May 2010

Flirty Apron Giveaway

by GettingFreedom on May 26, 2010

This Giveaway is now closed.  Thanks to all who entered!

I’m a sucker for a cute apron.  You’d think by now I would own a ton of them, but really I don’t.  Instead I just oohh and ahhh over them, and take a mental note to maybe someday make said apron.  Ahem. I have yet to make an apron!

You can imagine my delight whenFlirty Aprons contacted me and asked if I would be interested in reviewing one of their aprons and giving one away to my readers.  I literally squeeled with delight! I’ve seen Flirty Aprons all over the blogosphere, and had entered in many giveaways myself to try to win one, with no luck.  So I was secretly stalking their site trying to figure out which apron I would end up purchasing for myself.  Did you know that they also sell matching Children’s Aprons?! {love}

After much deliberation, and finally the  intervention of my husband–I settled on the Pink Chocolate Apron.  You can’t go wrong with pinks, browns and polka dots!  I fell even more in love with it when I put it on and used it.  It makes the mundane day to day tasks not seem so bad afterall!

If you would like to become the owner of Flirty Apron, all you have to do is enter!

You can earn up to 3 entries.  Here’s how:

Please leave separate comments for each.

Giveaway ends Saturday, May 29th.

This post is linking up to Things I Love Thursday.

{ 115 comments }

Extremely Free

by GettingFreedom on May 25, 2010

Finding the path to debt freedom is  a known passion of mine.  I’ve shared our journey and what works for us here.  Today I am honored to feature a guest post from Michele over at Frugal Granola (you’ve really got to read her blog if you don’t already!), she is truly an inspiration to me.

During the early years of our marriage, we had our share of debt. It started with school loans, then the addition of medical bills, followed by the expense of a car, a mortgage, and the cost of having a baby.

Through those years, feeling the burden of debt, I would often hear financial suggestions, such as “Skip the cup of coffee,” or “Entertain at home instead of going out.” These are certainly wise suggestions, but I would shake my head in dismay; we were already doing these things!

We were meeting our daily expenses and bill payments, but were exhausted by the amount of time working and our lack of family time. It certainly didn’t feel like we had the freedom to live out our values. We were “living to work” instead of “working to live.”

We finally realized the steps to our financial freedom needed to be more extreme.

Here are some things we discovered along the way to being debt-free. Many of these concepts seemed counter-intuitive- even turning our lives “upside down”- but they worked for us.

Mama quit her job. I know, it seems ridiculous; we’re in a season where we need more money, and we’re eliminating a source of income? But stick with me. This will have an affect on other things further down the list. When you tally up the cost of working, there are quite a few costs to consider, such as transportation, clothing/cosmetics, childcare, taxes, and meals.

Relocate Creatively. At one point, we ended up moving from a three-bedroom home in a small town into a one-bedroom apartment in the city. We kept a futon in the living room, so it was like having “two bedrooms.” There was also a season when we rented a basement “apartment” in someone’s home. I know of others who have shared large homes, or lived in similar “creative” arrangements with their families during financially-challenging seasons.

Make it yourself. Take a quick look around your kitchen cupboards. Are they full of bulk ingredients or grocery items in small packages? If it is in a “package,” eliminate it from your grocery list (such as snacks, pasta, cereal, and canned beans or soups). (No, you won’t starve!)

Once Mama comes home, she can have more time to prepare things from scratch (such as snacks, meals, cleaning supplies, and even cosmetics). There are plenty of simple and fabulous recipes out there to learn from and adjust to your family’s tastes. Search out whole grains, dry beans, bulk flours, nuts, etc. These staple items are not only inexpensive (more food for your money), they are more nutritionally-dense than their packaged, processed counterparts. (This has the budget-friendly effect that you need less food to feel full, plus it is healthier!)

Take care of your health. If you’re not overworking yourself, and stressed over your workload, you will have taken a big step in this already. Eat healthy foods (see the previous point) and take time to rest well. If you are currently one of those snazzy coupon-clippers and getting those great grocery deals, check the ingredients first. I’ve learned that in the long run, it can be worth it to forego the deal and pay for quality, nourishing food, than to pay the cost of high medical bills later.

Stay out of the store. I order most of my groceries through a natural foods co-op that delivers once a month. It provides me with “wholesale” prices, without the expense of membership and travel to a wholesale store. If that is not an option for you, consider once-a-month shopping at an affordable local grocery store, so that you’re not tempted to pick up extras each time you stop by the store.

Figure out a grocery list of the basic staples, and stick to it. Make sure to look at the unit price (such as per ounce), not just the cost of the item; the higher cost item may actually be larger, thus giving you a better deal. Overall, when shopping isn’t an option, and you are “shopping” from your own pantry, you’ll get creative!

Eliminate a car. Now that Mama isn’t commuting to work and running to the store and daycare all the time, you can cut the costs of transportation! Become a one-car (or no-car!) family. Car insurance, fuel, vehicle maintenance, and car payments can be eliminated. Plus, without a second car, you will have to plan ahead for your outings. You’ll have to think twice about whether it’s worth it (or if you’ll be going somewhere that will cause you to spend even more money).

