March 30, 2013

Save on baby!

If you are a new parent, there are a variety of online resources where you can obtain freebies, great money saving coupons, samples, and more. Having a baby is such a huge expense, why not save money every way you can? Below are just a few helpful resources to score those perks!

1. Baby to Bee
Baby to Bee is a website and email list that offers pregnancy and baby articles, brand samples, coupons, and more.

2. Pampers Gifts to Grow
Pampers puts reward codes on every box of diapers and wipes. You can sign up online and enter those codes. Once you have enough of them, you can redeem them for free stuff. I have personally redeemed codes for free Leap Pad books for my daughter. Pampers also regularly offers free Gifts to Grow codes. You can subscribe to our free daily Best Deals Newsletter to get those codes when they are available.

3. Similac Strong Moms
Similac is one of the best companies out there as far as freebies and discounts go. If you sign up with them you will regularly get $5+ coupons and samples.

4. Gerber
Gerber has a variety of offers on its website. This includes an email list that will net you over $100 in coupons, special offers on Gerber life insurance, and even offers on clothing.

5. Enfamil
Enfamil is currently offering up to $250 in free gifts, plus coupons, when you sign up with them online.

6. Amazon Mom 
Sign up and get huge discounts on diapers, formula, and even three months of free two-day shipping. Check out the benefits of the 'subscribe and save options' coupled with the Amazon Mom 30% discount. You can get your essentials nearly half price in some cases, all with free shipping.

7. Shutterfly
Sign up with Shutterfly, and get 50 free prints. You can store your photos forever with them, and there is no limit to space. They also have a quick website designer (free) that features your photos for family and friends to share and order. With Shutterfly, you can order your prints online and have them sent to your local Target or Walgreens for pickup. Also they frequently run free and discounted offers for their existing customers, they are great as holiday presents.

Earn gift cards with Swagbucks!

If you love Freebies as much as I do and enjoy getting free gift cards then you've got to try Swagbucks 

Simply use Swagbucks instead of your regular search engine when searching the web and start scoring your Swagbucks. You can cash in your virtual bucks for FREE gift cards from Home Depot, Target, Starbucks, Amazon, and much more! I especially enjoy cashing in my bucks for the $5 Amazon gift cards! I use them to purchase Christmas gifts for loved ones. After you have registered for Swagbucks, here are 10 Ways to Earn More Swagbucks...

Vote in the Daily Swagbucks Poll to score 1 extra Swagbuck each day!

Read the Swagbucks Blog, and watch for periodic swag codes!

Follow Swagbucks on Twitter, and watch for periodic swag codes!

Follow Swagbucks on Facebook, and watch for periodic swag codes!

Install the Swagbucks Toolbar (Each day when you reboot your computer, you’ll receive 1 Swagbuck!)
Invite your friends to join Swagbucks (When they search & win Swagbucks, you’ll win, too!, up to 1000 bucks)

Use Swagbucks for all of your Internet searches! (No matter how silly or small)

Watch Swagbucks TV

Play Swagbucks Games!

Use Swagbucks on Fridays! (Every Friday is Mega Swagbucks Day, your chances of scoring higher value bucks increases)!

So what are you waiting for? Go to Swagbucks, and get searching! 

End of week totals...

This weeks totals have been hard earned. I've started new endeavors for side income that I will share in the upcoming weeks, but here's how I did this week.

  • Plink 4,640 points ($45 gift card)
  • Health Savings Account $130.00 (weekly contribution)
  • Amazon gift cards $56.00 (Christmas gifts)
  • Shopkicks 8,412 points ($35 gift card)
  • Swagbucks 4,159 ($45 gift card)
  • Panda Research $24.03 (paid via paypal)
  • Inbox Dollars $23.39 (paid via check)
  • Emergency Fund $1200.99
I have been able to stick to my $1 a day savings transfer which has played a huge factor in the emergency fund increase. I hope to schedule many more "No spend days" and continue brown bagging my lunch. 

