Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Words of Wisdom from My Governor

Here are some words of wisdom from my New Jersey Governor Chris Christie on fiscal responsibility. He is a man after my own heart:
Gov. Chris Christie appeared on NJ 101.5 FM this week for his "Ask the Governor" show and left armed with a new viral audio clip.

Gov. Chris Christie

On the call-in show, Penny from Blackwood asked Christie how she, a state worker, was going to pay for the additional costs of her health care plan under the governor's proposal to take more money from state workers' pay for their insurance.

The answer was pure Christie:

"... We can no longer afford to pay 90-plus percent of the cost of your health care. Public workers are getting their health insurance paid for out of your property taxes and state workers are getting their health insurance paid for out of your income taxes. If I'm $67 billion in debt and you don't want me to take any more money out of your paycheck, how am I supposed to pay for it? Am I just supposed to raise taxes? Because if I raise taxes, you're going to pay more taxes. And if your property taxes go up, you're going to pay more taxes. I mean, the money's got to come from somewhere. We can't print it."

Read the whole article here.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Getting a Child Who Hates School to Love School

Or at least do their schoolwork with out a struggle. Recently I wrote a post about when a child hates school and some advice from my friends. This is my follow up post.

School is conducted in peacefulness now thanks to some changes. Here is what worked for us:

  • Writing a list of each assignment. This alleviates the anxiety of endless amounts of schoolwork and provides a sense of accomplishment when your child crosses it off. My friend gave me the idea of color coding assignments green for independent work and red for work with mom. This way, if you are caught up with another child, they can still move ahead.
  • Adding a fun hands on, educational activity to start our school day. It may be spelling word with our Lego letter blocks or a puzzle, but it is done quietly, seated at the table with the rest of us. I pick something my son will enjoy because I want to show him learning can be fun. It sets a good tone for our school time. Also, I give my younger son a parallel activity as a form of peer pressure.
  • Academic Probation. This was my husband's idea, every night he would work with my son on his school work. My husband's reasoning was that my son looked forward to that time to play with his Dad, and missing that special time would motivate him to get his act together. During our normal school time, my son would be given educational tasks and complete some non-battle producing school tasks. Eventually, we were able to do all of his schoolwork during normal school hours.
Three simple changes, but it fixed our school problems.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Math Battle or Teaching Textbooks

Ok, my husband has gently mentioned before that I seem heavy handed in my posts about the struggles of homeschooling, he is right. After this I will try to think of a positive posts, but here is one more:

Next year I was thinking about getting an independent math or language arts program, so I will have time to teach the boys their reading and math. Though, I have felt concerned over the scholastic level of the independent programs. I do not want something that will make my kid a lemming or pencil resistant (hates learning). So, I felt concerned, torn and had a lot of questions.

However, math time has gotten so bad with my oldest, I think I need to switch now. She has a hard time learning math skills, and so hates math. I think doing math actually gives her a tension headache. Teaching Textbooks seems like it may be a great solution for us, though it is a grade or 2 behind in grade level. My daughter is behind anyway, so it might be a good fit for her. She enjoyed the on-line sample lesson, you can find them on their website.

Here is a really good review on Teaching Textbooks by a math tutor:
Time used: one year
Your situation:
started homeschooling middle of last year, went through all the popular math currics, none work for my 10 yr old who is diagnosed with dyscalculia, this year we also decided to homeschool our 8 yr old.

Why you liked/didn't like the book:
I will give the good first, this computer program has worked well for my 5th grader. We used the 4th grade cdroms. My son would cry at school during a math lesson and once we started homeschooling with Saxon and other like that he started banging his head on table, just pulling out the math book sent him into a major melt down. I am confident that this program is a perfect fit for my 10 yr old. 5 days a week he completes one lesson on his own without a fight. I did have to sit beside him for about three months everyday before he was confident on his own. I highly suggest this for kids that seem to have problems with math computations or have anxiety when you pull out a math book.

