Mom Blog: written by a teacher-mom, but not just for moms- a blog for everyone: January 2011

Monday, January 31, 2011

Half Price Living

Half-Price Living: Secrets to Living Well on One Income

The other day when I was at the library I picked up a book called 1/2 Price Living by Ellie Kay. I was hoping to get some new and refreshing ideas on ways to cut monthly expenditures.  Any advice is welcomed advice since we did cut our annual income by about 40% with me choosing to stay home this year. Forty percent is a lot of money in my book, but with a bit of practice I have learned that money can be cut from a lot of areas, and honestly I haven't felt one bit deprived in doing so. I do get frustrated when I hear people say they can't afford to stay home, not even for one year.  The reality of it is, if you really want to stay home, I have learned that it is possible if you utilize a few financial maneuvers. For instance, Ellie Kay points out that you can cut your grocery bill in half by stacking sales with coupons. I actually think you can trim more than fifty percent off with some practice. The biggest money saving strategy you can use is to ask yourself, "Is this a need or a want?" when you go to buy something. She also poses the question of "How much are you really taking home?" Let's face it, if you factor in even just these few things I have listed below, your monthly salary dwindles down to near nothing:
  • higher tax bracket due to second income
  • childcare nearing $10,000 per year for one child
  • working wardrobe
  • the cost of eating out due to being rushed in the evenings - often times 2-4 times a week
  • Grabbing breakfast on the way to work
  • the maid you hire because you are too tired to clean or don't want to take the time away from kids
  • high priced haircuts, pedicures, etc.
  • kids' clothing higher because you don't have time to bargain shop
  • "guilt gifts" that you buy your kids because you feel guilty not being there
  • Grocery bills higher because you don't have time to shave $3-5 THOUSAND off with coupons
  • and so much more!!!
You can find some interesting financial tools on Ellie Kay's website under the tool-center.  I particularly like the Budget Percent Calculator and the Expense Percent Calculator.


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Friday, January 28, 2011

Strawberry Birthday Cake

Strawberry cake upon Madison's request.
Happy Birthday Madison!
Read more about Madison by clicking HERE.


Birthday Girl

Yep, My little baby girl is turning fourteen tomorrow. I simply can not believe it. As a baby, Madison was the sweetest, cutest little girl. Here is how I remember her:

It's time for the "Mommy Bragging Moment".....

Madison was such a smart little thing (still is) when she was a wee tot.  She was an early talker and an early walker. She was literally running at nine months, and having a baby right now that is ten months who is creeping/almost walking, I still can not get over how early she walked.  She had such an adult wit about her even as a toddler.  When she had just turned three, Ashley was preparing food for Gibson and placed the food on his high chair tray.  He referred to the tray as a plate when he put it there, and Madison said, "Daddy, that's not a plate, that's a tray.... you made a joke on that one." She said things like that all the time.

When Madison was about five, she let us know she was aware of the world and she placed high expectations on herself. She would have trouble going to sleep because she worried about people dying, war, and things of that nature. Things that your average young one doesn't think about. In kindergarten she cried because she had a hard time estimating how many beans were in the jar. She had a 'need' to count them.  In first grade, she tested into the gifted program, and I had to ask her gifted teacher to help me understand her need for perfection. 

Needless to say, as the years have progressed, the need for perfection has dwindled some, but Madison has continued on in gifted classes making high scores.  She is organized and knows how to study.  She will make herself flash cards, copy notes, and ask me to quiz her.  She takes the initiative to do well.

Beyond academics, Madison also excels on the basketball court.  Having a daddy as a high school basketball coach, Madison has grown up as what some would call a 'gym rat'.  I can not tell you how many practices Madison has attended, and as she has grown older, she has actually participated in them. We didn't really realize it until she started playing organized ball, but at all those practices she was absorbing the information and watching those high school girls.  From about the age of eight or nine she really stood out with her defensive plays and moves.  She continues to work hard on her shooting, and is an outstanding player on the eighth grade team.  She also plays travel ball. She had 18 points in one game, but she had a dream the other night that she will score 28 in an upcoming game.  I have no doubt she will.

