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Are you loyal to certain brands? Think that means you can’t save money with coupons? Think again! This post will show you how you can keep your favorite brands and your great deals too!

Exploring New Favorites:

Coupon shopping has given me the opportunity to try out new products and shop outside my “comfort zone” a little bit, too. If I get a coupon for something I might not buy on a regular basis, I might use it to see if we like it. Sometimes we do, sometimes we don’t!

For example, I used to always buy Ragu pasta sauce. Why? Well, it’s my mom always bought, so I never really looked at other brands of sauce. Well, when I started coupon shopping, I got a coupons for Prego, Rinaldi, Bertolli, or Newman’s. Often the coupons made their sauce cheaper than Ragu, so I thought, why not try it? For the most part, I now think pasta sauce is pasta sauce. I have at least 4 different brands of pasta sauce in my stockpile right now, and no one at my house seems to notice or care which brand it is.

I also really no longer have brand loyalty for items such as soup, pasta, salsas, tooth brushes, toilet paper, paper towels, sometime tooth paste, razors, and shampoo/conditioner items. It’s all really same to me. You probably have a list of things you’re accumulating that you don’t seem to mind if it’s Charmin or Quilted Northern or Ronzoni or Creamette.

When it is Worth the Money:

There are of course items that I will stay loyal to my brands. It’s just a personal preference to me. I’m sure you have some too. My kids have sensitive skin, and I know that they don’t react to Tide or All laundry soap (as long as I buy the “free and clear” and high efficiency), so even if Wisk or Gain is on sale some place, I pass those coupons along to someone else. I also have a specific brand of deodorant, face wash, yogurts, and cereals that I prefer.

I also used not care what kind of paper products I bought. I bought whatever was the cheapest. Now that I’m a coupon shopper, I prefer to sometimes spend the extra money and buy the Scott or Bounty paper towels. They just work better especially when cleaning up after my kids!

I’ve noticed too that sometimes when you see a new product advertised on television or in a magazine, you often find a coupon for it too. The manufacturers must want us to try out their product, fall in love with it, and then continue to buy it even when we don’t have a coupon. Sometimes this works for me, and sometimes it doesn’t!

Bargain Buys

This week Walgreens has bargains on Lysol Wipes (my Wags was out of them by Monday afternoon!), South Beach Diet Bars, One a Day Vitamins, Bic Lighters, Cover Girl products, and Chapstick. Remember save even more at Walgreens when you roll your Register Rewards from week to week! Look at Target for bargains on Activia yogurt, Bic Pens, select Yoplait yogurt, Hershey Kisses, and Up and Up Disinfecting wipes. Remember too, if you don’t want to run from store to store, shop at Walmart and price match competitor ads. I’ve saved at least $30 in each of the past two weeks by doing this on everything from produce to soup!

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Its a start of a new year. This usually means new resolutions. Our top resolutions may be to lose weight, eat healthier, or actually use our gym membership. I know I am trying to get to the gym more often, eat better, & making healthier meals for my family.

Let’s start off with a hearty breakfast. This will help you energize & keep your body “fueled” for the day. Oatmeal is a good source of fiber to help with digestion & packed with many nutrients.

Hearty, Healthy Oatmeal

I tweaked Jessica Seinfeld’s “Deliciously Deceptive” recipe for Oatmeal.

    • 2 cups 100% Whole Grain Oats

 

    • 2 cups of Skim Milk

 

    • 1 1/2 cup Boiling Water

 

    • 1/2 cup Light Brown Sugar

 

    • 1/2 cup Applesauce

 

    • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon

 

    • 1/4 cup Dried Cranberries

 

    (Serves 4)

1. Boil Water in a saucepan or a stove-top kettle. We will add ingredients to a microwave-safe bowl. It helps control consistency & thickness of oatmeal.

2. Add Whole Grain Oats to bowl. Pour Water over Oatmeal slowly & stir to desired consistency.

3. Add Skim Milk & Applesauce to desired creaminess. Top off with Cinnamon, Light Brown Sugar, & Dried Cranberries.

Some substitutions/variations are 1/2 can of pureed pumpkin, 1/2 cup pureed sweet potato/yams, 1 cup evaporated milk, sliced bananas, fresh blueberries, 1 tbsp peanut butter, pumpkin pie spice, chopped walnuts, sliced almonds, golden raisins, & pure maple syrup.

Happy Eating!

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familySo you’re going to die. Everyone dies – it’s a fact of life – but are you ready to go at any time? You should be, especially if you have dependents or family members. Careful planning now will allow your family to carry on without you should the worst happen tomorrow or fifty years from now.

