Monday, December 27, 2010

The cost of food

Nearly breaks most peoples bank. When I ask people what their biggest expense is, it generally comes back to FOOD. I don't know if thats going out to eat, or if that comes down to just simply the cost of food which is kinda ridiculous if you ask me.

So.. I have a few tips. Not a ton, but a few. Don't buy all your groceries at the same place. careful not to do the running around town thing. If you are spending in gas what you save at the store its NOT worth it unless of course your company pays for your gas. Then gas away! You KNOW that meat is going to be cheaper at Kroger and fresher... so make your meat list for Kroger. Make your canned vegetable list and dry food lists for the other stores.

ARe you limiting yourself on grocery stores? Does your town have some random off brand stores? I know Hot Springs has Save-a-Lot which is an AWESOME place to buy off brand cake mixes, chips, off brand cokes(the brand names will crack you up so its worth it just for that). Canned vegetables are like 33 cents a can vs. .69 at walmart. Worth the trip? If you need more than 5 cans it sure is. Milk is cheaper there, butter is cheaper there and lunch meat. So... if those are items you use a lot, then save money and shop there! Don't be afraid to branch outside of Walmart and Kroger.

Coupons...we have talked about this before. Not ALWAYS a good idea...but if the coupon beats the off brand price then its worth it.

Also... go to You can buy some AWESOME deals that way. These boxed sets of food are supposed to feed a family of 4 for a week. Its worth a shot... if it works then WOWZERS! You have fed a family of 4 for $41 bucks a week. If it doesn't...then you add another package, or you cut your grocery bill down to a minimum AND buy the as well.

Just some ideas. I hope they help!

Never forget the little things

I am not a financial wizard. I wish I were... but I have lived through financial hardships, financial GOOD times, and learned a bit along the way. One thing I commonly hear people say is "I don't have any money left over to save." Well, thats because you are doing it wrong. How many times have you been told to save FIRST? Well... I realize that is easier said than done. So... let me break it down for you and make it make more sense. I had to do this to myself too, so don't feel like somethings wrong with you because you DON'T get it yet.

Do you smoke? Well, quit. And take that $4.85 every other day, or every day or however much you smoke and every time you WOULD have bought cigarettes, go withdraw that much from checking and place it in an envelope. At the end of just ONE month you will be suprised how much is in there.

Do you go to Starbucks of a morning? Yea... you need to quit that too. Put that $5.00 in that same envelope or open a savings account.

Do you go to the movies waayyy too much? Bring it down a notch... Go one time less than you would have gone in a month. That will save on movie tickets, popcorn and cokes. Thats $20 more bucks to stash away.

Do you ALWAYS buy CD's when they come out? Hey, I love my music... BUT...what if you wait a day or two after the cd is released and hit up your local FYE or movie store and buy the used version? You know its not very used b/c all they did was buy it and burn it. You can save big $$$ if you do that.

You will have your list of other ways to save. My point is you CAN save... you may just have to save along the way. Every little bit helps. If you are only putting back $30 bucks a month it will add up. That is $360 dollars a year... not too shabby.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

A year in pictures...

I love pictures. I love getting family pics, I love talking selfies of Jere and I in the car, I love taking pics of Ava making crafts or just plain ol' looking adoreable. I also LOVE to get pictures taken. I love the planned outfits when the whole family is "matchy matchy". I love those black and white photos where everyone looks so poised and perfect... But i got to thinking...WHAT in the world did I spend on pictures this year??

we had professional pictures done, I bought 2 sets of Ava's school pictures, I took over 7600 pictures in 2010 according to "MY PHOTOS" on my computer. We had Christmas card pictures taken. I blew up some pictures to fit frames for the wall. I made photo books of Ava's year, of our wedding, and several for gifts.

so...what in the world did I spend on pictures this year?! Do you REALLLLLY wanna know....?? I have 3 albums full, sent out 30 Christmas cards, made photo books for Christmas, for birthday gifts, .... I spend $198.25 on pictures THUS FAR in 2010. HECK of a deal!!!!!

Go to Create an account. upload all of your photos to them. You will recieve a coupon every week. Sometimes you get 50 pics for $5.00. Sometimes you get $5.00 off any order. Doesn't matter b/c they are ALWAYS good coupons. So only order photos when you get those. They come on Sundays so get ready for them.

Befriend on facebook photographers. Local, starting out photographers. They constantly post contests. GET INVOLVED in those! you just may win. We won, and it was the perfect gift! :)

When it comes to school many do you REALLLY need? Make out a list of who will be recieving a copy of this picture. Nobody wants extra ones laying around the house...that seems so wasteful. So make a list and buy the package that is CLOSEST to the number that you need. Don't get stuck with 11x14's that you KNOW you will never put up. Thats kinda silly...:)

So...if you are camera happy and love some pictures then you need to set out a plan. How many pictures are you going to take per month? how many of those will you buy?! Keep your albums up to date and you won't be likely to OVER buy pictures. Consider pictures for gifts. Every grandparent or aunt wants a picture of that sweet little kiddo. It's affordable and personable.

Hope that helps. Send me your tips! Click on an ad before you go! thanks!

It's the MOST wonderful time of the year...

Because EVERYTHING IS CHEAPER! :) I have talked before about THIS being the time of year that you go otu and buy gifts for NEXT year. HOPEFULLY you have been saving your money. :)

Go buy wrapping paper, gift sacks, tape, and bows for NEXT year. Don't over do it...thats the hard part. You don't need a ton more ornaments, you don't need a ton of crap to set out...but you WILL need more paper.

JCPenney's is THE place to be over the next week. Forget if its Christmassy or not...if it is something that can be worn in the winter time, its gonna be on sale. And not just 20% off...but MAJORLY discounted.
And more than anything the men's clothes will be hugely discounted. Not quite sure why, but i'm just telling you they will be.

