Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Random Acts of Christmas Kindness

* Scroll to the bottom to see a running list of daily acts of kindness*

I don't open up very often about what is going on in my life.  You come here to learn how to save money, right?

But the truth is, it has been a tough year.  
Maybe it has been for some of you as well.  

Well this was probably one of the toughest years 
of. my. life.  
My faith, family and finances have been tested in ways I would have never, EVER, suspected.  I have had to face a lot of things about myself that I thought I had figured out in my 33 years on this earth.  I have said, on more than one occasion, that I was ready for 2011 to come to an end. I wasn't participating in the Facebook "Thankful Status" campaign.  I wasn't ready to be thankful. I was just ready for 2011 to END. Forget the holidays--all I could think was I just needed to "get through" so that I could start fresh in 2012.  

And then, I was faced with a series of people in my life who were GIVING THANKS for trials, poor circumstances and misfortune.  Many of whom had it MUCH WORSE than my "crappy 2011" had been for me. Some were losing homes, losing babies, and losing jobs, yet they were still grateful? 

At this same time, I was rushing around getting Christmas gifts for my little ones and crossing things off my list.  One of those things was purchasing an Advent Calendar for my kids.  For my kids, the calendars now include toys, gifts, and fun surprises--
the bigger the better! 

I lay in bed one night thinking about this dichotomy--people with nothing, yet filled with gratitude; and me having "everything", yet filled with attitude (and not the good kind!).
Something had to give! 

That's when I decided what our Advent Calendar would be:
25 Random Acts of Christmas Kindness.

I can't take all the credit--I was inspired by very creative people around the blogging world and posts like this one and this one.

I needed so show some gratitude to get rid of my bad attitude.  And my kids seemed to be picking up on it by turning into Brother and Sister Bear from the book "Berenstain Bears Get the Gimmes." 
(Please tell me you've read that??

So what does this have to do with saving money?  Well, I'm not sure that it does.  But maybe that is what I need after a year of clipping coupons and saving every penny I can at the stores: to give freely of myself, my talents, my service, my heart and my wallet to others--and asking absolutely NOTHING in return.

I have big plans for the next 25 days! I will post updates on our Random Acts as often as I can--most likely through my Facebook page--to help give you ideas for how you can R.A.C.K. someone this Advent.  However, I want to be present in these moments for our family, not for the sake of "blogging about it" so there may be a day (or week!) where you don't hear from me.  Don't worry, I'll do a recap in January.

To help you start your own journey, I have partnered with Punkin Prints who has generously created a free printable to leave behind when you leave your (mostly anonymous) RACK's.

You can also check out her super cute Etsy shop and get some paper products that will WOW your recipients!!!  I'm so lucky to have such talented friends!!

Get the RACK'd download here

Now go bless an unsuspecting someone (or some-more-than-one) with a surprise act of Christmas Kindness.I am committing to 25 acts of kindness, but what about you?  Can you commit to one?  Five? And what will you do?  Leave comments and suggestions below!

Acts 20:35
"In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive'."

Day 1: Made cookies for the husband who had a bad day and needed to smile.
Day 2: Was a "coupon fairy" at Walmart by leaving coupons next to a product that made it under $1 after coupon! 

Day 3: Pulled a name from the Angel Tree (Melvin)
Day 4: Placed quarters on toy machines in Walmart

Day 5: Left waters on top of the garbage cans on pick up day for the garbage men.
Day 6: Left a bag of chocolates in the mailbox for the mailman (to which he exclaimed "YEE HAW" upon finding them)

Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday Daily Deals Roundup! {update}

Here is a roundup of some deals you might want to snag today! Scroll through to see Saturday updates in red.

Groupon: $10 for a $20 gift card at Old Navy--must be used by 12/24! Limit 2.

