An Oven Free Summer

Posted 06-25-2013 at 12:51 PM by whitneywalters

I am looking at going oven free this summer. It can get pretty hot here in Iowa and my oven heats the house up like you would not believe. I do not like to bake anything over the summer because I do not making the house heat up and having the air conditioner work over time.

We went almost completely oven free last year. I think I used the oven twice a week instead of almost every day like I do in the winter. We did a lot of grilling and cold sandwiches last year. This year my plan is not to use the oven at all during the hot seasons. We will be grilling, using the stove top and crock pot instead.

I spent time finding crock pot versions of our favorite over meals, things like meatloaf, beef enchiladas and macaroni and cheese. I also went on my pinterest ( where I keep almost all my recipes ) and pinned a bunch of new crock pot recipes for us to try out. I have more then enough recipes to use only the crock pot the rest of the summer if I needed to.

I won’t have to use just the crock pot though. We love grilling in the summer. We usually grill

Diaper Swapers

Building an Outdoor Play Area

Posted 06-3-2013 at 12:59 PM by whitneywalters

We have a nice sized yard and we wanted to make an area for the kids to play. We spent some time discussing what we wanted to do, what part of the yard we wanted to do it on and how much money we wanted to put into it.

We decided on a sandbox with lots of  toys, a swing set, a kids picnic table and a toddler climber. After we made those decisions it was just a matter of finding those items. Chris built the sandbox, we were able to score a swing set at a Kmart that was going out of business, we got it 60% off the original price. I bought a lot of sandbox toys last year when everything was on sale and I just stored them away for the winter. We already had a picnic table so that just left the climber. We had been searching craigslist and watching store sales but had been unable to find anything for the amount of money we were wanting to spend. Then one afternoon a lady in my home school group offered one for free. I called her right away and was the first person to call so it was ours. I was stoked!

We actually built the sandbox last fall. Our friend came over and helped my husband build the frame and my dad hauled the sand for us. The kids were in love with the sand box right away. The toddler climber and swing set were put up this spring. We are really happy with the little area we have for the kids.

Selling Outgrown Clothes

Posted 05-15-2013 at 09:46 AM by whitneywalters

Over the years I have tried several different methods of selling the kids outgrown clothes. I now have a routine down that makes me money, gets me store credit and helps others out.

When I first started to sell off outgrown clothes I tried eBay, it ended up being way too much work and turned little profit for me. I know some people make a good deal of money doing this, it was just not for me. I do love buying lots of clothing on eBay though. After that I tried Craigslist and a couple of resale shops and both of those ended up being a no go for me as well.

It took over a year before I got my system in place and once I got it, I have not strayed for it. The first thing I do is sort everything out into bins. I have a sell, recycle or trash, donate and give away bin.

I usually start with my give a way bin. I will call my sister to see if she wants some of my son’s outgrown stuff to hold onto for my nephew and then I call a couple friends and see if they are in need of anything for the girls they have that are smaller then my youngest. ( I keep almost all my girls clothes to use until the youngest has outgrown them ). I select some nice items for those people and set them into the bin.

Garage Sale Season

Posted 05-3-2013 at 03:06 PM by whitneywalters

It is finally starting to warm up here in Iowa and that means garage sale season will be starting soon. While this year I have no plans of having one, I do plan on shopping at a lot of them.

I love garage sales. My husband and I like to go together, he is always hunting for old video games or collectibles that might be worth something. I like to go mostly to find great deals on kids clothing. We did not get a chance last year to do a lot of them, we really only went to a few but the ones we did make it to were pretty great.

The first one I went to last year was early in the garage sale season. It was a huge moving sale, the family had three kids that were all older then mine and they were selling all the outgrown clothes. I walked away with three large bags full of barely worn clothes for my kids and I only spent $20.00. The others we went to we were able to get some house hold items we needed and my husband hit one that made his day. My husband is a huge star wars fan, he is always looking for cool old collectibles but rarely finds anything. He was actually out with his mom when they drove past a yard sale that caught his eye. The owner was actually a customer back when Chris was a Schwans driver. He was moving out of state and they wanted to get rid of all the stuff he had collected over the years. He had an At At for sale, this is something Chris had been wanting for a long time. The guy had it listed for $40 but since he knew and liked my husband, he gave it to him for $15. Chris bought a few other star wars things there but his biggest buy was that toy. A friend of ours came over that evening and about fainted when Chris showed him. We were a little surprised when he told us that they sell for over $300. Chris has no intention of selling it but it was nice to know we were able to get something high valued for so little.

Shopping for little girls without breaking the bank

Posted 03-26-2013 at 11:50 AM by whitneywalters

I have three daughters and I am sure that everyone knows how fun buying little girls clothes are. I love shopping for my daughters but having a budget can make it not so much fun. Over the years I have found ways that allow me to have fun shopping for all the cute clothes and not spend a fortune doing so.

1. Learn to make stuff yourself.
– One area that I found myself spending a lot of money was on hair bows and headbands. I liked having   a lot so we always had something for every outfit but it started adding up. That is when I decided to learn how to make stuff myself. I liked crafting and making it myself meant I could have a lot more while still staying in my budget. My girls have a lot of hair stuff now, almost all of it made by me, including the bow boards that hold on their stuff.
– I am slowly teaching myself to sew. I love the look of upcyled clothing and that is what I want to learn to make. I started with easy things, like a skirt. My oldest daughter loves the skirts I made her and they were actually pretty easy to put together.
– I also know how to knit.  I love making things for my children. I am slowly learning new things so I can make even more.

