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Super Savings Saturday: Over $75 worth of natural/organic foods for $19!


I made a quick run into a nearby health food store this week as a friend of mine had tipped me off to the fact that their Annie's cereals were on sale for $0.99. I'm so glad I stopped when I did because I walked out with everything shown above and paid less than $20!

The Annie's cereals were on sale for $0.99 (an incredible deal considering the regular price is $5.99! Do people really pay that kind of money for a box of cereal??)! The Kashi bars were $1.99 per box and I had $1/1 coupons making them $0.99 per box. All of the veggies/fruit were reduced to $0.99 per bag/carton–even that 5.5 lb. bag of organic carrots!

Now the fun challenge has been using up all those carrots as they are nearing the end of their life (which is why the bag was so inexpensive!) We've been making carrot/apple juice–yum!–and I'm also thinking of making a whole-wheat carrot cake this coming week as we have lots of cream cheese in the freezer.

If I have any left, I think I might just whip up some homemade baby food for the freezer since Silas is almost 6 months old (sniff!) and he'll inevitably be starting solid foods before long. I've said before that I don't usually make special baby food, but if I can get organic carrots for $0.99 per five pounds, I just might change my mind on that! Or maybe I'll just chop, cook, and freeze the leftovers to use in soups. We'll see!

I spent a few dollars at both Target and Wal-Mart on deals this week as well, but I failed to get a picture of those.

All totaled, we're about $10 under our $40/week grocery budget for the month of October–and our cupboards, freezer, pantry, and refrigerators are still quite full with food.

By the way, I'm teaming up with FishMama to do a Baking/Cooking Ahead Day next week. We even got all fancy and set up a Facebook page here if you're interested in joining us. Stay tuned early next week for further details.


Did you snag any great deals or bargains this week or save money in other ways?
If so, be sure to post about them on your blog and leave your link
below. Please remember that this weekly round-up is to share deals you
personally got and/or money you were able to save this week. In order
to keep this weekly round-up focused on helping and inspiring others in
their efforts to save money, links which have little-to-no content
other than promoting affiliate links, etc. will be deleted. Also, to
make it easy for everyone to navigate quickly through the links, your
link must link directly to your Super Savings Saturday post.

The 30-Day Giving Challenge

My friend Alyssa is hosting a 30-Day Giving Challenge during the month of November over on her blog, Keeping the Kingdom First. She is challenging each of us to give to someone in some fashion every day in November. This
could be large or small, simple or extravagant. Read more details here.

Becoming a Work-At-Home Mom: Starting with Small Things (Part 2)


Last week, I left you hanging in the Becoming a Work-At-Home Mom series at the point where I’d just found out I was pregnant. Let’s pick up from there…

Those two pink lines changed my life forever. Not only because they meant I was going to be a mom, but they also were the impetus for me to become a work-at-home mom.

It’s easy to say that becoming a mom also propelled me to become a work-at-home mom, but believe me, it wasn’t anywhere easy. In fact, I had no idea just how hard it was going to be.

I was sick from week five to week twenty-one in my pregnancy. I never had to be hospitalized for dehydration, but there were days when I could barely get out of bed because I was so nauseated. I wanted to be a mom more than just about anything in the world, but I had no idea how miserable morning sickness was going to be!

Needless to say, my jobs as a mother’s helper were abruptly ended. And therefore, our income was drastically reduced as well. When I was working four days a week as a mother’s helper, we were scraping by, without that income, it seemed impossible we could ever pay all of our bills.

I remember how helpless I felt so many times during those long weeks of my early pregnancy. I knew there had to be something I could do to earn an income from our little basement apartment, but what? I wracked my brain for days and weeks on end. I prayed, I worried, I cried, and I prayed some more.

As thankful as I was to be pregnant, I couldn’t help but also wonder and fret over how we were going to eat and have a roof over our heads. And I couldn’t even begin to try and figure out how we would pay for the extra expenses of having a baby, too. How would we survive for two more years of law school?

At that point, I had no idea. But I did know one thing: God was watching over us. He had called us to step out in faith and get married, move to Topeka, KS, and God had clearly opened up the doors for Jesse to go to law school. I also knew that God had given us this precious baby and He was going to take care of us.

And you know what? He never failed us or forsook us.