Madison has a smile that can light a room. People often comment about her smile. She has a quick wit that adults can appreciate. She has strong will that can come off as sassy at times, but it will take her far once she matures.  My Madison is  fun, friendly, and totally FABULOUS at FOURTEEN!


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Gray, Gray, Go Away!

Don't come back another day!!!

Leave it to my son to point out the color gray

Pointing to my hair....."Hey Mom, what is this?"
Grunting as I answer...."Those are called ROOTS, Son!"

My hair grows so fast I just can't keep up with the gray. In about two weeks, it starts peeking through. In four, I need a color. I literally could go broke paying someone to color it for me, which I used to actually do.  Now I have a system I use at home with color and highlights and I think I do a pretty good job.  Let's just say that I pay about 1/4 what I used to pay. The guy who used to color my hair even had positive comments when he saw it the first time, so I guess my little home beauty salon efforts will suffice for now.

What I want to know is how do people let their hair go totally gray?  I mean, is it 2 colors for a long while as it grows out?  Do people actually get their hair dyed gray so that it is a nice transition?  Some women actually look really good with gray hair, and if it is that shiny silvery gray, it is quite striking. Check out this slide show on Oprah that shows gray hair makeovers. Gray can actually be pretty!


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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Saving Money at Publix with Coupons

Well, it's Thursday, and you know what that means!  It's the day Publix Grocery Stores put out their new weekly ad.  It's the day for me to put my couponing skills to work.  Basically, I have spent the last week preparing for this ad in hopes of finding some great coupons to stack on top of the BOGO offers and sale items.  If I'm lucky, I will save big time. If I'm not so lucky, I'll just wait until the next week. I'm getting a nice little stash of certain items, such as deodorant, toothpaste, pastas, cereal, and so much more that I paid next to nothing for.  In the couponing world they seem to call this stockpiling.  I don't want to get crazy with it, but buying two-four of the same item when it is on sale is really making a difference.  I consider it money in my pocket.  Here is today's savings, and as you can see, it was definitely worth the time and effort I put in to finding the coupons.

I got $128.24 worth of groceries for $51. 59.
 A savings of $76.65


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Get started couponing today wtih the couponizer

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Using Coupons at CVS

As many of you know, I have been trying to figure out the world of couponing.  Trust me when I say "WORLD" because couponing is a world of its own.  I have become fascinated how people can get hundreds of dollars worth of groceries for mere pennines. If you don't think it's possible, just watch this video.

TLC even has a new show starting up called Extreme Couponing. I watched the first episode, which has re aired several times since the original date back in December.  It was such a success with over 2 million viewers they decided to create 12 episodes.  You will have to check the TLC website for viewing times, as I am not sure when they will begin. 

I will be the first to say that if I were working full time I am not sure I could devote the time it takes to coupon. Actually I am 100% positive that I couldn't... not with 3 kids that would need my attention after a day of work.  I have found that I can devote time during Baby Hudson's nap schedule, on the weekends, or late at night.  I have spent hours reading and finding websites that offer printable coupons.  I laugh and say that I almost consider it my part-time job, but in actuality, it really is saving me money equivalent to a part time job.  Let me give you an example of my shopping trip today to CVS.  This was my first time trying out CVS.  Here is what I purchased. I will give you the break-down of my savings below the picture.

