounted deals on yarn from unique yarn companies.

Thrifty Knitters and those of you who crotchet have I left out any ways to save on yarn?

Ways to save money on craft supplies as well as craft lessons (button)Check out my posts on how to save money on all types of  crafts supplies and lessons.

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Snapshot Thursdays:

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Snapshot Thursdays 3 pictures from my week to give you a peek into my daily lifeWelcome to Snapshot Thursdays. Please join me on  Instagram  to see more pictures I share all week long.

pillow hubbyMy husband was gone visiting his parents last week. I often have troubles falling and staying asleep when he is gone, but not last week. I figured out my problem is that the bed seems too big when he isn’t there and it throws my sleep patterns off for some reason. So I created pillow hubby to take up the space where my husband usually sleeps and I slept just fine.

Of course my kids and I had all sorts of fun making jokes about pillow hubby/dad all week. We claimed “Dad wasn’t feeling all there” so he had to stay in bed all week.

kids playing gamesSights like these warm a mother’s heart except for this one thing….the child in orange is using playing a board game with his sister to get out of doing homework.

These two will play the odd game together now and then…but when an odd game turns to a game-a-thon that lasts all Saturday afternoon, there is usually procrastination involved somewhere.  I am not really sure how to tackle this one, seeing them get along and interact is great, however facing a evening crammed with homework that could have been done at a leisurely pace early in the week; not so fun.

my water bottleMy healthy habit focus goal for March & April is to drink more water. That includes carrying a water bottle with me when ever I leave the house. This is proving to be more difficult  to remember than I thought, but I am managing to remember about 50% of the time so far and am hoping to improve as time goes on.

Do you carry a water bottle with you? If so what type do you use?

3 Deals So Good I Had To Share

I couldn’t find 3 deals to share today so I instead want to share with you one coupon site that offers a fair amount of coupons for natural cleaning products, organic and gluten free foods, as well as vitamins. It is called hopster.

Another great feature of hopster is that you can boost the value of the coupon by completing simple activities like watching videos, taking polls or liking on Facebook.

Go ahead and press the arrows to slide through the carousel and see all the great coupons hopster is currently offering.