Now the bad, and this is really bad. I am a math tudor for several public school stundents. This program claims to be the best homeschool math for the 21st century, yet it is a good 2 yrs behind. When I called to ask about this, the lady just blew me off and laughed, "Our program follows state standards." I let her know that I am a math AND standardized tudor for 3 states. I explained that I loved their product; however they need to add so much. If you do use this product, contact your local school district and request a copy of their math standardized test prep. Each state gives each child a s.t.p workbook that has one or two questions that are required for that year. If you only use these product your child will not be considered grade level if you had to put them back in school or wanted them tested, for most homeschool families we are not concerned with "keeping up" with public school. I think those test prep workbooks are only helpful to children if you take time to go over each concept. All my students say that their teacher spent on day on several pages, one page can have up to 5 different concepts. If you can get one of these workbooks, talk your time, use the Teaching Textbooks for "happy time" math everyday and take one concept from the state standard workbook, go over it until your child really gets it. Homeschoolers are not slaves to government produced standards. We have learned that children and ready when they are ready, enforcing concepts too soon, too fast can change a child forever. My 5th grade students are doing stem and leaf proability graphs, which is not explored in this product. Also 5th grade students are required to know mode, median, average. This product has this in their 7th grade program.
To sum it up, my 5th grade LD student is doing the 4th grade lessons, my 2nd grade student is also using the 4th grade lessons. As with any homeschool product, it's not going to fit the perfect mold with state standards. If state standards worked for our kids, we would put them back in school.

Any other helpful hints:
Know what is important to you. Do you want your child to pull out their laptop and do their math lesson on their own, then you can go back and check the grade book
do you want to keep up, keep up, until your child is banging their head on the table?

Review left February 12, 2010

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Good Stewards Class Notes: Couponing and Frugality

A friend and I spoke at a women's breakfast at my church on good stewardship of our money. While that is a huge topic, we mostly touched on how to save money by staying out of debt and couponing. Couponing is much more than just clipping coupons, it is a state of mind where wait to get what you need until you can get it at a good price. Once I saved over $700 on our family vacation by keeping my eyes opened and making 1 phone call. Below is more of a list of jumping off points, than a how to. It is the resources to get you started. Here is the hand out with a few added links and notes:

First of all, you may want to read this post I wrote comparing frugality with good stewardship. This part can be easily overlooked, but it is very important to have the right perspective.

There is also this post on couponing myths like, "There is nothing I would use coupons for."

Coupon lingo can be confusion to new be couponers, here is a site that translates for you.

Basic Principle
It is very simple, you use a coupon on a product that is already on sale. But you just don't buy one, you buy enough to last you to the next sale, usually about 3 months. See, the old way of couponing was buying a box of zip locks because I ran out. As an after thought I use 1 coupon as well. The new way is waiting until zip locks go on sale, then using the coupons I have to get several boxes. The old way I would get 1 paper, the new way I would get at least 4!

Four papers may sound like a lot, but you must have several to make your effort pay big. You can ask family and friends for their unwanted coupon inserts. If you cannot find any free paper inserts, even if you buy a paper, it would more than pay for itself.  If you are single or are just maintaining a stockpile, you may be able to get by with 2-3 papers.  As you keep reading, it will make more sense.  It also really depends how good the coupons are that week, I do not get 4 every week.  We will talk more about that too.  

Below there are more notes and links about coupon inserts and printable coupons. I also wrote 2 other posts on couponing here and here.
Here is a no coupon way to save money:

Homemade Laundry-detergent
This laundry detergent saves a huge amount of money. We buy its three ingredients for less than five dollars, and the resulting concentrate lasts our large family(the Duggars, not us) 3 months! It's a watery gel that produces low suds inside the washer. The ingredients are usually available in the laundry-products aisle of the supermarket — or order online. (Check recipes on the Internet; there's also a dry version of this laundry soap that's good for top-loading machines.) ~From 19 and Counting (Duggars) TLC on their recipe page. Added some comments myself. I have post here and here about this before. I have tried the dry recipe, it is not as good.

1 Fels Naptha soap bar, grated
 1 cup washing soda
1/2 cup borax
(All these ingredients can be found in the laundry isle at Shoprite.) 

