My Favorite New Way to Bible Study – Verse Mapping!

Over the past month, after discovering it late in December, I have been verse mapping. I even made pursuing God my main New Year’s Resolution this year! My word for the New Year is sort of two words: simplify/ pursue. I plan to simplify my life and use social media less and pursue God and family time more! ☺️☺️

I get up early nearly every morning and study a verse or two from the Bible. I pick it apart and then write my thoughts down about the verses. Almost like a miniature personal Bible devotional!

And I am loving this personal quiet time with God!

I am learning so much about the Bible and about God and what He desires of us. I am learning about His character and grace. How to rely on Him. How to ask Him to change me (in faith and without doubting!).

Since I love this simple way to study so much, I decided to share it with you!

You don’t have to study as deeply as I do, though I recommend it. It takes me around an hour or so to study how deeply I study but I know that’s not for everyone in every season. Some days even I can’t study that deeply. And I’m sure there will be days in the future where that will be impossible some days (especially with a baby on the way). So I’ll give myself grace and simply do other kinds of Bible study. The important thing is to get into God’s Word every day.

So how do I love to study God’s Word now? Simply click the link below to receive a printable on how!

https://files.acrobat.com/a/preview/f207b4fe-afcb-40db-8f48-3c6cafd9bac5

If you try out this method, please share your thoughts and experience in the comments below! And before you go, here are a few of my pages from this past month!

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Christmas 2017 – The Birth Story of Jesus Christ

This is it. This is what the prophets and Israelites had been waiting for. The birth of their Savior. Jesus was born to a young woman, a virgin, in a smelly little stable in a crowded city on a night that changed the world. His birth is what we celebrate during this season.

Jesus, tiny and mighty, the holy Son of God, born as a baby to a lost and dying world had finally come.

Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin, betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. — Luke 1:26-27 NKJV

Luke ch1 vs28 NKJV.2

A young unmarried woman was chosen to bear the Savior of the world. And as we all know and can imagine, she was troubled by the angel and his greeting but he assured her that she had found favor with God. (Luke 1:30 NKJV)

He told her of the greatness of the Child she would bear and answered her obvious question of how could she have a child if she was a virgin.

And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”

Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” (Luke 1:31-34 NKJV)

Luke ch1 vs35 NKJV.2

And humble and faithful Mary believed the angel of the Lord.

Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. (Luke 1:38 NKJV)

But Joseph, her betrothed, didn’t believe her. It took an angel visiting him in a dream for him to believe.

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife,  for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.” (Matt. 1:18-21 NKJV)

Matthew ch1 vs22-23 NKJV.2

So he obeyed the angel and took young Mary as his wife.

And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.

Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. (Luke 2:1-5 NKJV)

I feel like that while this was a difficult journey and they most likely missed their family, they were glad to leave the judgemental stares and whispers going on around them. A man married a young woman who was pregnant already.

Luke ch2 vs6-7 NKJV.2

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. (Luke 2:8-9 NKJV)

I mean, can you imagine?? When the solar eclipse covered most of North America earlier this year, everyone went crazy with the minute or two or darkness during the day. But here, the flip-side happened. In the middle of the night, it was suddenly so bright. God’s beautiful glory was shown to a group of dirty shepherds. And you know they had to be dirty if they were living out in the fields!

But that’s really what happened right? The infinitely majestic glory of God came down to earth to us dirty sinners. In the form of a tiny infant, God fulfilled His promise to save us all! Glory to God indeed!

Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:10-12 NKJV)

Luke ch2 vs13-14 NKJV (2)

Without hesitation, as soon as the angels were gone, the shepherds hurried to Bethlehem to see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known (Luke 2:15 NKJV).

And they found Him. They found their King and they spread the knowledge far and wide. Everyone marveled at the things the shepherds told them. But sweet and humble Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. (Luke 2:19 NKJV)

She thought on the things that had happened to her and most likely wondered what the future would bring her and her sweet and most innocent Child.

Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.” (Luke 2:20 NKJV)

And the brightness of God’s glory didn’t completely disappear that night. Instead a star shone in the sky and it led a group of wise men from far in the East to bow down and worship the King of the world. For roughly 2 years, a star hung over where Jesus lived! I wonder what the people of Bethlehem thought of that. Do you think they marveled at it for a while and then got used to the glory? They had to have forgotten that special night because Jerusalem was troubled at the thought of a King being born. So the news could not have traveled very far, despite the constant reminder in the sky every night.

That is something we need to watch out for. We can get so used to moving through the motions and reading our Bible and going to church that we get used to the glory God sent down to us from Heaven. This Christmas season, let’s be careful to not forget what Jesus did for us when He was born that wonderful night. Don’t get used to the glory. Be like the wise men and rejoice with exceedingly great joy (Matt. 2:10 NKJV) at the Star in our lives that is Jesus.

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”

When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.

So they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet: (Matt. 2:1-5 NKJV)

Matthew ch2 vs6 NKJV (2)

 

Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.”

When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. (Matt. 2:7-9 NKJV)

Matthew ch2 vs10-11 NKJV (2)

They immediately fell down and worshiped Him when they saw Jesus. This tiny Child was the King of the world and they knew it, though His people did not. These star gazing wise men from the East had found the Savior of the world and presented Him with the most costly gifts they had. I doubt He wanted them then and truthfully does not want our costly gifts. He wants us. He wants our hearts full of love and obedience to Him. He wants us to follow after Him with everything we have. He wants us to go out like the shepherds did and share the news of His birth, life and death on a cross. The news that He came to save us all.

During this season, don’t get used to the glory of Jesus and the wonder you felt when you were first saved. Remember it and share it with this dying world so that they too may come to the foot of the cross and worship the King.

Christmas 2017 – The Prophecies of Jesus Christ

This week, I’m going to share about the prophecies of Jesus’ birth. The first prophecy is in Genesis chapter 3, verses 14 and 15:

Genesis ch3 vs14-15 NKJV.2

Soon after the Fall, God promised Jesus would come to help and save us . He promised that Satan would be punished by Jesus, crushed by Him. Through the descendants of Adam and eventually Abram, Jesus is promised to be born.

‘Instead, he will send you a prophet like me from among your own people, and you are to obey him. 

“On the day that you were gathered at Mount Sinai, you begged not to hear the Lord speak again or to see his fiery presence any more, because you were afraid you would die. So the Lord said to me,

‘They have made a wise request. I will send them a prophet like you from among their own people; I will tell him what to say, and he will tell the people everything I command. He will speak in my name, and I will punish anyone who refuses to obey him.’ (Deuteronomy 18:15-19 NKJV)

Here, Moses predicts Jesus’ coming and tells the Hebrews about Him and what He will be like. How He will be from among them, that He will tell people what God tells Him to say and speak in His Name. He also tells them how Jesus will punish the non-believers. Punishment is not something that is normally thought about at Christmastime. His Birth is celebrated during this time because He finally came to save us.

‘O Lord, I will always sing of your constant love; I will proclaim your faithfulness forever. I know that your love will last for all time, that your faithfulness is as permanent as the sky. You said, “I have made a covenant with the man I chose; I have promised my servant David, ‘A descendant of yours will always be king; I will preserve your dynasty forever.’” ‘ (Psalm 89:3-4 NKJV)

David was promised to always have a king on the throne. I imagine he believed it would always be an earthly kingdom. But Jesus is King over all instead of just Israel and Judah. And His forever reign started one night in Bethlehem…

Isaiah ch7 vs14 NKJV.2

Immanuel. God with us. God came down in human form, taking the likeness of a tiny newborn, and He came to be with us. He lived among us and died for us. So that we could one day come to be with Him in Heaven.

One of the most remembered sections of the Bible that tells about Jesus’ coming is Isaiah 9:6-7 NKJV:  

‘A child is born to us! A son is given to us! And he will be our ruler. He will be called,

“Wonderful Counselor,” 

“Mighty God,”

“Eternal Father,”

“Prince of Peace.” 

His royal power will continue to grow; his kingdom will always be at peace. He will rule as King David’s successor, basing his power on right and justice, from now until the end of time. The Lord Almighty is determined to do all this.’

Through exiles and disobedience, a new King rose from the stump that was the line of David.

