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3 Easy Spring Activities for Kids!

23 Apr

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For most of us in the country, warmer weather has arrived! It’s time to break out the sidewalk chalk, bubbles, and sand! Sometimes, though, it’s nice to do something a little different than the usual go-to outdoor activities. After exploring Pinterest and some other fun ideas that I had bookmarked, my young girls and I spent some time doing the following three activities. BONUS: All of the items were things we had around the house (or printed out)!

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Sidewalk Paint

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I found this idea for Liquid Sidewalk Chalk on Pinterest. This recipe is so simple.  Just mix 1 cup of water with 1 cup of cornstarch and then pour into muffin tins. Stir in food coloring. 

Next time I will use a little more food coloring because our colors came out more pastel than vibrant once the girls started painting. I also don’t recommend using foam brushes, since they got torn up on the concrete!  This was a little messy for my 2-year-old, so it was bathtime afterwards! Her clothes washed up nicely, at least!

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Toilet Paper Roll Butterflies

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I found how to make these cute little guys on Pinterest, too. The PDF template for these butterflies is available via Krafy Kid. Also, the site Kids Kubby showcases several different toilet paper roll craft activities. Who knew there were so many uses?!

I had to quickly take the picture above, since my youngest daughter was anxious to tear the eyes, antennaes, and wings off! At least they were cute for the few minutes that they lasted!

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Nature Bracelets

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This nature bracelet is so simple! Just wrap a piece of packing tape around your kid’s wrist, sticky-side out. Then, let them loose around the backyard or the park to find flowers, leaves, etc.! This would be fun to do in the fall, too!

What is one of your family’s favorite activities? 

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Keep Your ChangeThis post is part of my Keep Your Change series! For more money-saving posts, click here!

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5 Inexpensive Beauty Buys {Keep Your Change vol. 2}

9 Apr

Keep Your Change

This Keep Your Change post is all about saving money on beauty tools and make-up!  The five listed below are my current cheap favorites!

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Facial Scrub Brush

A product thumbnail of Bath Secrets Facial Cleansing Brush

This is definitely a great, inexpensive tool for those of us with skin issues! I buy the Face Secrets Professional Facial Cleansing Brush at Sally Beauty Supply for $2-$2.50, depending on whether or not it is on-sale.  A facial scrub brush was recommended to me by a co-worker who has an aesthetician friend.  She also recommended Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash to use with the brush.  My face feels so clean afterwards and it really helps get my make-up off!  A brush lasts for 2-3 months before needing to be replaced.

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Revlon ColorStay Foundation

For the past several years, I’ve used BareMinerals foundation, but realized that it probably wasn’t covering my acne scars as much as something else could.  I decided to try a liquid foundation again, along with a stippling brush.  I’ve found that applying the foundation with a brush enables me to use less product, which translates into more savings! Revlon ColorStay typically costs about $13, but it can often be found on-sale.  Recently, I was able to score a few for $6 each with a sale and a coupon!

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Rimmel Mascara

Rimmel Extra Super Lash Mascara is just under $3 at Target.  I first tried it when I had a store coupon and manufacturer coupon that brought the price down to $.99.  I discovered that I like this mascara more than many other brands I’ve tried that cost at least twice as much!  Keep an eye out for Rimmel coupons in your Sunday paper!

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Revlon Frost & Glow

Revlon Frost & Glow

 After my youngest daughter was born, I let the highlights grow out of my hair because spending money on color was one of the few things I could actually cut from our family’s budget.  After about a year-and-a-half of blah-ness, I decided to get brave and buy the Revlon Frost & Glow Blonde Highlighting Kit.  It’s relatively fool-proof, although it is a little challenging to pull the strands of hair on the back of my head through the cap myself.  I have managed to use this kit pretty successfully twice so far, though.  At about $7-$8 for a kit, I don’t mind spending an evening every few months to brighten my own ‘do!

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Palladio Rice Powder

This is the latest addition to my make-up collection!  I first heard about Palladio Rice Powder on MakeUp Geek.  It costs about $5 and can be bought at various stores.  I use a soft powder puff to apply it and it seems to be doing a good job of setting my foundation and absorbing oil throughout the day!