A Will

The most important document you should have even before your baby is born is a will. Work with a lawyer if possible to structure the will to include any children you may have in the future and then you won’t have to update the will down the road if you have more kids. Working with a lawyer will also ensure that you have all the right signatures and stamps in the right place. Finally, once you have a will, give copies of it to trusted family members and store it in a place where it is easily accessible should a distraught partner or parent need to find it.

In your will, you can divide your assets any way you’d like, but most importantly, you’ll need to designate who gets custody of your children should both you and your partner die suddenly. If you select your sister, for example, be sure to clear that with your sister ahead of time before you make it official. Not leaving a designated guardian for your children would mean your children may become wards of the state before the state manages to find someone in the family to care for them.

Life Insurance

If you have life insurance through work, consider yourself one of the lucky ones. However, even if you have a life insurance policy through work, you’re probably going to need more. Do the math with your partner. If you were to die tomorrow, how much would your partner need to keep the children in your current lifestyle, home and schools? How much would it cost to send the kids to college someday? How much would it cost to bury you and pay off all outstanding debts so that your children and partner can live without the burdens of your debts? Total that up and don’t be surprised when you discover just how much you need.

Talk to life insurance specialists to get quotes from at least three providers. Then, pick the best quote from a reliable agency and establish a policy for both you and your partner. Fortunately, the price for healthy individuals of child bearing age is very low for term life insurance, making it a popular way to arrange financial protection. This should be done as early in the pregnancy as possible. By arranging insurance you can deliver your baby and know from the start that her financial needs are arranged from day one – even if you haven’t managed to get a diaper on her little bottom properly yet.

Clear Information

In our digital age, we have any number of passwords and online protections in place for various bank accounts and financial information. Make a copy of your bank account information along with a power of attorney for your spouse and the designated guardian for the children. Leave account details for your bank as well. Should you die suddenly, the first few weeks following the tragedy will be the most challenging both financially and emotionally. Having your effects organized and placed in a safe place will make it possible for your spouse to manage the bills and the additional costs associated with a death. Your goals with your financial planning should be to simplify the lives of those you leave behind.

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For most of us, exotic trips, luxury items, and even weekend getaways are a thing of the past. But this doesn’t mean you can’t live a rich, full life. All it takes is some creativity and a shift in attitude.

I have a good friend who was laid off for 18 months. During this time, his family had two choices: shut down and be miserable, or embrace an attitude of contented frugalness. My friends opted to focus on family activities and lifelong learning opportunities, maintaining a positive outlook in spite of their financial challenges.

Five years later, they’ve maintained this approach to life, even though their financial situation has dramatically improved. They’ve found that they are more contented and closer as a family than before. Their lives are less cluttered with material possessions and “stuff,” which frees them to focus on what’s really important. They’ve learned that thriftiness is a satisfying way of life. As S.W. Strauss said, “Thrift is not an affair of the pocket, but of character.”

Here are a few of the ideas they’ve incorporated into their family routines:

 

  • Take day trips to explore your area instead of an expensive vacation. Visit the mountains or beach, go for a hike, or watch the leaves change. An outing like this will cost you nothing more than the cost of gas and maybe a picnic lunch. One of my family’s favorite outings is a sunrise hot air balloon launch at a local state park. We arrive early on Saturday mornings, with donuts and a mug of hot cocoa, to watch the balloons take off as the sun emerges from behind the mountains. Beautiful!
  • Invest in a membership to your family’s favorite museum or zoo, or alternate memberships, trying something different each year. Memberships are typically under $100, and are a great value for a family looking for fun activities on a budget.
  • Buy inexpensive kits or make games and toys. Christmas was very tight for my friends during their period of unemployment, but they refused to be discouraged. Instead, they found instructions online for marshmallow guns made from PVC pipe. They made the marshmallow guns for under $5, and had a great time having a marshmallow fight Christmas morning.
  • Learn something new. I’ve always believed that if you can read, you can learn anything. Take an inexpensive class, or borrow books from the library. In my neighborhood, a group of women started offering classes to teach each other various subjects. I’ve learned to knit, bake bread and can produce, while socializing with good friends.
  • Splurge on something that offers real value to your family. For our anniversary, I bought my husband a fire pit table and chairs set. We’ve spent hours around that table, laughing and talking as a family. The investment was worth every penny! Another year, I found used bikes at an auction. We love riding those bikes together as a family.
  • Work as a family to meet goals. Another friend of mine wanted to take her family to Disney Land. Disney was offering free passes in exchange for service. My friend thought this was a great opportunity to teach her children the value of service, while enjoying a family vacation. The family scheduled several service projects to meet the criteria for the free passes. They also put a jar in the kitchen for loose change as a way to save money for the trip. It took them a whole year to save enough money, but the trip meant so much more because they had all worked hard to make it happen.
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Jar of MoneyMoms may have always said that those well-timed stitches were all about saving extra work – but proverbs aside, they could also save you money too. Not every change that you make to improve your finances has an immediate payback – some will take weeks, months or longer to earn their keep. But that’s not a reason to shirk a little forethought in your quest to save money. After all it is the long-term savings that build up, and make the biggest difference to your bottom line. So let’s run through seven top tips that will leave you richer the longer you wait.

