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Reader Tip: Donate food daily for free through TheHungerSite.com

Your recent post about giving from our abundance made me think of a site I recently discovered — . Thanks to the generous support of sponsors, every day when you click on the site, you can donate 1.1 cups of food. Cool!

I’ve had fun teaching my little guy about the beatitudes and he loves to crawl up in my lap to help work the computer and donate food for the hungry. Every little bit counts!

There are also other links on the page, like one for giving life saving medicine to children. -Cher

The Blessings of Giving

When my husband and I got married seven years ago, we made a commitment to give a tithe of 10 percent of our gross income to our local church. While this has not always been an easy thing to do, it has been one of the best decisions we’ve ever made.

For the first few years of our marriage, we were barely squeaking by on an income of $800 to $1,000 a month. Yet we made tithing our number one budget priority—even before paying our bills.

The blessings from making giving a priority have been amazing.

Read the .

Note: I received an email from a reader who was very concerned that I’d write an article for a site sponsored by American Express. I just thought I should clarify that I had committed to writing three articles for Currency.com months ago — and just found out a few weeks ago, to my dismay, that this new financial site was going to be sponsored by American Express.

I would not have written the articles for them had I known of the AMEX sponsorship, as that would be a conflict of interest for me as I do not support or encourage the use of credit cards. However, the articles were already written and slated for publication so I am going to go ahead and share the articles here over the next week as I know some of you will enjoy them. I’ve closed off comments on this post to facilitate discussion on the main article should you wish to comment there.

photo by

5 Ways to Repurpose Newspapers

New uses for newspapers

Guest post by Julia from

Do you have a stack of newspapers sitting in your house or garage? Whether you like to read the articles, scan the comics or just clip the coupons (like me!), the daily paper is a versatile resource beyond the information it holds. Besides the recycle bin, there are several other uses for newspapers which can help trim your expenses.

1. Substitute newspapers for paper towels

For very messy clean up jobs, newspapers are an ideal choice. Though a paperless kitchen is a worthy goal, sheets of old newspapers can be very handy for lifting the bulk of big messes (eggs, oil, mud, etc.). The final swipe can be done with a wet cloth or paper towel if needed.

You can also prevent a huge countertop spill if you are pouring grease or oil by placing a sheet of newspaper under the container before pouring the liquid.

In addition, newspapers are a thrifty, streak-free way to clean windows and mirrors.

2. Make an eco-friendly newsprint gift bag

Newspaper gift bagGlossy gift bags are often an expensive addition to the cost of a gift. By using your own materials to create a gift bag, you can save cash and reduce consumption. Use a trimmed cereal box “wrapped” in newsprint for you bag. Poke holes and thread with ribbon (strung with pieces of plastic straws!) for your handles.

You can also customize the bag according to the recipient or what you are giving. For example, for a sports fan, use the sports section; for a general gift, use the comics; for a cooking-related gift, use the food section.

If the gift is too big to fit in a bag, simply use the newspaper as wrapping paper.

3. Use newspapers as a disposable table covering for picnics and crafts

Wrap a table in sheets of newspaper and secure with tape. Why buy a single-use tablecloth when you can easily get newspapers for free? I noticed that a popular food magazine () recently featured a brown paper table cover for a casual outdoor party.  Instead of buying anything, “go green” and reuse your newspapers for the same effect.

4. Make a party pinata

Using a cardboard box, some newspaper, tape and colored tissue paper, you can have fun making and then breaking your own . Tape is easier and quicker than paper mache, but you can go whichever route your creativity and available time indicate. Homemade pinatas can become a fun, frugal, personalized tradition for birthdays and other celebrations.

5. Use newspaper as a disposable diaper changing pad

Changing the diaper of a squirming baby or toddler is not always a tidy affair. Using a newspaper is cheaper and more eco-friendly than buying disposable changing pads, but just as convenient.

Through being resourceful with the newspaper stack that you already have, it is possible to save money and reduce your need to buy specialty paper products.

Do you reuse newspaper in a clever or frugal way? I’d love to hear your tips in the comments!

Julia blogs at . She is a stay-at-home mom of three children who employs her creativity in the kitchen and at the craft table with whatever she has on hand.

