Monday, February 28, 2011

Tools for the Journey – Creative Money Saving Tips

As I mentioned yesterday, I had the privilege of co-teaching a seminar on budgeting and creative money saving tips as part of the Tools for the Journey workshop at my church. They recorded most of the seminars, so you can look for those here sometime this week.

This is the bulk of the information that we presented during our seminar (this was the handout). Please ask if you have *any* questions!

Using Creativity to Budget and Save Money

by Sela Young, Karen Carr, Trisha Swift

1. Look at the Big Picture

  • How can your shopping (for necessities or otherwise) glorify God? How can you glorify God with saving money?
  • Try to find the balance between legalistic and hedonistic.
    • Try not to look at certain purchases as “sinful.”
    • Try not to only follow your desires and expensive tastes.
  • Watch your health (and your family’s)—physical, emotional and spiritual. Avoid saving money in the short run that will hurt you in the long run. e.g. don’t skip out on dentist/doctor visits. Don’t skip going out for coffee with a friend. Those are way more important in the long run than saving a few bucks!

2. Start with Your Budget

  • Take a financial class offered through church (Crown, Dave Ramsey).
  • Tweak budget to work for you. Experiment to figure out what works best for you and your family.
  • Make a budget and stick to it!
  • If you’re married, budgeting needs to be a joint decision.
  • See yesterday’s post for the forms, etc, that I’m using right now

3. When You are Shopping

  • Decide on non-negotiables for health reasons before you go shopping. e.g. organic milk and veggies.
  • Don’t window shop or look at ads if you don’t specifically need something; limit TV time (for self and kids). If I don’t know it exists, I won’t want it.
  • Make a list and stick to it.
  • Use coupons! Organize them before you shop. 
  • Don’t shop when hungry.
  • Stock up when things are on sale and/or you have coupons. Grocery stores usually run on a 12 week sale cycle, so if it’s a great deal, buy enough to last 12 weeks.
  • Educate yourself on prices and comparison shop. Just because something is on sale or is sold in bulk (like at Sam’s Club), does not necessarily mean it is cheaper!

4. Creative Ideas to Save Money

These are ideas to jumpstart your creativity! You need to decide what works best for you, your family and your schedule.

  • Use the Internet (be on the lookout for scams, of course!). (Tomorrow I will post a list of useful internet resources)
    • Do online shopping through a site that gives you money back.
    • Belong to facebook or blogs to help you find deals.
    • Get coupons online.
    • Sign up for free samples.
    • Find things cheap or free.
    • Find deals with Groupon, Seize the Deal (but compare to make sure it’s a real deal and don’t be tempted to spend more than your budget).
  • Think about where you shop.
    • Thrift stores—find the ones that work best for you, and pay attention to sale days! Don’t discount thrift stores because you went to one and didn’t like it. There are so many and they all have a different niche.
    • Habitat Building Supply store
    • Yard sales—get cheap stuff and spend time with a sister or use as an outreach opportunity AND you’ll have someone along so you can keep each other in check.
    • For all things baby/kid, remember the Fort Collins Parents of Multiples Club has a huge sale twice a year. Next one is March 11-12, 2011.
    • Check out the Amazon Mom program with Subscribe & Save for good deals on diapers and other baby items.
    • Big Lots, Esh’s Discount Grocery, etc. Again, compare to make sure you’re getting a real deal.

5. Other Tips and Ideas:

  • Pray the Lord’s Prayer when shopping.
  • Pray to want what you already have; be content!
  • Plan out your shopping trip: maximize your time.
  • Only go shopping on certain days (once a week, once a month)—plan ahead!
  • Christmas shop all year ‘round! It spreads out the cost AND you can shop sales (yard sales too!) and make the most of your money!
  • Plan ahead and shop for all occasions.
  • Don’t eat out if alone. Save money, be others-focused.
  • Smash the toilet paper roll before hanging it; it doesn’t roll as easily and so kids don’t yank off as much and waste it.
  • Pay bills online to save stamps.
  • Swap babysitting with another couple.
  • Hang clothes to dry: they last longer and it saves on the energy bill.
  • Cut pizza, muffins, meat in smaller sections; it will stretch it and limit waste.
  • Office supply stores have great weekly sales for about a month before school starts.
  • Some stores (Target for sure) will let you bring your receipt in if an item you bought goes on sale within two weeks of your buying it, and give you the difference.