 The royal line of David is like a tree that has been cut down; but just as new branches sprout from a stump, so a new king will arise from among David’s descendants. (Isaiah 11:1-10 NKJV)

The spirit of the Lord will give him wisdom and the knowledge and skill to rule his people.

He will know the Lord’s will and honor him, and find pleasure in obeying him.

He will not judge by appearance or hearsay; he will judge the poor fairly and defend the rights of the helpless.

At his command the people will be punished, and evil persons will die.

He will rule his people with justice and integrity.

Wolves and sheep will live together in peace, and leopards will lie down with young goats.

Calves and lion cubs will feed together, and little children will take care of them.

Cows and bears will eat together, and their calves and cubs will lie down in peace.

Lions will eat straw as cattle do.

Even a baby will not be harmed if it plays near a poisonous snake.

On Zion, God’s sacred hill, there will be nothing harmful or evil.

The land will be as full of knowledge of the Lord as the seas are full of water. 

A day is coming when the new king from the royal line of David will be a symbol to the nations. They will gather in his royal city and give him honor.

When Jesus comes back, those who were saved through His death on the cross will go with Him to heaven, where He will rule forevermore in peace and justice. Nothing will harm us anymore and there will be no more evil as we give honor to our King!

 

Isaiah ch40 vs3-5 NKJV.2

 

The voice crying out was John, proclaiming the coming of our Lord and Savior. While John wasn’t present at Jesus’ birth because he was just an infant himself, he was still destined to lead Israel to Jesus.

He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” (Luke 1:17 NKJV)

Jesus was coming soon. And John was going to prepare God’s people for His arrival. One day, Jesus will come back. What are you doing to prepare for His return?

Money Saving Mini-Series: Discount Food Stores

Money Saving Mini-Series 2017

The final post I have for this mini-series is on discount food stores. I have to say that I am very thankful that I have some of these in my area. They don’t accept coupons but the prices there are low enough that it isn’t really necessary. One is Deal Mart and it’s almost a chain around here. There are several in the surrounding cities. However, we didn’t go to Deal Mart this month. Instead we went to Bargains Food Outlet.

Bargains is much bigger, close to a large Wal-Mart in size. They have pallets of food stacked up in addition to the aisles you see in normal stores.

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Pallets of canned goods (Sorry that it’s blurry!)

When we are low on funds, we like to shop here or Deal Mart first because of their low prices. Not all of their goods are cheapest however. Near me, the milk at Aldi is under $2 while at Bargains it was over $2. You just have to become familiar with the stores and their prices around you to help you save extra money.

The reason their prices are so low is because they have damaged and sometimes expired goods. I read once online that the expiration date is more for the stores to know when to swap something out. Just be careful when buying expired and damaged goods, like this corn. I saw worse ones but didn’t want to step in front of someone looking at a shelf to take a pic. 😉

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Bargains_3 A couple damaged products. Not all of the goods are damaged as you can see. Some are fine. Sorry for the 2nd blurry one. I thought it had taken it fine so I started walking. 😀

One of the best things about these stores is taking advantage of some damage. Like the boxed rice is fine as long as it doesn’t have any holes. Holes in something could let bugs in so we avoid those. Food that isn’t pretty enough to make it to the big box stores like Wal-Mart are sold cheaper here.

On a side note, even Wal-Mart lowers their prices for their ‘ugly’ goods. Hubby and  I have found messed up cakes and other baked goods for cheap because the icing was ruined or it was about to go out of date. Like on the ‘We Made Too Much!’ cart. Or even in the bakery itself, which is where we found this cake.

Bargains_Cake_
Just because it isn’t pretty doesn’t mean it won’t be delicious! Yum!!

One of the best deals hubby likes at Bargains is their chicken tenders. They are larger than nuggets but not as big as regular chicken tenders but for a 10 lb box, you pay only $6 or $7!! Depending on their prices when we go. Since we don’t have a deep freezer, it takes up a lot of room in our little side by side fridge freezer so we don’t get it very often. They have plenty of other meat deals in boxes like this and while there is a sign  up preventing us from opening the boxes (by law apparently) that also means no one else has messed with what we want to buy. 😉

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Hubby loves their chicken tenders!!