Living Social: multiple deals!
$5 for a magazine subscription (great for stocking stuffers or gifts for teachers, office workers, etc...)
Office max deal is my favorite! $10 for $20 gift card!  Think: printer ink and paper for printing coupons!!
$20 for $40 of credit to
And more!!!!! $5 gift today was in my inbox!  Sign up and check yours!
 Real Simple Subscription $12 (One of my FAVES!)
 All You subscription $19.97 
Start at (Sign up and get a $5 bonus in your account today when you spend $25) and search which is currently offering 52% cash back!!
After using, you can get Real Simple for $5.76 ($.48 an issue!!) and All You for $9.59 ($.80 an issue!)  If you do All You for 2 years (you will spend the $25 and get the $5 Ebates credit), it nets down to $.47 an issue.
I love ALL YOU because each month it has TONS of coupons in it!  (And many are high value!) What a deal!  The double cash back offer on Ebates ends TONIGHT!

Eversave $25 for a $25 Walmart gift card AND $50 to  That is like getting $50 FREE to eat out!  YIPPEE!!! $10 credit if you sign up today PLUS almost free Melissa and Doug toys!
This pattern puzzle is just $13.49, so just $3.49 after the credit!  I wish I would have posted earlier today because some of the toys that have already sold out would have been FREE after the credit!  

They have tons of deals on there, so look around and decide how to spend your FREE $10!!

Plum District: This has become one of my favorite daily deal sites lately.  Here is a sampling of what you can get tonight:
Omaha Steaks is offering a $135 Hoilday package for $75  Use the 40% off code today cyber40 on this and it brings it down to $45 SHIPPED.  This is great quality meat!
Saturday code: Saturday40.  Lots of new deals posted today as well!  Scroll through several different cities to find lots of different deals!

There are tons of other deals you can use the ONE TIME code on.  Plus they are also offering $10 off if you use the code enjoy10.

I have my eye on the Crafty Kids Playhouse deal ($10 after $10 off code)

Crafty Kids Playhouses Everywhere Daily Deal
$20 for Creative Playhouses from Crafty Kids Playhouses - a $40 Value

(Thanks Couponers United for the 40% discount code!)

8moms (I just joined this tonight!!) Looks like another fab daily deal site AND it's partnered with the magazine Parenting, which I love.  I"m sorta obsessed with these.....
Anyways!  Get a $50 voucher PLUS 3 free samples of your choice for just $25. is a beauty and cosmetics website. I'm thinking this would be a GREAT gift for any woman!  My 18 year old niece would LOVE this for Christmas! (I hope she isn't reading this!)
And can I just say that the Green Garmento laundry bag and the Mommy Mitten (for your stroller!) look very interesting as well?  And FUN BITES!  I might have to have that--it cuts your child's food into (cute) bite-sized pieces.  Uh oh....this site could mean trouble for me!  Practicing restraint tonight though!!!

E-mealz:  Seriously love them.  Seriously.  They make meal plans based on what is on sale at the grocery stores that week.  Choose from tons of different plans from low fat to gluten free to weight watchers, regular meal plans and MORE!  They are giving 30% off a gift subscription this weekend using the code CYBER30.  That makes your first 3 months of meal plans only $10! That is $3 a MONTH!.  Click my link in the upper right column to go to their site and to sign up!

My last favorite site is Groopdealz. I just love it because their stuff is cute.  Period.
They have been introducing a new deal every few hours today.  I love the $1.99 Crazy Silly Straw Glasses.
And the $20 personalized duffle bag!
Or Maybe the cute $12 Ruffled skirt for my daughter?

Whenever you can, ALWAYS start with when shopping online!  You can buy tons of stuff and get a BIG FAT rebate check at the end of each quarter! is another site that does similar rebate offers, but it has mixed reviews. I don't personally use it. Find out why here.

I am expecting some more awesome deals as the weekend goes on--especially into Cyber Monday.  Get signed up NOW so that you can see the deals as they come in your inbox!

Thursday, November 24, 2011


My plan of attack for CVS shopping!--See my update below!

Here we go!  See where I got my matchups here.