Tomorrow I will post some of the resources, mostly blogs and websites, that I use to get information on sales and good deals.

~S

Daily Photo – February 28th

Kahlen really wanted to do dishes in the bathroom sink today. Hey, I am definitely *not* going to discourage that! (even if she is using hand soap and forgetting to rinse, we can work on those things later…)2011-02-28 Kahlen Doin Dishes (2)

~S

Menu Plan Monday – February 28th

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I have a recipe index, just for recipes that you can find on my blog. You can also get to it by going to the food tab above.

Last week I *gasp* didn’t make a meal plan! I was sick last weekend and then hubby had Monday off for President’s day, so my week was all thrown off. Anyway, I struggled all week and am very glad to be back on a plan!

Here's the plan for this week:
Mix-it up Monday (something new) ~  dinner with grammy and grampa 
Taco Tuesday (Mexican or Oriental) ~ Thai Chicken 
Wow Wednesday (Date night or something like restaurant food) ~ Cheesy Hamburger Soup 
Simple Thursday (Crockpot or less than 30 min prep) ~ Parmesan Ranch Chicken 
Favorite Friday (A family favorite) ~ Cheater Pot Pie 
Lazy Saturday (leftover buffet) ~ Leftovers 
Saucy Sunday (Italian) ~ Stuffed Jumbo Shells

Come visit me for Tasty Tuesday for some more deliciousness.
So, what are you having for dinner this week?
Link up at Menu Plan Monday over at I'm an Organizing Junkie or leave me a comment!
~S

Muffin Tin Monday – School Review

Muffin Tin Monday at Her Cup Overfloweth  
This week and last week in preschool, we are reviewing the last six weeks. So, our theme for Muffin Tin Monday this week was the letters we are reviewing. It was a little bit of a stretch, but it was better than just eating leftovers :) Our letters are K M W D P B

 

2011-02-28 MTM (3)

Katsup, fries for the katsup, Mac’n’cheese

Water, Peanut Butter on ritz, Baby goldfish, and my favorite (because this was all her idea):

Delicious Dessert for Dad (daddy’s favorite dessert is chocolate chip cookies and we reviewed the letter D today)

~S

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Daily Photo – February 27th

I look over at my son eating dinner and see this:2011-02-27 Nate eating dinner (3)

~S

Tools for the Journey – Budgeting Worksheets

Yesterday I had the privilege of co-teaching a seminar on budgeting and creative money saving tips as part of the Tools for the Journey workshop at my church. They recorded most of the seminars, so you can look for those here sometime this week.
The main way that we budget right now has evolved from using the Crown Financial Ministries method for many years. This is what we’ve come up with to personalize their great system. If you have never taken a money bible study like Crown or Dave Ramsey, I would strongly recommend it!
Here’s my budget board that hangs very visibly by our coat closet (ignore the fly swatter :))
2011-02-27 Budget Board
First, the color-coded main budget page on the bottom right. This helps keep track of all the categories that need to be paid every month, whether I’ve paid them, and if we were over or under budget.
Monthly Expenses
Next is the tracking sheet for all debit card purchases. I pull out about half of our monthly general fund in cash, and when I do, it goes on this tracking sheet as well. We have found that a combination of cash and debit card without a lot of categories (like groceries, personal care, diapers, etc, etc) works best for us.
Monthly Cash
Then I have a separate sheet to keep track of spending out of savings. This includes things like getting the furnace fixed or other things that were intentional expenditures out of savings. I also have our date night on there, but I usually pull this out in cash as well. This just helps if we go out before I have a chance to do that.
Savings
I also made a “Hey Dude, Pay Up!” sheet. This is just for when either I buy something for someone (like at CostCo) or they do the same for me. It’s come about because otherwise *I* would forget. Not at all a reflection on my friends/family who end up on there :-)
Pay Up
Other features of my budget board:
  • All of the papers are in sheet protectors so that I can write on and erase them every month.
  • There are two wet erase markers, a calculator, and a pen velcroed to the board. This way I have *no* excuse not to write down expenditures.
  • I also have a few categories that I pull out in cash every month, like car license. These envelopes are all clipped together and hang on the upper left. The front envelope is for if I have cash that needs to be redeposited (like when I pay the car license) or any random checks that need to be taken to the bank. I try to only go to the bank once or maybe twice a month.
Tomorrow I’ll post the rest of our handout/notes from the seminar!
~S