Here is a few more things we got at Bargains besides a box of chicken. Some of the items are ‘expired’ of course but they will be eaten up fairly quickly.

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Some cheese crackers for hubby to take to work. Brand name and 2/$1!
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Haven’t tried these yet but they look yummy!

Bargains_7

The produce there isn’t the best but hubby found a decent bunch of bananas there that were too bruised on the bottom to eat alone but they made some delicious and filling muffins!

Bargains_8
Hubby loves this cereal!

As you can see, this cereal was expired technically, but we bought strawberry and blueberry. I haven’t had any from this box but the blueberry didn’t taste stale at all.

We also found some puffs for a good price! Now, I don’t normally buy baby stuff there because the pouches could be hiding mold. I have seen too many stories online of moldy pouches to wear I check each one before I give it to my daughter. But these puffs were fine. I shook them to make sure they weren’t stale and clumped together and these have a clear plastic wrap on the inside I found later that will help me to decide whether to buy them again or not. But so far they look fine and she loves them!

If you have a discount food store near you, then I recommend checking it out! Hopefully it will help you as much as it has helped us!

Did you enjoy this mini-series? Learn anything new? If you have anything to add, please share it in the comments section below!!

Money Saving Mini-Series: Meal Planning

Money Saving Mini-Series 2017

When you make your meal plan, try to create as many meals around an ingredient as you can. This way, you buy less food and then less food will go to waste. Like crockpot salsa chicken for my enchiladas (see pic below) can be mixed into refried bean burritos or top nachos with cheese, sour cream or guac, and salsa. All of those are delicious options that go together and can use up leftover ingredients.

chicken enchilada piece.1

Make a grocery list and stick with it, taking into consideration what you have in the pantry (#4 on the basics post – must add link) when making your list and meal plan. I look on Pinterest all the time for meal ideas when I’m bored of our staples. We usually stick with easy and filling meals that produce leftovers for the next day to give mama a break from cooking. 😉

Keeping your pantry stocked with staples will also help when funds are low or deals aren’t what you normally eat. It’s also helpful on a last minute trip out or to the park. Fix some sandwiches, fill up some water bottles and throw some sides into a lunchbox with the sandwiches. When we do this, we like to take applesauce pouches (not just for the baby. 😉 ) and something like cheese crackers or veggie straws. Non-perishable snacks like these keep in the pantry for a long time and help fill everyone up.

Some of our dinner staples are: my chicken enchiladas, tacos (made with ground turkey or beef depending on which is on sale/cheaper at that time), homemade pepperoni pizza, egg fried rice (with and without orange or teryaki chicken), chili, lentil quesadillas, potato soup with corn and spinach (still working on tweaking this recipe just right), refried bean burritos and hot dogs. Some of the sides we use a lot are mashed potatoes, various fruits or veggies, mac n cheese and tater tots or fries.

My hubby usually takes lemon pepper chicken or BBQ chicken sandwiches for lunch. PB&J, grilled cheese, ham & cheese-grilled and regular are easy, quick, and cheap lunches. He’ll take a couple of sandwiches sometimes as well. Lentil quesadillas, bean burritos and hot dogs double as lunch some days as well.

A great way to stretch food is to add in rice. Rice will go with the tacos, in the enchiladas and burritos, with the lentils if we run out of tortillas and hubby takes rice with his lemon pepper chicken. I add in refried beans to the taco meat as well to help stretch it. Doing this I can get several meals out of the taco meat instead of just a few.

Our breakfast meals are usually frozen sandwiches for him to eat on his way to work, oatmeal, cereal, toast, yogurt, and homemade pancakes. Breakfast tends to be quick and easy.

Snacks are usually peanut butter and apples, carrots and hummus, cheese sticks, and fruit. One of the best ways to save money on produce is to buy frozen if you don’t need fresh (like with hummus). You can mix frozen fruit into smoothies for a snack or to go with sandwiches for lunch.

When we have a little extra money, we like to try a couple of new recipes so if you have any favorite recipes, share them in the comments below!

Money Saving Mini-Series: Couponing & Apps

Money Saving Mini-Series 2017

In my opinion, the best way to coupon is to use only the ones you really need and double them when and where you can. When you start couponing, it’s best to become familiar with store policies as well as the rules on couponing.