Also...are you one of those families that does pj pants on Christmas Eve? (I now know of 4 families that do that and I think its the cutest idea ever.) Anyway if you are... Old Navy, Rue 21, Sears AND Belk will have their pj pants on sale.

There are TONS more good ideas of places to go. I haven't looked at any ads from the paper this week to see of any new but the ones I listed are always on my "To do" list after Christ

so go...find some bargains and get ready for a Happy New year of money saving tips! :)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Movies! Wow! HOW expensive can it get? Now almost everything comes in 3D and theatres can charge up to $5.00 bucks additional on EACH ticket to wear glasses when you would have seen the movie even if it WASNT in 3D...its SUCH a messed up ordeal.

So now going to the movies can be a $40.00 date, or a $60.00 family outing. Its QUITE ridiculous if you ask me. So... I started looking online for ways to save money on movie tickets. Of course matinees save you money, Tuesday is "stimulus tuesday" at Carmike's so popcorn and cokes are only $1.00. Of course thats a SMALL, but still. I went to to see if they showed anything... and guess what?! They DID!

Go to Click on tickets, and you will see a tab that says "get free tickets". you have to sign up for one thing or another. I signed up for a free 7 day trial to keep an eye on my credit. You can sign up for recipes over email. Whatever...they don't COST anything, but when you do that and follow the process all the way through you recieve a free ticket code and it WORKS! So... do that once a month? once a week? once a still get a free ticket.

So take your hubs out for a movie on YOU, he doesn't have to know that his ticket was free :)

Monday, November 29, 2010

It's the most expensive time of the year

Yep. I said it. You know its true.

Its the time of year when she shop, we clip coupons(hopefully), we rush around like crazy people and try to get everyone something. STOP!! Make a list...we have talked about this before. Write out everyone that you have to buy for. Set a budget. Even if its 10 bucks a person. Then...go from there. Bargain shop. Hunt online. DONT get caught on the buy 1 get 1 stuff... you end up spending more. I write this for those who have NOT begun their shopping yet... I hope that everyone is already DONE, but I fear thats probably not the case :)

Here are some last minute tips:

1. DONT BUY LAST MINUTE ITEMS. By that I mean, dont decide on December 23rd that you need to buy something...because you will spend too much.

2. Take your old dvds and cds and take them to your nearest FYE or music store that will buy them back. Ask for CASH unless you plan to buy something in the store b/c if you DO, you will generally get MORE if you get store credit.

3. Check out pawn shops. I found out just a few weeks ago when Ava broke her dvd player that pawn shops do not expect the price thats on there. SHOOT LOW... all they can do is bump it up a few bucks, say yes, or say no.

4. CONSIGNMENT SHOPS! They get overloaded with good stuff this time of year b/c everyone is making room for the presents to come. You can buy NICE clothes, good clean toys, and awesome shoes and purses. So if you have a teen...this is THE place to go.

What are your ideas? What have I left out?!?!?!?!?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Entertaining the kiddos

This is something that I find myself spending ALL of my extra money on...entertaining my daughter! And I WANT to do it! But the reality is that I can't afford all of these memberships to every place in the world! So you have to learn to pick and choose. Depending on where you live, I think its a good idea to have ONE membership. The zoo, museum, play house, fun house...whichever. But one is definitly a good thing!! That way on those rainy days when going outside is not an option, you have something that is there to do that is already paid for.


I try to think of fun things for Ava and I to do that won't break my already broken bank. :) I have really spend some time here lately planning fun things for her that won't cost an arm and a leg, or better yet things that are free. Here are a few that I have found:

#1--playing outside! Let their imagination run wild!!! Play cops and robbers, play cowboys and indians, play hide and go seek. whatever!

#2- the library! I have talked about the library before...its SUCH a great place. Ours in particular rocks. Not only can kids get books and movies, but they have story time, they have halloween festivities, Christmas parties...all of which are FREE! And while you are there...there is a ton of adult stuff too. Pick up a book on how to budget, or how to make curtains or whatever your interests are. Rent movies. Better yet...pick up those collections on learning another language. The ones they sell in the airports for $500 bucks? Yep-you can rent those as well. That could be a WHOLE afternoon of fun!

#3- Crafts! Get out the markers, crayons, scissors and papers. Kids love that stuff! The other day Ava wanted to paint and I was out.. so I let her use my old nail polish. She thought that was the coolest thing ever! She had a blast, was proud of herself for making me a pretty picture, and I could talk to her while she painted with nail polish while I got to wash the dishes. TADA--that went well all around!

#4--Ava likes to work out! She thinks my dvds are fun so I put in a workout dvd and she and I go to town with it! I am working up a sweat, shes having a ball...again--win win! I like win-wins :)

#5-take a saturday afternoon and clean out your kids bedrooms. Go through the toy box, all the bins, the closet, etc. They will find toys they had lost and you are getting something done. (win-win). Ava gets sooo excited when we do that!! She will say "Thank you mommy!!" Because to HER its like Christmas morning all over again!!!

Just a few things that I like to do with my child that don't break the bank. What do you like to do?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Pays to be nice. you get Dooney's for free.

So yes, be very jealous because today I got a Dooney and Bourke for free. Now grantit it was used, but really? Still...this rocks. This has been the best day. Got lots of Christmas stuff for free and now a Dooney! WOWZERS! :)

*Side note** I have thanks God about 30 times today b/c just when I feel like I can't do everything...he provides.

Okay so anyway, I had driven out ot my favorite consignment shop here in Hot Springs. I ALWAYS take mine and Ava's clothes there because I make BANK and its kinda like my little "Savings account". Instead of having a jar that says "CLOTHES" on it, I have a sheet of money waiting on me at this shop. I take gently worn clothes of Ava's and mine out to this place and make BANK everytime! Everytime I go and drop off a bag of clothes they are very friendly, and eager to help me, and everytime I go back and say "how much credit do I have"... I ALWAYS have credit there. So, anytime I need a shirt, or need something for Ava I start there first. I don't have to worry about budgeting money for clothes for Ava because I always have money waiting on me there.