Transaction 1
Colgate toothpaste 4oz $2.87
-$1/1 CVS coupon
OOP=$1.37                $2.87 ECB
L.A. Looks Styling Gel 26oz $2.49
-$1/1 Manu Q.
OOP=$1.49                $2.49 ECB
Bayer 20ct $.99
-$2/1 MQ (if overage is allowed)
Carmex .15-.35oz $1.00
OOP=1.00                  $1.00 ECB
Benefiber sticks trial size 3ct $1.49
-$2/1 MQ (if allowed)
(2) Theraflu Caplets 8ct $1.87
OOP=$.74                   $1.87ECB
Finish Quantum 10ct. $2.99
-1/1 Finish Manu Q
OOP=$1.99                $2.99ECB
Total OOP $5.07      $12.71ECB

Transaction 2
G.U.M. Toothbrush 2pk $2.99
Breathe Right Strips Bonus size 10+2ct. $5.99
-$1.50 Breathe Right Manu Q
OOP=$4.49                $5.99ECB
FiberOne 90 Cal bars $3.99
-$.40/1 MQ
OOP=$3.59                $3.99ECB
Listerine Pocket Paks 3pk $2.99
-$.50/1 Listerine Manu Q
OOP=$2.49                $2.99ECB
-$12.71 ECB from Trans 1
OOP= $.85                 $15.96ECB

Transaction 3
Sheets Energy Strips 10ct $3.99/$3.99ECB
Be Koool for kids 4ct $4.49/$4.49ECB
Softlips $2.00/$2.00ECB
Advil PM 4ct  $.99/$.99ECB
CVS Batteries AA or AAA $3.99/$3.99ECB
(1) Mars Candy $.75/.$75ECB
-$15.96 ECB from Trans 2
OOP=$.25               $16.46 ECB

Transaction 4
Universal Remote $6.99/$6.99 ECB
Exederin 8ct+bonusPM $.99/$.99ECB
Kleenex Cool Touch $1.50/$1.50 ECB
Balance Bar $1.69/$1.69 ECB
Starbucks Double shot $1.69/$1.69 ECB
Pepto Bismol 4oz $2.99/$2.99 ECB
(1) Mars Candy $.75/$.75 ECB
Total $16.60
-$16.46 ECB From Trans 3
OOP=$.14               $16.60 ECB

Transaction 5
Advil 10ct $2.99/$2.99ECB
CVS Flossers 90ct $1.99/$1.99ECB
Revlon nail $4.99
iChill Relaxation shot $5.29/$5.29ECB
Theraflu travel size $.99/$.99ECB
(2) Hershey bar King size $1.98/$1.98ECB
-$16.60ECB from Trans 4
OOP=$.63                  $17.24ECB

Transaction 6
Phillips Earbuds $6.99/$6 ECB
Wet n Wild nail kit $2.88/$2ECB
-$5.29 and $3.99 ECB from Trans 5
OOP= $.59                 $8.00ECB

Total OOP= $6.38 plus tax
Retail $92.44
ECB left to spend $15.95
Profit after ECB=$9.57

I will come back and update to let you know how it goes!!

Update:  They were out of the Sheetz and BeKOOOL fever patches I needed for Transaction 3 so I subbed in the two items from Transaction 6.

My total was $9.87OOP and saved $100 with $17.97 in ECB left to spend! 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

CVS Black Friday Scenarios

Here is the first of my Black Friday CVS Scenarios!  I don't know about you, but I will be skipping the malls this year in favor of some Black Friday shopping at CVS!!!  Even as a beginner, you can score some great products (for yourself or to donate!) PLUS make $3.50!
MOMumental Savings CVS Black Friday Scenarios (Beginner)

Transaction 1:
L.A. Looks Styling Gel 26oz $2.49
-$1/1 Manu Q.
OOP=$1.49                $2.49 ECB

Transaction 2:
Finish Quantum 10ct. $2.99
Hershey King Size $.99
-1/1 Finish Manu Q
-$2.49 ECB From trans. 1
OOP=$.49                   $.99ECB and $2.99 ECB

Transaction 3:
Listerine Pocket Paks 3pk $2.99
Hershey King Size $.99
Hot Wheels or Matchbox car $.50
-$.50/1 Listerine Manu Q
-$2.99 ECB and -$.99 ECB from trans. 2
OOP=$0                      $.99ECB and $2.99 ECB

Transaction 4:
Breathe Right Strips Bonus size 10+2ct. $5.99
-$1.50 Breathe Right Manu Q
-$.99 ECB and -$2.99ECB from trans. 3
OOP=$.51                   $5.99 ECB

Total OOP=$2.49=tax
Total Retail value=$17
$5.99 ECB to spend next visit.
$3.50 Moneymaker plus $17 in products!!!!!!

