Five Quick Money-Saving Resources

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This week in Twelve Weeks of a Simple Christmas we’re talking about budgeting for Christmas. There are three ways to make your budget work with your finances.

  1. Make more money.
  2. Buy less.
  3. Save money on what you buy.

Normally I’m all about number 2, which you’ll see in next week’s posts, but today I’m sharing my go-to Christmas shopping tips based on numbers 1 and 3.

I have a few quick resources that will help you save money buying what you were going to buy anyway or help you earn money doing what you were going to do anyway. Here goes:

Five Quick Money-Saving Resources (for Christmas and beyond)

Rebate sites for online shopping.

There are many, but the two I have been on for the last umpteen gazillion years (that’s an exaggeration) are Ebates* and Mr.Rebates*. Both serve me well.

Here’s how they work:

  1. Sign up at Ebates* and/or Mr.Rebates* (and get their current bonus).
  2. Before you head to, say, Toys R Us online, go to a rebate site (I go to both to see which has the biggest cash back).
  3. Click through the link on the rebate site. It will take you to the shopping site.
  4. If the rebate site offers coupon codes, snag them.
  5. Shop as usual.
  6. Find a nice little rebate notice in your email telling you how much you get back. Cash it out at Christmas. You won’t get rich, but it does help fill a stocking or two.
  7. Share your referral link with your friends. If they sign up through your link, you each get a percentage back from their shopping.

Understand that the rebate site you use needs to be your most recent access to the site. In other words, if I go to Toys R Us from Mr. Rebates, then leave TRU and go back to it from, say, Retail-Me-Not (see below), I will not get my rebate. Retail-Me-Not will. Basically, just stay on task and on site and you’re good.

Search engine rewards.

The one I use is Swagbucks*. My hubby claims it’s not as good as Google, but it works fine for me. If it’s a deep research project I’m working on, I switch to Google…because, my hubby, you know.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Sign up at Swagbucks*.
  2. Search as usual through the site; load their search bar on your computer to make this easy.
  3. Earn points called SB for, oh, about every fifth search. You can also do other things, like watch videos and take surveys for rewards, but my time is worth more than my SB, so I don’t usually do this. You can also shop through Swagbucks just like a rebate site, but I prefer the rebate sites…they’re prettier.
  4. Send your friends your link, because you earn SB for the their searches as well.
  5. Cash out rewards. I always cash out points for a $5 Amazon gift card. It usually provides me about $30 each Christmas, which isn’t enough to buy the Taj Mahal, but seriously people, that’s a tomb, and where would I put it anyway?

Coupon Codes

Never shop without a coupon code! Mr. Rebates and Ebates often have coupon codes, but I also check Retail-Me-Not. Be aware that if you click through a site from Retail-Me-Not, they receive a rebate from the site.

How it works:

  1. Go there.
  2. Search for a store.
  3. Browse and select a coupon code.
  4. Click through the site and go shopping or grab the code and go back to your favorite rebate site and go shopping. (I like to thank them for their hard work by clicking through their link when they find me a nice juicy coupon code.)
  5. Insert the code at check-out. Sometimes the code is automatically inserted, but always check.

Walmart Price Match and Savings Catcher

You already know that Walmart matches prices, so get busy and get matching. The problem is, you are busy without the matching. Since they introduced their Savings Catcher program, price matching is a little easier (although not necessarily as effective).

Here’s what you do:

  1. Shop at Walmart.
  2. Sign up for a Savings Catcher account at*.
  3. Use your smartphone to scan the bar code or QR code at the bottom of your receipt. If you don’t have a smartphone, log onto your computer and type it in.
  4. In about three days, they’ll let you know whose prices won. Cash out. I save all my “winnings” and cash out when it’s time to do some Christmas shopping.

That’s all I’ve got for you today, but I know you have something up your sleeve.

I’d love to hear your secret little shopping tips! Share in the comments.

Photo Credit: David Porter (Text and screen mine)

Save Money on Groceries and Earn $5

Save money on groceries without clipping coupons--plus earn $5 cash back! Hurry--limited time cash-back promo!

In a family our size, one of the best contributions I can make to the finances is winning the lottery or coming into a large inheritance, but since I don’t have the kind of luck that wins lotteries, and I’m not in too many wills, neither one is working for us. The second best thing I can do is cut back on our spending. Our biggest area of spending is groceries–no surprise there.

I don’t clip too many coupons these days, because I like to sleep, but I do use rebate sites. One of my favorites is Checkout 51.