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I’m also linking up with Hallie of Moxie Wife this week.  Congrats, Hallie, on your newest addition! Please be sure to check out the other Five Favorites posts and if you have a blog, be sure to join the fun!

What are your favorite inexpensive beauty buys?  Any of these that you think you’d like to try?

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 For more money-saving posts, click here!

Coupon Basics {Keep Your Change vol. 1}

18 Mar

Coupon Basics

I’m excited to be debuting my new Keep Your Change series today! Since, I’ll likely be referring to coupons again and again, I figured that I’d begin with some helpful tips for those who are looking to trim down their budgets by shopping smarter with coupons! Of course, there are several books and blogs dedicated to this, so I’ll just offer a little introduction and link to some of these helpful resources below.

I became serious about using coupons when my second daughter was born. Around this same time, the TLC show, Extreme Couponing debuted. At first I was skeptical of how people could actually save that much money using coupons, but once I saw massive grocery totals being dwindled to under $20, I thought that there must be something to this!  After being on bed rest for two months, starting maternity leave, and facing mega hospital bills, I was desperate to figure out a way to save my family more money.

When I did my first Google search, I ran across the site TheKrazyCouponLady.com.  This is where I had some basic beginner’s questions answered and learned how to put a coupon binder together.  I also bought the founders’ book, Pick Another Checkout Lane, Honey. I’m so glad that I did, because the authors did a great job of making this whole coupon thing seem so much simpler and it was also a fun, easy read!  If you are serious about changing the way you shop, I highly recommend it!

It has been nearly two years since I totally revamped how I approach grocery shopping.  Each week, I check out blogs for sale-coupon match-ups. My favorites right now are I Heart Kroger and Southern Savers.  I also like Faithful Provisions.  Depending on what region of the country you live in, there will probably be other coupon blogs that may be more helpful for you.  The key to saving money is using coupons with a sale – and using multiple coupons so you can stockpile to avoid paying full-price in the future.

Couponers have different ways that they get their hands on extra coupons.  At first, I bought 2 Sunday papers each week and my parents’ gave me their coupons so I could get multiple items at a discount.  Now, I get one paper and pay a handling fee for extra coupons online that I know I will use if a good deal comes along.  I use CouponDede.com.  I don’t always find the coupons that I want, but most of the time I am able to order what I need.  Printable coupons are also another great way to get your hands on a few more deals at a major discount.  Here are some great sites:

Coupons.com
Smartsource.com (Smartsource also has an app for the iPad now.)
Redplum.com
Couponnetwork.com
Target.com (Great place to find several Target store coupons to match with manufacturer’s coupons.)
Kroger.com (You can add digital coupons to your Kroger Plus card.)

Disclaimer:  I do not advocate clearing shelves as glorified on Extreme Couponing.  I think there needs to be a level of respect for others who are also trying to save money.  I consider what I do to be “Strategic Couponing.”   Remember, though, that rain checks on sold-out items can guarantee that you can still get products at the sale price and still use your coupons as long as they haven’t expired yet.

When I first started out, I wanted to catch every great deal at every store, but since then I have found that is a major sanity-saver to focus on 2-3 stores.  The ones that I stick to are Kroger, Publix, and sometimes Walgreens.  Kroger and Publix double coupons up to 50 cents, which means that a $.50 coupon is actually worth $1!  All three of these stores also let you use a store coupon and a manufacturer’s coupon for the same item.

I know that jumping into the world of coupons can seem overwhelming. And I’m not going to lie, it really feels like another part-time, even full-time, job at first. But after a couple months of seeing prices, sale cycles, etc., and finding a coupon organizing system that works, it will be much more manageable on a practical level.

It still requires time each week to cut and file coupons, study match-ups, and write up lists, but it has become a normal part of my routine. I don’t make excel spreadsheets to compare store prices or have piles of coupon inserts in my closet, but I still am benefiting greatly from planning grocery trips around coupons and sales! I have gotten a variety of products for free, or just pennies, and it feels great to be able to provide for my family in this way!  I can’t imagine shopping any other way and I am still learning about new ways to save!

If you are considering starting on this journey of couponing, good luck and get ready to enjoy your savings!  Feel free to ask any questions!

For those of you who already use coupons, what are your favorite tips? Also, have you tried the Ibotta app?  I have it downloaded but haven’t used it yet… Thoughts?
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