For Coupon Moms: A Better Way To Save Money On Groceries

7 Jan
Saving Money On Groceries

Saving Money On Groceries

When I first went to a coupon class and  learned how to start couponing, I was excited about all the money I would be saving on groceries .  I started clipping my coupons and organizing them in my cute little binder…and that’s when the madness began.  It almost became an obsession; running to all the different stores trying to make it to all the sales and frantically trying to get as many free things as I could.  I’ll admit, in ways it was incredible and 3 years later I am still using shampoo that I stocked up on at an unbelievable price!

But there were some serious drawbacks to saving money this way.  I’ll explain what they were and then I’ll reveal the better way.

Drawbacks to couponing:

1. TIME CONSUMING!  I was getting 5 papers a week and just keeping up with all the clipping and organizing was enough to drive anyone mad!  Sure, you can get a rotary board and find ways to make it faster but it’s still time-consuming.  You also need to pay attention to expiration dates and make sure you are rotating the expired coupons into the garbage.  My grocery shopping also turned into a much lengthier process as I had to be keeping track of my coupons as I shopped:  “Wait…did I just put 14 boxes of cereal in my cart or 15?” “Oh crud.  I’m supposed to buy in quantities of 5 to get the sale price but I only have 4 coupons!” “Have I seriously been on this isle for 20 minutes?” “I’m about to pee my pants, the bathroom is on the other side of the store, I still have 47 more items to get, and now I have to recount my coupons because I lost focus.”  Then there’s that moment when you are sitting at home feeling content that all your shopping is done and you hear about a sale.  This one is good, you can get a year’s worth of pasta for practically nothing!  You feel exhausted and you really should be fixing dinner for your family, but couponing has turned you into a crazed lunatic and you just can’t miss out on this sale or you won’t stop thinking about it all night.  You rush to the store, to find that there are only 5 boxes left on the shelf, and you came to get 20.  Some other innocent shopper is also on the isle (probably there to buy one box for dinner that night), and all of a sudden you feel like a panther ready to pounce.  You quickly grab all five boxes, throw them in your cart and scurry away while avoiding any chance of eye contact.  Okay, so I never got this crazy…but I ran into plenty of extreme couponers that were like this and that was enough alone to make me want to quit.  More on that later.

2.  OUR CONSUMPTION OF HEALTHY FOODS DRAMATICALLY DECLINED.  Before couponing I opted for the healthier cereals: Cheerios, Shredded Wheat, granola, etc.  Once I started couponing I was eating all kinds of “practically candy” for breakfast: Reeses Puffs, Captain Crunch, Lucky Charms, etc.  How could I NOT eat them when I only paid a quarter for the whole box?  I also found that things like Oreos, chips, and Ding Dongs frequented our house much more often.  I used to only buy items like that for special occasions, but how could I turn down such an amazing price?  Who could turn down a package of Oreos for a dollar?  Not me.  I was saving money on groceries, just the wrong kind of groceries.

3.  YOU GET CATEGORIZED WITH THE CRAZIES.  and sometimes you actually become crazy.  Some will never know the animal within them until they start couponing.  I’ve seen people get so obsessed that they lose all respect for other human beings and only care for themselves.  They clear the shelves, they rush to beat out the others, and they yell and get upset with the checkers and grocery store managers just to save money (30 cents).  That’s not you?  Well you are a couponer so be prepared to automatically be put in that category.  As much as I tried to be completely cheerful and kind to grocery store checkers, it was still hard to avoid the look that many of them gave when they glanced at my cart and saw “the coupon binder” or all the items in my cart that were in multiples of ten.  Or how about the people behind you that realize they got stuck behind “the coupon lady.”  What these people think is not your fault, I get that; and saving money for the family is important enough  for the sacrifice, but there’s a better way.

4.  SOMETIMES IT’s JUST PLAIN EMBARRASSING, FRUSTRATING, and HAIR-PULLING AWFUL!  Have a cart full of groceries and forgot that 5 of your coupons are expired?  No biggie, just apologize and ask the checker to remove the items.  Forgot that your coupon  was 50 cents off TWO items, not one?  No biggie, just ask the checker to hold on a minute as you mad rush to the back of the store for more.  Did the couponer ahead of you clear the shelf completely with no regards to your happiness and success?  No biggie.  Think happy thoughts.  Is the store completely out of 13 of the 15 items you came to get?  No biggie, just walk away and try again tomorrow.  Are you completely confused why your total came to much more than you expected?  Did the clumsy checker only scan 10 of your 13 coupons?  No biggie, just drag your kids back into the store and ask for the error to be fixed.  Oh yea, try not to be embarrassed.