Here’s how Checkout 51 works:

  1. Go shopping. (This is the hardest part.)
  2. Upload your receipt by snapping a picture of it.
  3. Click on the products you bought.
  4. Watch the savings rack up.

That’s it–it’s SUPER simple. It’s especially simple for me because my 10-year-old son has designated himself Family Savings Manager, and he uploads the receipts for me.

Checkout 51 is having a special right now. If you sign up through this link and upload a receipt within the next two weeks, you and I each get $5. That means you get your $5 and I get mine–we don’t have to split it.

You’re not going to be able to retire off your Checkout 51 earnings, but it’s a better life approach than buying lottery tickets.





How to Find Pick-Your-Own Farms in Your Area

How to Find Pick-Your-Own Farms in Your Area

Summer is upon us. It happens every year. I’m not sure why I’m surprised.

One of the best parts of summer in my hungry humble opinion is the availability of fresh produce. Fresh blows the roots off anything you can find in the grocery store.

I’ve been shocked to learn that my suspicious nature has been proven correct at farmers’ markets–some venders are receiving supplies from the same places as the grocery stores. Say wha?! That’s what I read. While the farmers’ markets are still a great option, because you can find any number of legit, hard-working farmers peddling their wares, here’s another option for you:

Pick-your-own farms.

Pick your own farms are abundant throughout the country…except maybe the desert. Here’s what I love about pick-your-owns:

  • You know exactly how fresh the food is.
  • You know exactly where the food came from, right down to the stem on the plant in the row in the field.
  • The prices are almost always significantly lower than anything you’ll find in the grocery stores, and almost always cheaper than the farmers’ markets as well.
  • It is educational. Your kids get out of the house, away from the city, and out onto the land to see where food really comes from.
  • It smells good–the dirt I mean, and the strawberries, and everything else. Maybe it’s because I grew up on a farm, but I love the smell of rich dirt.
  • Your kids can get dirty. Your kids should get dirty. Your kids need to get good and dirty as often as possible. It’s good for their immune systems. It’s good for their kid-ness. It’s just plain good for them to be outside getting sun and fresh air and, yes, dirt, without anyone telling them not to muddy their $65 shoes. Get the $12 Walmart shoes and the $2 thrift store jeans and let the kids get dirty for the love of all things real!
  • Your children are far more likely to try something new if they had a hand in it somehow. That hand can be as simple as selecting it at the grocery store, but the stakes are upped even more if they planted it or picked it themselves.
  • It counts as exercise! Woo hoo! Squats for strawberries, toe raises for cherries and apples.
  • The farmers are right there–you can ask them what goes on their plants and if they’re in bed with MonSatan MonSanto.
  • It’s wholesome family fun. Whee!

Those dirt comments totally made you want to find a pick-your-own farm near you, didn’t they? Good! Check out this website:

It has to be one of the worst looking sites I’ve run across in quite some time. It totally needs a rehab. I hate it. At the same time, I love it! It shares PYO (I got tired of writing pick-your-own) farms all over the country, and you can search by state and county. Each farm has a write-up and places to go for additional information. It rocks in its out-dated ugliness. Go check it out.

You can also run a quick search of your own region on Google or (my favorite search engine, since it helps me pay for Christmas presents just by searching) Swagbucks {affiliate link}. Just type in “Pick your own farms in Smyrna, Tennessee”…or wherever you live, since I’m pretty sure you don’t all live in Smyrna–nice place though.

Happy picking! I’ll see you in the fields!

What is your experience with pick-your-own farms?

How to Find Pick-Your-Own Farms in Your Area




10 Tips for Sticking to Your Budget at Christmas

10 Tips for Sticking to Your Budget at Christmas

Christmas is just around the corner. While your kids are enjoying sweet dreams of stuffed stockings and presents under the tree, you’re suffering through nightmares about your budget shattering like Humpty Dumpty on an off day. It’s a legitimate fear. Through some strange twist of cosmic irony, people who are religiously responsible with their finances eleven months out of the year, often ditch reason and overspend when Christmas temptations roll around.

Not this year!

Today I’m over at Stacy Makes Cents sharing ten money-saving principles for the holidays (and all those other days) to help ward off holiday-induced budgetary dementia and financial frazzle.

Pop on over to Stacy Makes Cents to read more.

