Are You Ready for Christmas?

“Once again we come to the Holiday Season, a deeply religious time that each of us observes, in his own way, by going to the mall of his choice.” Dave Berry

Christmas comes ever year on December 25. It also happens to be Hubs’ birthday! So, have YOU started prepping for Christmas yet? By now you’re probably looking at your calendar, shaking your head, and thinking I’ve lost my mind. Yes, it’s September but if you’re going to have a Christmas season without a retail hangover with the post-Christmas credit card bill headache, now is the time to start getting ready. You’ll notice I said, “prepping”, not “shopping”. Here’s what I mean…

Who will you be shopping for? How much do you intend to spend on each person? If you haven’t already started, now is the time to start putting a few bucks aside so that the Christmas crunch isn’t quite so crunchy on your wallet. Once you know who you need to shop for and how much you will spend, you can budget for it and put the money aside. Also, the A-number one rule of prepping for Christmas is to WRITE IT DOWN!! Make yourself a list and stick to it, just like any other shopping list.

One of the things from years gone by that is making a comeback is layaway. This makes me very happy since you can use this feature to purchase your gifts and pay over time without going into massive amounts of interest-laden debt. The policies of the stores offering layaway vary so check with them before shopping. I used to use layaway for my Christmas shopping when I was in high school and I’m really glad to see some retailers are seeing the value of offering it to their customers.

If you need a little extra cash to pay for your Christmas gifts, now would be a great time to apply for that part-time job you’ve been thinking about. There’s plenty of work available if you’re looking make a little bit of holiday cash. Most retailers offer an employee discount so you can make a bit of shopping cash and buy your gifts at a discount. Win/win!! 🙂 Elena Peters with Making Midlife Matter has some good suggestions for finding (or making your own!) side hustle. Click here for details…

I hope I’ve given you some good ideas for planning your Christmas shopping without the dread of the bills that inevitably come in January. Do you have any money saving or prepping tips that I haven’t covered here? Please share in the comments!

Be well and God Bless-until we meet again…

Some Favorite Money Saving Apps

“The art is not in making money, but in keeping it.” Proverb

I’m all about using technology to save a little money, and there are more than a few app developers out there more than willing to assist in my quest. The following is a list of some of my favorite money saving apps. They are available for download in the Apple Store and Google Play, and some are also available for download directly to your computer.

Flipp is probably my number one favorite app for saving money, especially since I cancelled my local paper subscription. Flipp is customizable based on where you live and provides up-to-date copies of all the sales flyers from your favorite stores. It’s easy to access them even from your phone while you’re out shopping to make sure you’re getting the best price. While I’ve never tried this, you may even be able to use the information in the Flipp app to get a store that price matches to match a competitor’s price on an item. If you have done this, please share how it went!

If your local library is supported, Overdrive is an awesome app to use to borrow books. Ebooks, audiobooks and videos are available for loan. A multitude of devices are supported and it’s a great way to satisfy the bookworm in you and not break the bank.

Are you a magazine junkie? If you are, Flipster is the app for you!!! This app is also supported by local libraries and has digital copies of national magazines available to temporarily download and read from your tablet. I use this one a lot, as I have been cancelling magazine subscriptions to save a little bit of money. It also helps to save a few trees!

I was not familiar with Roomer before I started researching this post so I’m not sure how well it works, but I thought I’d include it since it sounds intriguing to me. Roomer promises amazing last-minute deals on hotel rooms. One of the features that is especially appealing to me is that you can sell your reservation to someone if your plans change. If you have used Roomer successfully, please share your experience in the comments.

While I realize there are mixed views on the need and validity of credit scores, it’s still a good idea to keep track of yours especially if you are job hunting or purchasing insurance, since many insurers use your credit score to set your insurance premiums. Credit Karma offers free credit score monitoring as well as insights to how you can improve your score. They also promise that they store your data securely and will not sell your information to third parties.

With as much as I LOVE to shop there, I really need to learn how to effectively use Cartwheel by Target. Penny Pinchin’ Mom has written a FABULOUS post on how to use Cartwheel. Glad I found it, and now that I’ve shared it with you, let me know if you’ve used it and had good experience with it.

According to Wikipedia, Ibotta is a Denver, Colorado based mobile technology company that enables users with its smartphone app to earn cash back on in-store and mobile purchases with receipt and/or purchase verification. As I write this, I’m in the middle of setting up an account with Ibotta and will let you know if I have any success with it.