See this post for details on where to find your coupons.
Happy CVS'ing!

Black Friday Gameplan {Series} Day 5

Welcome back to the last day of my Black Friday Gameplan series!

Okay, you have done some research inside the stores to find out what your store will be doing on Black Friday.  You have also made your gift-giving list, explored other options--online and beyond--for saving on those gifts.  Finally, you have started your list of those items you want to purchase and track their prices to know what is a hot deal versus what is just Black Friday hype.  Today we are addressing two final things before the big day.

Set your budget and create your itinerary.

Now your budget for Black Friday is going to be very different than mine or anyone else's!  I have included a place on the Price Tracker download from Day 4 to include your budget (look at the bottom of the sheet!).  It will automatically deduct the price of your items from your set budget.  As you enter the price of each item you are purchasing, it will automatically deduct if from the overall budget amount at the bottom to give you a running total.  Pretty cool, huh?  Don't have the downloads from earlier this week?  Email me!  I will send them along!  You have to get moving on this!!  Remember my advice from Day 1?  PREPARATION IS KEY!

Now for creating your itinerary.
You have may have seen commercials or the online ad scans advertising the times each store will open.  Depending on what is on your gift list, and what store has the best price, you will need to create an itinerary for yourself so that you arrive at each store at the ideal time for you.  Some things to keep in mind as you create your itinerary:

Are you getting "Doorbuster" deals?  These are the "hot price" items from Day 4.  If so, you might want to plan accordingly and get there early to get in line.  

Will you have help?  Sometimes to get the best deals you can "station" people at certain locations in the store to grab your item as they are brought out. How will you know where the items will be located? Check out the store map!! 
(Thanks to a coupon class student for this tip!) 
Here are the maps I could find for 2011:

*Keep in mind these maps were designed to show you what section to look for.  Your store may be slightly different or a mirror image of the map.  Also, items may shift around as things sell out*

Now you are ready to make your itinerary!  Use my free printable to schedule yourself a Black Friday itinerary!  I have left room for you to list the items on your list for each store.
Armed with this, you should handle Black Friday like a pro! Email me and get your itinerary in your inbox today!

Here are some last tips before you walk out the door:
  • Check the weather!  It may be cold when you start out and warm up mid morning.  Dress in layers if necessary in order to shed as you go store-to-store.
  • Don't bring a full wallet/purse.  Black Friday is a thief's paradise.  Only bring what you need and keep it close at hand.
  • Beware of fake vouchers--alot of stores give out vouchers for top items so that people aren't just grabbing.  If you get the laptop, TV, iPod, will be given a voucher and (likely) taken to a different part of the store to pick it up to help ease traffic.  Beware if someone wants to "sell" you their voucher because they got it and no longer want it (I know someone that this happened to!).  It could be a fake!  I mean, really: why would you wait in line for 6 hours then sell the voucher for $75?  
  • Leave your kids at home. I know it's tempting to bring them to get extra vouchers, but really it could be dangerous.  I know you've seen it (at least on TV) where the doors open and people don't care who is in their way!  If they aren't at least 18 and 5' tall, leave them at home!
  • BE happy.  So you missed a deal?  Not worth being mean to store associates, other shoppers, or your shopping buddies over it!  After all, there is always next year!

And there you go!  You have a Black Friday Gameplan assembled and ready to shop!