Always be polite to your cashiers. And remember that not everyone will be familiar with their coupon policy so if you think it may be a problem when you go shopping with a lot of coupons, print a copy of the store’s policy to take with you. Remember, they’re just doing their job. 🙂

However, one of my favorite stores doesn’t take coupons and that is Aldi. Their prices are extremely cheap for their store brand so they don’t really need the coupons. They do have national brand items such as Pop-Tarts but those are usually just as expensive as Wal-Mart.

Coupon Policies image

Here is a short list of stores that accept coupons, a bit on their policies as well as links to their full policies if you click on their names.

Wal-Mart: You’ll have to scroll down a bit to read Wal-Mart’s coupon policy. They accept coupons printed at home, manufacturer’s coupons, soft drink container caps, coupons printed off at the registers( aka Catalinas) and competitors’ coupons (with some stipulations).

Target: They accept manufacturer, Target, print-at-home, and coupons off of their Cartwheel app (which I definitely recommend!) Become familiar with Target’s sales and the Cartwheel app to make the most of your savings! You can also get a Target RedCard and save 5% on all purchases! And it can be a debit card so you don’t have to run your credit to get a credit card. All you need is a blank check! 🙂

Publix: My local Publix accepts some coupons from competitors, so be sure to check your local Publix! The online policy says this too so ask you local Publix to be sure. They also accept manufacturer coupons, Publix coupons, and Internet coupons which I’m assuming are the print-at-home variety. I once used a sale, combined with a Publix coupon and manufacturer coupons printed from coupons.com to save big on organic Gerber baby food pouches!!

Bi-Lo: The policy says they accept competitor coupons and a sign is hanging in store so be sure to check your local Bi-Lo when you go! They also accept manufacturers, Bi-Lo’s, and Internet coupons. Bi-Lo does double coupons with some restrictions: up to 5 coupons on like items, 60 cents or less unless posted in store, and only of the manufacturer variety.

Winn-Dixie: They accept manufacturer coupons, Winn-Dixie coupons and Internet coupons. I don’t shop here so I’m not sure on their sales and how well coupons save money here.

Ingles: Ingles does double coupons, but you must have an Ingles Advantage Card. They are free though. Their doubling doesn’t start until after $10 orders and only 3 coupons will double. Check the policy page for the rest of their doubling info.

Lowe’s Foods: One of these opened up recently near me but I haven’t checked them out yet so let me know if you have and tell me what you think! The policy states that they accept store coupons, manufacturer’s, print-at-home and competitor’s coupons (local and some national stores). They also double, “super double” and “triple” coupons so check their policy page out if you have one near you!

Lidl: Pronounced LEE-dl, this store is similar to Aldi. I’ve been a few times and love it! Their prices are between Aldi and Wal-Mart. The link is to their coupons page. I couldn’t find an official coupon policy online but I know that with their app, you can also ‘clip’ Lidl coupons. Sometimes they will send coupons for an amount off an order in emails such as $5 off of an order of $30 or more you can print off and use. They are new in the United States so if you are lucky enough to have one open near you, definitely check it out!wp-image-734318608.jpg

Now that you now what your stores’ coupon policies are, you need to find some! You can get coupons through emails, in the mail and newspaper inserts, stickers on store items or in little store printers on shelves (yes, that’s still a thing. 😀 ), and pamphlets like from Publix.

One of the most convenient places to get coupons though is online. Then all you have to do is ‘clip’ them and print them off. One of my favorites is Coupons.com. They have a website and an app. One of the best hacks I’ve found is using multiple devices. Since the app is free, you can download it to multiple devices and print 2 per device. I’ve done 2 on my laptop, 2 on my phone, and 2 on my hubby’s tablet to get 6 of the same item! I did this when I was saving money on those Gerber pouches!

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The second best way to find coupons is apps. There are over a dozen apps out their designed to save money but here are a few main apps.