Equipment: pot, grader, 5 gallon bucket, an old laundry-detergent bottle

1)Grate the soap bar into a small saucepan. Cover soap with hot water. 2)Cook over medium-low heat, stirring continually, until the soap completely dissolves.
3)Put washing soda and borax in a 5-gallon bucket. Pour in the hot, melted soap mixture. Stir well, until all the powder is dissolved. Fill the bucket to the top with more hot tap water. Stir, cover securely, and let set overnight. 
4)The next morning, stir the mixture. Mix equal amounts of soap concentrate and water in a smaller laundry-detergent dispenser or container. Shake before using.
For top-loading machines: Use 1 cup of the soap mixture per load.
For front-loading machines: Use 1/2 cup per load.

Coupon Inserts:
There are a few different publishers of coupons. They are:
Red Plum
Smart Source
P&G Brand Saver (Protector and Gamble products) 
GM Everyday Saver (General Mills)

You will find the title up at the top of the coupon insert. Occasionally, there may be 2 Red Plums and/or 2 Smart SourceS. The date is printed on the spine.

Philadelphia Inquirer: Best coupons most of the time, has more coupons per Smart Source insert, but no Red Plum. This paper is best bought on Saturday, if you don't have it delivered and costs about $1.75. However, the some Shoprites sell it for $1 (Medford, NJ).

Burlington Country Times: has less coupons per Smart Source insert, but does have a Red Plum. This paper is best bought on Sunday from the Dollar Tree for $1 of course.

All You: A magazine sold only by Wal-mart, full of a lot of coupons. You can get a subscription from Amazon or from their website www.allyou.com Also, you can print coupons from their website.

Individual Coupons Printed from the Internet: Here are some safe sights to print coupons from:
There are more available, many companies offer coupons (see “Is this printable coupon legitimate?” ). Remember, you can print 2 coupons per computer. So, the more computers you have access to, the more you can print. You will have to download a program, but it is perfectly safe. It just makes sure you cannot print out more than allowed.  

Weekly Preview: Find out what some of the good coupons, how many inserts, what inserts are in the paper, and how many papers to buy of this weekend. She posts it on Saturday.

To buy weekly inserts:
Ebay – search for inserts by date - “coupon inserts 1/9." You can also buy single coupons. I saved $60 once by buying Almond Milk coupons on Ebay. FYI you are paying for the service to cut and ship, not the coupons - that is illegal.  Yes, there is such a thing as coupon fraud, and it is serious.  

www.hip2save.com -watch videos on shopping at a specific stores
www.livingrichwithcoupons.com (local shopping deals, and videos on putting together coupon binder)
www.thekrazycouponlady.com (videos, couponing 101, store policies) – authors of Pick Another Check Out Lane Honey
www.totallytarget.com (Great for all your Target deals!)

What can I buy with coupon and for how much?
Toothpaste and Toothbrushes
Saline Solution
Over the Counter Drugs
Shaving Cream
Feminine Hygiene Products
Cake Mix, Pancake Mix, Brownies, Cookie Mix
Soap and Body Wash
Shampoo and Conditioner
Pasta and Sauce
Cleaning Products and Dish Soap
Toilet Paper
Paper Towels
Candy and Gum
Paper Towels
Toilet Paper
Tea and Coffee
Diapers and Wipes
Canned Foods

Buy Prices:
What are the items you should put in your stockpile? The list is long, but here are some:
Condiments (BBQ Sauce, steak sauce, mustard, ketchup, mayo)
Rice and Pasta
Snacks (crackers, nachos, salsa, popcorn)
Canned Goods (tomatoes, sauce, soups, vegetables)
Cleaning Supplies (cleaners, garbage bags, laundry)
Drinks (water, soda, iced tea, coffee, tea, juice)
Dairy (butter, creamers)
Meats and Fish (keep frozen)
Health and Beauty Products (band aids, shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, soap, etc.)
Start your stockpile slowly, only looking for those items that are cheap or free. Within 4 weeks of starting your stockpile you can start to see approximately $50 knocked off your grocery bill. Within 8 weeks you can get to as much as $100 or even more off your weekly bill.
You will NEVER pay full price again!
  • Ground Beef 80-85% Lean $1.69- $1.99/lb
  • Boneless Chicken Breasts $ 1.69- $1.99/lb
  • Bone in Chicken Breast $ 0.79/lb
  • Whole Chickens $ 0.97/lb
  • Chicken Thighs or Drumsticks $ 0.79/lb
  • Boneless Pork Chops $ 1.49/lb
  • Boneless Pork Loin $0.99/lb
  • London Broil $ 1.69/lb
  • Top Sirloin Steak $ 3.99/lb
  • Flank Steak $ 4.99/lb
Also be sure to check at Acme for “Manager Specials” they're will be a white coupon for an even lower price!!