What did you think of this series?  Was this helpful?  LET ME HEAR FROM YOU! 
{Yes, YOU--who reads my posts daily, but never comments--you know who you are!  ;-)}

I have NO IDEA what is helpful until you let me know!  I would love to do other series as well.
What would you like to see?


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Black Friday Gameplan {Series} Day 4

Welcome back to MOMumental Savings Black Friday Gameplan Series!
See my other days here: Day 1  Day 2  Day 3

Since it is getting closer to Black Friday, today's topic is VERY important:

 Know what is a GREAT deal--and know what is NOT

Hands down, there will be great deals on Black Friday.  However, you have to be able to separate the hot prices from the hype!  Let me break it down:

Hot price items: these are usually the "doorbuster" deals.  Crazy sale prices are common on big ticket items like computers, television and iPods.  They might enhance these prices with a refund offer like a gift card with purchase as well. It might also be a great price on a toy.  Anything with a DEEP discount (50% or more off retail) is a hot price. 

Hype: This is most everything else in the Black Friday ad!  There will be plenty of other items on sale, but they may only be 10%-30% off retail.  Sometimes even less! 

Simply being aware of prices prior to Black Friday will help you determine what is a hot price or a hype item.  You can do this easily (right now!) by doing an internet search to your favorite retailers (Amazon, Walmart, Target, Best Buy, etc....). Make a list of current prices of the items  on your shopping list.  Compare this list to the Black Friday ads to determine what (and where) has the best price on all of your items!

But remember, time is valuable too!  If you work full time and Black Friday is "your day" to shop for gifts, then any savings is better than none!!  Going to the store armed with a price list will help you determine the best prices, no matter what.

Now for another freebie! 
Since you have made your F.R.A.N.K. gift list, now you can start to search for the best prices on those gifts!    Email me to receive a free printable organizer for your gift list and price sheet.  You will use it to track the price of items as well as what store has the best Black Friday price!  It's essential to be organized for your BFG!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Black Friday Gameplan {Series} Day 3

Welcome to Day 3 of my Black Friday Gameplan series!
(Better late than never right?)
If you missed the first two days, they are here: Day 1   Day 2

We are going to take a little bit of an anti-Black Friday stance today.  Mainly because many products and companies have great sale opportunities surrounding the week of Black Friday.  So let's explore those options, shall we?

Although Black Friday has stellar deals, do you know that some of those deals can be found NOW?  Through different online websites, there are already deep deep discounts to be found.  My favorite places to find these discounts are at a number of "daily deal" type of websites.  You have to keep an open mind on some of them!  
For example, perhaps you never considered getting a wine sampler for your sister and brother-in-law, but there is a daily deal that gives them 6 bottles for $20!  If they like wine, AT ALL, that could prove to be a nice, unique gift.
Here are some of my most favorite daily deal websites*:
And with all of these daily deal websites, make sure you "look around" at deals other than the ones JUST in your subscribed area.  Many times other areas will have online deals that you can redeem from any place you live!

What about a gift that keeps on giving?  Long gone are the "Fruit of the Month" clubs, because concept has been updated with several new, hip monthly clubs.  We personally subscribe to some of the ones below (and love them!) and I have listed several more I have my eye on getting a chance to try!  For $30 you can give a gift to a child, man, or woman that keeps arriving into 2012.  And let's be honest, who DOESN"T love to get a fun treat in the mail?  Use your F.R.A.N.K. list from yesterday to determine where this type of gift might fit in your BFG.
Little Passports

Lastly, watch for Pre-black Friday sales (They can sometimes be BETTER!!)--both in store and online.  
Some in store deals I was able to score on toys from weekly sales flyers recently will BEAT the Black Friday sale price!  
(And save me milage and gas in my car!)
Online, many retailers begin their Black Friday sales on Thanksgiving Day!  While my kids are watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, I am reading emails I have already received advertising Black Friday pricing! I can shop from home (in my PJ's with my hot coffee) and will not have to get to the store on Friday morning!  Obviously, many "doorbuster" offers are in-store only, but I have shopped from retailers such as Gymboree, Crazy8, Gapkids and Children's Place on Thanksgiving day during their Pre-Black Friday sales.  
That works for me!