So I went in today to take a bag of Ava's shoes that didn't fit and I had a top or two in there. I walked around and even though I found some of the CUTESTthings ever, Ava isn't in need of anything at the moment. So I walked to my side... I NEED a lot of stuff but they didn't have anything so I just walked and looked around thinking about how GREAT consignment shops are. So, I began to look at the purses. And I found an AWESOME Dooney and Bourke. Probably last years model, maybe even the year before but this purse was awesome!!! I didn't DARE look at the tag... so I did of course :) I saw that it was only $12.00. I took it to the counter and asked why it was so cheap. She said that she knew at a shop like this where thing are second hand you just can't ask for a lot. There was one tiny stain on the back and I asked if that would come out. She didn't I took my chances. I told her i wanted it... then I said well, never mind.. i should save my money. She said "ya know always bring me nice things, you shop here ALL the time...its yours. take it." So i did. And now with resolve drying on it I have an AWESOME Dooney and Bourke just hanging there lookin' at me waiting to carry it somewhere FABULOUS!!!

Moral of the store...small towns rock b/c that would NEVER happen anywhere PAYS to be nice to people. It pays to be consistent... shop at the same places. Get to know the owners and managers. Learn their names. Their stories. Learn about their families. Go in OFTEN!

Today was an awesome day. Ava has all the Christmas she could need and ask for and I  have an awesome purse. i could carry this purse...or sell it. Either way I feel so blessed.!!!!


On Sunday from 3-close you can take your family to CHILIS for dinner and your kids eat free!!! ENJOY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Christmas...for free?

I can't tell you how excited I am! This morning while sitting at my computer at work I popped open facebook. I know, I know. HUGE suprise :) Well, I sure am glad I did! JUST as I logged on some "news feed" was coming through and my friend  posted "hey if anyone wants some toys lemme know. we are cleaning out a room and HAVE tons of good, clean, gently used toys!" I IMMEDIATELY said I WILL TAKE THEM!!!

So I ran by to get them. #1 it was good to see her but also it was like friggin' Christmas morning!!! I'm talking I RACKED up! Or I should say Ava racked up. Anything from barbies, doll clothes, stuffed animals, brand new crayons, a shopping cart, a cleaning set that had like a little broom and vaccum and everything!! OH MAN OH MAN! I am PUMPED!!!! Yes, I will buy my child presents as well. In fact she already has a good little stash that I have been working on all year hidden in my closet for her. But wow! I hit the mother load.

I will wash everything, wipe everything down, and ta-da! I am so pumped!! One thing to remember when being a "Bargain hunter" is that you CAN'T get caught up in getting all these great you buy more. If thats how you are gonna do it then its NOT a deal at all. So... lesson of today is... take free things! Look for bargains like that in the paper. In the classifieds I have seen more than once where people have listed encyclopedia sets to give away. Or "100 books for free..come pick up" . Now don't get me wrong... I do not want to end up on the show "Hoarders" nor do I want you too...but if its free, what does it hurt to look through it? You could sell some on ebay? Trash some, keep some, give a good read to your neighbor. I mean come on--its FUN!

So get excited! Go lookin' for bargains and lemme know what you find!!!!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I've griped about NOT using coupons if it doesn't save you money and I stand by that. But check out this website for free stuff, advice on when and how to shop! Its worth your time...TRUST ME :)

From one bargainhuntingmommy to the next....

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Why don't we just ask?

“So baby why don’t we just ask..” (that would be to the tune of WHY DONT WE JUST DANCE!) ha!

Okay…so just ask why don’t cha!?! I have a Discover card that I thought was getting awesome interest rates…well, i was wrong. That ended after 3 years evidentally. I have always been on time on my payments, don’t use it that often, but when I do I am diligent to pay it off. Well I got online to look up what I owed and figure out a payment plan to pay it off and throw it away. And I happened to look at my interest rate… I am just now getting my breath back and that was 4 hours ago!!!

So… I called. “Hello thank you for calling discovercard can i help you?” Ummmm…YES YOU CAN!! I began to spill, in a nice way, about how much I have been a great customer, pay my bills on time, never behind, never too close to my limit… and how I am livid that my interest rate is so high. Her response “I can undertand your concerns but we have no other interest rates to offer you at this time.” Ya see…this is where she and I began to disagree. So I gave my spill about how great it was to have me as a customer b/c I am not a threat to them and well, basically, she blew me off. So I told her to please cancel my card, that I would somehow figure out how to pay it off within 30 days so it wouldn’t hurt my credit(if you cancel a credit card with a balance that HURTS your credit) and immediately she came up with a lower interest rate? Wow! Its amazing how that happens.

So if you are paying through the nose on a credit card and will never see the bottom…then just ASK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! all they can say is no, and then all you have to do is NOT use them anymore. Simple as that.

I saved $116.00 dollars by sending a text!

Yes. Its true. TA-DA! I was SOOOOO proud of myself.

Okay I have mentioned that I am saving up for a part on my car, right? Well I am. A wheel bearing to be exact. Don’t know what that does, or where it goes(I would guess somewhere around the wheel but can’t say that I know that for a fact) I just know that I need one b/c mine is shot. Hence the grinding noise you sometimes hear while riding with me. Well, I got a quote of $261. I came back to work and called every car place in the phonebook and f0und out that actually $261 is a fair price. Well, thats great that its FAIR, but I didn’t have it to spend. **(THis happens once you finally have a savings account with money in it…you don’t wanna touch it. its weird, but true). Anyway so here I was saving up for this stupid part on my stupid car and being so mad the whole time b/c I could do a LOT of fun stuff with $261 like for example go ahead and by Christmas for the next 3 years!!!!

