Friday, July 27, 2012

Great Price on School Uniforms If You're Looking

I am coming out of my self-imposed blogging sabbatical because I had to share this one with you:

I just did a little unplanned internet shopping, but totally for a good reason:

I have been searching and searching and searching for a local business that sells school uniforms in toddler sizes. Our Abigail, who barely fills up a 3T, will be starting preschool at Patrick's Montessori school this fall and she is required to wear the same uniforms the big kids do.  Problem? Most schools here don't have a preschool program, so most consignment shops (where I do most of my school uniform shopping) don't have any 3T clothes on their racks. I've looked.  At 5 consignment stores.  Came up with one skort that was on the regular rack of clothes, but it is navy without any logos, so it will work.

I asked on our school Facebook group page if anyone had any girl 3T uniforms they wanted to part with, as I would be interested in buying. No bites.

So I prepared myself to buy new clothes for this child...this child who only wears new clothes if her Nana (or someone other than me) buys them.

This morning I got one of my usual sale emails from Children's Place. I like their clothes so I receive the emails. I usually just delete them though because I usually don't have the need to buy any clothes. But this was bragging on an "additional" 30% off.  So I clicked.

Seems that there is a coupon code (P7H2012) that saves you 30% off your order if you spend $60 or more (you can also use Q7H2012 for 20% if you order $50+ or R7H2012 for 15% all other orders).

So I clicked over. They had uniforms (slightly) marked down anyway, making them lower than usual, but not lower than I could find them elsewhere. But then...that extra 30% off?  That's big.

So I loaded up my "cart" online with long and short length items for Abigail and two long-sleeve gray polos for Patrick (gray and long sleeve are both hard to find, so this is good) and added the coupon code. Then I took into account that shipping for orders over $75 is free (all others is $5).

After I saw my total, I compared it with two other online retailers, just to make sure I was really getting a good deal, and BANG - super good deal compared with other sites.

For $108.54 (shipped and with taxes), I got 15 items and I think save a couple more shirts for her for winter - we might just have her entire school wardrobe taken care of (plus two more shirts for Patrick, which he actually needed).

As a bonus, I went through ShopAtHome and was pleasantly surprised to see that they are giving 9% cash back for Children's Place right now.  So really I paid less than $100.

YIPPEE!

Those coupon codes are good only through 7/29 so use them if you need them while they are available!

By the way...I don't get any type of commission or benefit from telling you about the sale or coupon. Although you and I will both get $5 if you click my ShopAtHome link. I just saved a lot of money on something we actually needed and hoped you could do the same. =)

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Best of 13 Best

In January and April I posted links to 13 articles featuring 13 ways to do things and 13 uses for ordinary items.  All in "honor" of Friday the 13th. 

Today, the last Friday the 13th of the year (yep...really), we will look at 13 posts that feature the 13 Best of their kind.  There were a lot of these to choose from, but the 13 I selected entertained and/or educated me the most. Hope you enjoy!

HEALTH:
The 13 Best Abs Exercises
13 Best Quit-Smoking Tips Ever
The 13 Most Powerful Superfoods
13 Best Outdoor Workouts

BEAUTY:
13 Best Drugstore Hairstyling Products

LIFE:
The 13 Best U.S. Cities for Public Transit 

CAREER:
The 13 Best-Paying College Majors
13 Jobs in Hard Times

FUN:
13 Best Grilling Tips
The 13 Best Global Google Doodles
13 Best Places in the U.S. for Wildlife Viewing
Top 13 Best Castles in Wales With Beautiful Pictures
The 13 Best Protest Signs Seen at Occupy Wall Street - this whole movement irritates me, but I can appreciate a good protest sign (even if I don't agree with all of them).

Monday, July 9, 2012

This is Why We Tithe

Photo source: ColinBroug
I have never hidden the fact that we are Bible-reading, devoted Christ followers in our home. We tithe.  What is tithing?  We give 10% of our (gross) income to our church.

There are many places where you can argue about how much to tithe, whether to tithe, or when to tithe. I'm not here to have that discussion. I'm here to tell you why WE give and how faithful our Father is when we are obedient.

We give
  • out of obedience (Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce  Prov 3:9)
  • out of worship (Every tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the trees, is the Lord's; it is holy to the Lord. Lev 27:30)
  • from our gross income (The firstfruits of your grain, of your wine and of your oil, and the first fleece of your sheep, you shall give him. Deut 18:4)
  • a 10% tithe (And this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God's house. And of all that you give me I will give a full tenth to you. Gen 28:22)
  • out of trust (And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.  Phil 4:19) 
  • because God not only promised us, He challenged us (Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.  Mal 3:10)  
And there are may other verses (let me know if you want more and I'll hook you up!).