March 25, 2013

Dining out on the cheap...

Dining out is one of our favorite things to do on any given day. It’s easy, convenient and EXPENSIVE! Far too often we make excuses as to why we do not have enough time to cook at home or we’re caught up in running errands. After looking at our finances over the span of 3 months, I discovered that we spent over $700 on fast food and casual dining. Can you believe that?!? That’s nuts! There are so many better things to do with $700, instead we chose to eat out. 

If there is one area of our budget that we needed to work on, this was it. It really is a treat to eat out, and there are ways to cut that $30 average bill down by almost half. We learned some interesting money saving facts on how to stretch our dollars while dining out.

  • There are discounts out there
Try checking out the restaurants website and join their E-mail club
Try (click on restaurants)
Use Coupon Sherpa App (Available for Android & Iphone)
Do not throw away those weekly coupon circulars aka Junk Mail
“Like” your favorite eatery on Facebook

  • Yes! There are Freebies
In signing up for their E-mail club, you almost always sign yourself up for their Birthday/Anniversary club. Some offer a completely free meal or appetizer or desert. Others offer a free desert with meal purchase.

  • Divide and Conquer
There is something to be said about splitting a meal with your honey. I find that the majority of restaurants offer larger dinner portions that can easily be shared among 2 people. There are even some appetizers that can feed 2.

  • Keep it cheap
Instead of the overpriced soft drinks, why not opt for water?
Skip the three course meal and split an entrée.
Go during happy hour (Sometimes they offer ½ price meals)

It’s my belief that there is no reason to ever pay full price for anything these days, especially a meal. By using these proven tricks, we have easily reduced our spending by 75%. On average, we now spend $16-18 including tip on our meals.

Grace Defined

Never deserved, but freely given. Thank God for his mercy!

March 22, 2013

End of week totals...

I'm finally catching up on the numbers for the past two weeks, there have been a few challenges, but nonetheless here is how I fared. 

  • Plink 6,100 points ($60 gift card)

  • Health Savings Account $120.00 ($10 weekly contribution)

  • Inbox Dollars $22.50 (via Check)

  • Swagbucks 3,977 points ($40 gift card)

  • Panda Research $23.15 (via Paypal)

  • Shopkicks 8,056 points ($30 gift card)

  • Emergency Fund $1186.00
The side income has been very productive recently.
After a few referrals on Plink, I have accrued more points then I anticipated, making it a very nice source of side income by way of gift cards. I hope to see more growth with Shopkicks as we are only 8 months away from the Holiday shopping season.  

Join Plink & Earn Rewards (HOT!)

Get paid to eat and shop at your favorite stores and restaurants. Join Plink and earn Cash and Rewards from Amazon, I-tunes, Home Depot, Facebook and more… just for eating and shopping at some of your favorite stores and restaurants.

Earn points at places like Dunkin Donuts, Arbys, Tacobell, 7-11, Outback steakhouse and more.

You’ll earn rewards at more than 35,000 locations nation-wide. It’s free to join plus they have an A- rating with the Better Business Bureau.

My husband and I both joined Plink Rewards and have already racked up $60.00 in Amazon gift cards since January 2013. We enjoy going out to eat as a treat and we have to fill up on gasoline for our car, so why not get rewarded for it along the way. 