So, these are some of my favorite apps to use to save money-what are some of yours? Leave a comment and let us all know. Thanks!!

Be well and God Bless-until we meet again…

Snowball vs Avalanche – Getting out of Debt

“Just find what works for you, what style suits you best, and just be confident enough to rock it.” Odell Beckham, Jr.

I should have titled this post, “Debt is a 4 Letter Word” because it IS. This little monster has caused more than it’s share of stress and sleepless nights, and kept many of us from reaching our life goals. The first step to getting out of debt is recognizing that whatever you’re doing isn’t working and something has to change. Yeah, that old definition of insanity, right? So, how do you tackle your debt? You use the method that WORKS FOR YOU!!

While there are probably as many methods of dealing with debt as there are starfish in the ocean, I’m going to focus on 2 of the most well-known–the Debt Snowball and the Debt Avalanche. Both methods focus on paying off smallest to largest, but the way the debt is listed is where they differ.

With the Debt Snowball, your debts are listed by amount, smallest to largest. You pay the minimum payment due on all but the smallest debt, and throw all your extra cash at that smallest debt. Once that debt is crossed off your list, you do the same with the next debt on the list, and so on until all the debt is paid. More information on the Debt Snowball is available here.

With the Debt Avalanche, you list your debts by which has the highest interest rate, regardless of amount. All your extra cash is put towards the debt with the highest interest rate, while paying the minimum payments on the rest. Once the highest interest rate debt is paid, you move on to the next one on your list, and continue until all of the debt is paid. More information on the Debt Avalanche can be found here.

So, which is better? It depends…according to research, the Snowball has the psychological advantage of allowing you to cross items off your list a little faster since you’re starting with the smallest amount first. Conversely, the Avalanche will save you the most money since you’re starting with the debt with the highest interest rate. This method really takes a good bit of discipline, since it will cost you more money in the long run if you miss a planned payment.

I ask again-which is better? I can’t answer that, since I’m not you. The one that works for you, the one you stick to, is the better of the 2 methods. If you’re not going to stick to your plan, it doesn’t matter which plan you choose. I’m a firm believer in “there’s no ONE right way” when it comes to getting out of debt. If you create a plan and work it with intention, you WILL get out of debt. It takes a lot of planning, budgeting, and discipline (ESPECIALLY discipline!), but it CAN be done. How do I know this? Because I’ve done it. It took a TON of discipline, along with some sacrifice, but it was all worth it.

Have you paid off a good bit of debt? Leave a comment and share how you did it! Thanks!!

Be well and God Bless-until we meet again…


Dave Ramsey

Nerd Wallet


Beauty Products on a Budget

“Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful…” 1980s Pantene commercial

I have it on VERY good authority the markup on beauty products is, well, how should I put this and still keep this post “G” rated? Let’s just say the markup is astronomical! So how do we look as good as we can and not spend a fortune in the process? Know your vendors and plot a money-saving strategy!

Two of my favorite sources for salon quality beauty products are ULTA and QVC. Let’s review them one at a time…

ULTA has both in-store and online shopping. They are my absolute go-to for salon quality hair care products. The best deal to be had is their Jumbo Liter event, when liter sized bottles of salon quality shampoos & conditioners are available at crazy low prices, up to 50% off regular prices.  A little goes a very long way with these shampoos and conditioners, so a liter bottle will last you a very long time. They even sometimes throw in a reusable pump with the bottle for free or very low-cost. If you can’t get it for free, it’s worth a couple bucks to buy the pump make the shampoo & conditioner easier to dispense in the shower. Trust me on this one! The “buy one get one” or “buy two get one” free deals on salon quality styling products are also a great bargain. Keep an eye on your supply and stock up when a sale comes-your wallet will thank you.

Mom Deals has put together this fabulous ULTA sale calendar for reference. It’s also worth your while to sign up for the ULTA rewards program. I’ve never been a Diamond member, but the basic membership offers a good discount and you’ll also get a member’s only head’s up on their best sales. A word of caution-don’t spend just to “up” your membership level unless it’s for things you are going to use, anyhow. It’s very easy to get caught in the “but I’m getting rewards-it’s OK to spend the money” trap. Self control, people!

