July 29, 2013

New favorite app...

Recently, while watching the 5am news, I came across a story about a new App called “Locket”. It’s currently in Beta testing mode for those whom do not mind being guinea pigs.

It’s an App that sends advertisements to your smart phone locked screen.  When you close your phone and re-open when needed, an ad pops up for a product, movie or service. You can chose to open it or to ignore it, either way you get paid. Each ad is worth .01 cent and is payable through Paypal. Believe me, those pennies add up quickly. After you reach $10, you can cash out.

I decided to try it out and have been pleased with the App, I’ve racked up $2.53 since last Monday. It does take patience and if you don’t mind reading or ignoring the advertisements, it’s nice to make easy money.

Click on the link to give it try, you might like it.

CVS Shopping Trip 7/28/13

This weekend’s shopping trip yielded great savings at CVS. Our shopping trips worked out far better than I had hoped. We were able to rack up on Herbel Essences shampoo & conditioner. CVS had a great deal to match the BOGO coupon from P&G this weekend. The sale was 2 for $4, after the coupon, each bottle came out to .75 cents a piece.

In addition we received $8 in ECB’s and just today we received four more $3 ECB emails for a total of $12 for being a loyal CVS customer. In total, after ECB’s our total for all our shopping trips came to $2.87.

We still have lots of shopping to do, but to ensure that others get to reap the same deals, we will wait until the end of the week to finish our shopping. I feel very strongly about leaving products on the shelves for others, it is not fair to clear shelves!!! Hoarding is very different from moderate stockpiling. I believe in being prepared, not hogging everything up.

I firmly believe that the Lord is allowing us to stockpile these products in preparation to help others in need. He has graciously made it possible for us to help our church family as well as our immediate families. But if the opportunity presented itself to assist a stranger, we are happy to be an instrument of God’s love.

Happy Shopping!

July 26, 2013

End of week totals...

We're doing our best to increase our Plink points and Shopkicks before the holiday season kicks into high gear. I've already noticed Halloween decorations sprouting up around town, before you know it, Christmas will be upon us. Here's what we've managed so far. 

Swagbucks 4,808 points ($45 Gift Card)

Shopkicks 14,309 points ($56 Gift Card)

Plink 15, 770 points ($155 Gift Card)

Inbox $31.28 (Via Paypal)

Panda $38.60 (Via Check)

Coke Rewards 725 points

Amazon Credit $34

Health Savings Account $75

Emergency Fund $619.18

July 24, 2013

Thankful for the bounty...

Last evening we stopped by our local CVS to use our ECB's that we received via email this week. We spent about an hour there in order to split our transactions to ensure that we spent as little as possible. Since our stock pile of shampoo/conditioner and body wash needed replenishing, we decided that was the best way to spend the funds.

We were pleasantly surprised when we arrived and found great deals on VO5 and Suave body wash. The total retail value was $28.24, but after all coupons and ECB's, we walked out paying just $3.85.

I'm so grateful that we were able to get all that we needed, but more grateful for the Lords provision. 

July 23, 2013


Recently I’ve taken the opportunity of working overtime at my job which has allowed me to pay bills a little quicker than I anticipated. It’s not every day that I get the chance for a little extra money at work, so I’m grateful when it comes along. I’ve also been doing a lot of shopping at CVS as of late, and have noticed a decent savings when using my loyalty card with manufacturer coupons and the 15-30% off coupons they email me each week.

I’ve come to understand that it’s all about timing in maximizing the greatest savings. I don’t mind hanging on to a coupon for a few months if it means that I can score a large discount. I’ve learned the sales cycles and feel confident in my ability to get what we need when we need it and build a small stockpile for our needs.

Just this week, we unexpectedly received two $3 ECB’s from CVS for no reason at all, other than being a loyal customer. It brought a smile to my face because finances have been a bit of a struggle for June & July and there are some pretty great deals that I’d like to take advantage of but don’t really have the cash to buy them.