Here is a sample buy price list, make your own according to the things you buy:
Cheese $1 or less for a bag of shredded cheese
Ground Beef $1.75/lb
Chicken $1.67/lb
Milk $2.50/gallon (whole)- I freeze my milk if it's lower than this and I want to really stock up
Cleaning Supplies (lysol wipes, bathroom & kitchen cleaners) $.50 or less
Toothpaste/brushes FREE
Cereal $.75 per box or less
Brownie and Cookie Mixes Less than $.50 or FREE
Dish Soap $.25 or FREE
Scott TP less then $.25 a roll
Kotex Pads FREE
Saline Solution FREE
Granola Bars $.50
Chinet Paper Plates $.50
Bisquick $.90 or FREE
Fruit Snacks $ .50 or less
Deodorant FREE
Body Wash FREE
Plan your meals, save money. Plan your meals around what you brought cheap or for free, save A LOT OF MONEY!
www.allrecipes.com (ingredient searches)
www.savingdinner.com (season dinner planning, easy, whole foods and healthy)

Only keep what you can use before it expires or 3 months to a year's worth at most. I might be able to get 20 tubes of free toothpaste, but I cannot possibly use them before they expire. While you are shopping for your household, pick up some items you can get FREE to donate!

Food shelters, missionary housing, charities that work with the needy ( i.e. homeless, women's shelter, aid to single mothers, pregnancy centers etc.) are just a few ideas. Keep your ears open, and you will hear how you can make a big difference just by spending your time. If your neighbor loses their job, you can just go to your stockpile to grab some things to help them. I have asked some people evolved with different ministries in our church, specifically what they need and how many people they plan to reach. This gives me an idea of what to look out for in "free" products, while making sure all my efforts and perfectly good supplies are not wasted.

Links to Helpful Handouts:
Final word
All this free and cheap items can make a newbie couponer go a little crazy.  Just please be sure not to clear the shelf, other shoppers are buying too.  A practical rule I use is no more than 4 items per store, unless it is a deal where you have to spend a certain about.  For example, buy $10 of Hunts products and get a $5 catalina off your next order).  It doesn't matter if you are going to donate them all.  There are families who seriously depend on these deals to make it, I am speaking of basic needs here, like heat, food and shelter.  If it is the last day of the sale and the store still has tons, then it is FINE to go crazy.  God wants us to be good stewards of our money, no matter what your income!  Other than that, please remember the biblical practice of gleaning in the wheat fields!

Books and Resources
  • America's Cheapest Family Gets You Right on the Money: Your Guide to Living Better, Spending Less, and Cashing in on Your Dreams by Steve and Annette Economides www.americascheapestfamily.com
-Lots of U Tube videos (link from their website)
-Great chapters on budgeting, saving and getting out of debt – very practical and realistic

-Great debt free living book

-Great testimony of debt free living and good money saving tips
-This is where I got my recipe for Homemade Laundry-detergent

  • Green This! Volume I: Greening Your Cleaning by Deirdre Imus
-Easy to implement with good information, excluding her conspiracy theories:-)
-She has other volumes available on green living

-She has a few other cookbooks as well.
-Weekly dinner menu plans based on season available foods, on a healthy, whole foods diet. She includes side suggestions.
-Simple, cheap and easy dinners that taste good too!
-Her books are great, but I think her eBooks and subscriptions are outrageously priced 

-Excellent book on how to coupon, and fun to read!
*Use your local library to read these books for FREE. Even if your library does not have the book, you can ask for it through inter-library loan.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Coupon Lingo

Don't speak coupon? Here is a post that translates it for you.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Watoto Children's Choir

Wow! As a family, we were fortunate to see Watoto Children's Choir in person, and it was a great show and experience. The choir is made up of orphan children from Uganda, and they put on an excellent show. Better yet, they have an awesome testimony how Jesus gave them hope when they had none. Here is a link to a video about the concert we saw and to their website http://www.watoto.com . The ministry transforms orphans and widows lives, meeting their physical needs, shows them love, and disciple them in Christ - where their true hope rests. If they ever come to your area, don't miss it, oh, and don't forget to bring the whole family. You can also book a stop on their tour. Check out more about their story at their website.