Anyway...not telling you this to brag that we give. God supplied it to us in the first place, we have nothing to brag about.

I'm telling you that we tithe because I want to show you a beautiful example of God's promise in those last two verses up there fulfilled. Here is the story I've been getting at:

This past month was horrible for our spending.  We were truly irresponsible with our money and spent it on a lot of stupid things. It's been a long time since we've been as spendthrift as we were this past month, and it doesn't need to happen again.

But we did tithe this month.

And God (despite our poor stewardship of His blessings) still provided for our needs.

My car has been needing an oil change frequently. Too frequently. We knew there was a small oil leak because of this frequency and because there would be trace amounts of oil in my parking spot in the garage. But it didn't look too big.

A week and a half ago, Chip took it in to the shop to see what was going on. It was a much bigger leak than we knew. A leak to the tune of $500. Yikes!  And I knew that we hadn't been as careful with our money as we should have been, but was determined not to put it on our credit cards but to pay for it in cash. Just less money to send to the creditors, I thought.

Last Monday we were on our way to pick up the car and pay the $500 invoice when Chip happened to mention, "Oh...we got a check for $950 from our insurance company today for overpayment of home owner's insurance." What?!  That's almost an entire year's bill of insurance and we're getting it back? We are getting back enough to cover our bill AND cover the childcare costs that we will pay while Chip is on orders?!

Man oh man...God is so good!

Do you have an interesting story of God's provision that showed up just when you needed it?  I'd love to hear it, so either link to it or leave it in the comments and let's celebrate how good God is!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Our Financial Update #29 - June 2012

So as I start typing this, I'm ashamed to say that I have no idea what this update will look like, but based on memory alone, I think it will be ugly. Actually based on the fact that I don't know indicates that this will be ugly.

Boo for accountability.  But here it goes anyway.

INCOME:
Nailed it. A whopping $21 over my rough estimate of our monthly income.  Looks like my estimate isn't quite so "rough." 

UNDER BUDGET:
Gasoline: $17 under I'm not really sure how, but it seems that we were under this month.  I guess because we filled up on the 31st of May? 
Electricity/Water: $6 under budget.  Does this even count as "under budget"?  Yes...yes it does.  =)  Don't worry...next month's power bill is higher than my monthly budget for the two items, so it won't last. That's summer around here for you.
Doctor: $25 under budget. No spending this month.  Which is odd because Abigail had a checkup on the 29th.  It must have just not cleared that month. But that makes it come out as "on budget" because that would use up the $25 with a copay.
Home Supplies: No spending.
Hair: No spending. I really need a trim and my color touched up, but in a month with such horrible spending, I knew I couldn't afford to spend it on that.
Toiletries: No spending.


ON BUDGET:
Tithe: There is no question here. Any offerings above our tithe will not be noted because I'm not about bragging. But I do want you to know that we are giving 10% of our net income to our local church, as I feel it is important that you know that this is top priority to us.
Auto Insurance: No surprise here.
Television: As usual.
Term Life Insurance: Done
Mobile Phone: Nothing new here.
Alarm Monitoring: Usual deal.
Pest Control: Regular charges here. 


OVER BUDGET:
Auto Parts/Service: $30 over budget thanks to a not-at-home oil change. Now we remember why Chip does them at home. 
Eating Out: $450 over budget. Yeah...that makes me want to throw up. Seriously...that would have been another nice chunk of change off of a credit card balance and we spent it on food. I hate that. I plan on making a big change in that direction starting this month.
Groceries: $121 over budget even after all of the eating out. Gross and stupid.
Mortgage/HOA/Timeshare: $15 over budget for the first time ever. And I'm mad because it's because of my stupidity. I was late paying the HOA bill, so we had to pay a late charge of $15. GRRRRRR.
Clothing: $120 over budget. Actually this is because I desperately needed some...um...unmentionables.  And let me tell you...those things are EXPENSIVE.  I remember now why I wear them until they fall apart now!

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: 
  • Spent $550 on start up costs for Chip's genealogy business, which I will discuss more later. 
  • Spent $116 on Kids "free" bowling.  Don't ask. We've had discussions about it. 
  • Cancelled my weight watchers account because I'm not using it, so it is just proving to be a money suck.
  • Spent $87 on Abigail's birthday presents
  • Spent $44 on her birthday party (above what I'd already spent in May). Not too bad. 
  • Spent $69 on Army supplies before Chip leaves for his orders.
  • Didn't send nearly enough to our credit cards. Just the minimum this month because I already saw the above travesty happening.