5.  It wasn’t always a good way to save money.  Sure I was getting good deals, sometimes even getting things for free but I had to sacrifice my grocery money towards coupon deals and get less of the items our family really needed,  Like produce and whole grains.  Even if we already had a stock of 15 bottles of shampoo, I couldn’t help but use grocery money to get more because “they were only like 25 cents!”  I had a really hard time resisting good sales (I think I’m revealing too much about my addictive characteristics in this post).

I could go on, but anyone that has ever couponed probably gets where I am going.  Unless you are a rare species of human being and you just love every aspect of couponing, it may not be worth all the perks.

After I had a good long break from couponing I still desired to save money, but I vowed to never go back to the Ghost of Past.  And that’s when an idea sparked in my head.  “What if I only got one deal a week”?

So that’s how my new way of saving money on groceries started.

The Better Way

(In my opinion).

1. LOOK FOR LOSS-LEADERS and FOCUS ON ONE OR TWO DEALS A WEEK.  Stores advertise certain items at a loss to them to lead you into the store.  These are called loss-leaders.  Look for these items and other great sales in your local ads.  Make a list of some possibilities for your “stock up” items that week.

2. CHECK FOR COUPONS AND BUY THEM ALREADY CLIPPED.  To help you narrow down your items, go to Ebay and see which items there are currently coupons for.  Coupons aren’t to be sold, but certain people clip them for you and then charge a small amount for the time they spent clipping.  I usually spend a dollar or two for about 20 coupons.  Totally worth it for me.  Make sure that your aren’t paying too much for the amount on the coupon and decide which items you are going to go for that week.  In order for your coupons to arrive in time you must order them the day the ad comes out.  I rarely have a problem with sellers getting me the coupons in time, but if one happens to be too slow, write down the name of that seller and avoid them next time.  You can also check where the seller is from and only order from states closer to you although I rarely have a problem getting mine in time.

3.   TAKE ADVANTAGE OF RAINCHECKS.  If my store does rainchecks and is out of a particular item, I usually prefer that option because it gives me a longer amount of time to use my coupons, and sometimes a new coupon will come out before my raincheck expires.  If you don’t want to deal with the chance of your store being out of the item, just price match at Walmart.  Here is a blog post about price matching at Walmart if you have never done it before.

4.  GRADUALLY GET A WELL-STOCKED PANTRY and FOOD STORAGE while keeping your sanity, your sleep, and your budget.  I have found this strategy to be the best for me because it makes my grocery shopping a much more positive experience.  I know that I will only be focusing on stocking up on one or two items which saves me a lot of time and prevents a lot of unneeded stress.  I can also save money, stay within my grocery budget, and buy healthy items for my family at the same time.  Now this doesn’t mean I won’t use a good coupon that comes in the mail, it just means my days of ordering multiple papers and couponing in a more extreme way are over.


One week I chose Hefty bags as my stock-up item.  I paid $20 for 40 boxes.  Now I won’t need baggies again for quite awhile!


How do you save money on groceries?

Any moms out there that used to coupon?  What were the drawbacks for you?

Please comment and add to the discussion!

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She’s gone TURBO!

4 Jan


If any of you have seen the movie “Wreck it Ralph” you will soon understand the title for this post.  Yesterday my typically cheerful 13-month old was anything but cheerful.  She whined and cried almost all day long, refused to play with any toys unless she was in my arms, napped shorter than usual, and threw little fits when I wouldn’t let her chew on my iPhone.  I’m pregnant with my 2nd, and seem to be unusually exhausted these days.  After attempting to put mascara on my left eye using my right hand (she literally would not let me set her down), going to the bathroom while she sat on my lap (familiar anyone?) and not getting a thing done all day long, I was feeling like I was going to lose it.

