Frugal in Forty ~ A 40 Day Challenge

Frugal in 40Introducing “Frugal in 40,” a series of posts I will be publishing daily for a total of forty days (excluding weekends). That’s eight weeks of frugal posts coming soon! There will be money-saving tips, cheap or free health & fitness ideas, as well as thoughts on living with less more abundantly!

Some posts will be ideas and habits that I’ve already been doing for months or years with my family, while others will be new to me!

My goal is to be more mindful of my spending as we move to a new home, and to find and implement changes that will help me be more frugal and healthy. I’ve been checking out blog posts, articles, and books to find as many ideas as I can, and I’ve got to tell you, I am REALLY excited!! There are so many easy ways to be frugal and healthy. I can’t wait to share them all with you!

I don’t have a start date set for this series yet because we are literally moving to our new home as I type, but it will be SOON! :D

I hope you have a great week!

Friday Blog Party ~ May 15th

friday five

Hi and happy Friday! Welcome to the return of the Friday Blog Party on Atlanta Mom of Three! It’s been a WHILE since I hosted one, so to remind you (or if you’re new here), this is how it works:

To join in the party, simply choose one your blog posts from this week (or as recent as you have), introduce it in the comments section, and share the link to it. It can be the one that you put the most thought into, the one that received the most responses, the one that needs some responses ;) , the funniest one, etc. You choose!

Here is an example of how it looks in the comments:

blog party comment

And also, tell me…

How was your week? Mine was full of packing (we’re moving!!), strawberry picking with my sister, book returning – at the library, and many other miscellaneous things. Today is our first day of moving to the new house so I will likely check out all the posts shared in the party tonight and through the weekend.

Thank you for joining in!

Feel free to invite your friends and followers to the party by giving them this link:

http://wp.me/p2eQsT-2Oz

Have a great weekend!!

6 Ways to Control Meal Costs

Valerie:

This is just what I need as my family moves to a new home and I look to cut costs where I can!

Originally posted on How to $tuff Your Pig:

Behind housing and transportation the cost of food is the third largest expense a household will face. Add inflation into the mix, and it’s not difficult to see why many families are facing a food crisis.

For example, back in 2009 the average price of ground beef costs under $2.00 per pound. So far this year, the average price of ground beef costs $4.29 per pound. In just 6 years we have seen inflation on a pound of ground beef increase 114.5 percent and the price is projected to go even higher. Throw in stagnant wages and it’s not hard to see why the food crisis continues as affordability becomes more of a challenge. Fortunately there are many strategies that can you can use to help ease the burden of food costs.

Below are some tips to help reduce your food costs.

Cook all meals at home and avoid fast…

View original 319 more words

Ten Thoughts Tuesday ~ May 12th (The Moving Edition, with Pics!!)

ttt

  1. It’s official: we are MOVING!!!! We found a lovely three bedroom/two bathroom house that is going to be perfect for our family. It has plenty of storage space and a big backyard and woods for the kids to play and explore. It is in a great location for us (closer to our church, the interstate, and where we shop and eat out). It’s more expensive per month but all the perks are going to be WORTH IT. :D
  2. Maggie is excited because she will be closer to places that she’d like to work which means I can drop her off and pick her up without her having to put much out for gasoline.
  3. I have so much to do! O_O
  4. Thanks for commenting on my post a few weeks ago with moving tips and hints. If you haven’t already done so, definitely feel free to add your advice about moving with kids – I am open to all suggestions! Click HERE to go to my other post. There is a quick survey at the bottom of that post as well.
  5. We aren’t set on a move-in date because it’s going to be gradual. But we already have the keys and we’ll START moving stuff over this Friday! Ahhhh!
  6. We’ve been able to get dozens of boxes from the recycling drop-off center near us. They are free and I can always go back and pick up more as we need them. Nice, right?!
  7. Yesterday, Samuel (3 ½) started getting really excited about moving and talked all about the things we would need to take to the new house. It will be the first time he has ever moved. BUT, last night before bed he got panicky and changed his mind, saying that he didn’t want to have a new home. I comforted him and told him we weren’t moving yet and that we are still here for now. Will probably write a whole post about THAT topic soon! :P
  8. For the rest of the “thoughts,” I’m just going to share some pics of the new house! Enjoy. :)
front porch
I love the fans on the front porch and the space there is for rocking chairs! Notice the color on the closest post? I covered the house number for privacy reasons. It’s not really that color. ;)