QVC is a home shopping channel which, to be honest, can get you into a little bit of trouble if you can’t control yourself with infomercial-style programming. I’ll totally admit to getting sucked in more than once in my pre-OWMM life but since I cut the cable I no longer have easy access to watch the network. It doesn’t mean I’ve stopped shopping there entirely, though-if you know exactly what you want and know when they will offer a good deal, QVC is a great resource. Subscribe to their email list and you’ll be the first to know when the object of your desire will be offered at a great price. My go-to foundation is made by IT Cosmetics. I just LOVE their CC Cream. The only place I’ve ever seen the large size offered is on QVC, and it goes on special twice a year. A large tube of this stuff will easily last 6 months and you can get it for just a few dollars more than it costs for the smaller tube IF you wait for the sale.

Not everything in my cosmetics bag is salon quality, though-one of the absolute best sources for make-up is your local drug store or even your grocery store. My go-to mascara is Maybelline Great Lash, which has won multiple awards as the best drugstore mascara from Allure magazine. It’s available in multiple shades, as well as washable and waterproof formulas. Your local newspaper will have coupons available for Maybelline Great Lash, which makes it a total OWMM Best Buy. L’Oreal Infallible Never Fail eyeliner is my go-to eyeliner. It’s easy to apply and washes off with soap & water. It’s also available at a great price with coupons in your local paper.

My final stop for beauty products on a budget is, wait for it…Sam’s Club! Back in the day when I had a spa membership, the esthetician doing my facials complimented my skin and told me I should keep doing what I was doing to cleanse and moisturize. I use Olay Facial cloths in the shower ever morning-they’re great for cleaning and exfoliating and the price at Sam’s for buying them in bulk can’t be beat. For moisturizer, I’m not married to a brand but I won’t buy off-brand, either. I will shop price and get whatever is the least expensive. I don’t have overly sensitive skin so I can do this and get away with it. The package size of these products at Sam’s is usually double what you can get in a regular store and the price is only slightly higher.

None of the links I’ve included in this post are affiliate links-they’re informational only. I use and love these products and just wanted to share. If you have any resources for good, quality beauty products at a great price, please share in the comments and let us all in on your great beauty secrets.

Be well and God Bless-until we meet again…

I Want My CHEAP TV!!

“I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go in the other room and read a book.” Groucho Marx

If you’re a TV watcher, how do you get your signal these days? When I was a kid, we had 6 or 7 channels to choose from. My siblings and I took turns being the TV remote, which ever one of us was told by Dad to change the channel or turn the sound up! Fast forward to my junior year in high school when cable TV first came to be-HBO was all the rage. Cinema movies on the home TV-what a novelty! And who among us didn’t say at least once, “I Want My MTV!!”?

Television viewing choices have come a LONG way from the days of the rooftop TV antenna, and with these choices have come some astronomical expenses. We had cable TV from the time we returned to the states in 1991 until 2003 when we took the leap from cable to satellite. Back then I was a BIG football watcher. The installer commented on how great it was that my husband was getting all these sports packages. He just looked at the guy, smiled, and said, “the sports packages are for HER, not for me!”

Cable TV started with a promise of commercial-free TV, but once we consumers made the switch from broadcast to cable, the providers knew they had us. The commercials came back with vengeance and no one cared. It’s too bad the prices didn’t go down when the commercials returned. We had our satellite for a LOT of years and spent a ton of money over the years until we finally decided enough was enough. We HAD to get a handle on how much we were spending on TV! For crying out loud, it’s TV-while it’s nice to have, it’s not exactly the smartest way to spend your hard-earned money. Thankfully, technology has changed a great deal in the last 15 years and our choices are much more plentiful and affordable. I’m not going to detail satellite or cable choices in this post only because I’m thinking everyone is pretty familiar with them, how they work, and how ridiculously expensive most of them are! There are some other great choices out there at all kinds of price points-it really all depends on what you’re looking for and how much you’re willing to spend.