Friday, February 25, 2011

Daily Photo – February 25th

Enjoyed a lovely play date at Cool Beans today with some good friends despite the cold and snow we had today2011-02-25 Cool Beans (2) ~S

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Daily Photo – February 22nd

Nate likes our ErgoBaby :)

 2011-02-18 Butterfly Pavilion (33)

~S

Tasty Tuesday – Slow Cooker Turkey Chili

Tasty Tuesday

Welcome to another week of Tasty Tuesday here at The Young'ns!
There’s a recipe index under the food tab above if you’re ever looking for a recipe I’ve already blogged.
Every Monday, I plan on trying a new recipe. If it goes well, that’s what I’ll be posting on Tasty Tuesday. If not, I’ll post a tried and true (i.e. something I don’t have to think about too hard) ;)

The kids helped me make this yesterday because it was that easy :) And mighty tasty too!

Slow Cooker Turkey Chili

Based on this recipe from All Home Cooking.

{Ingredients}

  • 4 cans of beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 large bell pepper, roughly chopped
  • 1 lb ground turkey breast
  • 2 cans of petite diced tomatoes (do not drain)
  • 8 oz chicken broth
  • 3 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp sea salt
  • cayenne pepper to taste (up to a teaspoon for hot chili)
  • 2 tsp dark unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup brewed coffee (optional, but adds another dimension)

{Directions}

  • Rinse and drain the beans.
  • Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Brown the turkey with the onion and peppers.
  • In the crock of your slow cooker, combine all of the ingredients.
  • Cover and cook on low for ten hours.
  • Serve with sour cream and/or cheese, over spaghetti, or with crackers, or however you like your chili.

~S

Linking up at

TastyTuesday200pix Welcome to my new home   Tasty Tuesday

PS Due to the “holiday” yesterday (hence hubby was off work) and nasty illness for me, I didn’t get around to making a menu for Menu Plan Monday yet. Maybe tomorrow…

Monday, February 21, 2011

Daily Photo – February 21st

They *can* play nice together!

2011-02-16 Playing Outside (5) ~S

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Daily Photo – February 20th

The last pictures Kahlen will be taking for a long time. Right after this was taken, she dropped my little camera, and it broke :(

2011-02-20 Nate by Kahlen (1)

~S

Friday, February 18, 2011

Daily Photo – February 18th

I like shoes. Really. But I don’t have that many for several reasons. Mostly because I have enormous large feet and it’s hard to find ones that are cute, affordable, and the right size (We’re talking women’s 12).

Thanks to Bargain Blessings, I found a sweet pair of shoes on uber-clearance, with a discount, and cash back thanks to ShopAtHome. We’re talking less than $10 here, people.

Now I have ruby red slippers! (Ok, no bling, but they *are* red!)2011-02-18 Ruby Red Slippers

~S

Thursday, February 17, 2011

{embrace the camera} / Daily Photo – February 17th

While we were chilin’ this week with sick kiddos…don’t have a timer or anything fancy, so you get to deal with the weird angles :P

2011-02-16 Embrace the Camera (1)

2011-02-16 Embrace the Camera (2)

2011-02-16 Embrace the Camera (3)

~S

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Wordless Wednesday / Daily Photo – February 16th

Nate’s so cool2011-02-16 Nate's cool shades (2) (And he doesn’t look like a baby anymore. at. all.)

~S

Linking up at:

imageBetter in Bulkimage

Crafty Wednesday / Card Design #1

I had a great time at the Crop Your Heart Out all-day crop last Saturday. Add to that my new Cricut Expressions machine, and now I have a new stash of cards that I’ve made. I decided a long time ago that I’m not really a scrapbooker, and that’s fine with me, but I do really enjoy making cards. So, every Wednesday, at least for awhile, I’m going to post a new card design. They’re mostly just for you to get inspired to make your own, but if you *really* like mine, I would sell them to you too :)

So, here’s the first one:

IMG_6524

Supplies:

  • 5.5” x 4.25” card blank
  • Green cardstock 1.5” x 5x5”
  • Green cardstock – two very small strips for stems
  • Green cardstock – “grow” inverse image cut using Lyrical Letters cartridge
  • Yellow quilling paper or strip
  • White quilling paper or strip

I just took a quilling class at Capture about a month ago, so I’m still learning the techniques. I think this was the first one I tried outside of the class since I just bought a quilling tool this week.

