How to Earn More for Your School – #MyBlogSpark

I’m all about cool rewards programs – Programs that reward me for the purchases that I’m going to make anyway. The work that I do online is the only income I get to support all three of us in my little family – so I’m always looking for great new ways to stretch our budget, get a few cool freebies, and be able to help others. So, one program that helps with that, that many of you moms are probably familiar with, is Box Tops for Education. {I’m sure I’m not the only one with a little Tupperware on the counter that is used to fill with box tops, right?} Well, now there’s an even cooler way to help out – it’s called Earn More for Your School, and it’s everything I love… Simple, fun, and very cool.

Earn More for My School Logo

Ready to earn more for your school too?

Super simple – Head to the site and sign up today: Earn More for My School. What it is, is a new way for Walmart shoppers to earn additional box tops for the school of their choice. It takes just a minute to sign up and enter your school. Then, you’ll get notified of cool new ways that the shopping you’re already doing at Walmart can help you earn more box tops – Things like purchasing certain items there, using a cool new coupon, or even taking an action on the website. Totally easy – and a great way to give back to your kids school this year!

Learn more: Follow Box Tops for Education on Twitter and Facebook!

And tell me – are you a Box Tops mom too? Any tips to share?

{Disclaimer: General Mills and Walmart provided me with the free information and gift packs through MyBlogSpark, to help me learn about this great program. All opinions are my own, as always.}

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How to Keep Your Budget for Summer Fun Right on Target

Make this year a “Big Honkin Summer”… As you’ve probably already noticed, I’m kind of an entertaining junkie once it gets to summertime. We’ve got a big in ground pool, patio, and field for kids to run in – so we’re the official gathering place of most of our friends and family. And I love that. Love-love it. And what I also love is creating cool new stuff to make the kids smile – whether it’s a new box of outdoor games, ingredients for summer parties and bbqs, or sweet gear and toys for the pool - Target is the destination for everything my family needs to make the most of summer. For real. {Remember how I told you that Target was dangerous for me? That big red eye hypnotizes me into buying so many trendy and affordable household decor and gadgets every time…}

how to have fun this summer on a budget

Making the Most of Summer…

When they say, “Whether you are traveling to the beach or just want to keep the kids busy, Target has all the summer essentials at great prices to make the most of the season” – they are not lying to ya, my friends. We all know that Target is a must-shop destination for home decor and summer fashions, right? Well, they’ve also got a seriously cool selection of stuff for summer fun. If you’re ready to kick your summer up a notch, look for the big beach balls, sand buckets, and sunglasses throughout the store to guide you to sweet summer gear. I stocked up on a bunch of great goodies, so that I have something new to bring out once a week to get the kids excited again. I like to make sure they spend their time playing games outside, in real life, versus on the darn XBox all day! And there were SO many totally fun options – I got a whole kit to build our own Lemonade Stand {watch for that coming up soon – you’ll LOVE it. We’re going to set this up at our next BBQ, and let the kids sell drinks. Too fun.} We also got a giant badminton set, a golf club that the boys LOVE, and crafty supplies like the Modern Board Book kit, to keep that summer fun going even on rainy days. {This sweet craft line from Todd Oldham is amazing – and it’s all under $20 bucks!}

octopus cupcakes

Creating summer memories with the kids

I love bringing a little bit of the unexpected to our normal daily routines. That’s why I love stocking up on those affordable summer toys and gear – just to have random surprises to bring out once in a while. I also have a ton of fun putting together silly foods like this – My Octopus Cupcakes. They’re super simple {I’ll put up a tips post for them tomorrow!} and were a huge hit with the kiddos at our last swim party. That’s another reason I looooove to shop at Target – Not only can I pick up the gear that I want, but they have a really great new grocery section, so I can get the snacks and treats there too. And myohmy – it’s MUCH quicker than shopping at Walmart. {You all know what I’m talking about, right?}

big honkin summer - summerizer app

Use the Summerizer App for even more summer fun

You can also make the Target Facebook page your online summer destination – click on their Big Honkin’ Summer-izer App to add some fun summer flair to your photos – like this one of Abby. Cracks me up – Love this. It’s incredibly easy peasy to use, with lots of cool options, and you can share your creation right to your own Facebook albums. And – if you make a fun photo here, stop by and share it on MY blog wall too – I’d LOVE to see the fun pics you come up with. And you can even have these printed at your local Target Photo Center too, super cool.

So – Shop Target for summer fun this year. Totally affordable, absolutely adorable – keep your summertime fun budget right on target!

{Disclaimer: I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Target and received products to facilitate my review, and a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.}

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Learn how to get the best promo codes

Love shopping ...