Insulate the house:

Heat is energy, and energy is money. So when your house is cooling, your money is flying out of the window. Stop that from happening with lagging of hot water tanks and pipes, caulking of your window frames and extra insulation up in the attic. This will seal in the heat nicely so you’ll be able to keep the thermostat down lower. And it’ll be nice to know that your dollars are being kept indoors whilst keeping you warm.

Take the pedal from the metal:

The cost of gas is unlikely to be heading anywhere close to cheap for the foreseeable future. So make those dollars in the tank last longer by taking it easy on the pedal. The less you accelerate, the more gently you break, and the lower your speed, the better – both for your wallet and the planet.

Plant a seed:

Food hasn’t always come from the grocery aisle. If you have some free space that is open to the sun, then you can grow some of your own food from seeds. It’ll take some tender loving care, and a few months waiting – but the more salads, herbs and vegetables you can grow yourself, the less you’ll be spending on the weekly food bill.

Fix the leak:

What leak, you say? It doesn’t matter- whether it’s a leaky faucet or an oil drip from your car, it’ll cost you more the longer it’s left. Take time to find the cause, and see if you can’t fix it yourself for a little expense. If it needs the attention of an expert, ask neighbors, friends and families first. A favor owed is a future favor gained.

Go for energy stars:

When you find that your appliance, whether TV, computer or washing machine is really beyond repair, you’ll need to go shopping for a replacement. But rather than putting the looks or brand-name at the top of the list of features, look for EnergyStars. These are marks that indicate your new appliance is energy efficient as certified by the EPA. Remember energy is money, and when your home is stacked with EnergyStar rated products, it can only shrink that utility bill.

Accelerate your debt draw-down:

Debts are a money drain- they suck wealth out of the household budget. So avoid debt where possible. But once you’re stuck in it , you really need to get out as with all due haste. The quicker you pay off debts, the less interest you’ll be paying on the loan – and the sooner you can start saving again. So try and pay back more than the minimum, so that you can cut loose that burden faster.

Saving money:

This is the holy grail of long term stitch-saving, and money-saving too. If you can cut expenditure, across all other fronts, by as much as possible, you’ll hopefully have money to put aside. Place it in purchasing CDs (Certificates of Deposit) and it’ll earn a dividend interest. The longer you save, the more it builds up, and the more interest you earn. Success breeds success, as your mom might say.

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The holidays may be over, but the giveaways are not thanks to our hard working sales team and fantastic merchants.

We’re starting off the new year with the perfect prize for everyone heading back to school or back to work after winter break!

Newegg is giving away a DELL Inspiron 15R Notebook Valued at $749.99!

DELL Inspiron 15R (i15RN-7296DBK) Notebook Intel Core i5 2410M(2.30GHz) 15.6″ 4GB Memory DDR3 640GB HDD 5400rpm 8X Dual Layer DVD+/-RW Drive Intel HD Graphics 3000 delllaptop

Prize also includes a switch lid for the laptop!

Newegg’s website contains all the specs and details.

To Enter the Newegg Dell Laptop Giveaway

There are two ways to enter the Newegg Giveaway but please be aware that only ONE entry will be counted, even if you enter in both places.

Option 1:

    •  Head over to our

Facebook page

    • . This offer is exclusive to our FatWallet friends and members, so if you don’t already like our page, please click the like button to view the giveaway form. Enter your information into the form on the Giveaway tab to enter.

Option 2:

    1. Sign up or Sign in to FatWallet.
    2. Visit the Newegg website and then reply to this forum topic (not this blog post) telling us what your dream prize from Newegg would be!
    3. As always there is no purchase necessary to enter, but if you feel like shopping while you’re there you can enjoy 3% cash back!

 

Eligibility:

You must enter between: January 2, 11:30 a.m. CST, and January 6, 11:30 a.m. CST. Limit one entry per eligible individual.

Additional entries will not improve your odds of winning. One lucky winner will be chosen randomly to receive Dell Notebook from Newegg. Please read the Official Rules of this giveaway.

The winner’s of our giveaways will be posted on the forum thread after they’ve verified their information and accepted their prize!