 

door dining room kitchen
Here you can see the front door, our dining area (with bay window) and the kitchen. I really like the variety of flooring! Wood paneling, carpet and brick/stone-looking (lol) laminate tile.

 

kitchen office
I love the kitchen! As small as it is, it will be fine for us! Maggie and Joshua really like the high seats. The kitchen leads to the office/den with another bay window, and the large laundry room (not shown).

 

kitchen cabinets
These cabinets remind me of the ones that were in my great-grandmother’s house, which I adored, so I am thrilled with them!

 

bathroom me and sam
Here’s one of the bathrooms. And Samuel and me. :)

Have you moved recently with children? How’d it go?

It’s Not All Roses (Mother’s Day)

I’m thinking we should just skip Mother’s Day.

I know, as a mom of three you’d think I’d be all over this one, right? Not quite.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure it began with the very best of intentions but there just seem too many reasons for it to be a painful or disappointing day for people. And I’d rather we just skip it. Same with Father’s Day.

As children, we are supposed to honor our mom/dad on these days. But, what happens when you don’t have that parent because of death, divorce, or abandonment? What about abuse victims? It must be hard on children who have to hear about their friends and classmates getting to make special things and celebrate when they CAN’T.

Then, as adults, you become an honoree in addition to celebrating your own parents, when you have a child. But what if you have been unable to have children and adoption isn’t a possibility? What if your child died? What about recurrent miscarriage survivors? There are many, MANY couples who long to grow their family but cannot.

And then there is the whole concept of the husband/wife helping the kids to make the day special for the other parent. But what about single parents who are both mother and father to the child(ren)? Or the spouse who just won’t bother with the day?

Why must those who have lost a parent suffer even more on these days? They already have to experience birthdays and other major holidays without them.

And how about the reality of the day? Do many moms and dads perhaps want a break rather than spending the day doing their normal thing (with the addition of greeting cards and small gifts)?

I know society means well with these holidays, and if you have a lovely mother and/or you are a mama, I wish you a Happy Mother’s Day today, but if you don’t or you’re not, I am thinking of you.

Please take a moment to remember that not everyone enjoys these days

by clicking the links above and reading their stories.

♥ ♥ Let’s be kind today and always. ♥ ♥

Photo Credit

Smartphones aren’t all that Different from Walkmans

I’ve had some laughs while reading the book Simplify Your Life with Kids because so many things are outdated. When I got to page 81, for example, and found the section called “Avoid Electronic Overload,” I had no idea which devices would be covered, but I smiled with anticipation. The book was published in 1997, and perhaps started years earlier, so how many devices were really available to focus on?

Well, the Walkman, for one, and it was somewhat frowned upon! Stereos, video games, and computer games were the others she chose to talk about, but the Walkman!! lol

sony walkmanDo you remember the Sony Walkman?! The portable cassette tape player? I loved mine. As I was reading and remembering my early teen years with happiness, I realized that her advice about the Walkman could apply to our devices today. Our tablets, iPods, and smartphones fit the bill because they are portable, and the smartphone perfectly fits (in my opinion) because it is so compact and because such a large percentage of the population has one.

Check out what the author said about the Walkman and see how easily it can apply to our current devices.

“…if they’re overused they can be very isolating and can foster anti-social behavior.”

Hmm.

Before saying this, she had been touching on the positive points of its use, but as she attempts to guide parents into making smart choices for their kids, you can easily see how many cons are possible, if left to their own….devices.