Anyway…I began saving and was getting close to being all the way there. I have a friend, Jeremy, who builds houses, fixes roofs, builds things, pretty much like does it all. I thought to myself that as many cars as he’s owned, and the fact that he drag races, he MAY know of a way that I can save money. So I sent him a text and said “I need a wheel bearing. Gonna cost me $261. Know of any one thats cheaper?”

2 seconds later my phone rings… he tells me where to go and buy the part and that he can install it. I’m hesitant b/c after all it IS My car we are talking about. Evidentally wheel bearings are like NOTHING to install. He has done this dozens of times. To be sure…b/c again yes, I want the best BARGAIN, but if its gonna cost me more in the long run or be more of a headache, then I will just quietly go back to saving…so to be sure I googled how to install a wheel bearing. Wow. I may could have even done it!

So… I went to buy the part and it was $56.99 which is already cheaper than $108.99 that the guy was charging me for it at the car fixer place. I went to check out and he said ‘lets see if I can save you some more money…’ so he fiddled around and I bought it tax and all for $47.00. WOWZERS!!! So… I am going to pay Jeremy less to install it then I was the car fixer person so WAH-LAH!!! I just saved myself $116.00. WHICH MEANS… that I can go put that $116.00 I have oversaved into my savings account. Woot Woot!!

Moral of the story… ask around. Get a friend(who KNOWS WHAT THEY ARE DOING) to change your oil, put washer fluid in your car, check the battery, change the battery….there are little things you can do to save money. Things happen, cars break, and money is needed. be SMART about it… go find a bargain!!

Calling all free loaders

Okay, I get that term may be a little strong. BUT…when living frugally, cheap, or whatever you wanna call it you MUST remember that cheap is good, free is better.

Do you pay for things that you could get for free? Well if you do, that is just dumb. Plain and simple…VERY dumb. Have you ever heard of google? Its pretty flippin’ amazing! ha! You can look up anything! don’t buy a book on “how to raise a cat” just google it. Don’t buy a book on how to organize your house…google it! Or go to the library!

This one kills me… I was really in a bind and finally realized that I had NO choice but to get organized. That is my least favorite thing in the world to do, organize that is. Unlike my sister Erica who like does that for a living… i prefer to just let things magically work themselves out. I went to Walmart for my bi-weekly trip and put some extra money aside to buy a ‘planner’. Well…this planner turned out to be the most ridiculous $7.00 I ever spent. There aren’t enough lines, they dont give you space to put things down for saturdays or sundays, and its basically made for people with perfect, petite hand writing. That does not fit me in any way. I write huge, my plans change, it just didn’t work out. So… what did I do…? I googled! You can print out a daily planner, weekly, monthly, however you want it. Go to THis site is pretty amazing!! Talk about getting organized at NO cost to you! Put in a binder you have laying around or a folder that you ALREADY have (everyone has those lying around) and wah-lah! You are organized!

Join the website I INSTANTLY printed out a coupon for a free chips and queso at Chili’s AND a free desert. I recieved a ton of samples like shampoo’s and tooth paste in the mail. Cost me nothing… a little time I guess. But it was worth it.

Don’t buy cook books…google! Or more fun than that…look up blogs! A lot of people have blogs on easy to make recipes. I know just in my facebook list of friends I have about 6 that constantly update their blog with new and fresh, easy meals to cook!

Make things fun…fun doesn’t have to cost a dime!


If you are fighting with your husband over something stupid…then drop it. If you are STILL mad that your family laughs at your Christmas 95′ home video…you should drop it. (not that I know that from experience or anything….) BUT…there ARE times in life that you DONT drop things. And one of those times…is when it comes to finances.

Case and point…like an idiot I opened a Victorias Secret account to order a dress. Got the dress in, got the card in, got the bill in…paid it off. Next month I ordered a swimsuit. Swimsuit comes in…it was RIDICULOUS! It looked like I hand made it. Now i KnOW why it was on sale. I used the return label, sent it back, and was done with it. About 2 weeks later I get a bill showing the purchase of my swimsuit, the credit of my swimsuit, but I still had a balance for 8.00. So… i call. The lady said “Oh yes, thats the shipping charge.” I said… “The swimsuit cost me 12.00. I paid 5 to ship it and now you are saying that I still owe 8 bucks to send it back? I dont think so. Cancel my card, i wanna speak to a supervisor and i will NEVER purchase through Victorias Secret ever again.” And hmm…guess what happened!!!! They refunded the money! duh…b/c i DIDNT DROP IT!

NOW…same stupid card that I regret opening. I didn’t even use it, but I don’t have a lot of revolving accounts in my name. Most of our bills are in Jere’s name except for the electricity bill and water bill and frankly, I dont even think those people report to the credit bureau. SO… i needed something in my name. BUT..after that swimsuit stuff got situated i now had a card with $1,000 limit on it with NOTHING on it. I felt good about it. Well, 2 months later I get a bill for $24.78 for charges to my VS account. um what?! I called, and it was from a “credit monitoring company”. I had no idea what they were talking about. So I call and they told me that I had verbally agreed to accept the charges for $12.95 a month to have my credit monitored. Well, I did NOT say yes to that. I was only buying a $33.00 dress…why the heck would I add$12.95 for monitoring.??? have we MET? Anyway… i called that company and they said that yes in fact I had agreed and they would be happy to send me an audio tape of me agreeing to it. So I of course said “heres my email send it NOW!” Well they didnt send it. imagine that… I called VS back and said “ok i talked to this company and they said I agreed, and I ddin’t so what can we do.” The guy said he would put a hold on my account for 90 days so there were no charges and that would give me time to clear it up. So i kept emailing the credit monitoring company asking where my email was and never heard back. Then, on a pretty day in July I get a collection phone call for $85.00. Evidentally VS had NOT put a hold on my account and I had been being charged every month. I wasn’t recieving a bill though b/c by then we had moved. Drama drama…this went on and on. I filed a dispute through the credit bureau at and recieved a letter a week later saying there was nothing they could do about it. i called VS almost every day and the credit monitoring company and complained to anyone and everyone that would LISTEN! i FINALLY got someone at VS to give me an address to write out a written dispute. Why they waited 100 days later to give it to me i will NEVER know. But i sent the letter. i explained in detail what happened, what I had done, and that I now had something negative on my perfect credit and was NOT happy about that.