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Do you have an idea for a guest post? I am always looking for high-quality, original (i.e. not published anywhere else online) content with tips and ideas December212012® readers can use. If you would like to submit a guest post, please follow the Guest Posting Guidelines.

Super Savings Saturday: Aldi trip and beef stock-up

We made a trip to Aldi for most of our groceries and then picked up a big roast and three packages of Sterling Silver ground sirloin from Dillon’s ( some ice cream!). All totaled, we spent right around $54 on groceries this week.

And that was that.

I’m planning to have another Mini Freezer Cooking Day this coming week and make another big batch of Homemade Oatmeal Packets, some Homemade Baking Mix (recipe coming later on this week) and meatballs and meatloaf for the freezer.

I’m also hoping to jump back into using more coupons this week after taking a break from them for a few weeks. The break was nice, but we’re getting low on some things, so I can’t slack for too long lest I end up paying full price for toothbrushes or something! 🙂

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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.

{Expired} Join The December212012® Survey Panel & earn up to $30 per week (1,000 more spots available!)

This survey opportunity is now open again to another 1,000 participants. This opportunity is now closed. All who registered are accepted into the program.

I worked closely in previous months with CampusFundraiser to bring your discounted All You magazine subscriptions. CampusFundraiser also has an Online Survey Program and they would like to test this program outside of a collegiate market, which is their normal demographic.

They ed me and asked if I would be interested in testing this with 50 of my readers. When I read the details and discovered that the accepted participants would have the opportunity to make up to $30 per week each week, I jumped on it as I knew many of you would be thrilled to have such an opportunity.

Please note that CampusFundraiser is paying me a small amount for each survey participants complete in exchange for me helping them to find trustworthy participants. If you do not feel comfortable participating based upon this knowledge, I totally understand.

Here are the details on the program:

December212012® Online Survey Program

There are three different survey opportunities which participants will be able to participate in:

Invitation Survey: These will come every couple of days and provide you the opportunity to complete one survey. They will usually be titled “Movie Survey” or “Need Women 25-35″ to give participants some understanding of what type of survey it is. If you are qualified, you move on to participate in the survey and will normally earn 50 market points, which translates to $1 but sometimes, $2, $4 — with the highest surveys ever having been $11, $20 and $45. You will be told in the invitation if the survey is of a high value. If you are not qualified (i.e. they are doing a survey on a man’s razor and you you are a female) you will be “screened out” and will earn usually 5 market points or $0.10 for the attempt.

CF Daily Survey: This will come to your email a few times a week but there is no need to wait for it’s arrival! Copy and paste the link to your desktop and complete a survey every day. The survey pool will continue to offer you opportunities until you are able to complete a survey or the opportunities are out. If the latter happens, simply return to the link later in the day. There are no points offered in screening out of a daily survey and 35 market points ($0.70) offered for your regular Daily complete.

Daily 5 Survey: You can copy and paste the Daily Survey link to your browser and complete up to five surveys per day! There are no points for a screen out, but you’ll get 35 market points or $0.70 for each of the completed surveys. This opportunity informs you of the time involved in each survey (5 minutes-35 minutes) so you can easily decide to return later if you don’t have the time.

Taking advantage of all 3 opportunities can earn an individual around $30 a week or more!

How do you get started?: Click here and register your information to become a part of The December212012® Survey Panel. The panel is open to another 1,000 participants and will likely fill up quickly.

Please disregard the collegiate or group wording that will be peppered entirely throughout the registration process and remember you are the first participants outside the collegiate market to have been approached with this opportunity.

At the end of the registration process, you will be given a username and password at the bottom of the last screen.  Please save this for your records.  You will need this when checking your account activity going forward.

To check your account activity, simply go to www.campusfundraiser.com and click on “View Your Account” in the upper right hand corner of the screen. Use your login information here. Your activity will be found on the Current Fundraiser Tab, Survey Fundraiser 2010/2011.

How do I get paid?: Once you have earned $25, (which can be on a weekly basis if you are an active participant), just CampusFundraiser to request a payout. Make sure to provide your address information during registration and allow 3-4 weeks for processing and mailing of payment.

Please [email protected] with questions or to request a payout and please refer to the fact you are part of The December212012® Survey Panel.