For basic television viewing, not much will beat a digital antenna. You purchase one time and watch TV without having to subscribe to anything. Your viewing choices will definitely be limited, but your budget will be free of a recurring expense. I did a search of “whole house digital antenna” and found this wonderful article from Crutchfield New Media detailing what you should look for in choosing the best HDTV antenna for your location. There are a lot of variables to consider, such as the terrain of the area where you live, the direction of the transmitter, and the distance from the transmitter. If you’re unsure of which type of antenna to purchase (indoor or outdoor), they suggest contacting your local television station for a recommendation. They want to keep their viewers happy and will usually give you a good suggestion. Some of the choices are DIY, while others will probably require professional installation in order to be done correctly. Still, once it’s installed, the price for watching TV is definitely right! Hello, FREE!

If you’re looking for something more than standard network television, you’re probably going to want to look at a streaming service. Most TVs these days are equipped to either stream the signal directly or to connect a streaming signal device, such as a Roku or Amazon Fire Stick. These devices are pretty inexpensive and connect easily to the USB port on your television. As for the streaming service itself, this guide published by Consumer Reports offers a comprehensive list of both network apps and streaming services such as DirecTV Now and Hulu. One thing to keep in mind with a streaming service, though, is your internet connection. Buffering is pretty annoying, so you’ll want to make sure your internet connection is up to the task. This article from Nerd Wallet is a pretty good guide to the best internet speed for your streaming needs.

After a bit of experimenting we settled on a streaming service that gives us most of the programming we had on the satellite at about one-third the cost of what we were paying for satellite TV. One of the things I have been missing, though, are a couple of shows on PBS that my sister turned me on to. Alas, my local PBS channel is not on the streaming service. Good news-I just discovered America’s Test Kitchen and Cook’s Country on YouTube. Some of the episodes are behind a pay wall but most of them are the best price ever-FREE! I’ve learned a LOT about cooking quality food at home from these shows and I’m happy to have discovered them on YouTube.

So, are you a TV watcher? Have you “cut the cord”? Share how you did it in the comments. Thanks!

Be well and God Bless-until we meet again…

My Top 5 Money Saving Tips

“A simple fact that is hard to learn is that the time to save money is when you have some.” Joe Moore

How true this is! Pretty obvious when you stop to think about it, but sometimes wisdom comes from being smacked in the head by the reality of a situation rather than the obvious. Which brings me to today’s subject. I’d like to share with you my top 5 favorite ways to save money. Here we go…

1-Sell Some Stuff. If you’re anything like me, you have a house full of stuff you don’t use taking up space that would be better used if so much stuff wasn’t there! As I told you in my post about F.O.M.O., the fall yard sale is on the schedule. Gather up the stuff you’re no longer using and sell it. It gets the clutter out of your house and you’ll have a bit of pocket change to show for your trouble.

2-Pay yourself first. Put a line item in your budget to pay yourself. I love this idea because it’s just so simple. Budget for your emergency fund, put the money aside, and leave it. It’ll be there right when you need it most. Hubs has a job that offers a retirement plan he can contribute to, and it comes directly out of his paycheck, but mine does not. I’m still saving for retirement, though, by having a Roth IRA that is funded monthly. There’s a line item in the budget for that, too. Put that money aside and let it grow!

3-Look for recurring charges. Review your expenses for recurring charges for items you’re no longer using. Stopped going to the gym? Stop paying for it! Have subscriptions for magazines you’re no longer reading? Cancel them! I had a spa membership that was ridiculously expensive and, odd as this sounds, was starting to turn into a chore to keep up. It’s gone and I don’t miss it. Don’t pay for things you’re not using. You’ll be surprised to see how much extra money you’ll have. Just don’t spend it buying more STUFF!

4-Make and stick to a list. When grocery shopping, make a list. More importantly, STICK TO YOUR LIST!! Grocery stores are the BEST at marketing to people as they stroll the aisles. “Off the list here”, and “off the list there” adds up very quickly. Stick to your list and you’ll be fine. Another sure fire way to not impulse buy is to use a grocery pick up service if your store offers it. Shop online and pick up your order at the store. They bring it to your car so you never have to go into the store. What a WONDERFUL thing for parents with small children!! Sonny loves going to the store so I haven’t tried one of these services yet. I will be soon (much to his chagrin!) and I’ll report back when I do. Oh, one more thing…if you do go into the store, DON’T SHOP HUNGRY!!