  • Coupons.com: It has only 36 stores with coupons. The only stores I use are Wal-Mart and Target. They have coupons you can ‘clip’ and then a section of printable coupons.
  • Ibotta – couponing and rebates app. Choose the rebates you want to use from the available stores and then scan and send in your receipt. Get cash back.
  • Checkout 51 – same as Ibotta but with less options. Just a list of coupons that change weekly. Get cash back.
  • Berry Cart – This app has coupons on organic items. I don’t buy these often because even with coupons I can’t afford them but if that is your thing then I recommend this app.
  • Southern Savers – This app has many ads for stores in the South from Wal-Mart to Bi-Lo, Publix to Winn-Dixie, Aldi to Dollar General, Earth Fare to Lidl, Staples to CVS. It’s like the Southern Savers website and has national chains along with local-to-the-South stores.
  • Target Cartwheel (which I LOVE): Contains Target sales where you add your deals to your profile, scan the barcode at checkout and you save money! I love that the deals are divided into categories.

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Store apps:

  • Lidl – has the weekly specials and some coupons. Just got one in the area so still figuring out the app.
  • Aldi – Similar to the Aldi site. Has a QR code reader for products and sales ads.
  • Sam’s Club – Similar to the Sam’s Club site with a barcode reader.
  • Walmart – Similar to the Wal-Mart site along with the Savings Catcher to find lower prices and allow you to get the difference on a Wal-Mart egift card or BlueBird card.
  • Target – Similar to the Target site with a barcode scanner

There are also these apps:

  • Saving Star – Save money by adding loyalty cards or scan receipts then you get cash back. I don’t use this one however.
  • MobiSave – Scan the receipts and get paid through PayPal in 24 hours. I don’t have PayPal so I don’t use this one either
  • Flipp – This one has weekly ads in one place
  • Krazy Coupon Lady – Sends daily information about deals, coupons and sales. I get the emails instead of downloading the app.
  • Favado – This app has sales ads so you can look at them all in one place as well.

 

 

Do you have any couponing tips I missed? What about money saving stories like I had with the Gerber pouches? I’d love to read them so be sure to share your thoughts in the comments below!!

Money Saving Mini-Series: Basics First!

Money Saving Mini-Series 2017I got a request to write a blog post on what I knew about saving money. I decided to turn it into a mini-series because I knew what I’ve learned wouldn’t fit in just one blog post.

With that in mind, I typed up what I knew that way I could sort it out for this mini-series. I’ve been researching money saving ever since I first got married and we rented our first apartment several years ago now. Having a baby nearly a year ago now has made money saving even more important.

So I decided the first post should be about the basics. These are some things you should put into practice. We are still working on some of these. For a few of the tips, I’ll go into deeper detail in the rest of this series.

Onto the tips!