For my household, the coupons that have come in the Sundaypapers lately have not been very useful to me, so it has reduced my ability to increase our stockpile. Coupled with the recent changes in our lives when it comes to my Husband’s job status, the new car, the window replacement, Zoe’s emergency vet bill, it has taken a toll. I’ve allowed the enemy to overwhelm and affect my attitude and demeanor. I’ve been a Bear to deal with, I’ve lost my Mojo and I’m just crabby as my Husband so eloquently put it.

I realized it’s all my fault. I am my own problem. My relationship with Christ has suffered because I’ve allowed distractions, I've entertained lies from the enemy. I’ve not been praying as I should. So when I say it’s all my fault, it’s not for sympathy, it’s just the plain truth.

I’d like to believe that I can get all this behind me, but nothing will go “my way” until I get back to basics and spend time with God. The bottom line is, the conditions for a miracle is difficulty, the conditions for a great miracle is impossibility. Since I know that with God nothing is impossible, I will expect a great miracle from my Father who loves me in spite of me.

July 12, 2013

End of week totals...

Since we are funding our entire Christmas spending budget with our points, we've made some great advances in racking them up. We're 5 months away and I'm pleased with the progress. (These totals do not include my husbands points). Between us both, we've racked up $361.00 to spend. 

Swagbucks 4,779 points ($50 Gift Card)

Shopkicks 14,001 points ($56 Gift Card)

Plink 14,690 points ($145 Gift Card)

Inbox $30.69 (Via Paypal)

Panda $36.59 (Via Check)

Coke Rewards 678 points

Amazon Credit $44

Health Savings Account $65

Emergency Fund $619.18

On my Soap box

The past two months have been financially challenging. Two things are certain beyond doubt, the need for an emergency fund and clipping coupons are an absolute must. Had we not made & continue to make sacrifices to put money into the emergency fund, we’d be in a financial mess. I honestly do not know where I’d be without it, it’s not an exaggeration, it is proof positive with all the challenges we have faced since May, had we not had the fund, we’d have to consider bankruptcy.

I’m so grateful that my husband shares the same views when it comes to money. We both plan ahead with our budget and try our best to schedule our bills to be paid before their due to avoid late fees and/or interest. We make certain that our Tithe is paid, then the bills and what ever remains goes into the Emergency Fund. It’s not always easy to deny ourselves from going out to dinner or to the movies, but it has been worth every sacrifice to ensure financial stability.

I know I preach a lot about this subject and it gets old sometimes, but it’s so important. I hate to see anyone be stuck in a rut because an unexpected expense arose and they did not have the means to handle it. I never want to see my friends and family have to resort to a payday advance loan, or to have to pawn an item that is valuable to them to pay a bill. The interest rates on payday loans can exceed 500% since these programs are not regulated. It’s a very scary thought to be faced with that type of decision.

I started off with putting in $7 a week and adding any overtime or bonuses. Of course not everyone receives the benefit of a bonus or are allowed overtime. However, there is so much that can be done to cut costs. Any and every contribution, no matter how small is a means to build your fund. It does take sacrifice, and a true desire to implement the disciplines required to be successful in budgeting your bills and building an emergency fund.

July 08, 2013

Curve Balls...

Here we are, the second week of July and another curve ball was thrown. While heading to town to go donate blood, a rock hit the rear window of the new car and caused it to shatter. It was rather scary since we were driving down the road at 50 mph, it sounded like we were being shot at. Thankfully we were able to safely pull over and were not far from home.

As my husband was working on taking photos and cleaning out the glass, I sprang into action and started calling around for pricing. Since it is the back window to the hatch door, it is not covered by the “Free replacement” comprehensive coverage rule in Florida. It was going to cost us out of pocket, and since it was less than our $500 deductible, it would come from the Emergency Fund. My main goal of course was to replace the window as inexpensively as possible so as to not drain the account, especially since it has taken a lot of hits in the past month and a half.

I began by calling AAA, I also checked Angie’s List, I even called friends for referrals. In total, I ended up calling well over 40 different businesses and the majority wanted to charge $350 and up. I asked for every discount under the Sun and finally managed to score a great deal with a warranty.