Oh yes! I worried many times when it seemed there was no way we were going to be able to pay all of the basic bills for the month. But somehow, someway, every necessary bill always got paid.

God called us not only to step out in faith and trust Him, but we also knew it was our responsibility to do everything we could to be wise stewards of the gifts, time, talents, and resources He had given us.

Since the beginning of our marriage, Jesse and I spent long hours talking about and tossing around ideas of possibly starting our own business. When we found out we were expecting, we knew that it was time to act on these ideas.

But where to start? Jesse was gone long hours at school and I was stuck in bed or on the couch much of the day feeling very sick.

I decided if I were going to be sick all day, it wasn’t going to make things any worse if I tried to use that time to learn what I could about possible ways to earn money online.

So I took the laptop and dug in where I was at. I spent countless hours scouring the internet, I signed up for Yahoo! Groups on entrepreneurialism and small businesses, I emailed anyone and everyone who had any clue about anything when it came to internet businesses or running your own business, and I read stacks of books on starting a small business and online marketing from the library.

Little by little, I came up with different ideas. I began with small things–mostly things I could do straight from the couch! Here are just a few of the things I tried during those long weeks of morning sickness that produced at least some positive results:–I listed and sold a number of books we were no longer needing or using (especially Jesse’s old textbooks) through this website and ended up making at least $1500 over the course of a few years. I tried my hand at buying used books at the thrift store and reselling these but I never had much success with that.

If you’re interested in reselling books, I’d recommend that you start by looking around your home and finding books you no longer need or use and see what the going rate is on I’d suggest check out, too, as they will pay you immediately whereas on, you have to wait for a buyer to purchase from you.

If Cash4Books is going to pay you somewhat similar to the going rate on, definitely go with Cash4Books as you won’t have to sit around waiting for a buyer. Instead, you’ll get the payment immediately.

There’s a great article here on reselling books which gives some more detailed advice if this is something you’re interested in. Some folks actually make a living doing this full-time. I’ve heard the market is more saturated than it used to be, but it’s still something to consider–especially if you have some decent books around your home you’d like to part with!

Online Surveys–I had no idea what I was doing when I signed up for online survey companies and I quickly found out that most of them are much more work than they are worth. However, I definitely don’t think they all should be discounted.

You can go here to see my favorite paid online survey sites!

I was encouraged to see money start trickling in from these things. It wasn’t enough to pay our bills, but it was something–and something is better than nothing, right?

As I started feeling better and I researched more ideas, I got braver and branched out to try other things. Most of these things flopped royally, but I learned a great deal in the process. I’ll tell you more about these in Part 3.

…To be continued

If you haven’t taken a chance to read through the comments on Part 1 of this series, be sure to do so here. There are dozens of great business ideas and tidbits of wisdom shared there!

Got pumpkins? Need recipes?


Amy has the motherload of pumpkin recipes collected and cooked up for you here. No matter your family's tastes or preferences, there's likely a recipe or two or ten you'd be interested in trying. Go check them out!

photo by AmyMillerPhotos

Becoming a Mystery Shopper

women with shopping bags

You’ve probably seen the signs or ads which promise that you can make hundreds of dollars every month by shopping and going out to eat. And you’ve probably though it was too good to be true.

Well, those advertisements are likely a little over-the-top and just designed to get you to sign up for some overpriced list which you can find yourself with a little searching online. But Mystery Shopping is a very legitimate source of income and in many area, the jobs are plentiful and the pay is good.

Erin recently emailed me about her experiences with Mystery Shopping:

I heard about the idea of “mystery shopping” a few years ago, when my husband was in between coming home from a tour in Afghanistan, finding a temporary job, and returning to Active Duty Military. We needed a little extra cash, and this seemed to work well with my schedule.

At that time, I only had my son, but I’ve continued to do these shops with my second child. There are some very simple shops that pay $5 and $10, all the way up to more complex shops that pay out up to $200!

I also have taken on jobs that have compensated me for meals that my family and I have eaten. I get paid very quickly and I have never had any
problems with any of the sites I’ve used. A few of them are:

Mystery Shoppers Provider Association
Beyond Hello
Kern Scheduling
National Shopping Service
Trend Source

Again, these are all real businesses. I have done jobs for every single one of these companies and have been paid for all of my work. -Erin

When I first began mystery shopping, I signed up for all of the legitimate mystery shopping companies I could find. I opened up a separate email account which was dedicated to mystery shopping emails and used that when I signed up. It took me hours to sign up with all of the companies and it was quite time-consuming.