I paid just over $16.00 for this shopping trip.
1 Box of Raisin Bran - on sale for $1.79, I had a .70 off coupon, so it was $1.09
1 Dawn Soap- on sale for .99, I had a .50 coupon, so it was .49
1 Zone Bars- $5.49 a box, I had a $2.00 off coupon, so it was $3.49
1 Reach Dental Floss- on sale for .99, I had a $1.00 off coupon, so it was FREE
4 packs of Orbit Gum- on sale for BOGO free, and I had 2 manufacture coupons for BOGO free, so all were FREE (at 1.29 a pack, this is a savings of $5.16)
1 Montreal Spice- on clearance for 75% off, so it was .50
2 Johnson and Johnson travel first aide kits- cost .99 each, but I had a $1.50 off coupon for 2, paid .50 for both.
2 Purex All in One Laundry detergent- on sale for BOGO free making them $4.50 each, but I had a $1.00 off coupon for each one, so I paid $7.00 for both.
2 Pringles- cost $1.89 each, but I had a $1.00 coupon for 2, so I paid $2.80 for both (probably shouldn't have bought these... oh well)
1 Crest tooth paste- sale for $2.99, but you get $2.00 Extra Bucks, and I had a .75 coupon, which means I paid equivalent to .25

I am different from most people because I like to look just at my coupon savings.  I feel like anyone can search for things on sale simply by using the weekly store pamphlets, but it takes me time and effort to find and clip the coupons.  My efforts for this shopping trip based on COUPONS ALONE was $15.11.

I will be shopping Publix tomorrow and I have LOTS of coupons.  If I do well, I will post my savings.


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What happened to the Blogging Mom?

Goodness me!  My last post was on January 5th, and it was simply a recipe. That just stinks! I was doing so good before that, but OH WELL!  The activities of my busy life have caught up with me.  First there was Christmas, which means that the whole family is home for Christmas break. (Remember, I am married to a teacher) Then we were back in school for 4 days when my granddad passed away. This was a sad time, but he lived a FULL life, just shy of 95 years. Next, we had a snow storm here in GA.  It was unlike any other we have ever had since a cold front came in right after the snow. This kept the snow on the ground for over a week and caused school to be out for an entire 5 days.  Of course, being home for 5 days you would think I would be able to blog just once at least, but nope!  The whole family was home again, and of course I had to do my share of sledding! One more thing.... we are in the heart of basketball season, which means my two older kids are playing and Ashley, my hubby, is coaching his high school team.  This makes very little time during the evenings for things such as blogging. So, now that everyone is back in school and I am home alone during nap times, you just might see an increase in my blog postings.

Madison and Gibson enjoying the snow.


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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Chocolate Pound Cake

Can you say C*H*O*C*O*L*A*T*E?  It's cake time at the Phillips' house again. The chocolate chip pound cake was such a hit with the husband and kids, I decided to go with pound cake again.  This time it's chocolate through and through.... inside and out!  I have already sampled the first piece (plus I licked the bowl... shame on me!), and it is YUMMY!  It is very rich though, so you are fore-warned.  Enjoy this little piece of chocolate heaven!

 note:  By the looks of the picture, I probably could have used less icing, but OH WELL!  The kids love it.

Chocolate Pound Cake with Chocolate Glaze Icing

 Chocolate Pound Cake

3 cups sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla sugar

1 ½ cup butter, softened

5 eggs

2 ½ cups cake flour

¾ cup cocoa

1 tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

½ cup milk

½ cup sweetened condensed milk

Preheat oven to 325 F.

Grease and flour cake pan.

Sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt.

Mix butter with regular and vanilla sugar till light and fluffy. This will take a few minutes.

Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each one.

Add the dry ingredients alternately with the milk and condensed milk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.

Pour into pan and bake  for approximately an hour.  At one hour, I turned my oven down to 300 and backed another 15 minutes. 
Cool 10 minutes or so in the pan, then turn out on a wire rack to cool.  Add icing if you desire.

Chocolate Icing Recipe

1 1/2 C Sugar

7T Milk

1/4 tsp salt

2 tsp vanilla

2 T Margarine

1/2 C Cocoa

Combine sugar, cocoa, milk,  margarine, and salt in heavy saucepan. Bring to a rolling , stirring constantly. Once it reaches a boil, allow to boil without stirring for two minutes, no more. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Stir until cooled just slightly. Spoon over cooled cake.

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