Click here to join Plink Rewards

March 20, 2013

7 savings habits to start now

Increasing your savings account doesn’t have to be painful. Even if you’re on a tight budget there is usually a spare dollar or two you can add to your savings. If you work on getting yourself into a savings habit, then you can enjoy watching your money grow. Here are a few tips we use:
1. Donate a dollar to yourself
Every morning take a dollar out of your wallet and add it to your money stash. You won’t notice the difference in your pocket, but you will see your savings grow faster. If you can spare two dollars, do it! Use a large change jar, empty milk carton, or some other designated container. It’s not so important where you collect the money just as long as you collect it. Periodically remove the money and deposit it in your savings account.
2. Save your change
At the end of each day put the change from your pocket into the jar. These amounts will add up surprisingly fast as long as you do this consistently.
3. Set up automatic deposits
Your bank can set up automatic deposits to your savings account each week. The trick is to find an amount that you won’t miss from your paycheck and have it deposited on your paydays. Even a small amount like $5 or $10, will add up over time.
4. Let the credit card company add your change
Several large credit card companies have a rewards program. Some programs work similarly to the change jar. They round each purchase up to the nearest dollar and put the change in your savings. Some companies even match a percentage of your savings from this method, so it’s free money to your savings!
5. Put your savings in an account that pays a higher interest rate
Check with your bank for their rates on mutual fund or money market accounts. As your savings grow CDs pay better interest than regular savings accounts and they give you an incentive to leave it and let it grow.
6. Start a tax-deferred retirement account
Check with your employer about putting automatic deposits into a 401(K) plan. Make the amount small enough so that it doesn’t affect your lifestyle. Your employer might even match a percentage of your deposits! If they don’t have a retirement fund program, then talk with your bank or an investment advisor about starting an IRA.
7. Buy at a discount and save the difference
For items that you were going to buy anyway see if you can find them on sale and then put the difference in your savings. Make the effort to use some coupons at the grocery store and then save your savings from your coupon items. As you see your savings grow from this method, “couponing” becomes more fun!
Story by Not made of money

March 18, 2013

Freebies this week

I stopped by Walmart this past week and picked up a few Freebies. I spent a total of $2.03. I paid for two "Trendy Tops" that I found on Clearance for $1.00 each, the best part is that each box had two different trendy tops. I checked the retail price and found them for $19.99 so this was a major discount. In addition, I receive my Vocalpoint freebies from P&G, it was filled with lots of great samples that I love. If you look in the top right hand corner, you can see Zoe (my cat) getting in on the fun. 

I also received an email from Kohl's for $10.00 off $10.00 and scored a really pretty blouse for $12.00, after the coupon it came down to $2.00, but then after stacking another 20% off coupon, it was discounted to $1.70. All in all it was a very frugal weekend.

March 15, 2013

Where have I been?

It has been a very abnormal week to say the least. I accomplished so much and have been a bit overwhelmed with making the necessary changes to prepare for my husband being laid off. I completely neglected my blog this week, I plan on having a refreshing weekend and I look forward to sharing more savings tips and stories with you. Have a great weekend!

March 09, 2013

What a deal!

This week while searching for deals, I came across this Kindle Fire red vegan leather case. I purchased it for .45 cents plus $2.50 shipping. I could not believe the price, I figured it was a misprint, but to my surprise it was not. I went back to Amazon today to consider purchasing another one as a gift for a friend, however the price returned to it's normal sum of $15.95.  I'm thrilled that I saved 99% of the product cost.

The awesome new is, I did find that they have other colors and styles for the same price of .45 cents + shipping, so if you have a Kindle Fire and you'd like to dress yours up, click on this link to score your case.

Reliance upon God

Let me start off by saying, God is good all the time. My husband came home from work this morning and shared that his store is closing and everyone would be laid off. Needless to say it came as quite a shock, one I never saw coming. It forced me to realize that nothing is certain or guaranteed and the fact that I allowed myself to think that we would never go through this again is a disappointment. I told my husband the first thing that popped in my head, "I'm not worried". This is a perfect opportunity to continue trusting God inspite of the circumstances, uncertainty and frustration. We've been here before when I lost my job in 2010, but God brought us through that time and I trust He will do it again.

With all that I have learned on how to pinch our pennies, save money, generate side income and continued tithing, I feel confident that my provider, Jesus Christ will bring about something much better and something that highlights my husbands talents. It's so easy to allow the enemy to use this as a means of destruction, but my God said he would supply all my needs according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus (Phillipians 4:19).

I'm reminded that there is nothing better, nothing more guaranteed than the Love of Christ. I'm completely dependant upon him and I would not want it any other way.