  1. Creating a budget: First off, find out how much you and your family have to spend and stick to that budget. Eat at home as much as possible and cut costs where you can. The USDA created a chart for families to discover the best budget for them.
    USDACostofFoodJan2017
  2. Cut out what you don’t need: Don’t buy the new phones. If you can live without it, turn off the TV and just watch Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Video. Don’t go see movies in theaters but borrow them from Redbox, the library, etc. I’ve read that even turning up the thermostat a few degrees saves money! To cut gas spending, try combining days out during the week when you’re running errands.
  3. Eating out: Don’t do it if you can avoid it. Bring water, snacks, even meals like sandwiches. We do this frequently, even when we don’t go shopping like if we’re going to be out all day.
  4. ‘Shopping’ in the pantry: Check and see what you have in your pantry that you can use while making your list (see #9 & #15). That saves money and prevents buying an item again that you don’t need.
  5. Don’t shop hungry: It will cause you to buy unnecessary and often unhealthy snacks and prepackaged food that you and your family really don’t need. My family brings snacks and water so that we don’t eat out if we know we’re going to be out all day, which happens when we shop. See #3 and #15.
  6. Shop weekly sales: Find the stores you go to most often online and look at when their sales start. Some start on Sunday and others on Wednesday but it depends on the store. Usually, you can sign up for their email list and the ads will be sent to you. When you check sales ads, look for coupons to increase your savings! (#7)
  7. Couponing: With shows on families using coupons to get outrageous savings and even getting paid by the store, I’m sure everyone has at least tried their hand at couponing. But let me tell you that it is not easy. Sometimes, they’ll buy things they don’t need to save money on some items or get paid to shop but that seems like more work than it is worth. Most people I know that are trying to save money do so because they have a family to feed and take care of and it’s hard to do major couponing with young children. I’m not saying it’s impossible but unlikely to be done on a daily or even weekly basis.
    I plan to go into more detail on coupons in following posts in this mini-series. In any case, I generally love couponing! When I can of course. 🙂  There’s a bunch of coupon apps (will also be a separate smaller post). There are also pamphlets and websites you can get coupons from.
  8. Apps: I’ll go into a bit more detail in another post with the coupon apps in the couponing post. Some stores have apps now with the sales ads in them. Like Target has an app in addition to the Target Cartwheel app (which is ah.maz.ing btw.) I don’t use these apps as much though.
  9. Meal planning: Meal planning with the weekly ads is one of the best ways to save money. You find out what is going to be on sale and create your menus around them. It helps by saving on money for meat as well when you buy what’s on sale. You could opt out of meat and go vegetarian at least once a week. We don’t implement that but we do eat a lot of leftovers around here. 🙂 I’ll be making a separate post with a sample of our meal plan later on.
  10. Make what you can to save money: Make as much homemade food as you can and skip processed convenience foods when possible. Homemade pizza, bread, mac n cheese, etc. But, if it’s easier to buy a couple of loaves of bread than make them then do it. Saving time is a consideration too when you go shopping. Like, I can make my own bread but Aldi sells loaves for $0.65-$0.89 a piece so we go with that more often. Also, when you have a large family and it’s not conceivable to make 5 or 6 large pizzas, then just buy some frozen ones! Our favorite frozen pizzas are Sam’s brands at Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club. Here they are about the same price as Little Caesar’s and not as greasy. 😉
  11. Price compare: This one goes along with #10 and is a pretty common tip. Check the prices where you go when you can and get what’s cheapest. Check your previous receipts to determine how much you’re spending on various items Buy in bulk if necessary but if it’s cheaper to buy 2 or 3 of the smaller items, then do so.
  12. Buy in bulk: Another major common tip is buy in bulk! But not everything. When you buy in bulk, compare the unit prices to make sure you’re getting the most for your money. Like recently I was at Aldi and saw they had some chocolate chips on sale but I wanted to compare the bigger bag at Sam’s. So I took a picture of the price card with my phone and waited. If it had been cheaper, I would have bought multiples at Aldi but the Sam’s bag is 3 cents cheaper per oz (I believe that was the unit price on that). So not only would it save money to get the big one but also waste because it’s less plastic.
  13. Stock up: When sales happen and you have the extra cash, stock up on dry goods! Like with the back to school season, peanut butter and jelly is on sale so now would be a good time to stock up on it. Around March I believe, frozen food is on sale so then would be a good time to stock up on it, if you have a deep freezer (which we are working towards buying for reasons like that). Same goes for meat. Aldi usually has great prices on meat so then would be a great time to stockpile for lean times and no sales.
  14. Check discount food stores: I will be making a small separate post on discount food stores but here are some quick tips until then. They have damaged and ‘technically’ expired goods. But as long as you are careful and critical of what you buy, you should be fine. Evaluate what you’re buying and check for punctures, cracks, and bugs. Yes, bugs. We were at a discount food store (we don’t often go to anymore) where they had some applesauce pouches and tiny fruit flies were covering a couple of busted boxes. Yes, it was nasty. But we don’t buy pouches from those stores. Aldi is a much better place to buy them from. Also check the expiration dates. Some things are ok a bit past but others…not so much. If you don’t feel comfortable buying something past the expiration date, then don’t. It won’t be worth the few pennies saved if someone gets sick!
  15. Weekly or monthly shopping trips: If possible, go shopping only once a month to save money on gas and impulse buys. If not, try and go only weekly instead of every couple of days. We go shopping every 3 weeks because that works best for us. I check ads when I can and buy what I know is cheap if I can’t, meal plan each time, and ALWAYS make a grocery list! If you sometimes forget your lists at home, try typing them up in a memo on your phone or taking a picture of the completed list as soon as you finish writing it. Not being able to cross things off is better than not having the list and guessing then missing a key ingredient!

Have any basic tips to share with a beginner? Share them down below in the comment section!