Living Joyfully–Enjoy Your Season

Life is made up of seasons. Some are happy, some are bittersweet, and some are more productive than others. By taking advantage of the current season in our life, we resist the urge to compare ourselves to others, and enjoy every blessing we’ve been given.

  • Don’t Compare
    • If you’re in a season where survival is the name of the game (such as going through a difficult pregnancy or handling a newborn with a toddler, dealing with job loss or another major lifestyle change, etc) don’t compare your situation to others. Your friend with older children may have a cleaner home, or you may not have the time, energy or finances to participate in many extracurricular activities and that’s okay. Look for the little joys in every day and don’t compare your situation to anyone else’s.
  • Choose Contentment Now 
    • If you’re constantly saying “I’ll be happy as soon as ______” then you’ll never be happy. There will always be some new milestone to achieve, more money that’s needed, a bigger home, etc. In reality, once we get to that new place in our lives we were desiring, we often look back and think “I miss how things used to be.” So, enjoy everyday. Embrace the challenges and triumphs of your current season of life and be grateful for what you have now. Life is too short to always be thinking of the next big thing, and not enjoying the blessings you currently have.

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The Money Saving Mom’s Budget, a Review

I have been a reader of Crystal Paine’s Blog, Money Saving Mom for a while, and have saved a great deal of money using Crystal’s tips, techniques, and deals. When the opportunity came for me to read and review her new book, The Money Saving Mom’s Budget, I immediately jumped at it. I was excited to see how she would take a subject that has been written about extensively, and add a new perspective.
The first forty pages of The Money Saving Mom’s Budget do not look at budgets or couponing or debt. Instead, you are encouraged to set goals—for life, not just for finances, and to get organized and to declutter your home. I found these to be refreshing chapters, because Crystal asserts that saving money is, at its core, a total attitude adjustment, not just the physical act of saving.
From there, Crystal expounds on budget making, giving the basics of how and why to stick to a monetary budget. She also includes several reproducible worksheets for setting up a budget. Also included in this section is the concept of a Time Budget. Taking itself from the old adage “Time is Money”, the notion of a time budget emphasizes that wasted time is in fact keeping you from making or saving money.
The Money Saving Mom’s Budget also includes chapters on couponing, what non-necessities one can cut out to make the most of their income, and tips on saving money at the grocery store. My favorite parts of these sections were the many options Crystal presented for saving money. At no point did I feel judged for having different priorities, (some things we prefer to be only brand name, and we like sports too much to cut out cable), which I appreciated. There were many ideas someone could put into practice to shave a few dollars off their monthly (or yearly) expenditures.
Eventually the book also touts the importance of a cash-only system. This Dave Ramsey method works well for many people, and while I completely agree with the importance of being debt-free, cash-only (including paying cash for a mortgage) I consider to be a blanket theory that does not necessarily work for everyone.  But, to each his own, and one must know their own spending habits and level of self-control to determine whether cash-only is their best option.
In short, I highly recommend The Money Saving Mom’s Budget, as both a way to get your life and finances on track. Crystal does a wonderful job of explaining both why and how one should take control of their finances. The reproducible worksheets at the end of the book are also quite useful.
This book is set to be released January 10, 2012, but you can pre-order it here. Crystal Paine is designating all proceeds to benefit Compassion International.
*While I was provided a complimentary copy of The Money Saving Mom’s Budget, all opinions stated thereof are my own. Post may contain affiliate links.

Saving Money During the Holidays…Online Shopping

When searching for the best deals on that perfect gift, the internet seems to muddle things a little. It is sometimes hard to determine whether nearby stores or online merchants have the best price, when taking into account shipping vs. gas costs, tax, and possible impulse buys at local stores. (I’m notorious for going into Target for one thing and come out with three bags!)

Shopping via internet has several major benefits that shopping at physical stores do not: you can compare prices from hundreds of vendors, find online exclusive coupons, and even get cash back for your purchases!

On the other hand, online shopping doesn’t have the same charm as going into the stores and hearing Christmas music, you often have to take into account shipping prices, and it can be harder to “browse” online than in the stores.

Should you decide to do some or all of your holiday shopping online, here are some tips and sites I like to use.

Ebates. Before you shop, check out Ebates. Ebates has partnered with over 1200 retailers to provide you cash back when you click through their site. of In two years of purchasing normal items and Christmas items online, I have received almost $500 cash back in the form of a check every three months. In addition, Ebates will credit your account with a $5 bonus if you are new to sign-up and make a purchase. My husband loves receiving photo books and photo calendars of our family as Christmas gifts, and right now Ebates is offering 20% cash back for all your purchases on Snapfish!

Retailmenot. is a wonderful site that lists every active coupon code for over 130,000 online stores! When you are ready to purchase, simply go to Retailmenot and type in the store you are shopping at. They will list all active coupons for that store, including a “Success Rate” for each coupon code.

FreeShipping. is a great site, which I found through Consumer Reports, that provides coupon codes for free shipping at almost 4,000 online stores.

Shopzilla. If you know what you’re looking for, you will want to comparison shop to make sure you are getting the best possible price. Shopzilla is a reputable site that will compare identical items at many different online retailers.

What are your best online shopping tips?

*Post may contain an affiliate link.

Veggie Tales at Chick-Fil-A…and Free DVD Offer

I took my daughter to Chick-Fil-A yesterday, and was excited to receive a Veggie Tales CD in the Kid’s Meal. Moreover, I was impressed that the CD contained two full-length stories and three silly songs. We’ve been listening to it in the car.

There was also a coupon code inside the kid’s meal for a FREE Veggie Tales DVD (just pay shipping.)

There are also reservations remaining for FREE Breakfast Friday or Saturday in case you haven’t already signed up. I got mine on Tuesday, and it was delicious!

Kid’s Art Projects…Fun is Better Than Perfect

I’ve recently started at-home school lessons with my three year old, which included turning our dining room into a classroom. It’s been so nice having a dedicated reading, art, and play area. Yesterday, I decided to do an “ocean” lesson. I thought we could have a beautiful blue background, covered with beautifully decorated paper fish and other ocean creatures, while reading a highly educational ocean book.

Well, of course that wasn’t going to happen.

I should have realized the project was not going to be as amazing as I’d hoped when I decided to freehand draw the fish. It looks more like a Goldfish cracker than a fish from the sea. Oh well. So we continue.

Didn’t have any blue construction paper, so had to settle for white with blue paint. It’s okay. Then came the googly eyes and the glitter.

Then I freehand drew jellyfish…which my daughter thought were actually octopus…so, octopus they will be. Notice how massive this Fish-Zilla is compared to the octopii.

So, the final product included many things not found in the sea. Turtles, an 11-eyed Fish-Zilla, and some dinosaurs stickers. But, my daughter had fun, got to sprinkle glitter to her heart’s content, and we were able to spend a half hour of sweet time together, which is all I can ask for.