March 08, 2013

Short term goals revisited

March has been off to a great start! I hope the momentum will remain strong. 

March Short terms goals:

  • Read (3) E-books per month (Just got the Kindle Edition of the Hunger games trilogy $5 via Amazon)
  • Obtain 500-1000 Shopkicks per month (200 collected so far)
  • Obtain 1500 Plink points per month (750 points so far)
  • Obtain 510 Swagbucks per month (280 so far)
  • Car Maintenance (Tune up, Oil Change etc. were completed courtesy of my husband at a cost of $31.89)
  • Donate clothing to Salvation Army (I’ll be cleaning out the closet this weekend!)
  • Number of "NO SPEND DAYS" (8 planned)
I can not stress enough of the importance of setting short and long term goals, they are easy to accomplish if you remain motivated. Keep your eyes on the prize and watch your list get smaller and smaller. Soon, it won't even feel like a "I have to" task, but rather "I want to". 

Goodbye Green Bag Tag?!

I had been hearing rumors about this but I never like to share info that I haven’t confirmed personally from the source, whenever possible- so here it goes. CVS is phasing out the Green Bag Tag program in order to focus on other initiatives they feel will have a greater impact on local communities. They have already removed the cards from stores so they are no longer available. If you are already a Bag Tag owner- you will continue to earn your 25¢ in ECB per use and the ECB will print when you have 4 scans of your card.  The official date for the end of the program has not been announced. CVS says they will contact customers who have been actively using this program with more details in the future. While I have enjoyed this program, it’s not the biggest benefit of CVS so honestly I’m not too sad.  I think with or without a bag tag- CVS rocks!

End of week totals

Here we go again, Friday totals for side income generated for the week. 

  • Plink points 3,220 ($30 gift card)

  • Amazon $69.01 (from Christmas and rewards)

  • Inbox Surveys $19.25 (via check)

  • Panda Research $21.37 (via Paypal)

  • Health Savings Account $100.00 ($10 weekly contribution)

  • Shopkicks points 7,574 ($25 gift card)

  • Swagbucks 3,747 ($40 gift card)

  • Emergency Fund Savings $1080.00
Not bad this week, I 'm feeling good about my Plink points, I'm averaging a $5.00 gift card per week thanks in part to filling gas (3) times a week. I'm also beginning to see an increase in Shopkicks too and hope to keep the momentum going. It's nice to be rewarded for doing what I do best, shopping!

Do you Plink?

So, what is Plink? It’s a registered card program designed to reward you for dining and shopping at some of your favorite stores. Earn points for normal tasks like filling gas. Once you have at least 500 points, you can cash them in for a $5.00 gift card to merchants like Amazon, Walmart, Kohls, Barnes and Noble and more.

The best part is that with just two transactions of $25.00 at 711, you will already have 500 points. It is simple, fun and easy to use! I’ve been using Plink since January 2013 and have already received a $20.00 gift card to Amazon and have enough points for another $30.00 that I am saving. Why not get rewarded for pumping gas (a necessity) and for eating at a few of your favorite restaurants? Sign up today and discover the benefits!

March 07, 2013

Amazon Filler=Free Shipping?

I really do not like to pay for shipping, but sometimes it is beyond my control. However, with Amazon Filler, I have been able to save tons on shipping costs. It always seems like I miss the $25 dollar threshold for Free Super Saver Shipping. So they developed "Amazon Filler". A site that allows you to type in the sum that you need to make up the difference in order to get Free Shipping.  

For example, my order total is $19.28, I still would need to purchase an item for $5.72 or more in order to get Free Shipping. With Amazon Filler, I simply type in the sum difference of $5.72 and it will generate a list of items that meet that amount that I can select from to purchase. 

You may think to yourself that is counterproductive and normally I would agree, but I've discovered that at times the cost of shipping with Amazon (even for UPS ground) is more expensive than it would be if I had added the filler item to get Free Shipping. It's definitely worth the savings for me, I wish I had known about it sooner. 