~S

Monday, February 14, 2011

Daily Photo – February 14th

Daddy made us all breakfast of shaped pancakes this morning. I didn’t get a picture of Nate’s Mickey Mouse or my W, but I got most of a picture of Kahlen’s pancake man :)2011-02-14 Pancake Man (2) ~S

Muffin Tin Monday – Valentine’s Day

Muffin Tin Monday at Her Cup Overfloweth  
Our theme for Muffin Tin Monday this week was, of course, pink for Valentine’s Day. Couldn’t resist :)

2011-02-14 MTM Pink (2)Turkey Ham, Strawberry Danimals, Red applesauce
Strawberry Jam for the waffles, Pink Waffles of Insane Greatness

2011-02-14 MTM Pink (1) And she ate it all (it did take her close to an hour, though!)

~S

Menu Plan Monday – February 14th

image     
I have a recipe index, just for recipes that you can find on my blog. You can also get to it by going to the food tab above.

I started a new meal plan for me called The Lord’s Table as part of a bible study I’m doing with my discipleship team at church.  So far, I’ve lost 9 pounds!!! That’s only in about 2 weeks. Best of all, I feel great doing it. We’re doing the book study called Women of Moderation by Dee Brestin, and I strongly recommend it :)

Here's the plan for this week:
Mix-it up Monday (something new) ~  Stuffed Jumbo Shells (not a new recipe, but I didn’t make it last week, and I need to use up the ingredients) 
Taco Tuesday (Mexican or Oriental) ~ Slow Cooker Turkey Chili (Will post the recipe tomorrow) 
Wow Wednesday (Date night or something like restaurant food) ~ Grilled Turkey Burgers and Salad 
Simple Thursday (Crockpot or less than 30 min prep) ~ Leftovers 
Favorite Friday (A family favorite) ~ Pizza (didn’t make this last week. Hubby took us all out to dinner instead) 
Lazy Saturday (leftover buffet) ~ Leftovers 
Saucy Sunday (Italian) ~ Triple Cheese Spirals with Ham

Come visit me for Tasty Tuesday for some more deliciousness.
So, what are you having for dinner this week?
Link up at Menu Plan Monday over at I'm an Organizing Junkie or leave me a comment!
~S

Book Review – In Constant Prayer by Robert Benson

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From the Publsher:

Why is it important to pray as the early Christians did? And what does it mean to pray without ceasing? In Constant Prayer explores the ancient practice of fixed-hour prayer, a structure for our lives where we can live in continuous awareness of God’s presence and reality. This classic discipline of praying at fixed times during the day and night has transformed the lives of millions around the world. Learn what the apostle Paul meant when he encouraged the Thessalonian church to “pray without ceasing, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

The Ancient Practices is a new eight-book series from Thomas Nelson Publishers that covers the seven essential spiritual disciplines. Though various books have covered some of these in the past, there has never been a definitive series until now. Immensely compelling and readable, each book also features a foreword by Phyllis Tickle.

The church that I go to is very *NOT* liturgical, and it’s really the only church I’ve attended, so the whole idea of the daily office is brand new to me. This book did a good job explaining what it is and more importantly, why it should be an important part of our lives. What this book does not cover is the how and specifically what to pray during the daily office. The author makes sure to give resources that cover that material.

Each chapter has several stories from the author’s experience, seemingly unrelated to each other. In the latter part of each chapter, he draws them all together to prove the point of the chapter. I found this style of writing refreshing and easier to read than a lot of non-fiction books which hammer the point throughout the chapter with little stories tucked here and there. It made the points seem more personal and easier to internalize.

The author has a very good sense of humor, although it did take me a little bit to catch it. At first, I couldn’t tell when he was being serious and when he was being facetious. Once I caught on, however, I was laughing aloud and ended up reading large chunks out loud to explain to my husband what I was laughing about.

Reading this book in conjunction with doing B90 Days has really opened my eyes to the calling of God on me to rise earlier for the purpose of starting my day with Him. As I prayerfully attempt to do this more, I find my time multiplied and my heart more open to what he has for me each day.

After reading this book, I may or may not start praying the daily office, but at least I know what it is and why I might choose to do that in the future. I also have a good idea of where I would go next to find more information thanks to the appendices.

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~S

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Daily Photo – February 13th

Kahlen made me a cake. Best of all, it’s got zero calories :)

2011-02-13 Shape Cake~S

Tot School – Valentine’s Day and more

Tot School

Nate is 19.5 months old

Wow, it’s been a really long time since I posted anything for school :( Been too busy doing it, and not enough time to actually blog about it, I guess! If you follow my Daily Photo series, you may have seen some of these activities before.