Today, i got a letter in the mail APOLOGIZING for the inconvenience, and they stated that my account was now with a ZERO balance, and that within 45 days my credit would be restored and it would never negatively affect my credit score again.

This was the longest process. It started back in May…DONT DROP IT! That stupid bill had racked up to $118.00, and had me at 120 days past due which was a terrrrrrrible thing to see on a credit report. Ok, thats my rant. DONT DROP IT! If I had paid it, it would have stayed on my credit for 7 years. DONT DROP IT!

The money pit!

The money pit would simply be this…WALMART! I see grown people in walmart act like a kid in a candy store. Why IS that? It’s like some people go in Walmart and completely lose all forms of self control. I just don’t get it…

I realize that making a list is NOT a sure fire way to not spend extra and honestly, there is no sure fire way–except to DO it. When you make out your grocery list add up what you THINK these things are going to cost. If its stuff you buy all the time than you pretty much know how much it will be, right? Now obviously if you are trying out a brand new recipe that calls for things that you have never purchased then you may need to stash a few extra bucks in just in case…but as a general rule we know that milk is gonna cost $3.50 on average. A bag of chips is $3.00. etc. SO, as you are making your list round UP(to be safe) what you think these things are going to cost. You take that much money with you to the store. If you added up $70.00 and you rounded UP on everything then you should have your taxes covered. BUT to be safe, add in $5.00 bucks. If you get to the counter and are watching it ring up which you SHOULD be doing (computers are NOT always right) and you realize you are getting close and you still have some stuff left, then you don’t get it. Now I have had people say thats the WORST part about shopping at the grocery store with cash. But folks–it works. And honestly, that won’t happen if you plan ahead. The only 1 time that plan DIDNT work out for me… I had a splurge at the end of the shopping trip on a magazine and a coke. Wow, $5.67 for some boring entertainment involving celebrity gossip and sugar loaded coke. What a fool I was. but it happens.

So…when you get to walmart, go with a PURPOSE, a PLAN, and a wad of cash. If you are going to buy deodarant and shampoo…LEAVE with deo and shampoo. It’s not that hard. I try every day to teach Ava self control yet we as adults have none.

Just try it…take cash, have a plan, and a PURPOSE for your visit to that store. IT will save you a bundle.


Coupons can be the devil. Not always, but very VERY often. Its like this. if you typically by the off brand of furniture polish for $1.25, and Pledge is $3.78, then DUH…buy the off brand. BUT you get a $1.25 cent coupon in the mail, or the Sunday paper for Pledge… so you buy it! Well, you just threw away $1.28 but you THOUGHT you got a bargain.

Now i drive people nuts with my off brands. No Trix in this house but we do have “Trax”. You can laugh all you want…they taste the same. Overloaded with sugar, nasty, stick to the roof of your mouth cereal. i DO see that some things are better in the “real” brand…but lets face it. You are gonna have to dust again in 2 days so what the heck does it matter what kind you use? Dust is gonna collect regardless…so don’t buy the Pledge brand, buy the off brand “Pladge”. .whatever it is. Be smart about off brands versus real brands. BUT dont be fooled by coupons. If its not free, or nearly free, or if the off brand would be more expensive than using the coupon=-then duh. BUT if its not, then don’t be fooled by the coupon scheme.

Coupons can get you EVERY time. You will buy something that you didn’t need, or didn’t want, because you can get it for $1.00 cheaper. Thats dumb. BUT if you can try one for free, or pay less than the off brand then you have my permission to clip coupons. Just sayin’…


This is the easiest thing in the world to do…split it up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Is it just me or does it always seem that one of the paychecks you get in the month is GONE before you get it?! You may have more bills towards the beginning of the month, or more towards the middle, but either way there is always one paycheck that is barely big enough to pay allll the bills due at that time. So, split it up!

For example, I split my rent up and pay some on the 1st and the other half on the 15th. That way on the first I am not like “WHOOAAAA…i’m broke!” Instead, I feel less of a crunch. I pay my entergy bill online…I know when its due, I know how much, and I split it into two payments. I do that with every single bill!! I do that with car payments, car insurance, anything that will let me! Credit card companies will not let you make partial payments so DONT DO THAT! I learned the hard way… they just consider it an extra payment. But most companies, including the water company, will let you split your bills up into two payments. They don’t care–as long as they have their FULL amount on the day its DUE!

That allows me a little more freedom throughout the month. But at the end of the day I am paying the same amount…without the pain. Its simple…split it up. Try it for one month. Seriously. Go. go and pay half your bill. just don’t forget about the other half

gimme one...

So you aren’t convinced yet. So far I am just a young mother who blogs a lot about saving money. Well, I want to prove to you that YOU CAN CHANGE! You can take these simple tips and tweak them as you see fit and make this YOUR lifestyle. Just gimme ONE month…

But you CANT do a whole month, right? Because I mean come on…you want to have one, and shop, and go to the movies, and go out to eat. Well.. i’m only asking for one month. I don’t live like a homeless and broke person EVERY month, but sometimes a “one month checkup” is necessary. IF you are falling off the bandwagon, not saving as you should…then go back to the “gimme one” plan…

Do a budget for one month. Save every dime you find for ONE month. Don’t go to the mall for one month. Deal?