When my husband walked in the door from work I breathed a sigh of relief and went to hand her to him, but she threw a little fit and absolutely refused to enter anyone’s arms but mine.  That’s when the thought came, “Oh no…our sweet little girl has gone TURBO!”  I then fought with my bad mood as I prepared some quick dinner (bean burritos anyone?) and silently pondered how on Earth we would handle 2 little ones come June.  Then the good news came.  My husband had a soccer coaching meeting and kids were welcome!  And if there’s one thing that makes Kinley happy it’s being around other little kids.  I happily sent them on their way and started on my list of tasks that never got started and my mood instantly took a turn for the better.  Two and a half hours later they both came happily through the door and my husband reported of her joyous time playing with the other kids (well mostly just observing them since they were much older than her).  She would stand there holding onto the couch and excitedly jump up and down repeatedly.  Then it happened.  I realized how much I had missed her and grabbed her into a huge hug.  She gave me that goofy grin that I love so much and my heart melted instantly.  As I got her ready for bed and blew little raspberries on her chubby little tummy I thought how interesting it was that after a full day of chaos and frustration, all it took was one little moment to completely turn my heart around and remind me how much I love being a mom.

I thought about how I might feel in the future with more kids and designed my own little quote as a reminder:




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Picky Eaters

2 Jan


I have a 14-month old that is very picky about her foods sometimes.  As I was talking to my friend who used to teach nutrition, she mentioned something very interesting to me.  She said that many times parents will assume that a child doesn’t like a particular food because he or she refuses to eat it.  Most of us know a parent that has used the phrase, “Oh, she doesn’t like vegetables,” or “sorry, my darling kid does not eat lettuce, tomato, cucumber, apples, or anything red.”  My friend then explained that:

Babies and toddlers can take up to 15-20 tries before developing a taste for particular foods.  Too often parents give up after a few tries and then assume for the rest of that child’s life that it is something they don’t like.  The child assumes it to be truth, and makes a connection in the brain that they do not like that food.  That’s why it is important to give your kids a variety of foods when they are young and keep offering them again and again.  I know first hand that it can be very frustrating to offer your child something repeatedly only to feel like you are wasting the food when they refuse to eat it, but I have noticed as I have done it with my own little girl that it works.  I find myself shocked to see her eat an entire serving of something she gagged on just days or weeks prior.

Texture Matters.  My husband and I like to play games to try to get our daughter to eat certain things.  One night I tried repeatedly to feed her some of the soup we were eating for dinner and she gagged it up, spit it out, and refused to let the spoon come near her.  I then decided to experiment:  I dumped her food into the blender and 2 minutes later she was practically inhaling the soup as if it was her favorite meal.  I also used to think my daughter hated bananas which made me very sad; however, I was surprised to find her chewing on a whole banana while visiting my mom’s one day.  I discovered that it must be the texture of mashed up bananas that she does not like right now.  If I just take the peel off and offer it to her whole she will usually eat it.

One Bite.  Some may think it’s cruel, but I force the first bite.  I do this because more often than not my child will absolutely refuse to eat something, but once I force the first bite she will realize that it tastes different that she anticipated and she will finish the entire serving.  If I gave up at her initial refusal she would only eat two food categories: bread and anything sweet.

The “List”.  Anyone from a big family notice that the “second half” of the siblings get raised a little bit different that the first?  As a college student visiting home, I was surprised to hear one of my younger siblings say the following phrase at the dinner table: “I don’t have to eat broccoli, it’s on my list.”  apparently my mom had gotten sick of the “fight” in making the kids eat their vegetables that she let them make a list (I believe it was a list of 3) of the top fruits and/or vegetables that they absolutely hated eating.  If that item appeared on the dinner table they were excused from having to eat it, but if it was something not on their list, they had to eat a serving of it.  If only that rule had existed when I was young…I remember many long nights of sitting at the dinner table (gagging repeatedly) hours after everyone else was excused because I refused to eat my broccoli (funny thing is that is now one of my favorite vegetables!).

Offer Choices.  Sometimes picky eating can be a result of your child trying to exercise his/her independence.  In this kind of situation you could try to offer choices as much as possible.  Before fixing dinner, think of 2 different vegetables that could go with the particular meal before settling on one.  Then allow your child to choose his fate:  “Would you like corn or peas with dinner tonight?”  This approach may require some planning, but if avoids a fight and gets some nutrition in your child is it worth it?

Limit Snacking.  My pediatrician even suggested eliminating snack altogether.  He suggested that kids that walk around with sippy cups and fruit snacks turn into teenagers that walk around with potato chips and big gulps.  I personally don’t mind offering my toddler a snack here and there, but when we are going through periods of picky eating, I eliminate them and she is a much better eater.  If you make sure they are hungry when dinner is served, they will be more willing to try what’s on the menu.