She goes on to share boundaries that she feels parents should set for their child(ren)’s use of the Walkman. Fill in the blank with the word smartphone, tablet, or iPod and you’ve got up-to-date advice!

“Don’t permit them to use a ______ at the dinner table, when doing homework, while engaged in any form of conversation, when they’re being introduced to your friends, or during any kind of social gathering.”

Right?!

And even though the Walkman was primarily overused by kids and teens, our current technology affects both kids and adults. So, this advice about conversation, social gatherings, the dinner table…well, we adults should listen as well.

**Technology has many, many pros, but as with all things, moderation is key to avoid the cons.**

Simplify Your Life with Kids by Elaine St. James on amazon (not an affiliate link)
Photo credit: Walkmans via photopin (license)

BzzAgent Review ~ Schick Hydro Silk

Now that I’m back to blogging, I’ve started accepting BzzCampaigns again from Bzzagent. If you’ve never heard of it, Bzzagent gives people (not just bloggers) the opportunity to try new products for free and then create buzz about them! This can be done online and in person.

Reviews should be honest (as you will soon find out in this post!), not just positive, and you can always decline an invitation if you don’t want to try the product offered, which I did for many months when I wasn’t blogging. If you are interested in becoming a BzzAgent, see the bottom of the post for more information. It’s an easy and fun way to try new products!

schick

The Schick Hydro Silk disposable razor is a tricky product to review. While I think it did a good job removing hair, I didn’t like the process. The first time I used it, it felt like a slug had just slimed my skin! I mean, seriously icky stuff!! I don’t care for that kind of moisturizing at all. It made it hard to tell where I’d shaved, and just felt gross! However, the shave itself was close and I was pleased with the overall effect of the razor…after the fact.

As I’ve used it more, I’ve gotten used to the slime but I’m still not a big fan. Will I buy this in the future? Not unless there is a really good sale. Otherwise, I’m going back to my old razor.

They also gave me shaving gel and a shower puff, but I don’t use either of these (nor did I know they were going to send them with the razors!) so I gave them to a friend. ;)

coupons

Coupons are included in every BzzKit; they give my friends a way to try the product for less than retail, too. When I love a product, I appreciate the coupons because I’m recommending that they try it, but in cases like this, I usually just hand out the coupons and let them know that I didn’t care for it but that they might. We all have different preferences, so it could be that the texture of the moisturizing is perfect for everyone but me!

What do you want from a razor?

bzzagent

I love the way a friend of mine recently described joining Bzzagent, so I asked her if I could quote her here for your benefit. She sais yes, so here you go :) :

“If you are interested in becoming a BzzAgent go to bzzagent.com.  It is free to join.  They will ask you survey like questions so they can match you with products you will actually use.  When you do get selected for a campaign you have to “bzz” about it! The more you talk about it, good or bad, the better your score, the more likely you will get chosen for another campaign.  It is that easy!”

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Does Minimalism Guarantee Happiness?

Minimalism Happiness

Money Can’t Buy Happiness

I spent the last few months of 2014 going through our entire house and doing some major evaluating of our stuff. I had just returned home from a road trip with my family and I was seeing the world differently. I could clearly see some things that had, until then, escaped me. At that point, they became easy to understand. For the first time, I truly comprehended that money can’t buy happiness and that living with less truly is more. That removing excess stuff, stressors and busyness, while adding positive relationships and uplifting goals is a good way to live. But does minimalism “guarantee” happiness?

Happiness -vs- Joy

Happiness is a dependent state of being. We are able to “be happy” but it is dependent upon many factors, such as our environment, relationships, and activities. While I do believe that minimalism can bring a sense of calm and even happiness – as long as everything else in one’s life is going well – I also think that we put too much worry and concern with becoming “happy” to begin with. (Oh, the irony!!)

What good is being happy if that happiness can instantly vanish when things in our lives take a turn for the worse? Illness, loss of a job, natural disaster, death of a loved one, etc (and etc, etc!!) We are GOING to have things come into our lives that take away that warm, fuzzy feeling.

