Friday, May 31, 2013


     I've been on the hunt for some really good recipes. Thank goodness for awesome sites like Pinterest, Epicurious, and AllRecipes!! I can't stay on THIS site for long without literally drooling all over myself either.

I just went ahead and deleted the pin board I had for food and started a new one. I'd LOVE to see your favorite recipes so PLEASE do comment and share a link.

Right now there are two at the top of my list:

     This pretty picture: Goat Cheese Toasts with Walnuts, Honey and Thyme. I'll probably wait for hubby to be out of town for this one since I doubt he'd eat it. My kids have enjoyed goat cheese/tomato/spinach pizza though so I think they'd go for this!

     The other is "Chicken Tortilla Stack" which is like a super delicious looking layered taco/enchilada style lasagna looking pie thing that I found on another blog via pinterest. Click the link for pinterest at the top of the post to see my board. It's on there! My hubby will DEFINITELY eat this. He's got a thing for southwestern/mexican foods. I just need to buy the sour cream and veggies. 

So yeah, seriously, please share some links! 

Monday, May 27, 2013

Beefing Up the Budget

     We're in the middle of trying to cut and trim and shape our budget. We want to get the heck out of debt. Amazingly our greatest expenses aside from housing are food, household misc, and gas (ugh it's always freaking gas).

     We have the best phone deal on the planet (IMHO) via Virgin Mobile. I've looked and looked to make sure we're getting the best deal. If anyone knows of anything better please don't let me continue on thinking we're doing well here. No contract, unlimited data, unlimited texting, and the ability to change our plan minutes every month is exactly what we need right now. They have lots of different plans and there's a ton of flexibility so we don't have to worry about crazy fees or unexpected things. Our phones don't suck and if we wanted to pay near full price we COULD get iPhones if we wanted too. (But we don't. I mean, I do . . . but I'm trying to know better.)

      We only pay for the internet plan we "NEED"(that's a first world need in case you were confused). It's enough to run Netflix if we want too and make sure our internet isn't dropping out in the middle of an important online assignment. We're about to cut it down and save $15-20 a month too. We don't have cable TV. We use Netflix and Hulu as we please. We can change our plans or put them on hold anytime. Right now we've got Hulu on hold for the summer since all our beloved shows are over. 

     The hard part is coming up with our monthly "blow money" (as many Dave Ramsey fans call it), our general household budget for food and toiletries, and freakin' gasoline. 

     So for the blow money: my hubby tends to want to cut it all out and do nothing. I gently (haha) remind him that I'm at home ALL the time 24/7 with no car (we only have one vehicle, another post for another day) and if he likes my sane version of me he'll help me find a way to set aside like $20 to go OUT and do something as a family. That money can be used for the extra gas to take a day trip to the state park, to go to the mini golf place down the street one weekend, or to snag a good deal on Living Social for food or an activity. Discussions are still underway. We're pretty good about not spending too much on these outings. We're NOT so great at avoiding fast food. That is something we ARE planning to cut out completely and it will be rolled in with the blow money. Instead of full-priced icecream from coldstone we might go for $1-2 shakes or slushies some night. 

   For the gas: Bane of my existence. Fo'realz. We do have a Sam's Club membership this year. We decided to try it out. So, we get a discount at their gas station. Sadly, that's on the other side of town so it's actually an out-of-the-way drive to get gas from there UNLESS we're on that side of town for one of three things (school, Sam's, or hubby's softball games). I've yet to find a great solution for cutting gas prices all the time. There's no way we're getting some gas station credit card. We have talked about getting hubby a bike since he only works 1 mile down the road but it's not your average road and there are NOT any bike lanes. He also has to drive a couple hours away at least once a month. It's a temporary solution anyway because we have no idea how far we'll be once our lease is up. I do tend to overestimate (both the cost per gallon AND the amount we'll need) what we'll need to avoid surprises.

    Then there's the food: THIS is a major work in progress. I think we do pretty well. We could definitely use Aldi's more often. I could also be more diligent about coupons. I'm working on some recipes that are cheap and healthy. This isn't so easy since by healthy I actually mean HEALTHY and not mac n cheese with REAL cheese or turkey corndogs. Although, I won't deny it if those things end up on our menu. I'll have to get back with what I come up with for this. It's definitely a challenge. 

P.S. I hope everyone has a wonderful memorial day!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Na-Na-Na-Na BATMAN!!!

So we're talking about bringing baby 3 home in a Batman getup.

Is this too much?

   I personally don't think so but whatevs. Seriously though the bib has a cape in the back. We have a tiny, black batman logo onesie too!

    The other option is an Eleventh Doctor style costume. Bow tie. Fez. It'll probably be getting cold by then. The fez could provide legitimate head coverage.

Or we could go with the boring newborn baby stuff. ;)

     We'll see! Have no doubt that EVENTUALLY this batman stuff WILL be worn.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Save Money or Make Money (Quickly?)

     There are lots of people looking for ways to make a quick buck (without tossing their integrity out the window) for unexpected expenses, to save for a rainy day, or to pay extra on some overhanging debt. Maybe you just want some easy ways to get some spending money. I've heard lots of different ideas doing my own searches and getting through our days of scraping. I wanted to share my own tips for once! We've done most of these ourselves over the past few years.