When Your Child Hates School

Homeschooling has been really hard lately because my son hates doing his school work. This really is not a homeschooling problem, kids who are sent to school have the same issue. Maybe you have a similar problem or maybe it is homework time that is a battle. Even though you have consequences in place, they take forever to get their work done. However, the battle is not because it is too hard for them, they are smart kids. They would just rather play than do work. It is a combination of laziness and personality. While girls can have this problem, it is very common in boys, especially the 2nd born.

There is not time in our day to take 3 hours to do 1 hour worth of work. Crying out to my homeschool mom friends, I asked for some wisdom. One friend, Stephanie suggested to give my son a little more time, since his just turned seven. She suggested doing an educational activity he enjoyed, like a math game. Adding this to our school day did help. Yesterday, my son spelled words using our lego letter blocks, and love it. However, I am not an unschooler and I feel that this is just going to get worse if Iet this go. Therefore, I am still going to do Bible, math and language arts from his curriculum.

In between this, my husband stepped in with a brilliant idea. He would school him at night after dinner. Since my husband only gets at best 2 1/2 hours with them, this was a big sacrifice. My son's school should take him about an hour, probably even less, so it could work. Also, my husband thought this would motivate my son to get his work done on time because he would not want to miss his play time with his Dad. During the day, I try to lighten the load by doing the parts my son enjoys like math and Bible. He is also given an educational activity to build his ability to stay at the school table and to show him learning can be fun.

Another friend, Michelle wrote a great list of points. They were very helpful too, so I wanted to pass them along.

Okay... so here are some ideas from another mom who has a boy who doesn't want to do school- only mine is in 3rd grade, not to discourage you or anything, but he has never been a huge fan of school. He enjoys some aspects of it, but he has consciously decided to not enjoy certain aspects of school. These are things that have worked for me and might be worth trying if you haven't tried them yet.

1) Identify his learning style. Your child's learning style may not be your teaching style as was the case with me. Once kindergarden came with my son, I knew I had to adapt and enhance school to teach him. My perspective had to change.

2) Don't compare him to other siblings. His older sister is a teacher's dream. She was the easiest experiment, uh I mean... student...;) for a first time homeschooling mom. My son introduced me to the "real" world of homeschooling. He is a smart kid, but he does not respond the same way to the same things. Work on building his confidence with his school work by encouraging him when he's doing something well- even if it seems like a small, silly thing.

3) Give him incentives. Yes, sounds like bribing, but for my son LOVES to do projects that involve making a mess and creating things. IF he gets his work done, he gets to do something that he wants to do- that's still learning. Or my son's favorite activity on a nice day: he gets more outside time. That's a HUGE motivator for him. Find out how to motivate your son to show him that you are willing to work with him. Also, mix up the day. If my son is done a portion of work on a nice day that involves a lot of writing, I say quick get your helmet- you have 15 minutes to ride your bike. Getting his energy out helps both of us! Or on a rainy day I may give him 15 minutes on the Wii Fit half-way through the morning. He is a wiggler. Also, chewing sugar free gum is excellent. My son is a "tapper" and "wiggler." He doesn't know it, but the gum gives him a rhythm in his head while doing writing. I don't tell him why I offer him gum so he doesn't depend on it, but I offer it to him when he's doing a lot of writing.

4) Hands-on activities are also great to have around like Stephanie said. My son really embraces hands-on activities. For example, he does math wrap-ups or we play the "pet shop" game (learning center from Lakeshore.) There are a lot of hands-on stations/ folder centers that you can create on your own. Google it.