5-Eat at home. When I was a child, eating out was a rare treat reserved for special occasions. The restaurant world has changed a bunch since those days, as have people’s eating habits. Some eat out daily for at least 1 meal. This was a HUGE one in my family-I’d get home after a long day and it was so much easier to fire up the iPad and order a pizza instead of fixing a meal. I had plenty of food in the house, but I just didn’t want to deal with cooking. I’m happy to say this is a bad habit I’ve managed to smash to bits. I’m sure the pizza guy misses us terribly but I cannot remember the last time I had a fully cooked meal delivered to my house. Aside from being better for your wallet, food you fix yourself is usually MUCH healthier, as you have full control over what goes in it. This includes lunch, too-pack a lunch instead of eating out and your budget,  and probably your waistline, will thank you!

I’ve shared my Top 5 money saving tips, what are some of yours? Please leave a comment and share your best money saving ideas.

Be well and God Bless-until we meet again…

Low Cost Pet Vaccinations

“Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.” Groucho Marx

These are my 3 furbabies-Bear is the all white blue-eyed Husky. He’s Sonny’s dog-12 years old and thinks he’s still a puppy. Such a sweet boy! Emily is the brown Husky/German Shepherd mix. She’s 8 years old and she’s the sweetest baby ever. Then there’s Lucy-my 4 year old Bull Terrier. Suffice it to say she lives up to her breed name! She’s a real spitfire!! I never thought I’d have as many dogs as we do people in our house but here we are! As you can imagine, the vet bills can get pretty expensive if we rely on our vet to give them all their vaccinations. The Hubs and I recently spent a Sunday afternoon standing in line at our local animal control office for a vaccine clinic. It was quite an adventure…

The day of the clinic started VERY early, since I had a half marathon scheduled for that morning. Hubs was at the finish line passing out water to the runners (and slow poke walkers like me!) and it was a welcome sight to see him there! Since I was close to the last finisher Hubs was finished with his volunteer work shortly after I finished. My usual routine after a race is to have some lunch, take a shower, and take a WELL DESERVED NAP (well deserved in my mind, anyhow!). Well, Hubs caught wind of the upcoming shot clinic and he said I could sleep for an hour and then we had to get to animal control. Yeah, OK, whatEVER!!

I woke up from the nap, cranky as the day is long, and told Hubs I was ready to go. One of the animal dynamics in our house is that Lucy cannot be in the same room with the other 2 unless she’s in her crate. Sadly, our “children” do not get along very well and the fights have been messy, so we’ve found it easier to just keep them separated. Anyhow, it was time to take Bear & Emily to the shot clinic so we piled into the Jeep and drove to animal control. It was a HOT day and the line for the clinic was already well outside the door by the time we got there. In my sleep deprived cranky state I looked at the line, rolled my eyes, and briefly considered going back home. Nope-the dogs needed their shots so we got in line. It actually moved a lot quicker than I thought and in about 30 minutes I was filling out the paperwork and taking Bear & Emily to the vet who was volunteering his time to administer the vaccines. Each dog needed 3 vaccines and they cost $10 per vaccine. I would have easily paid double or triple that amount if I had taken them to their regular vet so, cranky as I was, it was time well spent.

Once we were done and got the 2 older furkids home, I looked at the clock and decided we still had time to load Lucy into the car and get her shots, too. We JUST barely made it back to animal control in time-Lucy was the last dog seen that day. The folks at animal control decided to move the line into the building so second time around it was MUCH cooler. Hubs stayed outside with Lucy since she doesn’t get along well with other dogs (not just ours!). I wondered how they would handle her since we made it clear she needed to be away from the other dogs. They closed her into the room by herself and were the same with her as they were with my other 2. I was so grateful, since I’m never sure how people are going to react to her when we warn them about her reactions to other dogs. Lucy got her shots and we were done.

I’m still amazed at how much money we saved by taking them to this shot clinic instead of to our regular vet. Looking back on my payment records, last year when we took them all to the vet for their shots the cost was close to $350 per dog. This year we paid $90 TOTAL for all 3 dogs. If you’re a pet owner, it would be well worth your while to find a low cost pet vaccine clinic in your area. Many animal shelters and pet charities offer these services at a greatly reduced cost, and some will even do a full exam including heartworm testing. Check to make sure the vaccines are being administered by a licensed veterinarian-in my state it’s the law but it might be different where you live. Doing a little homework to find an inexpensive alternative for your pet’s vaccines is time well spent!

Be well and God Bless-until we meet again…


Planned Pethood of Georgia