Toss the disposables. Cross the paper towels, napkins, and diapers off of your grocery list. Purchase or make affordable reusable alternatives; old rags are usually free! (It has now been over three years since I bought my last roll of paper towels, and my cloth cleaning rags are still working great!) Nurtured Family offers an affordable, basic kit of “one size” cloth diapers from Econobum that can fill the need (and they don’t even need pins!). Or, contact The Cloth Diaper Foundation (formerly Miracle Diapers) for assistance. (You can always decide to “upgrade” your cloth diapers later, when your budget allows, if you want to.)

Now that Mama is home, it will be easier to allow time for washing diapers and other reusable items, and you won’t have to worry about daycares that require disposables. (Even if Mama is still working, you can take some small steps in this area.) This step will benefit your budget in the years to come, as items can be perpetually reused; increasing your savings over time.

Cut the media. Evaluate the media that is coming into your home, and how much you’re paying for it. Our society tends to assume media is an “essential.” But it is possible to go without. At various times in our life, we have discontinued internet service at our home, and just used the internet and other materials at libraries and free wi-fi spots. I also chose not to renew magazine subscriptions I had been purchasing.

We chose not to have cable television, and eventually sold our TV (which bought a week’s worth of groceries!). In addition to these costs, media is full of commercials; continually perpetuating a desire for more. (When we’re cutting costs, shopping ideas aren’t very fun to have around!) Remove your name from catalog mailing lists, so you’re not tempted to browse and shop. It is so easy to convince yourself something is necessary, when it is sitting there in front of you.

Celebrate Simply. You don’t have to approach holidays like Scrooge, just because you’re on a penny-pinching budget. Find joy in the simple, authentic things of life (which really aren’t things!). Quality time in a favorite place, such as a picnic lunch at the park or the beach, a hike in the woods, a candlelit dinner on the patio, or other free/low-cost activities are great ways to celebrate. Strive for handmade gifts (get the kids involved!), instead of running to the store for a gift; they will be cherished.

These are some of the main avenues we pursued. There are many other small ways to tackle your budget’s bottom line. But most of all, be creative, and know that our Lord is our Jehovah Jireh (our provider) who loves to give good gifts to His children. (Matthew 7:7-11) Prayerfully place your budget and desires in His hands, contentedly knowing that His provision in His timing is always the best. Blessings to you, as you pursue financial freedom!

A creative, frugal mom of two, Michele lives a simple and sustainable life with a passion for God, family, organic food, and bargain shopping. Residing in rural Washington state, Michele can often be found ministering to women over a cup of tea at her kitchen table, picking up vintage finds at the thrift store, sewing for her Etsy shop, and harvesting produce from her garden for supper, while wearing her baby, homeschooling her preschooler, and smooching her hard-working, beloved husband. Michele loves encouraging women through her blog, Frugal Granola.

This post is linked to Works For Me Wednesday and Frugal Friday.

{ 89 comments }

Finding Normalcy

May 24, 2010

The past month or so has absolutely flown by, and I really have no idea how I’ve kept my mind through it all.  Unfortunately my beloved blog has suffered a bit–and I hope to change that in the coming weeks.  The only problem?  Life is still absolutely crazy! We are home from vacation, after a [...]

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DIY Birthday Cakes Can Save You Money

May 17, 2010

While my family and I are relaxing on the beach in Florida, Jessica from LifeAsMom has graciously offered to share how you can make any birthday memorable, all the while keeping it frugal. I love to celebrate my children’s birthdays with themed birthday cakes. I remember my own joy over my 5th Birthday and the [...]

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Cleaning Off Soap Scum

May 11, 2010

I really don’t mind cleaning my shower, as long as I do it weekly as my Home Management Binder tells me to do.  Just like with everything else, though, sometimes I get behind and the ever dreaded soap scum builds up.  Hours of elbow grease seemed to be no match to soap scum. But now, [...]

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Progress!

May 6, 2010

Things have been a little busy around here the last few days.  Project Major Home Addition is well underway, and progress can finally been seen. We’ve been planning for this project for about 6 years now–and it still just seems unreal that it is finally happening. I’m absolutely elated, but in the same respect I’m [...]

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Mederma Giveaway Winners

May 4, 2010

The winners have been chosen for the Mederma Stretch Mark Therapy Giveaway. Thank you to all who entered, followed, and subscribed! Were you #17 or #38?? Click here to find out!

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Mixed Berry Cream Muffins

May 3, 2010

The following is a guest post from JessieLeigh from Parenting the Tiniest Of Miracles. Seems like she is always up to baking something-and I’ve never been disappointed with any of her recipes! Ah, Spring! The birds… the sunshine… the warm breezes… the new life… the BERRIES. It simply delights my soul to see berries on [...]

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Menu Plan Week of May 2nd-8th

May 2, 2010

Life sure is flying by fast these days!  I’m trying to keep things relatively simple the next few weeks as we prepare for our first ever family vacation to Florida!  In addition to a busy week, I still need to prepare food to take with us on our trip.  Thankfully my list is simple. Does [...]

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