5) My son feels that school will go on and perhaps never end. His concept is tainted as I do not think there are enough hours in the day. Giving him a schedule so that he knows what's ahead for the whole day comforts him. When he doesn't know what's coming up, he gets frustrated thinking that the work coming his way may never end. So, write down his assignments on a dry erase board (so he can erase them when he's finished) or on an index card (so he can passionately scribble them out when he's done- this is my son's preferred method ;) )

6) Do remember that he is only in 1st grade. Though I am not an unschooler, Stephanie made an excellent point! I have found that my expectations are almost always higher than what my son can actually accomplish, because in part they are based on what my daughter was able to accomplish at his age. So, it is an encouragement for me to lower my expectations a little and adapt with hands-on activities/supplements- even at the 3rd grade level, and your son is two years behind him. ( Don't tell him if you are lowering expectations at all- I read in a great homeschooling book that mothers need to keep tough fronts while homeschooling their boys, still loving but tough. Mothers are a lot of times tougher on their girls -guilty here at times myself!- and soft on the boys when in fact girls usually need more sensitivity while boys need more discipline at these young ages because of how they are wired.... this is an in depth convo I will save for another time. ;) )

7) Relax! We are always harder on ourselves that we should be! You are an excellent mother and teacher, but we all have bad days. In regular schools, we
just don't hear about the teachers' bad days, bad weeks, bad months, or bad years. They have them too though!! Seek the Lord. He will direct you on this matter, and take it one day at a time.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Myths of Couponing

There were a lot of reasons why for most of my life I have not really used coupons. However, after trying to use coupons in a more efficient way, I see that they are not true. Also, you do not have to be a crazy coupon lady like me with a 3 inch binder full of coupons. Couponing can be done on many levels. Here are the myths:

#1 There is nothing I would buy that I would use a coupon on.

We all use deodorant, toilet paper and toothpaste, or we have an entirely different problem on our hands! Actually, some of the best savings are on things you cannot even eat. I have not paid for one bottle of saline solution, toothpaste or deodorant since I started couponing.

So if you think you will have to give up your whole foods, healthy lifestyle, you are wrong. Think of it this way, if you go into Shoprite or any other major food store chain, the many of the eatable items in that store will be over-processed and unhealthy. This would be the reason why Traders Joes is about 4 isles and Shoprite has at least 12. Logically, this would suggest that many of the coupons would be for processed foods like cereal, cracker or artificial frozen food. However, there are still lots of coupons for healthy items, just like there are plenty of healthy choices at Shoprite. Also, you must realize that produce coupons are rare. Cheap produce is found instead by buying in season. Do not forget pharmacies too, I have gotten 6 large containers of regular (not instant) oatmeal for free from Rid Aid.

#2 I would not save enough to make it worth cutting all those coupons.

I can easily save at least $10-20 in manufacture coupons in one shopping trip, combining those coupons on store discounts(sales), I can save 50% off my bill. If you try a little harder you can save 70% to 95% off your bill. The time commitment for a big discount would take me about 10 minutes to read a couponing blog, 30 minutes to pull or print coupons and about 1 hour to shop. However, this depends on how long your list is; how well your coupons are organized; and how well you know your store. Since I have been paid $100 for 1 to 2 hours of work, it makes it MORE than worth my time.

Also there are plenty of deals that involve no coupons at all. Recently I saved $730 on our vacation by making 1 phone call after seeing an advertisement. Even though we booked our trip already, they were happy to adjust our reservations to include the promotion. Couponing is a way of life. You do not have to have a coupon binder or order 4 papers a week. While you will save more if you do, do what you can in the season you are in. Just questions yourself if there is a coupon or discount code for what you want to buy. For example, before you go out on a date with your husband, look on line for discounts for restaurant you want to go to. A couple minutes on Google could save you $5 to $10 bucks.

#3 I have no place to store a stockpile, so I can't coupon.
As I have said above, couponing is more of a way to live. While a stockpile will help you save big, you do not necessarily have to have one to coupon. The good news is a lot of the expensive items can be gotten for free are small in size. You can get great deals on over the counter drugs, vitamins, make up and skin care products, which do not take up a lot of room. You can get them for free, and that would save you a lot of money. So, you still would be stockpiling, but it just would be much smaller. You have to make do with what you have available.