Okay so now we have tackle the task of you not sitting at home crying over your closet b/c you want to go shop…you CAN survive this. TONS of fun, free things to do in life. Let’s take a glance at some of my fav’s to do when I am on the ‘gimme one’ program…

Sign up online at When you do this you recieve a free code. Get your husband to do it. Thats 3 free codes. But wait… don’t you have work email as well? thats 3 codes. OH MAN! I just got you 3 movies for FREE! PLUS you will now recieve a text message with a free movie code the FIRST Monday of every month. Its a brilliant program.
Go to the park. Several good parks around Hot Springs and every town for that matter. Take the kids, dogs, and snacks(from your house of course) and head out to run, play, laugh, throw leaves, fish…Didn’t cost you a dime but take your camera. Kodak moments WILL occur.
Upload all of your cds to your computer. You KNOW you have been wanting to do that. Then you can create playlists and if you have blank cds laying around you can burn yourself a cd. It will feel like a treat to have new music in your car!
Organize your closet. Try on everything you own. Trust me…it really IS fun. Make a pile of clothes to save for a yardsale, or clothes to take to consignment. You will feel good, your house will feel cleaner and you have already started a wad of cash due to all the clothes you can sell and make money off of!
Make a craft out of things you already have. And while you are at it…if its REALLY cool go ahead of and think of somebody you could give it for a birthday or Christmas.
GO TO THE LIBRARY!! Your local library has TONS of fun stuff to do. Activities for the kids, books and movies to rent, magazines to read… Thats a whole afternoon of FREE fun!
Make a list of meals you can make just by using items that are ALREADY in your house. Don’t rush to walmart because you think you have ” no food”. invent a recipe based on what you have lying around.
Walk downtown. Downtown Hot Springs is BEAUTIFUL! There are trails to walk on, people watching, play in the fountain. Again take your camera! Just don’t be tempted to shop while you are down there.
Empty your DVR by watching all of those shows you taped! Mine is FULL… must mean I am due for another “gimme one”.
Have friends over and karaoke! What could be more fun than that?! Tell everyone to bring something to snack on, you provide a home, karaoke, cups and ice and ta-da! You just had a night-o-fun without spending a dime!
Tell me your ideas. I’d love to hear them. But seriously folks, gimme ONE month to prove that you can enjoy life WHILE saving money! Its something you HAVE to be conscious about. Plan ahead, pack your lunch, don’t grab a Sonic drink, don’t WINDOW shop… You can do it…i’m only asking for you to gimme one…

Making lists AND the "B" word

This is one of my favorite things in the WORLD to do! I love making lists! Juuuuuust kidding. I Hate it with a passion. BUT I have learned that lists are really kinda magical.

If you make a list of groceries you need and don’t veer from it, then the magicial piece of paper you are holding has just saved you money. If you leave the house with a list of errands to run then you come home feeling accomplished instead of saying “DANGIT!! I forgot to..”.

I make a financial sheet every single month.(budget) Its silly really because I am almost excited to write it up. I write at the top of it “OCTOBER 1st” and on the other side I write “OCTOBER 15th”. Of course I change the month up when I need to BUT. I do that because those are the 2 days that I get paid. Some bills are due towards the first, others towards the 15th…you get the gist of it. Its not rocket science. BUT but doing this I actually take out that handy little LIST every pay day and go down the list. You write them in your check book of course but then you highlight them off of your list. ACCOMPLISHED. I may be broke as a joke by paying that last bill BUT I know they are all paid, I know they were on time, and I haven’t put any of them off.

I ALSO know just how much is left over…if any! I know how much I have left so I can split it in half and put half in savings, or my Christmas fund, or whatever. If you JUST use your checkbook to keep up with what you spend, you WILL SPEND TOO MUCH! Having it on paper, like a REAL sheet of paper will serve you well.

It may seem un-necessary to you to make budget, or a list, or a financial sheet…but it was when I did that that I began WATCHING where my money went. Now I am like some fanatic about NOT spending money. Now its all about the money that I can hoard.

Just try it… its a pen, a piece of paper, and remembering ALL of your bills. Look at the due dates. Which pay period can you pay that in? Its a sure fire way to make sure you are never late, everything gets paid and YOU have CONTROL of your finances…all by simply writing them down. Just sayin’…its worth a shot. You have nothing to lose but 15 minutes of your time…and you MAYBE just MAYBE will save yourself late fees, $$$, overdraft fees, $$$,….who knows. Its worth it.

OH Entergy have returned to me...AGAIN!

I hate getting the electricity bill. I just look at the envelope for like an hour before I open it. And somehow, its ALWAYS a suprise. Either like WOOHOO thats it?!?! Or, oh dear lord are you joking me?!

So…last April I decided to test it. What in the world makes it fluctuate? I couldn’t gripe out those people enough by telling them they are ridiculous!!! Well, it turns out that I am ridiculous. Want to lower your electricity bill? I FINALLY know how.

**Disclaimer…** I, Cara Matthews, tried these things out on my own. So if you disagree, sorry. But don’t correct me. Because for me…it has made all the difference in the WORLD!

1-unplug stuff. Is your computer charged? then unplug it. Is your cell phone charged? unplug it. UNPLUG your hair dryer.

2- turn off your curling iron, straightener or whatever gizmo you use to fix your hair. WASTE of money!

3-DONT TOUCH THE AIR! Leave it alone. If you are hot, open a window. IF you are cold, put on a sweater. DONT TOUCH IT! Everytime you turn the air down or the heat up, you just cost yourself at LEAST $4.00. So if you push buttons for a hobby then I guess $4.00 is no biggy…but if you chose to have fun doing other things, then leave it alone!

4-if you aren’t watching the tv, don’t turn it on. Use your fully charged computer to go to and stream US 97 for petes sake. Pull up youtube. And list to music allllll day long, or well, until the battery dies in the computer. TV’s produce heat which could explain why your house is hot. They produce noise which could be the cause of your headache. I understand needing the noise, but sing to yourself. You will survive. I promise!