My ever growing grocery bill

Posted 02-4-2013 at 09:51 AM by whitneywalters

I am sure that I am not the only person that has noticed the ever rising price of food. We are spending a lot more on food lately then we ever had before. I know part of it is that my children are getting older so they are eating more but I also know a lot of it is caused by the price of food. We are trying to get rid of debt so a larger grocery bill wasn’t really in the budget. This means I need to find more ways to cut down on what we are spending at the store.

I am not really a couponer. I have tried it in the past and it ended up being a waste of my time. The items that usually had coupons were just things we did not use a lot of. I do use them from time to time if I see something I know we would use but for the most part coupons are not a part of my savings routine. I do check the store ads each week and do the majority of our shopping based on what is on sale. Hyvee recently started a fuel saver program. We signed up right away, saving money on gas is a huge help to us.

When the store I buy most of our meat at does have a good sale, I will stock up (within reason). I always have them package it in meal sized portions (as in if buying five pounds of hamburger, I have it packaged in one pound packages and the like), it helps to stop waste and gives me a better idea of what I have in my deep freeze.

Meal planning is a huge help for me to save money on groceries. Knowing what I need makes it easy to make a list I can stick to and having that list helps to stop impulse buys. I usually do a two week meal plan in my blog. I try to do all my shopping in one trip but I usually have to go back to get milk, juice and fruit since we go through those items the fastest. Meal planning has been a money saver and a time a saver for me. I highly recommend it to anyone.

Waste less- get crafty for adults

Posted 02-1-2013 at 11:56 AM by whitneywalters

I am all about saving money, recycling and being craft. I love being able to do all three things at the same time also. I have been looking for some new ideas that involve all three things and I have found some pretty neat crafts.

1.  Empty paper towel holders.
– Before you throw these in the trash try these two ideas on for size.

Cord holders
Decorate the tube with pretty paper or paint it if you are a good painter. It looks a lot nicer then twist ties to organize your extra cords from the computer or television.

Napkin Holders
Cut the rings to size and decorate with pretty fabric.

Financial Peace…should we try it?

Posted 12-17-2012 at 10:51 AM by Krista

Every year about this time—actually, usually right after the holidays—my husband and I have a financial planning meeting. I know that might sound silly, but I think it’s very important to discuss your finances, and while we do so on a regular basis our planning meeting is to discuss what we want to accomplish in the following year. It gives us a chance to both be heard and discuss where want to be in the upcoming year. Although we have never quite made it to where we want to be in a years’ time, I do find it helpful for us to be on the same page.

We leave these meetings feeling so accomplished and determined but pretty soon those feelings are overridden whenever a new movie comes out, or the girls “need” a new toy. My kids aren’t spoiled by any means, but sometimes I get so tired of saying “no” to their every request, you know? My point is, I wish we could keep that feeling alive, and continue to be mindful of our goals all the time.

I’m not quite sure how to go about this. I really want to make changes, I’m just not sure how. We are considering tackling Dave Ramsay’s plan again. While I read the book and we discussed it, it was never something we both got behind, and in order to make changes within your life of any kind you and your spouse need to be on the same page.

Thank you Swagbucks

Posted 12-11-2012 at 10:20 AM by whitneywalters

I have been using swagbucks for a couple of years now. I don’t use it as much as some people I know but I do average about $100 in gift cards to Amazon a year. I get those by searching, finding codes,  I have a few referrals and I do a few surveys in my spare time.

I use my gift cards on different things through out the year. This year I had used a few one gifts for my husband. Recently I had been on Amazon looking for Christmas gift ideas for my three year old daughter when I found a doll I knew she would really like. Kairi has really gotten into playing with dolls  lately but she only has a couple of dolls that are hers. The rest are her older sisters’ and while Destiny does not mind sharing, I wanted to get Kairi a new doll of her own.

Chris and I have not done any Christmas shopping out of our own pocket yet, the only shopping I have done has been trading. We wanted to wait until he got his bonus from work but he does not get his Christmas bonus until Dec 13th. I really did not want to wait that long to order it but I also did not want to spend money since I knew we would be getting that bonus soon.  The problem with waiting till the bonus was chancing it not making it to us on time.  So I checked my swagbucks account and luckily for me I still had twenty dollars in amazon cards I had not used. I was thrilled. I ordered the doll right away and did not have to pay a cent for it.

Back to Basics

Posted 12-7-2012 at 08:35 AM by Heather8183

At the beginning of 2012, the hubs and I sat down and talked about how we’d been going through money like it was water.  We knew what the problem was, we just needed to come up with a solution.  We bought what we wanted, when we wanted.  We would check the payroll website on Wednesday to see what Friday’s paycheck would be.  Then we’d see what bills needed paid for the week, and figure out how much had left that we could spend!  We ate out, the kids and I shopped, DH would buy tools for work, e-books, you name it.

When we got our W-2’s I was SICK at the amount DH had made for the year and the amount we had in savings, which was nearly nothing.   DH has a good job, but the thought of all that money just freely flowing was horrifying.

I started out meal planning, and making a shopping list. This helped in several ways.  First of all, it made sure I had everything I needed for the meals for the week, so we weren’t tempted to “just grab something” while we were out.  I was able to get things ready the night before, thawing out meat or what have you, so it was all set for the next night.  That was wonderful as well, so I couldn’t use the excuse that the chicken was still frozen and have DH pick up a pizza on his way home.  Another reason meal planning helped us, is because I had a list.  I wasn’t running willy nilly through the grocery store with the kids distracting me, picking up extra stuff  “just in case” in a hurry to get out.  Also, if it wasn’t on the list, I didn’t need it, so I didn’t buy it.  The benefits just kept coming; I was only shopping once a week so we were saving gas, we were eating healthy homemade meals, and there was no last minute what to make stress!