“Whoever said money can’t buy happiness simply didn’t know where to go shopping.” – Bo Derek

It’s true – just about any online purchase you make can be made a little bit sweeter with the right online promo code. But how do you find one when you need it? There are a ton of great shopping sites that can help – but I want to introduce you to a new one I’ve just started using that I think you’ll love – zuuzs.com. You can search for codes by store, find free shipping codes, get a daily email update with the coolest new coupon code deals… And, best part? You can even earn CASH money for being a member of the site. Sweet, right?



How to save and earn with zuuzs

All you have to do is head to zuus.com and take like two minutes to set up your new account. Easy peasy. Then, each time you want to shop online, start by visiting their site first – You’ll be able to see if there are any cool new codes to use, saving you big bucks. And, you’ll earn some free cash back from your purchase, just because you stopped in there first. So helpful. AND – every time you share this site or their sweet dealios with your friends and family, you’ll earn money on THEIR purchases too! Whaaaaat? I know. But it gets even better – when THEY share with THEIR friends, you’ll earn from those purchases too. If you’re a savvy shopper, this is an easy way to earn a free check each month when you share all these sweet savings.

Learn 15 simple ways to shop online for FREE today too!

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Having a Baby? Join the Free Baby On Board Bootcamp

“Families with babies and families without babies are sorry for each other.” – Edgar Watson Howe … This is so true. Before I became a mother, I thought that it would be the hardest job in the world. And it is. But it’s also the best – as all you mommas out there already know. But when you’re pregnant for the first time, planning a pregnancy can be super scary – trying to prepare for all of the immense life changes that are headed your way! We all know that having babies is expensive – but I have an awesome tool that will let you rest easier, by helping you to take a look at how your baby will affect your finances. Keep reading to find out how much it really costs to raise a child, and how to figure out how to manage all of those expenses.

cost of a baby infographic

“A baby is born with a need to be loved – and never outgrows it.” – Frank A. Clark

One of my favorite sites, LearnVest.com, has a great program called Baby on Board Bootcamp - and it’s totally free to join. Awesome, right? You’ll get tips on things like how to estimate what you’ll need for your new baby, how to reduce other spending to free up that cash,  the best way to save on kids clothing, whether it’s more expensive to raise a boy or a girl – and so much more. I’ve done a few of their free bootcamps before, and they are super helpful. {It’s hard to believe that they’re free, right?}

how to afford a baby

“A new baby is like the beginning of all things-wonder, hope, a dream of possibilities.” – Eda J. Le Shan

One of my favorite parts of this free Baby on Board Bootcamp is the Maternity Leave Basics section. This can be SUCH a confusing part of planning for a baby, and many mommas-to-be don’t know enough about the laws, their rights, and what they’re entitled to. This section also goes over the pros and cons of being a stay at home mom versus working outside the home, and helps you determine which one will be right for your new family. Great resources.

LearnVest

How To Join the Free Baby on Board Bootcamp:

Sign up for a free account at LearnVest today. The next screen you’ll go to will have budgeting tools – you can use those to enter your info now {it’s awesome}, or click the button on the bottom right to skip it and come back later. Next you’ll see a big screen with paid subscriptions – You can just click the bottom right again, to continue without upgrading. Now you’ll get a cool screen showing you a bunch of the free tools that are available to you in LearnVest – click “take me to my dashboard” in the upper right of that pop up box. Now – see that big list of FREE bootcamps available to you on the right side of your screen? Yep – you get all of those free! Things like:

  • Get out of Debt – How to figure out what you owe, and how to pay it off fast.
  • Priceless Style – Look like a million bucks, without spending it!
  • Getting Hitched – How to merge both of your finances, and plan for wedding expenses.
  • Ace Your Taxes – What to save, what to toss, and how to prepare.

And tons more. You’ll also find the latest articles filled with financial info that’s actually fun to read. Things like 7 Reasons TV is Ruining Your Life, or Why I Became a Mom at 44. You’ll get a weekly email with tips on staying stylish on a frugal budget, the best way to save on fresh fruits and veggies, and how to totally ace a job interview. You will love this site – pinky promise.

LearnVest

Be sure to enter to win in their big end of summer giveaway too!

Are you using LearnVest Yet? Let me know what you think of it!