5- for budget purposes, get on levelized billing. It may seem like a lot for those few months in the fall and spring when you are paying more than you normally would, but trust me…in the end. ITs a budget savvy persons dream come true!

6-Turn the porch lights off if you aren’t outside. Turn the closet light off when you get out of the closet. Turn off the guest room light if you don’t have guests. People don’t need to drive by and start singing Trace Adkins “Every light in the house is on.”… thats just un-necessary.

If you have good tips, i’d LOVE to hear them. But I can tell you that those few things listed above have helped me keep my electricity bill to a minimum! Hope that helps…

Now go find a bargain and turn a light off. It will make you feel better!

Christmas in February :)

My friends and family make fun of me for lots of reasons. But the reason I am going to focus on today is they make fun of me for having Christmas bought by July! The other reasons…well, thats another blog on a different site

Sometimes I literally DO have it all done by July. But I must confess… I still have a few things left to buy and its already OCTOBER!!! Aggghhh!!!!!

Here’s how you do it…you start with the older people in your life FIRST. No sense in buying your 2 year old nephew clothes for next Christmas if by then he may be wearing a 6x. SO… you make a list. I am ALLL about list making. You simply write down every person in the WORLD that you will buy or do SOMETHING for at Christmas. My list goes like this: Ava, Jere, parents, then sisters, then brother in law and sis-in law, then ALLLL of the neieces and nephews, and the few friends I have left that I buy for.

You leave 2 lines for each persons name. The top line is for ideas for that person, the bottom line is what you actually bought. You should pretty much have this list going year round. The REASON being…you NEVER KNOW when you will run up on an awesome deal. Keep in mind from yesterdays lesson… its NOT a deal if you didn’t need it! Its not a bargain if you had to buy 3 of something to get it on sale. Don’t forget that part or you will find yourself in trouble.

Okay…make that list. There are 3 awesome times of the year to buy Christmas presents and NONE of them involve November or December.



January CAN be good but here’s the catch with January…it only works out good IF you plan to buy something “Christmassy” for someone for next year. If you do ornaments or Christmas decorations as Christmas presents then by ALL means knock yourself out. If you don’t…then wait. Its just one more month of waiting.

February…this is THE BEST TIME! I can’t stress that enough… I bought Dad, David, Jere, Sarah, Erica AND Noah all their Christmas gifts in February of this year. That is when stores(for whatever reason) begin marking down and seriously closing out winter clothes, movies that were popular around Christmas are now a fraction of the cost, cd’s are cheaper, and TOYS are cheaper. Now I wish that I could tell you about ALL of the awesome bargains I got this February but I can’t b/c is there a chance, although its slight, that my family will read this. But I will say this…I spent less than 40 dollars on EVERYTHING and the movies I got for Ava were classic, Disney movies …and I got her 3 of them! Not to mention everything else.

“But I don’t have the money in February!!!” So many people have told me that. Here’s the deal…you do. You save throughout the year. Will you have the money in December? Didn’t think so….nothing magically happens to your checkbook in December. You just DO it then because you have to. Well, you don’t! You are WASTING money! I can honestly say that when I racked up on an awesome bargain for my dad and brother in law in February… I felt bad. I looked at the original price and how few were left and I honestly felt BAD for the people that 2 months before paid 6 times more than I was about to. Don’t be one of those people that get pity! Be SMART!

AUGUST! Now this is another good time. And honestly I have no really good explanation for why that is. Back to school is going on so I guess its because of the new clothes and gizmos that are out at that time…they gotta have room for everything. For whatever reason…this time rocks as well, but not as much as February This is a great time to find deals at yard sales (which we will discuss later) but its a really good time to buy shoes. Shoe places live for August. Again…schools starting back up, SOME people are beginning to think about Christmas, and a season change is around the corner.

Be smart about your shopping. Shop all year.

Let’s look at this example…

If you were going to spend $50 on a family member for Christmas and wait until December…you would spend $50. IF you were going to spend $50 on a family member and try to shop during the year and get bargains then one of two things would happen.. You would actually spend $50 only buy a TON more stuff. OR, you would realize after buying 3 things that you had only spend $32 and had bought more than you EVER could have bought at full price.

Its not rocket science…its discipline and planning. So…give it a shot. You got so much to gain, or a ton to lose

RAMSEY to the rescue!

Yes, my love-hate relationship with Dave Ramsey is NO secret to the world. The man makes perfect sense…and makes me crazy at the same time. I guess I am quirky like that. If you haven’t read any of his books or googled him then I suggest you do that. He is pretty much a stickler…he doesn’t bend much. You do what he says, when he says it, and life will be grand…well, I just don’t see it that way. I take what he says and make it my own which probably why I am not living debt free just yet.

The first to being super cool like Dave Ramsey is to save up $1,000 in an emergency fund. Easier said than done… I have the attention span of a 4 year old. I get bored easy. I get excited about tackling something and then get over it PRETTY darn quick. SO… I knew this was a step I was going to have to do and FAST! Otherwise I would lose interest in the whole thing and give up and go shop with whatever money I had saved. My point is…this has to be done fast!!!

EVERYONE says “Its easy to save money if you actually HAVE money.” I said it too. Here’s the deal though…you DO have it. I began writing down every single dime I spent in a month. WOW, I must be rich b/c I SURE did spend a lot of money on random stuff. I gave that up for 3 months. I didn’t stop and get a coke, (unless of course I found change in the trunk of my car or in a seat cushion somewhere), didn’t rent a movie unless I had a free coupon code, didn’t get grab lunch anywhere, didn’t go “looking” at the mall (we ALL know how that ends up)… I basically didn’t do anything. Sounds rather boring right? NOPE! WRONG! I had some free coupon codes to rent movies off of Dish, I brought out my SATC collection and started over at Season 1. We went to the park, went shootin’ guns, cleaned and organized my house, blogged, cooked more meals at home…honestly I didn’t even miss those things I just KNEW I couldn’t give up. And in 3 months I have EXACTLY $1,000 in my savings account. Didn’t even take long. I went to Walmart with a LIST and bought ONLY those things. I had a yard sale and put the money in savings, paid my bills and didn’t keep any fun money out. But MY OH MY how it paid off.