If you’ll thoroughly fill out all the applications and have patience, you’ll likely begin to see quite a number of job opportunities sent to you. Many times, these jobs are filled on a first-come, first-served basis, so you’ll want to check your email for job openings a few times each day and be quick to respond to any which you are interested in.

Most mystery shopping jobs pay between $7-$15 and include some sort of reimbursement as well. I have done lots of fast food shops, casual dining, high-end restaurants, gas stations, beauty supply stores, pet stores, and even a bowling alley, to name a few. I found restaurant shops to be my favorite as they usually not only reimbursed for a meal for myself and my husband, but they also usually paid at least an extra $10 for the work involved. It was very worth it to me to get a nice free dinner date with my husband some cash — all for about 30 minutes of extra work!

One very important caution: DO NOT PAY TO MYSTERY SHOP! Legitimate jobs or companies do not require that you pay a fee to join or be accepted as a mystery shopper. There are many scam companies out there charging fees for lists or supposed job opportunities which are nothing that you cannot find yourself by applying to the companies listed above.

A good mystery shopper is someone who is attentive to detail and thorough in everything they do. In addition, it is very important you keep accurate records and follow instructions carefully.

Mystery shopping is a lot of work–especially in the beginning when you are first learning the ropes–but it can be a fun and rewarding experience which also can help supplement your income.

If you’re looking for even more recommendations for legitimate mystery shopping companies, check out this Facebook post with great info from readers who are experienced mystery shoppers!

Have you been a mystery shopper before? If so, I’d love to hear your tips and advice for someone who is considering dipping their toes into the world of mystery shopping.

Super Savings Saturday: Dillon’s and a trip to the Bulk Foods Store


We did something different this month in our grocery budgeting. Instead of taking out $40 each week to use on groceries like we usually do, we took out a lump sum of $160 at the beginning of the month. I was surprised, but it seemed like this $160 went a lot farther than the $40 per week usually does. I'm not sure the reasoning behind that, but that's what happened!

Motivated by my success the past two months in setting aside money from our weekly grocery budget for bulk purchases, I've been working a little harder this month to see if I could set aside a larger amount. I've been amazed at how much purchasing in bulk is helping me to do this. It seems build upon itself: the more I purchase in bulk, the more it gives me wiggle room to purchase in bulk.

This month, I was able to set aside $60 from our grocery budget for bulk purchases. Some friends and I drove to a nearby town today and shopped at a bulk foods store and I was able to purchase a lot of what you see pictured above for just right under $40. I got enough spices and herbs to last me well over a year, 25 pounds of unbleached flour, raw sesame seeds and sunflower seeds, dates, coconut, and even a big bag of turbinado sugar (a more natural sugar) and carob powder.

I'm so excited to be finding creative ways to afford some healthier foods in our budget. Buying in bulk has certainly been a big asset there. I am going to be using some of these items to make a big batch of homemade granola and I'm also looking forward to experimenting with some new and more healthful recipes. I've never used carob powder or turbinado sugar before. Have you? Any can't-miss recipes you want to share?

In addition to the bulk foods store, we also made two quick trips to Dillons this week–since the sale weeks changes on Wednesdays and we wanted to get things from both sale ads. I won't list off all the deals, but you can read more about the Nature Valley Nut Clusters deal here.

I also got 3 packages of Huggies wipes free off of Amazon using my Swagbucks.

We spent a total of $72 on groceries this week and we were able to really stock up on some things which will last us much longer than a week. We still have about $35 left to spend on groceries this month and I we should have no problem staying under that next week–especially since our freezer is still well-stocked with food.


Did you snag any great deals or bargains this week or save money in other ways? If so, be sure to post about them on your blog and leave your link below. Please remember that this weekly round-up is to share deals you personally got and/or money you were able to save this week. In order to keep this weekly round-up focused on helping and inspiring others in their efforts to save money, links which have little-to-no content other than promoting affiliate links, etc. will be deleted. Also, to make it easy for everyone to navigate quickly through the links, your link must link directly to your Super Savings Saturday post.