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Learn how the #IcedCoffee Challenge put $121 bucks in my pocket

You guys know that I love coffee, right? I’ve told you what my life is like when something  happens and I don’t get my coffee, and about my crazy life that drives me to drink…. too much coffee each day. But, while I am totally and completely content to drink regular home-brewed coffee in the mornings most days, I have serious iced coffee cravings in the afternoon – and prefer it in the mornings too as the weather gets warmer. The trouble is, those iced drinks at the coffee house add up really quickly! So, since I’m a finder of “Smart Solutions for Busy Moms” – I found a solution!

iced coffee at home

The Iced Coffee Challenge Results

Remember way back at the beginning of the month when I started this Iced Coffee Challenge? Well, I estimated that I spend around $4 bucks a day on a coffee house drink – although there are quite a few days when I drink more than one! But based on JUST one per day, the awesome little counter widget in my sidebar shows me that I’ve already saved $121.87 this month!!! Can you believe that? Over $100 extra bucks in my pocket, just by switching to the International Delight Iced Coffee, that comes in a carton so I can serve it at home. And the best part? This stuff is seriously good. Like, addicting good. I’ve never ever found an iced coffee drink that I could buy off the shelf and actually enjoy – but this totally rocks.

morning routine with iced coffee

My new morning routine

Pretty fresh flowers from our garden, my local daily paper, and a big glass of creamy and delicious iced coffee at home = Perfection. With the weather finally getting warmer, there is nothing better than relaxing on the deck in the early morning, feeling some sunshine on my face, while drinking this stuff over ice. And, it’s not just me lovin’ it and savin’ big bucks. Check out everyone else’s stories and savings results on Twitter – just search #IcedCoffee.

drink iced coffee at home

Seriously delicious savings

There is no way that you can tell me that doesn’t look amazing. And if your dreaming of how good it might be right now – you will NOT be disappointed when you try it in real life. It’s my new favorite drink – and in total honesty, it’s better than most of the coffee house drinks I used to buy anyway! And since I’m on a super strict budget to save for our airfare to Reviewer’s Retreat {where I’m speaking – yay!}, and BlogHer, the $100+ bucks a month that I’m saving will be a HUGE help in paying those expenses. What could YOU do with an extra hundred bucks next month? Find out by switching YOUR coffee house drinks to new International Delight Iced Coffee too!

Follow International Delight on Facebook and Twitter – for updates on new products and promotions!

{Disclosure: This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias. #CBias. All experiences, results, overuse of the word “awesome”, and photos are my own!}

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My #IcedCoffee Challenge – Big Savings So Far!

save money with the iced coffee swap

Saving Money in the #IcedCoffee Swap Challenge!

I started this challenge at the beginning of the month, to see how much money I could save by switching from coffee house drinks to the uh-may-zingly delicious Iced Coffee in a carton from International Delight. To help me see those savings add up – I added a cool little gadget to my site, that automatically adds up the $4+ bucks a day that I’m not spending at Starbucks! See it over in the sidebar? Awesomesauce.

Sign outside Starbucks

“A morning without coffee is like, sleep.” – Author Unknown

Most of you ladies know that I was invited on a last minute conference trip to Fort Worth, Texas last week. It was amazingly educational, amazingly fun, and amazingly BUSY!! We started at 7am and were running all day until 11pm. The hotel room had a coffee maker – but it only made 2 cups. So I staggered downstairs to the lobby in search of more caffeinated goodness to help me get started – and found the beautiful sight of a Starbucks sign! But – the part that was NOT good was the price!!! Yikes – It was close to $7 bucks for my usual drink – ACK!! That is NOT smart spending. And it really helped me realize what an awesome savings I’ve been seeing from NOT buying coffee house drinks this month.

buying iced coffee in a carton

“I believe humans get a lot done, not because we’re smart, but because we have thumbs so we can make coffee.” – Flash Rosenberg

So what was the FIRST thing that I did when I got home again from Texas? Sleep. Ok, but the SECOND thing I did was go grocery shopping – and stock up on more of my FAVORITE Iced Coffee drink – the Mocha flavor from International Delight. I had to adjust my savings widget down a bit, to make up for my over-spending while traveling. But I’ve still saved over $70 this month – which is pretty exciting right? That’s some sassy new spring fashions shopping! {And, since I often would get MORE than one coffee house drink per day – and the calculator is only counting ONE drink per day – my true savings are actually much higher!}

“Coffee smells like freshly ground heaven.” – Jessi Lane Adams

I’m always searching for simple ways to save my family money – so that I can share them with you too. I love that with this Iced Coffee Swap, you’re not giving up anything, so it’s an amazingly easy way to save some extra cash in your families budget! What do you think? Do you want to try it too? Let me know how much YOU could save this week by switching to International Delight!!

Want to learn more? Follow International Delight on Facebook and Twitter to stay updated on new products and promotions!