$1000 isn’t a lot of money to most people….but to me it seemed like the IMPOSSIBLE task. And I have completed it…

But with every prize comes a punishment… I need a part for my car. Something about a “wheel bearing” or “Ball bearing”… I dunno. All I heard was “thats gonna run you $261.47.” Well, Dave Ramsey would say “Duh Cara. thats why you saved $1,000. Its for emergencies and this qualifies.” BUT… I asked the car fixer guy just how long before it HAD to be repaired. He told me I had a month or so on it. So… now that my money is saved in my emergency fund I am NOW saving for my car repair and I am only 1 paycheck away from having the money to pay CASH for this part that I need. I’m not excited to see that cash in my envelope stash and know that I will have NOTHING awesome to show for it. I’d MUCH rather finish Christmas shopping, or plan a weekend get away with Jere and Ava. Its funny because the DAY before I found out about my car needing repaired I had been looking up weekend prices in Eureka Springs. For 2 nights at a bed and breakfast in Eureka would have been $281. Grrr… talk about dissapointing. However, my emergency fund will not be used on that weekend get away.

Its life. Everythings expensive. I am always a day later and a dollar short…but I am trying. Thats all I can do.

So…moral of today’s lesson would be…??? Start saving. honestly, I am so pumped to see that money in my savings account. Like, I DID that. I worked hard, was patient and used restraint by not going to the mall. Now THATS a reason to smile.

The adventure of the consignment shop...

Thanks to those who emailed me, text and called… appreciate it!! So for that reason alone… I am starting off with consignment shops!

If it weren’t for consignment shops, me and Ava would be wearing the SAME clothes all the time. I’m not kiddin’…my budget doesn’t allow me to spend a ton of money on clothes. In FACT, my budget barely offers any room for clothes! So… I have done what seems like the most logical thing to do…go to consignment shops. I’m not talking about walking into a dirty store where the clothes smell like an old persons attic, I am talking about walking into a clean, crisp, nice store with lots of options for you and the kiddos. Sorry guys, for some reason mens departments at consignment shops are either 1.full of a terrible selection, or 2. non existent. (I think this is because men don’t let go of things…they spend more for them, they don’t go out of style, and they wear them til they are worn and ratty.) BUT for moms and kids consignment shops can be like Christmas EVERY single day.

Case and point…today I took a huge load of mine and Ava’s clothes to The Walk In Closet. (Perfect place here in Hot Springs). I dropped off enough clothes that when they all sell I will more than likely have about $46-50 dollars to use there. Now, you CAN get cash back, but I use this as my savings account for clothes. I always have at least a little bit of money there waiting on me, so if we need something, I go digging out at the Walk In Closet for it. Anyway, I dropped off all of these clothes today and took a gander through the kids size 5 section. HOLY COW! I bought Ava 2 pairs of jeans (1 from Gap and 1 from Childrens place which STILL had the tags on them), 2 fleece sets that included the pants, a shirt AND a jacket, a halloween shirt that was too cute, a flanel top for Ava that pretty much will make her look like a rockstar, and a pair of pj’s. So… I went to check out and I had 17 dollars left on credit. And then I paid out of pocket $20. SO… I walked out the door with $37 bucks worth of clothes for Ava but the REAL truth is that if I had gone to those places where these clothes are from, I actually walked out with $100 dollars worth of clothes that i NEVER could have bought her at regular prices.

Last month I was in there dropping off clothes of Ava’s to be consigned, and I bought her a pair of New Balance tennis shoes that looked BRAND new for $9.00. They are even a half size bigger so I already have her spring tennis shoes. And if you have a 5 year old, you understand why I am already assuming her current shoes will be SHOT by spring.

So its like this… Ava dresses adoreable, if I do say so myself. She has a closet full of clothes, but luckily I have gotten rid of the clothes that don’t fit, or she doesn’t like, or that she doesn’t ever wear. Yes, I spent money today on Ava’s clothes but she NEEDED them.

It’s crucial to remember this… it’s not a bargain if you DONT NEED IT!

THE bargain hunting mommy

Well ladies and gents…its true. I AM THE bargain hunting mommy. Not many people would argue with me, but some peeps just like to argue so they may attempt to. Let it be said that I pride myself on being this bargin hunting mommy. From Christmas presents, to making budget cuts, I am ALWAYS the one that looks for the cheaper, money saving way out. I wish I knew where to start. I’d love to help people save money, but the truth is that some people don’t want to. OR maybe its that they don’t have to. I HAVE to and I WANT to so its hard for me to see it any other way. BUT if you are one of those few people that don’t mind throwing money away then this blog probably isn’t for you to read unless its for you to critcize.
I have lots of tricks to save money. Or even in some cases make you FEEL like you have more money. I create my monthly budget so that it ALWAYS feels like I have some cush room, even if I don’t. I know that makes no sense, but we will get to that.
I need tips on what you guys want me to write about. Call me, text me, comment, whatever. Do you want to save money on your electricity bill? Do you need help saving money to cell service? Are you spending a fortune on clothes? What about Christmas…that ALWAYS gets people in a frenzy. What if I told you that if your family has 13 people in it, I could get everyone a minimum of 2 presents a piece and you would NOT spend over $100? Would THAT make you a believer?!
So… lemme know what you want me to blog about and I will do it. I have lots of tricks up these big sleeves.
Done for now…go find a dime, put it in your pocket, and imagine how good it would feel if that were a $100 dollar bill?