Nate is quite the character these days. He has a wicked sense of humor and loves to laugh when others are, whether he knows what’s funny or not.

He still takes an hour long morning nap, which is when Kahlen and I do preschool, so it’s hard to figure out when is a good time for activities. However, K’s school work can extend longer than that, so I’m trying to come up with an activity for them to do together at least twice a week. Being the boy that he is, he still can’t do a whole lot as far as sitting still for an activity and he thinks coloring is about the dumbest thing ever, so I’m struggling a bit to come up with things. It will only be this way for a short time, I know, so I’m trying to enjoy this time with him being not quite a big kid yet.

Here’s a few activities that we did in the last week (or so):

First exposure to our Valentine’s Day sensory bin

2011-02-07 Valentine's Sensory Bin (7)

2011-02-09 Valentine's Day Party (4) Had a Valentine’s day party with some friends. Tried to get him to put the stickers on by himself (with moderate success)

Made and played with blue play dough. He *loves* play dough. Here he’s trying to use the rolling pin just like mommy.2011-02-11 Blue Playdough (6)

2011-02-07 P Day 1 (10) Making a heart for the front door with tissue paper and glue2011-02-07 P Day 1 (13)

What are you doing with your tot? Come check out more great ideas at 1+1+1=1!

~S

Sensory Bin – Valentine’s Day / Red

I just decided to bring back our sensory bin now that Nate is at the point where he doesn’t have to put everything in his mouth.

Here’s our first (okay, second, but the other one we only played with once) sensory bin for both kiddos:

2011-02-13 Valentine's Bin

Some of the things inside:

  • 3 bags of Red Shred Dollar Tree
  • 4 cup plastic measuring cup $1 at Ace Hardware
  • Red plastic bowl came in a 3-pack at the Dollar Tree
  • Plastic heart bracelets Dollar spot at Target
  • Bigger Heart Erasers Dollar Tree
  • Plastic Heart Containers (inside the bowl) Dollar Tree
  • Small Heart/Valentines Erasers (Inside measuring cup) Party City
  • Heart Cupcake Picks Party City
  • Egg carton

2011-02-07 Valentine's Sensory Bin (4) 2011-02-07 Valentine's Sensory Bin (1) My only rules are that it has to stay on the blanket and it has to be all cleaned up when they’re done. They play with it for at least 20 minutes a day :)

For a great explanation of sensory bins, loads of great ideas, and some other frequently asked questions, go here

~S

Friday, February 11, 2011

Daily Photo – February 11th

Light off, light on, light off, light on, ooo, a fan! Great, Nate’s learned a new trick

 

2011-02-10 Playing with the Light Switch (1)2011-02-10 Playing with the Light Switch (2) 

~S

Book Review – God Loves Me More Than That

image From the Publisher:

How much love does God have for me?
More than the letters between A and Z. More than the bumbles in a bumble bee.
God loves me more than that!
As your child revels in each lively rhyme and engaging illustration from this delightful picture book, they’ll learn that God loves them deeper than a wishing well, wider than a semi-truck, louder than thunder, and softer than a kitten’s sneeze.
Each question, presented with charming child-like faith will help your child grasp the great love of God through comparisons and descriptions they can easily understand. In short, they’ll discover that His love is bigger, wider, higher, and deeper than anything they could imagine!

I got the book God Loves Me More Than That by Dandi Daley Mackall in the mail two days ago, and my 4-year-old doesn’t want to put it down. As soon as she got up from her nap, she was drawn to it because of the beautiful cover (that and she loves new books). She asked me nicely informed me that I had to read it to her right away. We both loved the great illustrations and the simple yet engaging rhymes.

The book flowed very well and really showed the aspects of God’s love for us. Her favorite rhyme is “Is God’s love soft? Won’t you tell me, please?…Much, much softer than a kitten’s sneeze.” My favorite part is the illustrations. They have just the right level of detail to convey the point without being overwhelming.

2011-02-10 God Loves Me (1) Having an emerging reader, I appreciated the level of the words. I think soon she’ll be reading it to me!

clip_image001

~S

It would be a great help to me if you would please rate my review. I get the chance to review more books based on my rating, and there are cool contests and such. Thanks!!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from WaterBrook Multnomah as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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