One of the best things about couponing is that you can donate a ton of items, and all it will cost you is your time. Obviously, this requirers absolutely no space. Pregnancy centers need diapers, shelters need deodorant and toothpaste, those who have lost their job need food and laundry detergent. Keep one for yourself, donate the other 3!

#4 I have tried using coupons before, and I have never saved that much. I just am not good at it.
While sometimes I match up deals myself, usually I find all my deals on a couponing blog. I list the blogs I use in posts under "couponing," and I keep up on the blogs by using Google Reader. On the blogs it lists match ups of manufacture coupons with store deals. It tells me the exact coupon, and where to get it or print it. They also calculate the lowest price, though this may be different at your store, so you still need to do your math.

The blogs also tell me if there is a Catalina deal, that is when the little printer next to the register prints out a coupon. However, usually catalinas are only noted on the blogs if it is a certain value off your next order or for a free item. Getting a 75 cents off 3 bottles of Coffee Mate is not an earthshaderinq catalina. The other day I spent $25 after coupons, and got a $20 and $3 catalina off my next shopping order. While the weekly ad from the store described what items qualified for these catalinas, the blogs told me exactly, down to the oz, what to buy, how many to buy, and what coupons I could stack to get this deal. The best part is it took me all of 10 seconds to read it, simple. So, if you want to quickly find the deals, you have to read the blogs.

#5 Coupons cost the store and manufacture a loss in money.
Actually, coupons are just like money. The store gets the full amount back from the manufacture and also get 8 cents a coupon for handling it. If it is a store coupon the store takes the cost, just as if they discounted an item. Both parties do this happily. Why? It gets you in their store because they make their money by moving volume. A Rite Aid manager once told me that they make their ads around the coupons printed in Sunday papers. So, it is no surprise when we match up a coupon to a store deal to make a great deal.

The manufacture just wants to get to you try their product, in hopes you will buy more and tell all your friends too. These are major corporations, they know exactly how many coupons have been used. Remember too, they printed them in the first place. :-)

Coupon fraud does cost stores and companies a lot of money, and can earn you jail time or heavy fine. That is why a couponer should always play by the rules and educate themselves about fake coupons. Coupon fraud costs all of us money!

#6 Couponing is greedy, you should leave the deals for the poor people.
Well, you could be greedy in just about anything. Even John Wesley suggested living on less, so you could save more and give more. Couponing is about making your money more efficient, so you can be more available to God. In addition, if you coupon, you can teach those who are financially struggling how to coupon too. You would be able to help so many people.

However, couponing could also mean that you are a hoarder or you are not a considerate shopper. Like the woman who cleared out the store and bought 40 rolls of free toilet. Maybe she was going donate them, I do not know her heart. But I do know she was inconsiderate of the other shoppers that really needed that deal, not to mention the store. Leave some for the other shoppers.

Well, those are all I could think of today (actually over several days, I get interrupted a lot).

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Travel with Kids

This year we are using My Father's World: Exploring Countries and Cultures. As we travel through the world, we have enjoyed watching travel videos, well I have anyway. While the kids have found them interesting, there is only one series they found entertaining. Only one series they actually begged me to watch. It is call Travel with Kids.

This video series is great because it is filmed so the whole family will enjoy the video. Also, the kid friendly aspect avoids some of the racy sections of some other travel videos made for adults like Rick Steves or Globe Tracker. Besides learning how to travel with kids, you also learn historical facts and get to see interesting places like Big Ben or the Eiffel Tower. The DVD had some great activities to do at home, such as crafts, recipes, websites and books lists. This makes it a great resource if you are teaching about a country. The book list would be very helpful filling up our book basket (MFW).

After hearing from a friend that she visited her in-laws in Germany, I was surprised to find that she only paid $400 a ticket for the flight. That made me think European travel could be within our gasp. Not sure yet if that means we have to go when no ones else wants to travel. The European videos of this series shows me it is possible and fun to travel in far away places with kids.

We were able to get these videos through out library and from Netflix. Amazon sells them as well. They have a few videos about destinations with in the US.