The window as you can see in the photo is “Privacy tinted”, which means that the replacement would also need to be. (In Florida, it is a MUST!!!). After asking all the right questions and being patient in calling around, our total came to $180.39.

Everyday, I am reminded of the importance of having an Emergency Fund, but more so the importance of trusting God for the resources to be able to handle the curve balls as they come. In total, we saved $170.00, that is something to be excited about.

July 04, 2013

Why I love USAA Bank...

For the past 5 years I have banked with USAA Bank, it was a big decision to change from a small town Credit Union to a major bank, one that I did not take lightly. After 5 years, it has been one of the best financial decisions I’ve made in my adult life. I’ve saved so much money by banking with them, tangible savings.

Aside from Free Checking & Savings, I love the ATM reimbursement fee feature, up to $15.00 per month. Online banking is another wonderful tool that saves me money on stamps, envelopes and travel time/gas to the post office. Not to mention, I enjoy having an instant record of payments to our bills.

The mobile app is another great tool for our needs, it’s far easier to make a transfer via the app rather than having to call into customer service or logging on by desktop. The mobile app allows you all the same features as the full website.

Text Messages is one of my favorite features that USAA offers. When I’m really on the go, all I have to do is text “BAL” and seconds later I get the balance of my accounts. Not to mention, each week on payday I receive a text indicating my direct deposit has posted and the amount.

Just this week, they launched a redesigned web page that offers great services such as “Goals” that helps you track your emergency fund, Christmas fund etc. They also have a tab that allows you to track your spending habits to get a better idea of where your money is going and tips on how to maximize your money.

Last year I overdrew my account by $6.09 from a rogue debit transaction that did not post until a month later. I was hit with a $29 fee. I immediately called customer service and spoke to a representative to explain the matter in hopes of getting the fee reversed. The representative that answered researched my account and determined that there was a glitch in the transmission of the charge from the merchant and he graciously reversed the fee. He went on to explain that each year there is one “Courtesy Reversal” for each member. He then told me that the reversal he conducted for me did not affect my account and it did not count as my “Courtesy Reversal” since it was the merchant’s error.

There have been other occasions in which I have had to call customer service for various reasons, and each time I have been met with a courteous representative. Five years later, I’m still so glad that I bank with USAA.

July 02, 2013

Paying it forward through couponing

We all love to save money.  It can be a lot of fun.  What makes saving money even better is when you can coupon to help others!  I live by the mantra that I have been blessed and so I want to help others who have not been so fortunate.  Of course, we aren’t all professional philanthropists with an unending pile of cash at our disposal, so we need to find a way to do so and keep our own budget in check.
1.  Pick up an item you don’t need.  When you find a good deal on something (especially if it ends up being free), pick it up!  Then, you can donate it to your local shelter or food bank.  After all, you didn’t pay very much for it (if anything at all) so this is an easy one to do.  One such site locally is called Giving the Basics.  They have an event coming up this month so you can buy the items to help others and just donate it to them – they take care of getting it out to local families.
2.  Donate your savings.  If you budget money for your own groceries each week and find that you were able to spend less than you planned, why not donate that to your favorite foodbank?  For example, if you budget $150 for the week and only end up spending $130, send $20 to your favorite charity.  You won’t miss it as you planned on spending it on food anyhow.
3.  Help a family in the store.  If you walk by someone with items in their cart, why not hand over an extra coupon to them? I’ve done this so many times.  One time, I handed someone a coupon to save $0.35 off of her laundry detergent.  She was almost in tears and told me that was the nicest thing anyone had done for her in a long time.  The gesture of helping others save money is usually accepted with open arms.  You just don’t know what you can do for someone by doing such a simple thing.
You do not have to be financially rich to help others – you just need to be rich in spirit and heart.  That’s all it takes.  I find the more I give, the more I am blessed in return (and I don’t mean financially).  We all remember to give around the holidays, but there is need every single day of the year.   Open you heart to give and you just never know what you will receive in return.
Story by Penny Pinchin' Mom