March 05, 2013

Where's that number?

Find yourself frustrated when you're chasing down a phone number to speak to a customer service representative? It drives me bananas when I go to a company's website and can not find a phone number. I always find the "Contact Us" link but that only leads to an email address to reach a rep. Here's a site that helps you to locate that elusive phone number.

The word & money

God's Word
Following God’s word isn’t easy to do on a consistent basis. We’re imperfect people, right? We’re naturally selfish with a propensity to follow our own agendas. I’ve certainly learned my lesson the hard way many times. But in becoming Christians, we choose faith-filled journeys to grow and become more Christ-like in all walks of life. Knowing and living God’s word is a critical part of this journey. We have to understand what God says, especially in dealing with money and financial decisions. According to Howard Dayton, God has provided over 2,000 scriptures in the Bible about money. They don’t tell you what mutual funds to pick for your 401(k) or what categories you need to include in a budget, but the scriptures provide us principles with which to build a solid foundation for stewardship, generosity and our daily financial decisions. Knowing God’s word is just part of our responsibility. As I mentioned above, we have to live God’s word. In other words, we have to act upon what the Bible says and the financial principles God has given to us. Take a look at this scripture from James 1:22 (NIV):
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.

Doing What God Says

I think it’s easy to hear God’s word in church, in a small group study or as we read it in quiet time. For the most part, God’s financial principles are simple and easy to understand: save money, avoid debt, plan for the future, and many more. However, it’s being disciplined enough to practice these principles and then act upon them that can often challenge us. How do you consistently do what God’s word says? This was a lengthy discussion in my men’s small group study a few weeks ago. Our conclusion? As I already stated, we’re imperfect, but we are to do our best to live Christ-like lives that should honor God.
We each decided to leave the study with an action item. We decided to do something that we felt God was telling us to do. For a few guys, it meant sorting some things out in their marriage. For another, it was being a witness to the boys basketball team he’s coaching by praying with them regularly. For me, it meant acting on God’s word of peace and contentment and not comparing myself to others. It also meant avoiding some things in my life causing me to be discontent.

What Do You Need to Do to Follow God’s Word?

What is it for you? Is there an area of your finances in which you need to do something God is telling you to do? Could that area be in the way you are managing God’s resources? Is God telling you to faithfully give and trust Him to provide for your needs? Perhaps it’s trusting God to provide versus becoming slave to the lender by taking out another loan? Or maybe you need to prepare for the future by making saving more of a priority this year? God’s word on money isn’t difficult to understand. Making decisions that contradict the world’s common view is another matter.  Acting on God’s word might mean you don’t get to drive around town in a new car today. It also wasn’t easy for a spreadsheet guy like me to take a leap of faith in generosity. Thankfully, my wife was there to encourage me and I’m closer to God today because of it. God expects more from us than knowing His word. We are to know it and then act upon it. This couldn’t be more true than in the area of personal finance.

Story by Christian Personal Finance

March 01, 2013


It's been close to a month since I restarted my Grace Saved blog, and it has been a source of enjoyment and has filled a void. I hope you have enjoyed the content shared here and I encourage you to leave your thoughts. This time around has been very different, you certainly won't see clutter, I don't post every deal on the web (it's redundant). I wanted to enjoy sharing money saving ideas, rather than stressing myself out by filling this blog for the sake of filling it. I want to say Thank you for taking the time to read my stories and I truly hope that they have been a source of help and encouragement. 

Coming next week...

  • More favorite Apps
  • Do you Plink?
  • Have you Swagged lately?
  • Short term goals revisited
  • End of week totals...

CVS Green Bag Tag!

There is a great program now being offered by CVS called "Green Bag Tag". For a cost of .99 cents, you will receive a tag that earns ECB's just for using a reusable bag. What a great way to reduce the waste of plastic bags and earn ECB's for being environmentally savvy. Go to for more details and stop by your local CVS to get yours today!

Gift Card Stash!