{Disclosure: This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias. #CBias. All experiences, results, overuse of the word “awesome”, and photos are my own!}

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{Mildly Extreme} Master Bedroom & Playroom Makeover

Yes, by that headline, you’ve probably figured out what this post is about – The planning for my {Mildly Extreme} Master Bedroom & Playroom Makeover. We’re on a ridiculously tight budget, which is why it will be only mildly extreme, lol. But – There is SO much that you can do to totally transform a space without spending a ton, just by being super creative and resourceful. And creative is one skill that I do actually excel at! {Unlike cooking…. But that’s another story.}

master bedroom in shades of grey

This is an awesome room. This is not my room.

I found this amazing photo on Pinterest, but unfortunately, it doesn’t link up anywhere. {Pinterest tip: PLEASE make sure you pin to original sources when adding content!} So I have no idea who to credit, or how to get any of these materials. But – this is kind of my inspiration for my space – I’ll be painting our walls this color – {any suggestions of paint brands? I hated the last kind I used!} – and painting our trim white. Our room is already in shades of black and grey, but I love, love, love the use of textures and patterns here. Just perfect.

What I’m Workin’ With:

carousel designs baby girl crib bedding

Mommy and Me – Sharing a Room

This is the designer crib bedding set that Abby has right now – It’s from Carousel Designs, and it was so worth the cost. It was the most expensive purchase I made when shopping for baby stuff – but it’s as gorgeous today as it was when I bought it, even after 20 months of washing. Due to our big, crowded household of extended family, Abby and I have been sharing the Master Bedroom, and will be for about another year. {But that’s ok, since we both adore pink and polka dots.} Now that she’s become a toddler, I want to upgrade our space, and make more room for her to play. My office is also in the bedroom until the end of the year, so the big challenge in this makeover is to make separate areas for all of the uses in the room. Also – Speaking of challenges – This Master Bedroom was built without a closet! Whaaaat? There was clearly no woman involved in the planning on this, lol. So we’re building one in.

damask and polka dot bedding

This is what I sleep on – Keep, or Switch?

I chose this bedding set before Abby was born, because it matched so well to hers. The polka dot trim and damask type pattern tie them together really well. But, while I do still totally love it, I feel kind of ready for a change. I’m debating a few different options, and you can see them on my Master Bedroom & Playroom Makeover planning board on Pinterest. I’d LOVE some comments on this board, with your opinions as I add and decide.

The Makeover Plan

Over the next two months, I’ll share pics of our projects and progress, and of course a big reveal at the end! Here are a few of my plans and ideas:

  1. Build a closet. I wanted to go all-out, and build a really awesome customized closet… But, most of what I wanted was out of my price range. So, we’ll be building a smaller, but still cool, closet along one wall.
  2. Convert to a toddler bed. Abby’s crib has a few scratches from moving last year, but is still in really great shape. It’s the type of crib that converts to a toddler bed, and I think it’s about time to make the switch.
  3. Cover the carpet. I’d LOVE to add laminate floors, but that will be a year or two from now. Our carpets wasn’t in great shape when we moved in – and with a toddler and a puppy here, they are a mess. So, we’re going the more affordable route – We’ll be doing a thorough carpet cleaning, and ordered an awesome new rug from Mohawk Home, to cover the damage and really upgrade the room.
  4. Playroom Space. We just got the sling bookshelf from One Step Ahead, which is an adorable way to store and display Abby’s book collection. I also ordered a super cool toy chest, and we just set up the ClosetMaid 9-Cube Organizer, with some cute pink fabric bins, and it’s going to be an AWESOME new option for toy storage!
  5. Office Space. I will be moving my desk and shelves to a corner, with my rolling file cabinet and lamp, to make a great little office area. I need a rug, and will add the ClosetMaid Mini-Organizer to keep all of my smaller accessories neat and easy to access.
  6. Wall Art. We’ll be painting the walls and trim, and I’m in need of some cool wall art too. The room has really high vaulted ceilings, so the walls right now look very bare. I have a TON of cool ideas to choose from on my Creative Wall DIY board on Pinterest – Leave some comments to help me decide. There are so many amazing ideas there to be inspired by!

There’s a boat-load of work to do, but I’m super excited to get started! We had meant to get this rockin’ a month ago – but with my big computer crash, I really got pushed behind on all of my projects! My goal is to have our room ready by the end of May, for my birthday.

What do you think?

I’d love some comments on my Pinterest boards, to help me make some decisions. {I got some great feedback on Facebook from ya’all, with helping me to choose a rug!} And if you have cool DIY idea posts that can help inspire me, be sure to leave the link in a comment below! You guys rock.

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