The great but not-so-helpful or not-so-quick ideas: 

Start selling on eBay or

Open your own shop on Etsy

Get into a direct sales business (e.g., Avon)

Find a part-time job

These are all superb ideas. However, most take some beginning capital. All of them take time and patience and some element of risk. It may be only as much as the 0.20c listing fee per item on Etsy or more than $100 to get your initial product and supplies for direct sales. eBay and may be iffy. You may get less than you'd like for your stuff. Shipping may cost more than you anticipate. It may takes days to actually get your money as well. Once the buyer's payment comes through you may only be payed after the item has shipped. If you don't accept credit or debit payments or use paypal tack on the time it takes for someone to mail a check or money order. Even the transfer times from the buyer to paypal or your bank account can take days. pays your total sales (less shipping) to you twice a month. How quickly you can be paid for direct sales totally depends on your propensity to get parties and sales. There are additional costs for using paypal, adding additional information to listings, and things like packaging. If you have a month or two and some money to get you off the ground then you're likely to have the opportunity to make a good bit of cash. There are no guarantees though.

As for the part-time job, finding them can be easy if you keep your mind open. Pizza delivery, newspaper routes, fast food, retail jobs, and things like babysitting are almost always available. There's usually some period of time before you can start a new job, plus time for training, and the typical 1-2 week wait for that first paycheck. Start applying but look for other money-making ideas in the mean time.

The relatively quick but sometimes unreliable ideas: 

Hold a garage sale 

Visit the pawn shop

Create listings on Craigslist

These methods for making money can be a lot faster and simpler. Unless your city requires a permit with a fee it won't take much more than your valuable time to spend a weekend selling your extra junk out on your lawn. Pawn shops can be iffy. They are in business to make a profit so DO NOT expect to get anywhere near the true value of whatever you sell. If you have some valuable items that you don't care about this might be a great route. Just know the value. I would never recommend actually pawning because that's just one more thing hanging over your head. Sell it or skip the pawn shop. Craigslist can be risky for more than one reason. Most people have heard the horror stories. However, there's also the chance a buyer skips out on you or tries to get one over on you. If you overprice or underprice your stuff you can lose a sale or lose potential earnings.

Do yourself a favor if you want to host a garage sale and don't calculate your income on an hourly basis.

The fastest but sometimes not-so-very profitable ideas:

Swagbucks (or similar points and rewards sites)

Google Adsense (and other advertising sites)

Dig for change

I'm a big fan of Swagbucks and Adsense. They are brilliant ideas in and of themselves. I use both. Unless you all ready have a very high traffic website or blog ads aren't going to help you much. If you have a popular video on youtube perchance then you can put adds on it and make a teensy bit of money that way but that's unlikely. (Also, people who intentionally TRY to make "viral videos" get a nice cushy spot in the obnoxious category FYI.) Swagbucks is simple and some people enjoy it but it's not very profitable right away. We can get 10-25 dollar giftcards for lots of retailers (including Target, Walmart, and Amazon) by using this site for searching and doing the daily things but it takes a few weeks to a few months to accumulate enough for those. I'm not gonna say not to go for it but don't expect to get very much right away.

Just today I gathered up ALL of the random coins from the car, the junk box in the kitchen, and whatever other random spots in our house. I came up with $20.62. Not bad! We're pretty terrible at using change and we just let it gather. You may only be able to find all of $0.78. Here's a tip though: skip the coin machines and take it directly to your bank. The banks we've done business with have always counted it all up the same way as those machines before depositing it into our account(s) but without the cost per dollar.

The gross, awkward, or inconvenient ideas:

"Donating" Plasma

Participating in medical studies or drug trials


The Unmentionables

From what I hear donating plasma is totally legit if you go through the right sources. The idea is you or donating the plasma while being compensated for your time. Participating in drug or other medical trials obviously carries some risk, if nothing other than the potential side effects that come with the majority of medications. Pooper-scooping speaks for itself. It's gross. Ew. (It's not so bad AFTER you have some green in the palm of your hand, of course.) And then there's the unmentionables . . . all the things the most desperate or least squeamish do for dollars. You know what I'm talking about. Anything having to do with body parts or fluids that IS NOT illegal.

Sometimes you can't donate plasma or participate in trials even if you wanted to because of prior health issues or pregnancy. Even so, maybe you're just not ready to get over your fear of needles.

Saving but not really making ideas: 

Grocery Coupons

Shopping cheap, on-sale, and off-brand

Deals Websites (e.g., Living Social)

I love a good deal. Love. Just recently we got a great deal for a froyo shop not far from us. We got huge servings of some tasty frozen yogurt with all our favorite toppings for just $6 (two adults, two kids). I use coupons frequently. However, unless you're a crazy couponer or have space for a mini-mart in your home this will only save you a few good dollars at the store. If you're going to use coupons ONLY use them for what you need to buy anyway and make sure it's actually bringing the price lower than the off-brands. Oreos are not cheese and wine. You're not getting anything more for your pennies. I love oreos but the cheap ones are just as nasty-bad-for-you and tasty delicious as the regular brand. (P.S. Swagbucks HAS printable coupons, once they've been used and run through you'll get bucks for using the coupons in a few weeks!)

     In the end your best bet is to list your junk on ebay in-between job applications; make a stop at the pawn shop or meet with a buyer via craiglist after a morning putting in some job applications; and (if you have one) spend time earning money online via points & rewards sites while they take your plasma. Good luck and don't be stupid! 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

3am Schmee Schmay Shmem

It's 3am and I'm up with my not-sleepy 20 month old. It's a magical time.

School is out for summer now so I'll have more time to blog on here! Nothing crazy going on in our neck of the woods. Not anything I'm ready to share here just yet anyway. ;)

I do update the links just above the search bar as regularly as I normally would so don't forget to click around.

I'm looking forward to the decent whether this weekend. Hopefully we can spend most of our time at the pool but we'll see how that goes.

Nighty night!