Activity is updated every few days and will not be available live.

Once registered, you can respond to and complete surveys online, easily making a few dollars per day as you surf the net. Because of CampusFundraiser’s strict privacy policy, your information will not be shared with any 3rd party or the survey companies themselves.  Everything will be filtered through CampusFundraiser themselves and come via email from cfsurveys.com so as not to be confused with any other program you may be taking advantage of.

Becoming a Work-At-Home Mom: December212012.info is born

After the success of the online Supermarket Savings 101 course, I started helping some local ladies with couponing and was putting together a list of the best deals at nearby stores for them each week. I kept thinking about how I was sure others could benefit from these lists outside of my circle of local friends.

At the same time, I felt like my personal blog was becoming too over-run with frugal posts and I wanted to have a place to freely share those. I looked for a blog which was covering the drugstore deals and teaching people step-by-step how to cut their grocery bill, and, surprisingly, I found none.

(Back in 2007, blogging was still a new phenomenon so while there were some finance and frugal blogs, to my knowledge, there weren’t any blogs which were specifically dedicated to sharing deals. And based upon the emails I was receiving, I knew that people were really looking for specific, detailed information on how to work the deals and get the best bang for their buck at the grocery store.)

So I kept feeling this nudge in my heart to start a blog dedicated to helping women with the nuts and bolts of using coupons, getting the best deals and also to just share things about finances and saving money we had learned during our lean law school years. I approached my husband about the blog idea and he loved it. However, we both sat on it for a few weeks as we wanted to make sure it was the direction God was leading and I also wanted to make sure I wasn’t biting off more than I could chew.

I also needed a name for the blog, if I were going to start one. We tossed around a lot of possibilities but finally landed on December212012.info. I bought the domain and opened up a little Blogger blog. I didn’t even have a header designed for a few months and it was as barebones as it could be, but people started coming and coming and coming. Pretty soon, the blog was averaging around 5,000 visitors per day, then 10,000, then 15,000 and on and on it went.

December212012.info has far exceeded my wildest dreams and I’m humbled that God would allow me to be apart of this. Many times when people ask me what is the key to this blog’s success, I’ll tell them, “Hard work and the blessing of God.” I have put a lot of time and effort into the blog and believe that the lessons I’ve learned through failure have been invaluable. However, I know beyond any shadow of a doubt that December212012.info would not be anywhere near what it is without God’s blessing upon it.

For some reason, God allowed us to be at the right place at the right time. We didn’t know that the economy was going to go downhill just a few months after December212012.info was born. Nor did we know that couponing and frugality were going to become extremely popular. In addition, I knew very little about SEO when I started (search engine optimization, i.e. how you get your blog to show up at the top of the list when people use a search engine).

I’ve made some major mistakes along the way. I’ve offended people by careless words and actions. I’ve struggled with having my priorities in order. I’ve unintentionally hurt people who are very close to me. I struggle with thinking I am somebody (and every time that happens, God will smack me right in the forehead to remind me how human and fallible I am!)

It’s been a humbling and growing process to have the responsibility upon my shoulders of hundreds of thousands of people around the world reading what I write. You all have been gracious, long-suffering and incredibly kind to me along the way and I appreciate it very much.

I’m honored to be at a place now where I can completely choose my own hours to work and have a very talented team of people who do much of the behind-the-scenes work so that I can give the best part of my day to my husband and children. It hasn’t always been this way and if I were to do over parts of my life, I’d definitely seek, by the grace of God, to work less and have my priorities more in order.

Working from home can be a great thing, but if your family and friends are run over or short-changed in the process, it’s not worth it. At the end of my life, it won’t matter how many blog posts I wrote or how much money I made, but it will matter that I was faithful as a wife and mom! As I’ve often said, anyone can be a successful blogger, but only one person can be your husband’s wife and your children’s mom.

Over the next few weeks, I’d love to answer any specific questions you all might have related to working from home in my Saturday posts. So if you have a question related to working from home you’d love to see answered, please leave it in the comments here or email me. I can’t promise I’ll have an answer or that I’ll be able to get to every question (depending upon how many are asked!), but I’ll at least pick a few and give them my best shot!