What we actually need is joy. And joy doesn’t come from living a minimalistic life. Or any other kind of life. The one, true source of joy is Jesus Christ. His Holy Spirit brings joy. And love, and peace, and kindness……. (Check out Galations 5:13-26!)

No matter how many possessions I have, what my job is, how healthy I am, or who I have in my life, God is with me.

Minimalism as a Christian

I’m still going through our stuff, still adding and removing things from my life as I evaluate what’s important to me. Simplicity is key, in my opinion. Over-scheduling, over-owning, and over-doing do not make me happy. I like the things I’ve learned about living with less.

Do I enjoy minimalism? Absolutely.

Do I think it’s a wonderful way to live? Yes.

Does it bring happiness? It can.

Is that happiness lasting? Not one bit.

What do you think of minimalism? How about joy?! I ♥ both!

I would love to talk more with you about them!

Comment below or email me at atlantamomofthree@yahoo.com

* * *

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Moving Tips and/or Advice?

More than likely, my family will be moving to a new (to us) home next month. I am very excited, but a bit nervous as well because we haven’t moved in almost twelve years and it’s a little intimidating, especially with three kids! It will be a local move, only a fifteen minute drive or so. We have friends with trucks and trailers so we won’t have to rent a moving truck (yay!) and we’ll be making the move over the course of a few weeks, so I will make trips back and forth with my van, too.

It’s not a mystery to me how to pack boxes, obviously, but I know there must be ways of making the moving process easier and I’d love to hear them! For those of you who are familiar with moving, what tips and/or advice would you give to a novice like me? I would really appreciate anything you’d like to share.

Thanks!

And please take a moment to complete a quick poll! :)

Permission to do Nothing

Mommy Sit Down

A minimalistic, simple lifestyle. That’s what I have been happily pursuing these last several months. I’ve found one thing to be extra challenging, though: taking time to sit down and do nothing. I keep busy, despite my need and desire for down time. There are always plenty of things I could be doing so I just pick one and do it!

In the morning before everyone gets up I am reading and praying; I only sit for a few minutes beforehand and that’s simply to drink my coffee and attempt to will my eyes to open further! Throughout the day I am “doing,” of course, whether sitting, standing, or walking. And even in the evening, when the younger kids are in bed, I am reading, watching a show, or on my computer. Or talking on the phone or talking in person with my husband, etc. But always DOING something. From sun up to sun down, I am busy even though much of it is optional. I could take time for nothing if I wanted to.

We’re so accustomed to having to accomplish something at all times that it is scary to stop. Stephan Rechtschaffen, M.D., author of Time Shifting: Creating More Time to Enjoy Your Life, often asks his patients to imagine they have a free moment and are sitting on their couches, preparing to do nothing. How do they feel?”

“I think about everything I should be doing and get incredibly anxious,” they commonly reply.

Rechtschaffen says that when we first try to relax, we don’t feel relaxed at all. Instead of joy and serenity, we feel anxious and guilt. -from The Simple Living Guide by Janet Luhrs

It’s true for me, too.

I remember, as a child, just sitting. I would imagine/day dream, watch the rain/snow fall, or just look around the room, for no reason at all except to spend time SEEING things. I observed and internalized. My activities didn’t always have to serve a purpose. Sometimes I was bored, but mostly I was just still. I really do desire to have more still moments in my life, though it’s not likely that I’ll ever experience boredom. My life is full of responsibilities, now, and many interests, so it’s not a mystery why I always have something I could be doing. But what if I took a little bit of time away from all those things each day?  How much would it affect my attitude, performance, and overall well-being?

If it means watching my three year old play with his cars, listening to my older children laugh together in the next room, gazing at the lines in the wood of the furniture, or thinking about a new meal we enjoyed the night before, the possibilities are endless and none of them would cause anxiousness or guilt. But I think it has to be intentional. We have to give ourselves permission to do nothing.

Do you spend any time at all doing nothing?

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