And don't forget to sign up for places like these to save even more money when shopping online:

  • Swagbucks--search EVERYTHING you do online (instead of just using your bookmarks) and you earn Swagbucks for searching.  Fill out surveys, take polls and other things to earn more swag bucks then redeem your swag bucks for gift cards and MORE in the Swagstore!  I earned enough Swagbucks in just a couple of months to get a $45 gift card!
  • all of your online shopping through Ebates to earn cash back as you shop!
  • to Ebates, but they also have coupons and more! I love the special offers!

Come back tomorrow for another freebie to help organize your BFG and help you structure a gift list based on the store ads!

*Disclosure: Some links listed above are referral links.  All opinions are my own and I do not endorse anything I do not fully support and/or use myself.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Black Friday Gameplan {Series} Day 2

Welcome back to MOMumental Savings Black Friday Gameplan (BFG) series!

If you missed yesterday's tip, go back and read it now!

Tip #2: Prepare your game plan early

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, Black Friday will be less stressful if you plan your gift list NOW.   Think TODAY about your gift list!

Did you know that the average adult in the United States spends an average $750 on Christmas gifts??  Now, that is obviously an average and some will spend more or less, but isn't it hard to believe that some households spend over $1000 at Christmas alone?  Preparing your BFG now could help you to cut that figure in half or MORE-just for spending a few hours getting organized!!! 

Use this simple F.R.A.N.K. method to think about the different types of people you might need to purchase gifts for:

Obviously this is self-explanatory, but think about the types of friends you are going to buy gifts for.  Age and gender will be important factors.  Will you buy a gift for a set of friends that you and your significant other have mutually? One all-inclusive gift that can be used for a family or a couple could help save you money instead of purchasing gifts for each individual person.

This is also a self-explanatory category.  Some of the above ideas from the "friends" category apply here as well.  If you have a large family consider a "gifts just for kids" rule or pick names to help cut expenses for everyone (your family will appreciate it!!)  

These are the people you want to show your appreciation to, but may not see everyday.  Think your mailman, paper delivery man, hair stylist, secretaries at offices you frequent, etc...  We are planning a Christmas project for our family where we show our thanks to these types of people, in particular.  And this is the category where you will likely spend the least.  In this case, it is all about showing your gratitude and letting them know they are thought of and appreciated.  A plate of cookies, a cake, or an extra $5 dollars on their tip will go a long way for them during the holidays.

Neighbors help us lots during the year when we go on vacation by bringing in our mail, garbage cans and just being good to our kids.  Consider what gifts you might need or want to buy for your neighbors.   "Neighbors" can also mean your community as a whole and those that work in service to your community--fire fighters, policemen, etc......perhaps you plan on giving them gifts as well.  Some gift ideas may be similar to the acquaintances listed above in hopes of showing appreciation and gratitude.

The "kids" category applies broadly to anyone you know through your kids, other people's kids and of course your own kid's gifts. Do you plan on getting your children's teachers gifts? Secretaries or workers at their school?  Does your son or daughter have a special friend or group that they have to buy gifts for? And what is it your kids really want? The gift my daughter wants has been on sale for many weeks now, so it will not be apart of my BFG

Once you have an idea of what you want to purchase, remember my first tip of KNOWLEDGE.  Start researching now to find what these items are currently selling for so you will know if the Black Friday sales are actually a great deal or just a retailer's propaganda to get you in the store.  
Example: A Crayola paint set my son wants currently retails for $14.99.  A sneak peek at a retailer's Black Friday ad reveals it is one of their "Doorbuster" deals at a price of $12.99. To me, less than 30% savings is not a "doorbuster" deal! Knowing the going rate for items should be a part of your preparation.

Lastly, I have made a printable form for you to use as you PREPARE your BFG gift list. 
Yay for FREEBIES!  ;-)
Email me using the link in the upper right column and I will send it to you!

Come back tomorrow to find out how you can USE your F.R.A.N.K gift list for pre-Black Friday sales.