When a Good Deal Isn’t

We’ve all been there. It’s a deal too good to pass up. Sure, you don’t neeeeeed another jacket/outfit/book/purse/project/cat/boardgame/ebook, but it’s just so functional/chic/educational/cute/darling/pathetic/fun/helpful that it’s too good to pass up.

Is it really?

How do you know if something is really too good to pass up? The following seven introspective questions will help you decide that for yourself.

As an example I will use the current Ultimate Bundle, which is all the rage on the blogosphere. How do you know if it’s worth it to spend $29.97 on $1034 worth of ebooks and bonuses? Wowzers, Lady, that sounds too good to pass up. I know…but is it really?

When A Good Deal Isn't - 7 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Buying Anything (Even the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle)

To find out if you should jump on a good deal or tell it to pound sand, ask yourself these seven questions:

1. Will you use it?

If you have 50 unread ebooks waiting around for you, and you really don’t read ebooks or haven’t tapped in to the last three amazing offers you jumped on, what makes you think this one will be any better? Be honest with yourself. (I bought because I can garner further tips to share with you and my children, and because some will make great gifts.)

2. Will it be clutter?

Is there a place for what you want to buy? Yes, the ebooks are electronic and won’t take up any actual shelf space, but they can become electronic clutter. If you are not going to use them or give them away, they will sit on your device or “cloud” taking up space. (I will explain how to organize ebooks in an upcoming post.)

3. Is it in the budget?

If you’re dipping into the food budget for money to spend on the next great deal, you should shell out $5 for From Debtor to Better and learn how to manage your money. Anything that causes you to overspend is not a good deal, even if it’s “only” 31 cents a book.

4. Can you make money off of it or use it as a gift…and will you?

If you intend to give away many of the ebooks for wedding showers, baby showers, Mother’s Day, birthdays, or Christmas, that’s great! If you want to use them as giveaways on your blog or even sell them, that’s terrific. BUT–and that’s a big but–will you? You know your track record. Are your somedays piling up so high that it would take your great grandchildren to finish up the list? If so, don’t add another someday to the pile.

5. Do you need it?

I’m not saying you’re not allowed to buy anything except oxygen, a couple hydrogens, and some food. But ask yourself if each purchase will benefit your family in both the short term and the long run. In the case of the ebook bundle, if you are actively trying to learn to be a healthier mama or a better home manager, this is a fantastic purchase. If you don’t give a rat’s patootie about homemaking, why are you even reading my blog?

6. Will it trump your family?

Don’t bring anything into your life that will rob your family of time together, space, and money. In the case of the ultimate ebook collection, if you are a disciplined reader and read for half an hour in the morning and at night while the kids are in bed, great! If you want it as a research resource for when you need it in the future, that’s super savvy of you! Go for it! If you find yourself neglecting your duties and family while staring at your Kindle, not so great.

7. Do you have one just like it?

How many ebooks about losing weight, eating real foods, or surviving pregnancy do you need? How many church dresses does your preschooler need? How many pairs of shoes do you need? How many purses do you need? How many toys does your dog need? How much stuff do you need? Get it? Good.

But, Christy, it’s just too good to pass up.

Is it more important to you to spend money on yet another _______, and have to store another ________, and have to take care of another ________, than to save that space, money, and time for your family?

I don’t intend to make you feel guilty every time you spend money, but you should be aware and conscientious. Every time money goes out of your home and stuff comes into your home because of a deal too good to pass up, you are increasing the amount of time your spouse or you spend working to earn the money, and increasing the amount of time you or your spouse spends cleaning, maintaining, storing, or otherwise managing more stuff.

If you don’t need it, have no space for it, can’t afford it, don’t have time to manage it, won’t use, or it will distract you, than it is not a good deal. Period.

In the case of the ultimate ebook collection, I earn a nice commission off every purchase, money I use to fund my homeschool. Naturally, I like it when someone buys through my link, ‘cuz that means I can buy math books! BUT–and that’s an even bigger but than the last one--I don’t want anyone buying just because it’s a good deal, because if you don’t have the space, time, or money, then a good deal simply isn’t. Plus spending money on something that will only result in physical (or electronic) clutter and financial complexity goes against everything I stand for here at The Simple Homemaker!

So…if you’ve read this and with a good conscience can buy that jacket/outfit/book/purse/project/ cat/boardgame or super awesome ebook collection, then go for it! (And do use my ebook collection link if you don’t mind.) But if not, please walk away and be content with what you have, because chances are you have enough. After all, to quote Mary Poppins, who is practically perfect in every way and therefore must know, “Enough is as good as a feast.”