While thinking of ways to save money for my emergency fund, I also decided I did not want to be financially strapped for the holidays. I'm a strong proponent of shopping throughout the year rather than waiting for Black Friday. Don't get me wrong, there are indeed great deals to be had the day after Thanksgiving, but of course you have to contend with hundreds of other deal seeking shoppers, long lines and limited supplies. I decided I would spend $5 per paycheck to purchase small gift cards and stash them away for Christmas. I usually have a person in mind when I buy the card & I keep a post it note with their name attached so I can remember whom the intended recipient is. Five bucks isn't a huge sacrifice considering the end result would be that you're far ahead of the Christmas shopping game and I usually spend that much eating out for dinner. If $5 per check is too much on the budget, consider spending $5 twice a month. The point is to start now so that when Christmas arrives you will thank yourself for being prepared.

How to adjust your withholding...

Most Americans pay the bulk of their annual tax bills via payroll withholding. Through this process, a percentage of your pay is taken out each pay period and sent to the Internal Revenue Service where it is credited toward your final tax bill.

Payroll withholding is something you want to get just right. Why? If you have too little taken out, you'll owe money when you file your return. That's not good, obviously -- no one likes to write out a big check to Uncle Sam. If too much is withheld, you'll get a refund, and that's not good either. What's wrong with getting a refund? That means you've given Uncle Sam free use of your tax money, which you could have made better use of yourself throughout the year.

The best course, tax experts say, is to adjust your withholding so your tax payments will match your actual tax liability. To Uncle Sam, you will be neither a borrower nor a lender. To make the change, file a new W-4 with your employer. This will change the amount that comes out of your paycheck.

You should do this any time there's a major change in your life -- such as marriage, birth of a child or purchase of a home. Each of these circumstances can affect the amount of tax you'll eventually owe. The IRS offers an interactive withholding allowance calculator and a couple of work sheets on page two of Form W-4 to help you figure out just what changes you need to make to your withholding amount. If you find the IRS language a bit dense, Bankrate explains it in "Understanding the W-4."

To figure out how much, take the amount you paid to the IRS and divide it by the number of pay periods remaining in the current year. No one likes to see a paycheck shrink, but it will make next April much less painful. If you regularly get a big refund, increase the number of personal allowances. Once you get the correct amount taken out and have a bit more cash each paycheck, don't automatically spend it. Because you're no longer a customer of the Unofficial Bank of the IRS, open an account -- savings, money market or certificate of deposit -- at an institution where your money will earn you, not the federal government, interest.Those who usually write a big check to the IRS may have to deal with a slight cut in take-home pay so that it doesn't happen again. You can decrease the number of personal allowances on the W-4 form or simply ask that a set amount be taken from your paycheck each period.

Story by Kay Bell of

Mega Swagbucks Day!

It's Mega Swag Bucks Day! You're chance for scoring higher value dollars is just a search away. Go to and sign up today!

End of week totals...

Here we are, another Friday has arrived and it's time for end of week totals... Let's see how I fared with generating side income.

  • Plink 2,910 points (equals $20 gift card)

  • Inbox Surveys $17.69 (Cash via Check)

  • Panda Surveys $20.73 (Cash via Paypal)

  • Shopkicks 7,454 points (equals $30.00 gift card)

  • Swagbucks 3,620 points (equals $40.00 gift card)

  • Health Savings Account $90.00 ($10 paycheck contribution)

  • Amazon Gift Card $69.96 (Christmas gift and Rewards)

  • Emergency Fund Savings $1050.00 (Goal by end of 2013 $2500.00)

I did not reach my goal of achieving 1000 shopkicks for February, however March promises big opportunities to rack up points. I'm very excited to have broken the $1k mark in my Emergency Fund, that has been a hard fought goal. With the help of a few "NO SPEND DAYS" each week and some overtime at work, I hope to reach my overall goal of $2500 sooner. As usual, it's still very much a work in progress, but nonetheless it is very rewarding to see the nest egg grow.