Debt Paid off Since May 2012: $70.39 (pathetic)
Debt Paid off Since October 14, 2009: $21,074.58
Change in Networth from May 2012: $532.89 (at least it's in the positive direction)
Change in Networth from October 14, 2009: $44,270.07

Did you do any better than I did this month?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Allow Your Daughter to Be a Super Hero - Review

Super heroes are a big deal these days. About 10 years ago Hollywood started bringing every comic book character of any major (or minor) importance to life on the big screen again, and they haven't ceased pounding us with image after image of super heroes.

I grew up with those same heroes and love them.

But you know as I do that most of them are all male.

There are a handful of strong super hero females, but none as powerful and iconic as Wonder Woman!


Our little firecracker princess is a strong personality, and I want her to revel in that and know that being strong (physically, mentally, emotionally, and psychologically) are traits that we hope she thrives for. Allowing her to "hero worship" a cartoon character at age 3 is one way to allow strong women into her life, even if they are fictional ones.

You can choose this same costume or any other from the girls' superhero costumes options at Costume Super Center or check out this Superhero article to read more about Superheroes' influence in our current entertainment options.

We were provided this adorable costume for review from Costume Super Center. The cutie inside the costume is our own, as are my opinions.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Eco-Friendly Ways to Beat the Summer Heat

Photo source: runrunrun
It was 102 degrees on Saturday here, people.  And the heat index?  109!  What makes it more absurd?  It was still JUNE!  Yuck!

As the temperature readings skyrocket across the nation, there are some great eco-friendly ways to beat the summer heat that you can employ:

  • Switch to CFL bulbs throughout your home. They emit less heat than incadescent bulbs and consume between 70% - 75% less energy.
  • Connect all of your small appliances to one power strip that can be easily switched on and off when not in use.Kill the vampire power!
  • Try not to use your oven. Summer is a great time to use your grill, microwave, or slow cooker to prevent heating your entire home. If you do cook, do it in bulk, only heating the oven once a week.  Then reheat the meals using your microwave.
  • Keep the effects of the sun to a minimum by closing the blinds and shades during peak periods of sunlight.  Buy black out curtains and use them - especially on rooms that have a lot of windows or get a lot of afternoon sunlight.
  • You can also plant trees or bushes in front of maximum light windows to keep out the scorching daytime heat.  You not only save on cooling bills, but you plant a tree!
  • Use ceiling fans to cool you. Even though they don’t actually cool the air, just the circulation of the air in the room makes you more comfortable by helping to cool and evaporate any sweat on your skin.
  • Look into purchasing a programmable thermostat for your home. You can bump it up during the time people are away from the house and lower it just before you get home so that you are not cooling an unoccupied house.
  • Your clothing choice has a huge effect on how hot or cool you feel. Lighter shades and natural fabrics will help you feel a lot cooler. Make sure your clothes fits loosely so your body is able to breathe.
  • As your body is sweating a lot, you need to replenish the lost water. Water keeps you cooler and healthier.
  • Keep a spray bottle of water in the refrigerator, and when the going gets hot, give yourself a good squirt.
  • Skip the drying cycle on the dishwasher. Instead, leave the door open to let the dishes dry. And put off using the dishwasher until evening, when the air is cooler and the electric rates are lower.  Better yet - run it while you sleep for optimum results.
  • Bypass the clothes dryer and use a clothes line.  Even if you don't have a yard, setting one up in a well lit area in your home is much more cost efficient.  If you think this leaves your clothes feeling too stiff, after they are dry use the dryer for 10 minutes to fluff them. 
  • Cold (or cool) showers will cool your body, improve your circulation, and close your pores. Great beauty and health benefits along with not having to heat the water and then cool yourself off after the shower. 
  • Leave your lights off as long as you can during the day.  Use natural lighting as much as possible. 
  • Have your A/C ductwork inspected for leaks.  It will cost you a bit of money to pay for the service call, but if they find a few easy fixes, it will immediately pay for itself.  
  • Install an attic fan. You can purchase solar powered ones that burn none of your electricity but can cool your attic, allowing less heat to settle at the top floor of your home. 
  • Turn off the technology.  I know...this one might be harder on some of us than others.  But not only will you save money on your electric bill, but those laptops, big screen tvs, and gaming systems that so many of us have really put out a LOT of heat. 
  • If you have one available, visit a public park with a kid-friendly water feature.  I know downtown Savannah we have one of our city squares that has a giant splash pad for the kids.  It's a public space so it's free. You might have a fountain in a local park that allows playtime. If not, visit a friend with a pool. 
Can you think of any others that should be on this list? 
 

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