If your child is still a baby/toddler:  My daughter refused solids until she was about 8 months old and even then she would only eat the fruits.  I eventually got her to eat vegetables by mixing small portions of the vegetables in with her fruits.  Gradually the ratio of vegetable to fruit became larger and larger until she was eating vegetables by themselves.  Again, I believe this goes back to the principle of many tries before a child develops a taste for certain types of foods.  If they are used to full-time breast-feeding they are probably used to a more sweeter taste.

I post this not to say that my child is perfect little eater–she is still learning to like a variety of foods and still has quite a way to go.  I post to share what I have learned so far and also hope to get suggestions from other mommies out there!  Please!  If you know of something that works that isn’t already listed, please share!

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Christmas Eve Musings: Creating Kindness in our world

24 Dec


Many of us this Christmas season have had the shootings that occurred in Connecticut on our mind.  When I first read about the shooting at the Elementary school I went through a variety of emotions that day.  I started out angry at the shooter, and then real deep sorrow for the victim’s families, and then came fear for the Nation that we live in.  I found  myself fearful for my own husband (who is a teacher), and also hesitant about the public schooling system for my own children.  As all of these emotions were taking toll on me throughout the day I  silently reflected and began to wonder if there was anything positive I could take from any of it.  And that’s the first time throughout the day that I began to feel compassion for the shooter.  I began to wonder about his life and what miserable things might have taken place to get him to that point in his life.  I began to wonder if I had known him in high school, would I have reached out to him?

And then my mind took me to one of my favorite books that has changed my life forever.  It’s called The Message and it ends with the most powerful message on the importance of loving and serving everyone around us–even complete strangers; because, really we are all more connected than we think and each act of kindness has an effect with no known end.  For instance…let’s say you are checking out at the grocery store and you notice the checker appears a little unhappy.  You approach the check out with the most happy demeanor and compliment her as you have a pleasant conversation.  You then hand her a chocolate bar that you just purchase and let her know that you bought it with her in mind in hopes that she have a wonderful day.  Not only does this effect the checker and future people who come into contact with her, but you also leave a little bit more cheerful having made her day.  This “ripple” that was created from one small act of kindness could potentially keep “rippling” and effect hundreds of people that day as everyone tries a little harder to show kindness.  In the book that I mentioned, this family goes on a “service vacation” with the intent of spending their family vacation in search of ways they can serve their community.  It’s a powerful story and it led to me going on my own “service vacation.”  But one of the greatest things I learned from this is that you don’t have to travel to find people who need some love and compassion–they are all around us; and that is how I feel we can change our nation.  As we increase love, compassion, and kind acts that occur nationwide, we also decrease violence, hate and anger.  And yes, one person can make a profound difference!

When my husband and I got engaged, one of the biggest things we discussed that was of large importance to us was that we teach our children to fall in love with serving other people.  If we heard of someone who needed our help we wanted to make sure we take our children along with us and let them feel what it feels like to influence another human being in small but kind ways.  It takes a new pair of eyes to start to see these kinds of opportunities, but here are a few ideas we brainstormed to get started:

1.  Always have gifts wrapped and ready.  These can be small and inexpensive, but if you have them ready you will more readily find opportunities to give them out.  You never know when you will come upon someone who needs just a little boost to their day, and a small gift from a stranger could be the perfect fit!  My neighbor once told a story of a teenager rear-ending him and what a mess the teenager girl was in and she pondered what her parents would do when they found out.  He pulled one of his pre-wrapped gifts from his trunk, and comforted her with the words, “we all have bad days occasionally, here…I hope this helps.”  This man could have been angry but he understood that human beings are far more important than our material possessions and I will never forget that story.

2.  Make up holidays as a family as an excuse to serve others.  “Mailman Appreciation Day” or “First Responder’s Day” are fun ways to help the children appreciate those that render invaluable services to our community.  Write cards or make cookies and deliver them as a family.  Imagine the difference it could make for the mailman when he goes to give you mail and finds a gift just for him waiting in your mailbox.  Everyone enjoys being appreciated.

