Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Reward Dollars

I'm always looking for a way to get my son to help me around the house. I got this great idea from FamilyFun. I had to adapt it for my son's age, but it's been working great. First, you need to find some fake dollars or certificates. I just picked up some play cash from my local dollar store. You can also surf the web to find things to print, like Daddy Dollars (which is what the FamilyFun people used--just a dollar with Dad's picture in the middle instead of George Washington). Our system is very unsophisticated. Every time my son does a job I ask him to do he gets a dollar (or two if it's hard). Every time he wants to watch a movie, watch cartoons, play the computer, play video games, etc. he has to give me a dollar back. This way you're encouraging help (without yelling!) and also managing their time with electronics. I love it!
*If you want to read the article from FamilyFun, it was called "Daddy Dollars"

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Subscribe to a Magazine!

Any one will do!
Actually, do some research out there and find a good magazine fit for you and your family. Magazines that focus on kids and kids stuff are the best. I get a ton of ideas from my favorite "Family Fun." This magazine is STUFFED full of fun, easy crafts and 90% of the time I have the stuff I need already in my house. I LOVE it. One tip: Family Fun is really geared towards school aged kids, witch some toddler activities. Still, I have been able to adapt a lot of the projects for my young-un's. If you're looking more for recipes and more articles (especially for tween+ kids) try FamilyCircle. I LOVE the recipes in this one, and it's got a lot of articles with great tips for all aspects of your family life, including your marriage!
Here's what I love to do with my magazines once I've read through them: I have a couple file folders marked for Tips, Recipes, and Crafts & Activities. Then I skim through the magazines and rip out the pages I'll use again and file them away. Then I let my four year old have his way with it. We find letters, pictures, etc and glue them to papers. Then, I recycle what's left!
One tip: Don't pay full price. Check out sites like where you can get discounts and incentives for certain magazines. That way, you get points for buying it and you save as well.

Monday, September 21, 2009


I’ve found an awesome way for all of us to save. It’s a site called Cool things like gift certificates, electronics and lots of other stuff sell for $3 and $4! No joke!
Here’s how it works: you buy bids from the site. The lowest package is for 25 bids at $18.75. Then you go to the site and bid. I’ve been watching it and things like Walmart and Visa gift certificates for $50 and $100 dollars sell for right around $3. So even if you use all your bids getting a $50 gift certificate and you pay $4, that still only equals $22.75. You just got $27.25 for FREE!
Bidcactus ( even has an information center that gives tips on how to bid, how Bidcactus works, and why they’re able to sell these high priced items for so cheap. I would recommend signing up, and then spending a few hours just watching the site to see how it works. (Like when you’re folding laundry or something else). I even researched other sites for you and even at ebay the discounts don’t even come close. Let’s try it!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Coupons are Cool!

Especially when you know how to use them!
I definitely have to credit the right place for this post. Once again, it comes from my budget genius best friend.
Using coupons on their own saves you money definitely, especially if its items that you already buy. Many coupons on essential sites like,,, and stock coupons on name brand items, often only making their price comparable to cheaper off brand items. But when you combine coupons with items that are on sale, you maximize your savings. Store like Albertsons even offer special coupons that double the value of coupons you already have. To use this method simply, follow the following steps:
1. Check out your local grocery store's flyer. Pin-point items you already use and need.
2. Hit the web! Search the above coupon sites and any others you use for coupons on the items. For instance, cereal often goes on sale for 5/$10 (2.50 each). By using coupons for $1 off two boxes, I reduce the price to $2 each. Not a screaming deal, but better than the regular price of $3-$4 dollars. Now if you had a coupon to double the value, it would be $2 off 2 boxes, making them only $1.50 each, which is a pretty good deal.
2b) If you really want to get into it, you can search sites like ebay for coupons. They sell in lots of 10 or 20 for around $1-2. I usually only try to go that route when it's something we use a lot and the price is great. For instance, when Capri Sun went on sale at our local supermarket for $1.88, I couldn't find coupons on my regular sites. I hit ebay and found coupons for $1off 2 boxes, which made the juice drinks $1.28 a box. Since my kids would drink a box a day if I let them, this was a good deal for me. If you don't want to buy 10 and 20 (That adds up to a lot of Capri Sun!) you can try which sells coupons individually for 5-10 cents.
An invaluable site for coupon crazies is which tracks sales for supermarket chains like Albertsons and lists the sales along with where to get the coupons you need and calculates out the final price for you to decide if its worth it.
Something to remember: Don't use coupons for the sake of using coupons. If you're buying something just because you have a coupon for it, it doesn't mean your saving. Use them for things you're already going to buy. Use them in tandem with your menu planning.
But, if anything, use coupons when you're shopping. Fifty cents is fifty cents! :)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

A Mommy QuickTip: Staples on Sale

Now that you're a menu genius, you've probably taken my advice and made a list of the meals you eat most frequently. Now put that list to even better use.
Tip: Always keep an eye out on your grocery store ads. When foods you use often go on sale, stock up!

A Menu is a Must

You've probably read that somewhere before, haven't you? In fact, Yahoo! had an article the other day on 100 ways to save money and you can bet that planning meals from a menu was right there are the top for saving in the home!
This is why its a must. Without a menu you go into the grocery store without a plan. That's like jumping in your car for family vacation and telling your husband, "Let's see where the road takes us!" Sure its a fun and carefree life full of many adventures but the dollar signs add up quickly. Without a plan/menu you're much more likely to grab food at eye level--food that grocery stores have stocked there for that very reason--food that's likely more expensive, food you probably already have a home, food that you may not even end up using to make a meal. What a waste! A Menu is a Must because it will save you big bucks.
Example. I was complaining to my budget-genius best friend about how hard it was to stay within my grocery budget. She asked me, "Are you using a menu?" I wasn't of course. She sat me right down and explained I had to use one. I was skeptical at first, but I did it. We were students at the time, so I was willing to try anything to save money. I couldn't believe the result. I took my $250-300 grocery spending to $150 per month (for two people)!
It doesn't have to take up all your time either. Here are a few tips for getting started:
1. To make Menu Making quick, make up a list of meals you and your family like to eat, that way, when you're in a rush you can pick a few from that list. The bonus is you're likely to have a lot of the ingredients on hand if you make it often.
2. You don't have to plan specifics, like Monday-Lasagna, Tuesday-Meat and Potatoes, Wednesday Pizza, etc. My best friend just lists 4-5 meals she wants to make that week and picks whichever one suits her fancy that night.
3. Plan for busy nights; plan for nights you'll have more time. If you have soccer, ballet and PTA on Wednesday night, don't plan on making a time consuming meal, pick something quick instead.
4. Plan your meal with your grocery store's flyer. If beef is on sale, don't plan for chicken. By using the flyer to plan meals with ingredients that are already on sale, you'll definitely save.
There! You are now armed with everything you to know to save yourself some major cash!


Hey! Welcome to MommyTips!
Your money is tight. Your time is short. You need to find something to keep your kids from wasting away in front of a TV. MommyTips is all about ways to help you in every aspect of your life as a mom!
Now, I have to admit up front that while I'm a pretty clever person, I'm defintely not smart enough to think of most of this stuff on my own. I owe a lot of credit to my best friend, who found out one day that I was trying to operate a grocery budget without a menu and turned my life around! Of course my tips often come from all over the place and when remember where I got it, you can bet I'll credit it! :)
So sit back, check in every few days and find out a few things that will make your life a whole lot easier!