Five Quick Money-Saving Resources

This post contains referral links indicated by an asterisk*. If you sign up through our links, not only do you save money, but you support our Christian music mission and help spread the Gospel through song. You also help educate my kids, which is really swell of you. You can also support us by doing your Christmas shopping through our Amazon*, Dayspring*, Walmart*, or Christian Book* links. Thank you so much!

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)

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




Your Kids Can Bowl Free All Summer

Who doesn’t love bowling?! Well, I don’t. I mean I like it. It’s fun and all. But love it? Not really.

But if you love or even just like bowling, here’s a great offer for you while the kids are home from school for the summer.

It’s fun and it’s free.

It’s called Kids Bowl Free.

Free Bowling ALL Summer - includes a coupon for adults to bowl, too! Hurry!

Here’s the deal:

Bowling ButtonSign up at the official Kids Bowl Free websiteYou will be directed to select the alley of your choice where you can sign up as many as six children per functioning email address.

Bowling Button

You will receive a voucher via email every week for two free games a day for each child you enroll. Print it and go bowl.

Bowling ButtonIf you want the whole family to bowl, up to four adults can join all summer long with a family pass for $24.95. If you jump on this pass by midnight on Father’s Day and use the code dad15, you get 15% off. Cool beans.

Bowling ButtonMost centers still require shoe rental fees, so check out the site to see what your local center’s rules are. Or buy your own. (Amazon affiliate link. Check out the plaid bowlers. If I had those, my bowl-o-meter might go from like to love!)

Simple. Fun. Free-ish. Go do it.

So what’s in it for me? This is not an affiliate program, so…nothing…unless you buy those sweet plaid bowling shoes from Amazon. I just thought your kids might like some simple, affordable, active, screen-free fun…at a place with a snack bar.

All this talk about bowling makes me want pizza.

I know. Random.

Do you know of any other free family activities for the summer? Please share!


Free Online Quilting Class and How To Know If You Should Take on a New Project

I have wanted to quilt for…well, if I tell you for how long, you’ll probably do the math and figure out how old I am, and the unwritten, unbreakable code of illogical female behavior states that 39-year-old women must under no circumstances reveal their ages, so let’s just say I’ve wanted to quilt for a long time, and so have my girls. It’s finally time to begin quilting!

Free Online Quilting Class
Learning to use a sewing machine at a young age...and yes, it does work better with your tongue out.

Since I am obviously about returning to the basics, simplifying, and decluttering, you may be wondering why I have decided to take on something new, which leads to an interesting question.

How does a person know if adding a project such as quilting (or crocheting or scrapbooking or making jewelry or refinishing furniture or…) in this season of life is appropriate? Ask yourself these questions, and if you have solid, realistic answers, you pass!

How to Know If You Should Take on a New Project

Free Online Quilting Class

Have you decluttered all nonessential expectations, projects, and clutter? If you’re barely keeping your head above water, now is not the time to add more weight. There will be a time…it just isn’t now. Personally, I have whittled my life queue down to the basics and can take on one project with my children.  (One project, not 100.)


Free Online Quilting Class

Will you be sacrificing family time or personal sanity?  Because we incorporate handicrafts into our schooling, quilting will fit neatly. My older children can learn with me, while the younger set can work on related skills their siblings have already mastered. Plus, I always find a way for littles to help and learn.


Free Online Quilting Class

Is it realistic within your current skill set? This is a simple quilting class and a simple learning platform. In our case, our sewing skills are such that advancing to quilting is a logical next step, as opposed to trying to take on a large project without the previous ability to thread a needle or a machine.  My four older children know how to sew and have tackled smaller projects, so all of us working together on one quilt—no problem!


Free Online Quilting Class

Is this a beneficial use of your time?  In other words, is it better than what you would otherwise be pursuing? Regarding quilting, it’s never a waste of time to teach children a life skill.  Plus I’m cold, so making a big warm blanket is ideal!


Free Online Quilting ClassDoes it fit your budget, location, and schedule?  Our quilting lessons are free, online, and at our convenience.  The materials are also free, since we have scraps and fabric at our disposal from all those unfinished projects from my previous life as The Complicated Home Clutterer (The Simple Homemaker’s arch-nemesis).


What?!  Free?!!  You betcha!  Here’s the info:

Free Online Quilting Class

Craftsy, the largest online crafting community (at least that I’m aware of) has a free online block of the month quilting class.  The classes can be viewed at your convenience, with two blocks taught per month for ten months.  The last two months are dedicated to putting the quilt together, so you’re not stuck with what would essentially amount to 20 placemats.  Amy, the instructor (isn’t she cute?!) is fantastic and available for questions, and the price (free) is perfect!

Click here to check out the free quilting class!

Cheap Craft Supplies and Classes

Craftsy also sells discounted craft supplies…I mean seriously discounted.  If you have an Etsy or other business, want your quilt to look exactly like the Craftsy instructor’s, or simply love to knit, make jewelry, sew, (insert your favorite craft here), check out Craftsy’s online prices for fat quarters, organic yarn, and more.  Sign up to be notified of the deal of the day, or just browse. (I don’t receive a commission for what you buy, just so you know.)

There are also numerous other beginner, intermediate, and advanced online classes that Craftsy offers, each taught by professionals in the field. What?! No, you’re not too old! Our friend Jan the Pepper Jam Lady just learned how to do glass fusing and now sells her work…and she’s in her 80s!

See what I’m talking about by clicking here.

Cheap and Free Patterns

Craftsy’s newest addition is a pattern marketplace through which pattern designers can sell their patterns.  Because Craftsy does not charge the designers to market their patterns, prices are ridiculously low and sometimes free.  I like free.

Click here to check it out.

Joining Craftsy is free, too.

If your life is decluttered enough that you can comfortably add a class or project, if you need a more affordable source for craft supplies, or if you simply want to join a crafting community,  Craftsy is calling your name. Seriously, I can hear it.

If your life is cluttered, hectic, and overscheduled, put down your mouse and walk away. No, better yet, run!

Do you craft?