3.  Teach your children to love and respect the elderly.  Once in my teens I went to an assisted living center with a youth group and was surprised to see how many of my friends and peers felt uncomfortable around the elderly.  Quite a few of them were glued to the wall and refused to interact with them.  This was surprising to me because I grew up loving and visiting with the elderly as a family.  We went at least once a year growing up and it was always one of my favorite memories.  Sometimes we would put on a little “musical production,” and we would sing or play an instrument and sometimes we would just talk or share pictures we had colored for them.  It was because of these special experiences that my parents gave me that I ended up minoring in Geriatrics and later working at one of these homes.  The elderly have had a lot of valuable life experiences, and they really do have wonderful advice to share!

4.  Same goes with the mentally ill.  If we teach our children from a young age that the mentally ill or challenged are special and unique, then they will not feel “uncomfortable” around them later in life.  I also worked jobs with individuals that had cerebral palsy and traumatic brain injury and these remain some of my most special life experiences.  Once again, I owe these experiences to a mother that taught me from a young age that just because someone can’t talk, walk, or do things just like me, doesn’t mean they are less valuable.  When she saw me show fear towards someone with Down Syndrome, she specifically made an appointment to take me to a developmental center so that I could interact with these kind of individuals and learn to love, serve, and appreciate them.

5.  Teach your children to be grateful.  Sometimes life gets so busy that we forget to thank people in our life for their valuable contributions.  If it means setting a time aside like “Thankful Thursdays,” to remember these moments, do it.  Teach your children to be on the constant “lookout” for someone to thank.  They might have fun making cards of appreciation, or just learning to say the words.  Not only will this effect those that are receiving the thanks, it will also teach your children to live happier lives as they focus on their blessings.

6. Teach your children to go the extra mile.  Help your children be excited about returning someone else’s cart rather than just your own.  Teach your children that they can throw away a piece of trash even if it’s not their own.  Make a game out of them taking their sibling’s plate to the sink.  Teach them to do more than “their part.”  These are the type of people who are ready to change the world.

7.  Leave a trace with Kind Notes.  One of the things the family did in the book that I mentioned, was leave kind notes wherever they went.  It was something as simple as, “sometimes it’s just nice to know someone cares, have a great day!”  After reading this book I had fun doing this at the college I went to.  I usually tried to find someone who looked like they were having a rough day, but one day I was headed home and realized I had not given one out yet.  I walked in to one of the offices on campus and just set it on a girl’s desk and quickly walked away before she had a chance to say anything to me.  A few weeks later a random girl walked up to me and said, “can I give you a hug?”  I was a little confused because I did not recognize her but then she said, “You gave me that note on a day that everything seemed to be going wrong.  I was having a really hard day and that note made me feel so loved.”  I walked away trying not to let any tears form, but it touched me to know that one of these simple nice notes had actually made a difference for someone.

8.  Make a habit of asking your kids, “Who did you help today?”  Teach them to watch for opportunities at school to reach out to other children and be kind to them.  Teach them to watch for kids that are alone, sad, or being made fun of.  Teach them to make a difference and have the courage to reach out.  Chances are, other children will join in on the fun.

9.  Find Ways to Serve Others at Christmastime.  What a great way to teach your children to focus on what they can do rather than what they want.  Adopt an angel or drop off something to a needy family.  If finances are so tight that you have no way of even providing a Christmas for your own children, then volunteer at a soup kitchen as a family.  Help them to see that there are others in much harsher circumstances.

10.  Teach your children to sincerely compliment others.  Teach them that everyone on this Earth has something to offer, and it’s our job to help them see their talents and gifts.  A good way to teach this is to start by finding these qualities in your own children.  Focus on their strengths as a parent and point out good and unique qualities in other people.

In what ways does your family enjoy showing love to others?  Please share in the comments

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Teaching Kids About Money and Hard Work

5 Dec

I had a discussion with another parent recently and something she said has been on my mind.  We were talking about what is the “going rate” to pay babysitters these days and she said, “My problem is just finding a babysitter.  Too many teenagers these days could care less because they just get the money they need from their parents.”  This statement made me sad.  I too have been surprised lately with the lacking desire in teens to earn money.  I was always doing whatever I could to earn money as a kid, and had a job of some sort from the age of 12 all through college.  I’ve done more babysitting than I could ever count, I’ve done the fast food thing, I’ve worked in health care, I’ve worked in retail, custodial, and the list goes on and on.   Although a lot of it was hard work, I have fond memories at almost  all of the jobs I have had; they are a part of my history.

Granted, I had more financial responsibility starting at the age of 12 than I would wish on any teenager (bought my own clothing and paid my own school fees starting in junior high), but I’m so grateful for the experiences that I had and what they taught me.  I have a teacher for a husband and our income is pretty limited, but that doesn’t limit me from having some things that I want.  For example, I hated our teeny couch that we got when we were first married.  It barely fit the two of us and company never had a place to sit when they came over.  I really, really wanted a brand new beautiful sectional that I saw at a store.  Did our income allow for it?  No.  But my experience as a teen taught me that if I want something bad enough I can work for it.  So I started selling my belongings and saving up.  And believe it or not I purchased that $1000 couch after only a few months (I’m sitting on it right now and I still love it).  The same thing occurred with our Blendtec blender.  My husband would never agree that $400 of our paycheck should go to a high-tech blender, but it was important to me (I’m a green smoothie fan) so I found a way to make money and purchase one.


Enough about my history, this is about the kids.  I’ve been brainstorming ways to teach children to manage and respect money, and these are my thoughts.  I’d love to hear yours as well!

Allowance?  I agree as well as disagree with certain principles in regards to an allowance.  I believe that children should understand that they are part of something larger than themselves: a family; and that as a family member you have a part to play and that means a little hard work here and there.  It is my personal opinion that chores are done without expectation of “getting” something in return, but that anything “extra” could be used for earning opportunities.  I liked how my best friend’s family did it growing up.  They had their personal chores that they were expected to accomplish, and then on the backside of one of the cabinet doors was a list of various extra chores as well as how much they could earn doing them.  I remember earning some money myself by swatting flies when I was at their house (Ha, I believe each fly was worth 5 or 10 cents)!

For kids 5 yrs and above:  Use real money for allowance

Under 5:  Get fake coins for them to earn for behavior and various tasks, and let them redeem them at the “treasure box.”  Just make sure the coins are big enough not to be a choking hazard!

Teach your children that sometimes you must give up something good for something greater.  Planning a family trip to Disneyland?  Rather than just taking them, have a valuable learning experience along the way.  Teach them ways that you can save as a family to allow more money to go towards the trip.  Maybe they can give up certain luxuries from the grocery store for a few months (No Oreos? what?).  How about washing the car by hand as a family rather than going to the express wash?  Even if your family is financially blessed, your children will be greatly blessed in the future if they learn these valuable lessons.

Don’t give into begging or you are creating a repeat-issue.  If your children automatically know they need to earn the things that they want, they will beg less often.  Another couple that my husband and I are good friends with uses this principle when they go to Disneyland.  They noticed the first time they went that their children begged all day for souvenir after souvenir.  The next year, they planned ahead of time.  For several months before the trip they gave their children opportunities to earn “Disney Bucks,” and the children understood that the only souvenirs they could buy must be purchased with Disney Bucks.  When they left on the trip their Disney Bucks were turned in and replaced with real dollars.  These parents were amazed that their children no longer had interest in every little thing; rather, they wanted to wait and make sure their Disney Bucks were spent on their most favorite items.  They became a lot more conscious of what they thought they “wanted.”  We think it’s a great idea and plan on doing it for our Disney trips too.  Since then I have found these printable “Disney Bucks,” that are super cute in case you don’t want to make your own.


Let your children make “bad” financial decisions.  Don’t like the toy they want to buy?  Know without a doubt that it will break within 2 days?  Let them buy it.  That doesn’t mean you can counsel and give advice, but it’s better for your children to make poor financial decisions while they are young and learn from them, then to start the learning when they are adults.  Make sure to have follow-up discussions after certain purchases so that your children can start to recognize bad, good and better ways to spend their money.

Let them learn with you.  Don’t be afraid to let your children know how you handle the bills, or prioritize your shopping list, or calculate the tip at the restaurant.  Once again, the earlier they learn the better.

Let them explore money earning opportunities.  Dreading the lemonade stand?  Would rather just give them some money?  Don’t do it. Those moments are valuable.  Let your children do the lemonade stands and the bake sales and be a part of their learning process by doing it with them!  I remember as a kid sitting at the corner with my lemonade stand and counting in my head how many cups of lemonade I needed to sale to make $10.  When sales didn’t approach my goal, I grabbed my 10 gallon dispenser and started going door to door!  Granted, my mother had no idea which is why it’s a good idea to be part of the process so that your kids make safe decisions.  Because of the many lemonade stands I attempted as a kid I have a rule as an adult that as long as I have change in my wallet I will stop at EVERY lemonade stand that I pass.  It brings back old memories and just feels good to support the children with drive!

Yard Sales and Classifieds.  Yard sales are another drudgery among parents, but they are great learning experiences for kids especially if you let them sell some of their own items.  I have a hard time bartering for a lower price when I know that a kid is selling the item personally.  I also love it when I get onto Craigslist and see listings for a toy with the description, “my child is exploring ways to earn money and wants to sell some of her toys.”  Beautiful!

I will add to this list later, but these are just some of the ideas I have been thinking about.  What do you do to teach your children about money?  I’d love to hear!

Where Did the Time Go? A Poem For My Daughter

26 Nov

We celebrated my daughter’s first birthday this last week and my thoughts have been trying to memorize the past year in fear that I might someday forget it.  Being a mother is …. well I’ve typed and retyped the ending to that phrase several times and just can’t get it right.  It’s wonderful and magical and crazy all at the same time.  There are moments that feel like they will never end and moments that end far too soon.  Right now I am feeling the “far too soon” part.  Being a mom is so incredible.

Here are a few pictures of our celebration and a little poem I wrote to my baby.

Busy Bag Madness!

16 Nov

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a little obsessed with the idea of  “Busy Bags.”  I’m sure you have heard of them but if you haven’t, here’s the lowdown:

They are collections of little toys, activities, and learning that are put together and collected into bags, totes, baggies, etc., and are only used in desperate moments when you need your little one to be “busy.”  The concept is that because your little one does not have free access to this item at all times, it catches their interest, similar to the idea of a toy rotation.  These are great for church, doctor’s visits, car rides or those desperate moments when you would just like to shower without little ones banging on your door.

First, you know your kid best…buy things they will actually be interested in.  Second, I try to make busy bags out of things that have more than one use…so usually not a coloring pad unless I can get a bunch of them super cheap.  Third, some people keep it cheap and use baggies which would work great.  However, I want these bags to last through several children so I splurge and get the pencil pouches at Walmart when they are having their back-to-school-sale (less than a dollar each).

Here are a few busy bags that I did this week:

These are some mini dinosaurs that I added on to a purchase I was getting on the classifieds.  Less than a buck!  Whenever I am buying off the classifieds, I like to always check and see what else the seller is selling to see if there’s something small I can add on as a busy bag.

Next we have some Tic Tac Toe I got at the Dollar Tree.  Nothing special, but for a buck I’m sure it will be worth it’s pay.

Next I have some magnetic foam manipulative puzzles that I got off Oriental Trading when they were having one of their free shipping promotions.  If I have a fridge or magnet board nearby, great!  If not they can still put the puzzles together.  Great for learning fractions!

Next is a flip book I made about letters and shapes (I showed you how to make it in this post).  I included some stretchy colored rings that can be matched up to the correct colors.  I will probably add something to match all the shapes up with too.

Next is Three-Letter Word puzzle cards!  I got these added on to my purchase at a yard sale for free!  You can also buy them at the dollar store though.

Next is a simple white board I also got at the Dollar Tree.  I will probably add more to this busy bag later.

This is just a bunch of snowman Make-A-Sticker-Scenes that I got on clearance at Oriental Trading.  Good for when I have multiple kids with me (comes with 12 sheets).

Next is a magnetic dress up doll that I got at a yard sale for $1.  I was very excited about this find as I think dress up dolls are so cute!

Next are these cute hand puppets I got at the Dollar Tree.  I got about 10 of them so I will either add a story book and make a couple busy bags out of them, or just find a bigger bag and throw all of them in together.


These are some Christmas Pop Beads I got off Oriental Trading for cheap.  Maybe they need to be broken in, but they seem like they would be hard for a small kid to put together.  I’ll have to update you.

This is a coloring roll.  Like I said earlier, I usually don’t use one-time-use items in my busy bags, but they were on clearance at Walmart for $.30 so it was worth it to me to buy a bunch of them.



That’s all the pictures I have for now, but I will be sure to update as I finish more busy bags!  I’d love to get more ideas, so feel free to share some fun ones you have done, or link back to a particular blog post about busy bags.  What have been your most successful ones?











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